A trend I find with children in anime is that they’re always painted ‘cute’. Small human beings surrounded by glittery and sparkly effects who do cute things so that the audience falls in love with the tiny people characters. It’s not often that I see children portrayed as what they actually are, monsters, and it’s even stranger to see a more realistic representation portrayed in a shoujo series of all things, a genre where virtually everything is depicted a lot more flowery than they actually are.
Kashima Ryuuichi and his little brother Kotaro have met with the unfortunate fate of becoming orphans after their parents passing due to a plane crash. It is then that the boy is contacted by the headmistress of the high school that he will be attending, and told that from that day forward, he will live with her with room and board all taken care of, but in exchange, he must spend his spare time at the babysitters club, a daycare center at school dedicated to the teachers’ children while their mothers work.
The show is pretty standard for what one can expect from a shoujo-style slice of life. The story is very lax in nature with the only real high points being slight bumps that get resolved in the episode, thus leading to the show’s mostly episodic nature with very few connecting points. The episodes are based around Ryuuichi and his relationships with both the people he meets at school and the children in the daycare center, without really much weight to them since the show ends up going back to the status quo and resetting all but a few plot elements that don’t get touched very much in the later episodes.
But there are some points that I found irritating, mainly the fact that the parents of our two main protagonists ARE DEAD. It is the story of a four year old and a fifteen year old entering a stage in their life with their parents just recently deceased. Yes, this is a happy go lucky slice of life show, but you cannot ignore this looming fact. They do touch on this point a fair bit in the early episodes, but it felt like it was played off and largely ignored in sacrifice to showcase Ryuuichi playing with kids, which does not feel right considering how heavy of a topic this is.
Another more glaring problem is the romantic subplot. There are two girls in this show that seem to have an interest for Ryuuichi, and everything about their interactions with him feels so unsatisfying, as these scenes feature either a tsundere who does the classic tsundere thing of being a bitch before regretting it later because that’s apparently how people work, and a super shy girl who very clearly has a crush on the guy, but never gets the time of day because the show’s not about her, but we still have to know she exists anyway. The subplot eats up a surprising amount of the show’s time and while none of the runtime is really lost since the episodic episodes featuring the children are wrapped up well enough to not warrant me yelling at Brain’s Base for wasting time, I can’t help but feel cheated because they set up the potential romance only to have it not go anywhere because audiences apparently like unresolved plot points/ideas.
Overall, Gakuen Babysitters is pretty much a show that’s what you get on the box. It’s a show about a guy babysitting kids with the occasional funny thing happening cause it’s a slice of life comedy show that entertains. It wraps itself neatly at the end to show how far the two brothers have come, as a sort of recap episode to show the fruits of the labor the entire runtime has built up to, but largely what you’re going to be seeing here are “School babysitters”. Babysitters who babysit at school.
+/- Pretty much what you’d expect with the title of the series
+ Has some heartwarming moments
– Romance goes nowhere, so why even include it in the first place
Ryuuichi is about as interesting as sandpaper. He cares very much for his little brother (to be to an obsessive degree for various reasons), and is extremely passive, being far too nice to everyone and not getting upset in the slightest. Honestly there’s not much to say about this guy cause weirdly enough, he’s not involved with the plot all that much despite being the protagonist and the story beyond the first few episodes doesn’t do much to shed light on the reality of him now being an orphan despite a few choice moments. Kotaro is sort of an off-branch of his character since the two in the show are basically inseparable, and Kotaro on his own doesn’t really have any traits of his own either cause the kid is usually silent with this perpetual bored expression that makes me question whether or not he knows what’s even going on in his life.
Then there’re the kids. Who, if you know what kids really are like, will probably be reflective in your experience with them. Simply put; they’re loud, they’re jerks, they do whatever the hell they want, and they can be cute. Sometimes. As the core of the show’s existence, the six children featured in the show each take turns and sometimes altogether being the show’s focus (some more than others), taking the protagonist and various members of the side cast along with them on their little adventures doing what children do. The brat, the girl, the twins, Kotaro, and the baby; I have my own gripes with each of the kids, as their actual characters are something of personal preference, but I have to say they did a good job at showing their audience what snot-nosed brats children are actually like most of the time. So I guess they did get the important thing right.
