I’m sure I’m not the only one who approached this series expecting it to be the creepiest show in a long time. Would the creators be making sexual jokes at the expense of three year old girl? Thankfully that didn’t happen. As neither the anime nor the manga have been going on for very long at this point, this will be a comparison based on my impression so far of both versions. When Usagi Drop came out last year, many liked it as it showed in a very positive view of becoming a parent in a realistic and mature way. Papa Iukoto is also about suddenly becoming a parent but is clearly geared toward more of an otaku audience, unlike Usagi Drop which was Josei and done in such a way that pretty much anyone could watch it, no matter their age or gender. The different style of the series is obvious from the character designs and this is why some were a bit worried about it taking the ecchi aspects too far and becoming creepy. It kind of skirts close to the edge at times, but especially the anime version shows restraint.
Papa no Iukoto wi Kikinasai is about the university student, Yuuta, who, due to unfortunate circumstances, has to take care of the children left behind by his sister. Only the youngest girl is actually directly related to him as the other older ones are from the sister’s husband’s last relationship. Not being related by blood is all the excuse manga or anime usually needs to have people lusting for each other’s genitals and sure enough the oldest girl has the hots for Yuuta pretty bad. She’s a bit shy about it and keeps punching him in the face whenever she gets too excited. The other two girls don’t do much except make a mess and look pretty, but that’s kind of in line with what children are supposed to do.
The biggest difference between the anime and manga versions is how they start. Most often the anime adaption of a manga will be identical all the way down to the shots being reproductions of the panels as if they were using it as a storyboard. As these series are based on a light novel they didn’t do that at all and instead it’s kind of like seeing the alternative interpretations of the same events. You know from the start that the main character is going to have to take care of the girls at some point and the manga brings him together with them in the first couple of pages. The anime however keeps you waiting the entire first episode and instead spends quite a lot of time establishing Yuuta’s life at college and his crush on a strange girl there called Raika. None of this shows up in the manga at all and Raika and the other major side characters from college are introduced after a little while. In this case I prefer the way the anime did it over the manga as it kept me guessing. I just knew the show was going to have him take care of the girls by himself at some point, but stalling for so long made it more interesting to me. Not that the manga opening is bad or something, I just think it’s a good idea to not give the audience what it wants or expects right away.
What you can expect from this series is many of the ecchi tropes you’d expect such as a visit to the pool, but it tries to keep the plot present as well, so you get a good mix of serious scenes, humour, ecchi and some attempts at heartwarming stuff also. The anime version especially tones down the ecchi in favor of keeping a more serious tone and I liked that. What I didn’t like in the anime version is how they kept Raika out of the show for several episodes with only brief guest appearances. I’m sure she’ll get her time on screen soon enough, but she feels a bit neglected and even pointless for the entire series so far in the anime, as she was built up as important in episode one and then only had a few seconds here and there per episode later. Having read the manga which is ahead of the anime plot, I keep sitting there waiting for the moment when she becomes a major character and the anime keeps delaying it in favor of building up the backstory of the other girls.
This is a rare case of the anime and manga being different enough that one could actually read both at the same time and not completely ruin one or the other. Every single scene and the overall plot is different even if they are roughly telling the same story so you could actually read the manga and still follow the anime plot and not know what will happen next. Things happen in different orders and in different ways and especially the tone of the series are slightly different. The anime has a more somber and serious tone while the manga is more of the happy shounen ecchi style you’d expect from the character designs. I enjoyed both but would recommend the anime over the manga if you had very little time over and could only squeeze one adaption into your schedule. The more serious tone fits the plot better and it has less of a creep factor than the manga version which has more fan service.