Tomoaki MaenoSatomi AkesakaNozomi FurukiAyaka Saito
School Babysitters
Also known as: Gakuen Babysitters
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2018
Director: Shusei Morishita
Writer: Yuuko Kakihara
Original creator: Hari Tokeino
Actor: Atsumi Tanezaki, Ayaka Saito, Daisuke Ono, Kaede Hondo, Konomi Kohara, Kotaro Nishiyama, Motohiro Ota, Nozomi Furuki, Satomi Akesaka, Tomoaki Maeno, Tomoko Miyadera, Toshiyuki Someya, Yoshimasa Hosoya, Yuichiro Umehara, Yuko Sanpei
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=19400
Website category: Anime 2018
Review date: 8 May 2019
Gakuen Babysitters
It's nice. It's not an important show and it doesn't usually dig too deep, but it's nice and sometimes funny.
A boy called Ryuuichi has lost his parents and has now been adopted by a woman who looks as if she's wearing a sheep on her head. She only insists that he help out at his school's creche. (It's for the pre-school children of the school's staff.) Fortunately Ryuuichi is more than happy to help, being he's entirely toddler-focused anyway since he has a two-year-old brother called Kotarou.
What ensues is gentle and happy. There's some pain at the beginning, since Ryuuichi and Kotarou were only recently orphaned, but the show soon forgets about that and settles down into happy, warm childcare comedy. It's a relaxing show. Also, to give it credit, it's a step above a lot of its slice-of-life peers because it's marathonable. It doesn't have a plot or a story arc, but it's not empty carbohydrates either.
It's based on a shoujo manga, by the way. Thus when the girls in Ryuuichi's class fancy him, that's nothing to do with wish-fulfilment harem shows. It's because Ryuuichi is the ultimate sensitive, caring boy and yet also unattainable. Any girl who wants to snare him is going to be competing with two-year-olds for his attention.
Personally, I thought the show had a good understooding of small children. I have two and it rang true to me. Natsuki enjoyed it too. They believe nonsense, have incomprehensible arguments and insist loudly that they won't do things that are guaranteed to happen. "Witches aren't real, so you can't become one! Superheroes are real!" They cry less than you'd expect in real life, but the show's not saccharine. One of the toddlers (Taka) is a loudmouth show-off who's going to grow up with an attitude, possibly because his brother Hayato (and indeed his entire family) is rude, unsociable and violent. Hayato's one of the school's three regular babysitters, but he regularly calls Taka an idiot and whacks him over the head. ("How did he turn out like that?" asks their mother, who's basically Hayato in a skirt.)
The creche also has a full-time employee, Usaida, who regularly lets the two-year-olds wander off alone and often goes to sleep while he's minding them. This anime might be a useful litmus test for how uptight your friends are about childcare and parenting standards. (NOTE: Japan's often more relaxed about such things than the West.)
My main negative about this show is that it's threatening to tip over the edge with its characterisation of Yagi and the children's fathers. Yagi's a schoolboy who so loves tiny children that he gets nosebleeds and becomes the object of paedophile jokes. Meanwhile, from the fathers, Kousuke's so insecure that he can bring himself to tears with an ordinary conversation, Yutaka's a walking beard and Satoru's so worryingly protective of his two-year-old daughter that he wants to protect her from all males (uh...). I'm not offended or anything, but they're pushing the show in cartoonish and less plausible directions. (I'll admit that Satoru's funny, though.)
That shower are a minor element, though. Most of the show is simply pleasant and nice. I liked the other girls in Ryuuichi's year, for instance, with Inomata and Ushimaru never showing the slightest hint of rivalry even though they both fancy Ryuuichi. (Ushimaru's just shy, but Inomata's a harsh, short-tempered girl whose only hobby is studying and will generally be laying down the law to everyone, including herself. She's a brutal critic of her own lack of social skills and is quick to get spiky and embarrassed out of sheer negativity and lack of self-confidence. Hanging out at the babysitting club with Ryuuichi and the toddlers is ideal therapy for her, although it takes her several episodes to accept that she's even fit to go inside.) You'd be delighted but also surprised if any romance developed, given the personalities involved, although it would be possible to make an argument for both Ryuuichi/Hayato and Inomata/Ushimaru.
There's lots of humour here, but usually in a way that feels real and relatable. It feels to me like the work of someone who knows toddlers, e.g. the gentle comedy in ep.12 of Kotarou being incapable of picking up a ball. You can also play spot-the-genes with mothers and their children, so for instance I felt like shouting "bingo" on realising that Kirin's scary eyes come from her father. This isn't a must-watch show. It's not compelling, instead being the kind of comfortable show that floats in the middle of your watch queue. It's neither at the top or the bottom. It's the kind of safe, warm thing you reach for when you're looking for something heartwarming and relaxing, good for all audiences and capable of being enjoyed by anyone.