Mama wa Shōgaku Yonensei (Japanese: ママは小学4年生, lit. "Mama is a 4th Grader") is a Japanese shōjo anime by Sunrise. The 51-episode series was first aired from January 10, 1992 through December 25, 1992.
In the year 2007 a woman is preparing for a party, while her husband is tinkering with a communication device for their new baby daughter, Mirai. A sudden lightning bolt affects the television, causing Mirai to levitate and vanish.
Back in 1992, a 4th grader named Natsumi Mizuki having a rough day; she is left behind as her parents move overseas (because her father's company only bought 2 tickets for their move to England so they have to buy her ticket at a later date), on top of them giving away her dog. Her aunt Izumi (her mother's younger sister), an aspiring manga writer, comes to live with Natsumi. They do not get along very well, with Natsumi calling her 'Oba-san' (Auntie) instead of 'Onee-san' (Big sis) as she would prefer.
While watching a movie on, Mirai appears in front of Natsumi. She becomes determined to raise the baby, not wanting to trust her with the clumsy policeman or her immature aunt.
Through the strange heart-shaped device, Natsumi and Izumi learn that the baby's mother is Natsumi Mizuki from the year 2007. She is a married 24-year-old, and pleads with her past self to take care of her daughter until they can determine how to return her. The device is also linked with a clasp around Mirai's neck that notifies Izumi when the baby needs her, through transmitting her emotional state. Natsumi and Izumi continue to quarrel over how to raise the baby, and worry about time paradoxes that could occur.
Natsumi must now try to raise her daughter, attend school, and foil her aunt's attempts to give Mirai away. Izumi is pressured into watching the baby while Natsumi is at school, in exchange for free board, since she lost her apartment. During this time, she tries to focus on creating her manga without distractions.
This anime provides examples of:
- Adorably Precocious Child: Natsumi is certainly very smart for a 9-year-old, and more mature than her aunt Izumi.
- Big Friendly Dog: Bobby, Natsumi’s pet dog who greatly resembles the Irish Setter. He’s usually a very sweet and loyal, except towards Izumi, who he usually scares into submission just so she’ll help look after Mirai while his master is away at school. Justified since Izumi is a Adult Child and could care less over what happens to Mirai, but Bobby won’t stand for it.
- Bratty Half-Pint:
- Daisuke really enjoyed annoying the heck out of Natsumi. He eventually grows out of this.
- Juliette, very much so. When Izumi comes to answer the front door, Juliette barges inside without so much as asking to be invited and left a dirty trail on her muddy shoes. She even goes as far as to kidnap Mirai and naming her after her doll, Maria. When Natsumi and Izumi confront her, Juliette outright refuses to hand over Mirai, believing her doll came to life, despite knowingly breaking into their home and smirked as she swapped said doll with Mirai.
- Canine Companion: Bobby with Natsumi. Even after her parents gave him away, Bobby escaped and returned to Natsumi.
- The Dreaded: Grandma Haru, at least to her daughter, Izumi; not so much for Natsumi. Izumi loathes her mother since she was a workaholic while leaving her mostly alone as a young child, and especially resents her for playing favorites with her older sister. They both mend their relationship by the end of the episode.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Izumi has her moments. She may be immature and frequently clash with Natsumi while resenting looking after Mirai, but throughout the series shows how far she’ll see it through there in one piece.
- In one episode the girls got lost in the mountains with a bear lurking around. Izumi willing helped out in the search party and cried tears of joy when reunited with Natsumi and Mirai.
- When Future!Natsumi warned her past self that missing out on a school trip may cause the death of Ryuuichi, Izumi was horrified at this and did not hesitate to drive Natsumi up the mountains.
- She’s ecstatic that the new neighbors are Italian and is especially overjoyed to getting invited to their welcoming party, since she’s a Big Eater. But when said family’s youngest child, Juliette, steals away Mirai as her new toy, Izumi was just as shocked as Natsumi. When Natsumi tried to gently plead with to get her back but got rudely turned away, Izumi didn’t hesitate to outright grab Mirai out of Juliette’s arms.
- Kid from the Future: The basis of the plot is Natsumi's future daughter is accidentally sent 15 years in the past to Natsumi's younger self.
- Manchild: A female example in Aunt Izumi. She is living with Natsumi due to not paying rent at her old apartment for two months and getting evicted as a result, wants to be referred to by Natsumi as "sister" rather than the aunt she actually is, tries to push Mirai off on anyone she can, and is generally very immature.
- Mama Bear: Natsumi may be a little girl, but she’ll stop at nothing to raise and protect her future baby from any harm.
- Meaningful Name: Mirai's name is Japanese for "future", and she's Natsumi's Kid from the Future.
- Our Wormholes Are Different: Usually you don't expect a wormhole to open up to the past in a storm, but that's what happens here.
- Nosy Neighbor: When you have a Kid from the Future that you must hide because of the risk of a time paradox, the last thing you want is to have a neighbor like Midori Hanada. This woman is constantly coming over and outright asking Izumi and Natsumi if they do indeed have a baby since she hears a lot of crying, even trying to peek through the windows to confirm her suspicions.
- Pink Means Feminine: Mirai wears a pink onesie with a rabbit hood.
- Straying Baby: Mirai. Dear lord, does this baby wander off into danger at the worst times.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
- Izumi gets really, really terrified whenever she’s around dogs and can’t stand the mere presence of her niece’s pet dog, Bobby. Said niece exploits her aunt’s phobia into helping care for Mirai.
- Turns out Izumi gets it from her mother. When grandma Haru comes to visit, Izumi purposely leaves Bobby out the front door, leading to her mother screaming in terror and jumping onto a tree.