The rest of the cast involving recurring characters like Kamitami Hayato and Yoshihito Usaida, two characters who are commonly seen around Ryuuichi, the childrens’ parents, and other members of the side cast all weirdly enough have more personality than our main protagonist in that they fill in the gaps to enrich the world surrounding Ryuuichi with people who’re more experienced with the other kids in the series, being family members and other people who simply have been around the children longer to be able to handle the little headaches much easier. The outliers to this rule are Inomata Maria and Ushimaru Yuki, both of whom are the girls that seem to catch Ryuuichi’s fancy, but don’t do anything about it cause even if you try, romance isn’t wanted in this story.
+ Realistic depictions of toddler behavior
+ Amusing sidecast (for the most part)
– MC’s not very interesting
Produced by Brain’s Base, Gakuen Babysitters focuses more on the light aesthetic with very few points of animation to take note of. The show itself is very consistent with its art quality, vying for a simple style with pastel colors that emulate the show’s normally cheery and bright nature cause the show isn’t a slice of life shoujo for nothing.
Comedy is relegated primarily to very simple comedic faces that at times don’t even feel like a real anime comedy cause nothing’s exaggerated which I guess by extension makes it less intrusive on the situation as a whole. Though I do question what kind of comedy can be derived from a family who disciplines their members with a sharp blow to the head. I mean it’s kinda funny, but it got kind of stale after the twentieth time they did it, which doesn’t help when the Kamitami family has the most irritating child in the entire series as one of its members.
+ Consistent quality
+ Soothing and simple style
Both Daisuke Ono’s “Endless Happy World” and Hyorotto Danshi’s “Oshiete yo“, which is sung by the VAs of Ryuuichi and Hayato are both mellow songs that emulate the slice of life/happy go lucky tune that the show sings to featuring the day to day lives of looking after children who spend half their time drowning in their own imaginations playing.
Suffice to say, they’re not really the most memorable tracks, but they do their job in emulating the feeling the audience is supposed to get when watching this series cause everything about these songs is meant to create the feeling of children having fun more than anything else. Personally though, I’m not much of a fan and I found them to be kind of generic and nothing really noteworthy.
Honestly, I watched this show more for the novelty of the idea more so than any interest in the show itself. I sat there looking at ‘Gakuen Babysitters’ and thought to myself what the actual hell they could do with a show as literally titled as this. The show pretty much met my expectation on what I thought it was going to do, but kind of killed them at the same time cause the show’s attempt at a romantic subplot was one of those things that shouldn’t have been there, but surprise surprise, was there because why not. I was actively upset at Yuki’s lack of involvement in the plot because she kept showing up in the series with nothing of value to add with every appearance. Which is sad because they try to mix her into everything by the end of the series and every fiber of my being was asking “Why didn’t you do this earlier?”
But I think the one part of the show that irked me the most was Taka, Hayato’s little brother and quite possibly the worst character in this entire show. Simply put, he’s a brat. An annoying kid that spends the entire show trying to get his way and shove his way into everything without any acknowledgment for anyone else’s thoughts or feelings. I don’t like him because not only is he an annoying character, but he reminds me of a member of my own family who is the exact same way, and that’s not a fun comparison to think about when you’re watching an episode of anime on Sunday night to relax dreading the coming week.
But all in all, Gakuen Babysitters is a show that I felt was…alright, I guess. I don’t think it helps that I’m not much of a shoujo fan, and the shoujo-style of storytelling isn’t my favorite, so I think my enjoyment of the show would’ve been skewed from the beginning. If you’re a fan of the shoujo genre and you got some time to kill, this would be a fun show to watch if you’re trying to fill in time. Just be prepared to turn down your volume at times cause like a real group of children, the kids in this show can get pretty loud, and Taka’s voice is like cheese graters, so here’s your early warning.