Manga Review | Let’s Be a Family!! by Tomo Kurahashi



This review will contain spoilers for the and anime series Let's Be a Family!!. While the manga may vary slightly from all other forms of media, it may have similar story elements and could be considered spoilers.

Trigger Warning: There may be references to mentions of dieting, possibly fat-shaming, , child abandonment, sexism, prejudice, homomisia, bullying, mentions of terrorism, mentions of death, and a possible inappropriate relationship between teacher and student (not between the main couple), as it appears in the manga.


Chiaki and Kazuma have been friends with their mutual friend Tomoe since childhood. Tomoe is a photographer who travels around the world, often in warzones and dangerous locations, documenting happenings around the globe. That causes their trio to often be broken apart, though Chiaki and Kazuma, as a romantic couple, don't mind waiting for her to return. They're just trying to determine the next step in their relationship when Tomoe announces she'll return to Japan. The two, excited to see their friend, go out to meet her. But what they find isn't the Tomoe they said goodbye to before.

Tomoe is pregnant. She's very pregnant.

Chiaki and Kazuma never expected their rambunctious friend to settle down with someone, much less have a child. As they pepper her with questions, she admits that she doesn't know who her child's father is, but she fully intends to raise her all the same. Chiaki and Kazuma are stunned but more than willing to support their friend on this new journey in life. The day comes when Tomoe gives birth to a little girl named Ayumi. To Chiaki and Kazuma's relief, Tomoe settles well into motherhood, and the trio of friends are all happy with how their lives are going.

That is until Tomoe comes to them crying, begging that the couple take her one-year-old daughter and raise her so she can go back out into the field. Chiaki and Kazuma are once again surprised, but seeing their dear friend Tomoe and her young daughter, they can't possibly say no. So begins a complete surprise for Chiaki and Kazuma. Not just as a couple but as fathers. Navigating a relationship is hard enough with two people, but what happens when you add a third?


The art in this is very sketchy, but I think that really helps with the light and airy atmosphere of the story. However, it is very inconsistent, and admittedly, there are multiple panels that I might call ugly. Overall, it's very cute, but those inconsistencies manifest pretty frequently. Regarding character designs, I love that Kazuma is your classic punky delinquent bottom while Chiaki is a soft, dog-coded top. I love it when the more serious of the two ends up as the bottom, as, with manga, typically, the bottom is considered ‘submissive' while the top would be ‘dominant.' Outside the bedroom, Kazuma is dominant, running the household and ensuring Chiaki and Ayumi are taken care of, which Kazuma follows along with like a sweet, submissive puppy. In the bedroom, though, these roles are switched, helping expose Chiaki as the soft person he is under his rough exterior. Similarly, Kazuma shows he has no problem running the show, as he pleasures Chiaki. I love the dichotomy of their identities out in the world versus who they are when intimately together.

Cover art for Let's Be a Family!! by

The story is painfully disjointed, which I think makes sense for the content, but it inadvertently made it hard to feel connected to any of the characters and their struggles. We see very brief strokes of time corresponding with Ayumi's aging and important points in her life. Her life is intrinsically tied to Chiaki and Kazuma's relationship, so as we see windows of her life, we see windows into theirs. While the overall story wasn't my favorite, I have to gush about how much I love that these two are an established long-term gay couple from the very beginning. It's so refreshing to read something where we aren't seeing the couple pining for each other forever or contending with public perception before becoming official, only to end with them just starting their relationship (and, inevitably, leaving my greedy ass wanting more). This might sound like the is non-existent since they are already together, and it seems like the focus is more on the child-rearing aspect, but that's not the case at all. The child-rearing facilitates the growth of their relationship.

There are multiple times when Chiaki or Kazuma mentions wanting to do something in their relationship or for themselves, but alone end up stagnating. It's thanks to their pseudo-adopted daughter and the chaos that comes along with child-rearing that they can move forward and communicate. They moved in together because they promised to raise her for Tomoe. Because they may need to legally adopt Ayumi, Chiaki decides to talk things out with his mother, who refuses to accept their relationship, and then marries Kazuma. Ayumi is the center of their world, and because of how important she is to them, she shows them just how important they are to each other, too. It's a lovely notion and really facilitates not only Ayumi's growth but theirs as well. I love this aspect of the story so much. They can't do much in the way of sex, though we do get some quickies and sensual time here and there, but that's the reality of parenting, and it was much more satisfying seeing them grow as a couple rather than tumble around in the bedroom.

But even with all the positives I have toward Chiaki and Kazuma and their narrative, Tomoe truly irritated me. It bothered me that she just showed up super pregnant, about to burst, without a word, and expected Chiaki and Kazuma to just drop their lives to help her. Then, she gives birth. She mothers for a year and then shows up at their door, once again, unannounced, to leave her daughter with them to raise for her so she can return to her career. I can totally appreciate her wanting to live her life and do what she needs to do. I also understand Chiaki and Kazuma are part of the family referenced in the title. Still, I just find her so unlikable for being so flighty and unwilling to show any consideration for these friends she considers her family. I get it; family should be there for you no matter what, but we never really get the sense of her relationship with Chiaki and Kazuma. We see glimpses, sure, but intermixed with Chiaki's and Kazuma's relationship growth, their raising Ayumi, and what little romantic time they get. As a result, Tomoe's relationship with Chiaki and Kazuma just gets lost in the mix as forgettable, superficial filler. Tomoe could have easily been taken out of this, and Ayumi could've just been a sudden adoption, and I don't think much of this would change.


This was okay. It was honestly a pretty tough re-read for this review. It tries really hard to establish how important Tomoe is to Chiaki and Kazuma, but it doesn't feel like that's the case, as there's minimal background or interaction between those three beyond a few panels' worth of phone calls or flashbacks. Then they waste time establishing her relationship with their former teacher (ick), which felt totally unnecessary and could've been better spent either fleshing out the disjointed narrative or providing a better foundation for their friendship. Ayumi is super cute, and some moments really shine here, but I'm not sure the potential is enough for this to be a win in my book.

Have you read Let's Be a Family!!? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!

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