- Titles: Gakuen Babysitters
- Genre: Slice of Life, school, comedy, moe(?), cuuuuute
- Episodes: 12 + 1 OVA
- Studio: Brain’s Base
Kotarou and Ryuuichi only have each other now. They just lost their parents so the brothers have to rely on one another. Which is though. Ryuuichi is still in high school and Kotarou is basically in diapers. But they love each other very much. And together, they’ll have to make it somehow because Kotarou and Ryuuichi only have each other. Or do they? It seems that the wealthy chairwoman of the Morinomiya School has decided to take them in for a while. And the faithful butler Saikawa certainly is eager to help. And as Ryuuichi pays his due by joining the school’s babysitter’s club and taking care of the small children of faculty, he and Kotarou quickly make friends everywhere they go. Maybe they aren’t as alone as they thought after all. And they’ll always have each other.
I was surprised that a show that essentially looked like a CBDCT series was getting such positive feedback in the blogosphere. It still got a bit of flack in other circles though but that’s to be expected. The enthusiasm I read in my fellow bloggers’ posts was enough for me to put the show on my to-watch list. And when I was feeling like I could use a sweet cute anime, I figured this would be a good pick.
School Babysitters was produced by Brain’s Base. A studio with a fairly illustrious history and good reputation. For a reason. They do seem to specialize in what you might call emotional shows and School Babbisitters certainly fits that bill.
In any case, the production values here are sneaky. On the surface, they are sort of the run-of-the-mill cute aesthetic. Soft colours, rounded designs, huge eyes. All the little kids are impossibly adorable and chubby. But at the same time, it’s not exactly special, you know?
But you can see the studio’s prowess in little ways. For instance, related characters have family resemblances. Some obvious. You know how anime families sometimes look like clones of each other. But others are more subtle and you only see them after a while or in certain angles. I thought that was very cool. I saw official artwork depicting what the small kids would look like as teenagers and vice versa and the similarities become even more fun.
Also, the sound design was really good. The voice cast was great as well, Nozomi Furuki did an amazing job! But what stood out even more to me was the subtle score. Most people probably won’t really notice it. It was very unobstructive. But I found that it really accentuated all the emotional moments running through the show. Both sad and happy. And just added some depth to the experience.
Story & Characters
Let me get this out of the way. The entire time I was watching the show, I kept thinking: too bad The Babysitters Club is probably a trademarked title because it would have been perfect. School Babysitters had a weird ominous ring to it for me.
Anyways, I said I wanted a sweet light anime when I decided to watch School Babysitters. Something like How to Keep a Mummy for instance. It’s winter, we’re basically getting two hours of sunshine up here if any at all. The Pandemic is still raging with renewed fury. I needed an easy-breezy show. You know? Oh, by the way, I’m writing this in January… I think I have all my posts scheduled up to April so it probably won’t be winter when you read this but you get the point.
So did I get what I wanted? You betcha… and then I got more. School Babysitters is indeed a very cute feel-good anime about brotherly love and found families. It’s mostly wholesome (we’ll get back to it) and very sweet. I could see it being too sweet in fact for some people but it was exactly what I needed. I devoured it and wanted more.
What I didn’t expect, was the emotional depth the show occasionally went to. The loss of Ryuuichi and Kotarou’s parents is a fairly recent and very traumatic event and the two brothers are still dealing with it. It’s difficult, especially for the older one. Having lost a parent as well, there were scenes that were instinctively familiar to me. And I found tears flowing before I could stop them. Not my usual crybaby this is so touching I’mma gonna cry tears. These were actual tears of sadness as I sympathized with what was a very recognizable pain to me.
This is not to say that the show is sad. I didn’t even label it as a drama. But there are sad moments in it and it does allow its characters to have a range of emotions which isn’t all that common. Some things don,t get better and some wounds just stick with you. School Babysitters acknowledges that and tells us it’s ok. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t new happy memories to be made.
On the whole, I was utterly charmed by the series and found myself looking forward to each new episode. However, do you remember how I said I would get back to my mostly wholesome comment? There are a few tonal dissonances that I just didn’t get.
Here are the minor grievances. Inomata is a character that could vaguely be seen as a potential romantic interest but that never really goes anywhere. She has a somewhat tsundere characterization and I think they just went too over the top with it. It’s one thing when the babbies go into hysterics but to see a high schooler do it was a little annoying to me. That’s too bad because it was only occasional and the rest of the time, the character was really great. I think that if they had just toned down the intensity a bit, Inomata could have been my favourite character. As it is, she occasionally looked like she belonged in a different show.
Like I said, that is minor. Basically nit-picking for the sake of finding a flaw. More disturbing though were the pedo jokes…
Let me make this clear, there are no actual pedophiles in School Babysitters. Neither is there any fanservice with the little kids at all. But there is a running gag where a character who is supposed to be the school prince really likes children. Really REALLY likes children. He ends up not joining the babysitting club because his love of children would get in the way. He gets nosebleeds from how cute kids are.
Now in practice that’s all it is. The character frequently gets nosebleeds, calls little kids cute and wants to pinch their cheeks. That’s it. But…
Let’s face it, the nosebleed trope in anime has a long-standing history and very well-known implications for anime fans. It would be disingenuous to pretend that most of the anime-watching public does not know about it or that the writer and studio aren’t familiar with the trope. Moreover, the other characters are completely weirded out by his love of children and regularly make it clear that he shouldn’t be alone with kids or possibly around them at all. The term pervert is used to describe him.
The only way I could really interpret this running gag is that it’s funny that he has an inappropriate love of children? And that really didn’t work for me.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just the joke itself. Yes, I’m not a fan of pedo jokes in general but they can work in a certain context. And even when I don’t personally enjoy them, they can fit into a show. However, everything else about School Babysitters is so pure that the clash just made it seem so much worse than it is. I just couldn’t figure out why they would put that joke in. And I just couldn’t switch my brain from “look at all these adorable children trying their best, this is the sweetest” to “oh this guy likes kids too much, funny…”.
I know I just spent like 4 paragraphs on this so it seems like it’s a huge deal. It just really struck me and I needed to get it out of my system. In practice though, not only does the character never do anything, he’s also only there in like three or four episodes and only for a few brief scenes. It’s honestly not an important part of the show in any way. You will see more snot than nosebleeds that’s for sure.
Despite half of this post, what I wanted to say is that School Babysitters is an extremely sweet and feel-good show that warmed my heart during the cold winter months. I would have watched more and I picked up the manga immediately after. Because I like sweet things!
You might like this anime if:
If you like really cute anime with no fanservice. You read brotherly love and found families and thought it sounded awesome!
My favourite character:
Saikawa! He was a consistent source of amusement for me.
a Cry Baby
- Every time anyone cries – don’t worry, it’ll be alright!
- Every time Usaida sleeps – take a sip
- Every time Taka throws a fit – get him some water
- Every time Kamitani threatens children with violence – take a sip
- Every time Saikawa cooks too much – get a snack
- Every time Inomata blushes – awwwww
- Every time Kotaro smiles – cheer!
- Every time Inomata gets mad – take a sip
- Every time Taka and his borther bicker – take a sip
- Every time Saikawa “jokes” – laugh a lot
- Every time Ryuuichi thinks of his parents – there there
- Every time Kamitani is scary – take a sip
- Every time Kotaro says nii-chan – he says it all the time, don’t drink it will kill you. It’s really cute when he says it though
- Every time Saikawa appears out of nowhere – waaah
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.