I'm going back to a classic, here, in more ways than one. Marimo Ragawa's series Baby & Me was published from 1991 to 1997, which qualifies it as a classic in my book. But it's also a series that I finished reading last year, and which I haven't re-read since, so I may be a little fuzzy on some of the details. However, I'm not fuzzy on my general opinion of the series: it's very, very good, and definitely worthy of your time.
B&M has a very simple, very straightforward premise: ten-year-old Takuya Enoki's mother, Yukako, died recently in a car crash, leaving behind Takuya, his father Harumi, and his baby brother Minoru, who's only two years old. Harumi works long days and nights, leaving Takuya to care for Minoru most of the time. Now Takuya has to juggle school, caring for his brother and father, dealing with his wacky friends and neighbors, and the various crazy situations he occasionally gets dragged into.
Like I said: simple premise. It's practically a sitcom premise, really, the kind of setup that could generate three schmaltzy seasons on ABC. But it's handled with a sensitivity and depth that makes it well worth the read.
The other strong point of the series is its supporting cast. Takuya and Minoru are clearly the main characters of the series, but the cast expands rapidly. The Enokis' neighbors, Takuya's classmates, Harumi's colleagues: they flesh out the world of B&M and make it feel that much more organic.
At its best, this series reminds me of the criminally short-lived drama My So-Called Life: although the show's main characters were the teenagers, their parents weren't given short shrift. In a lot of similar shows, even when the adult characters get screen time, the focus would still be on the kids—we may be watching the main character's mother, but only to see how she feels about her daughter. In MS-CL, though, the parents were characters in their own rights, not just backdrops for the teen characters; they had their own hopes, desires, backstories, problems, and so forth. B&M doesn't always quite reach that level of quality—some of its supporting characters are still pretty one-dimensional, or at least only good for one story—but when it's good, it's very good.
Artistically, the series is a pretty straight-ahead classic example of mid-nineties shojo manga: finely drawn hair and faces, sparse backgrounds, large, expressive eyes. Ragawa does do some interesting layouts from time to time, but for the most part the panels are arranged for maximum clarity. There are a few brilliant moments: when Takuya remembers going to the park as a family, before his mother died, the characters are drawn normally but the background is a scribbled child's drawing of a merry-go-round and ferris wheel. Or when he tells a fairy tale to Minoru, the characters are drawn with exaggeratedly thick linework and offset screentone.
Low points of the series? Well, there's a few. B&M largely but not entirely avoids melodrama; some of the stories are so corny and choked with tragedy that they're almost laughable. While most of the side-stories are brought in organically—a classmate of Takuya's, a friend of Harumi's—a few are pretty outrageous (Takuya and Minoru are in a pachinko parlor when a bunch of loan shark thugs start tearing up the place, how dramatic!).