Teenager Ryuichi Kashima and his toddler-aged brother Kotaro are orphaned when their parents die in a plane crash (a surprisingly common tragedy in anime.) The elderly Ms. Yoko Morinomiya, chair of her eponymous private school, takes in the brothers on the condition that Ryuichi spend his "spare time" helping out in the nursery established for the teachers' kids.
The current reviewer used to teach in a high school, and recalls that the kids didn't seem to have a lot of "spare time" in their daily schedules, though I would imagine help like Ryuichi's might have been greatly appreciated for teachers with kids between the end of classes and the time when the teachers could actually leave to go home- which only seemed like forever, I suppose. But I digress.
Now I'd like to get one thing clear at the beginning: YES, THESE KIDS ARE ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE. A lot of care seems to have been given to their individual personalities, and there are many times in the show where they come across as not only more endearing than several older members of the cast, but also more sensible. I found that a bit of a problem at times, though.
The kids are: Ryuichi's kid brother Kotaro, of course, who's stalwart (like his big brother) but says very little- his typical response is a resolute nod and grunt; Taka Kamitani, a noisy, rambunctious kid (and the "problem child" of the nursery); Kirin Kumatsuka, the responsible "good girl" of the group (though when we see her dad, I couldn't figure out how this could be); the Mamizuka twins, cheerful Takuma and tearful Kazuma; and finally Midori Sawatari, the only actual infant in the group (the others are all toddlers.) Until Ryuichi's arrival they were all only under the merely-nominal care of Usaida Yoshihito, a major slacker who's typically found asleep while the kids are running amok.
Objectively speaking, you could say that even with Ryuichi on board, the nursery is still kind of out of control, especially if the objective was to keep the kids IN it. Ryuichi occasionally ends up escorting the kids through the school, which does have the (mostly) salutary side-effect of getting some of the school's students interested in helping out. An early "joiner" is Taka's big brother Hayato. One problem I had is that Hayato is a "hitter", who's not just physically violent toward his little brother Taka, but, on occasion, is toward one of the other children as well. He seems to get it from his mom, who teaches biology. (Ms. Kamitani DOES have her good moments in the show, though. Since we never see a MR. Kamitani, it's possible that she, unlike the other teachers, is a single mother.) The show never really seems to consider the negative consequences of this sort of family violence (though Ryuichi does chide Hayato for it from time to time), preferring to use it instead for attempted comedy, which bothered me.
The school headmistress, Ms. Morinomiya, is one of those characters who, if you look beneath her (SERIOUSLY!) unpleasant countenance and harsh demeanor, actually is very warm-hearted. She's called on to deal with a couple of the kids' issues, and her solutions are portrayed as effective, even if an observer might wonder if they were the best ways to deal with the situations. She's assisted by her stoic aide, a guy named Saikawa who doesn't really have the slightest idea how to deal with kids. (At one point, he tries to play with a kid as if it were a cat.)
But as I hinted before, my major problem was with some of the older cast members. Two of the kids' "daddies" were not only DRAWN rather young, but ACTED rather immature as well- and in one case this made me really uneasy. The twins' dad is named Kosuke, and is supposed to be a well-known actor who, as a result of his too-familiar face, can't seem to see his kids as often as he likes, and as a result is more than a bit blubbering and whiny.
But that's just a minor annoyance compared to Kirin's father. Before Ryuichi and Hayato meet Satoru Kumatsuka, Kirin's mom has the boys dress in drag, because Mr. Kumatsuka doesn't want any males taking care of Kirin, lest they might have improper designs on his daughter. And why might someone think that two teenage boys might want to molest a female child? Apparently there's projection at work here- Mr. Kumatsuka apparently thinks others have salacious desires toward children because HE has such desires. Oh, the show makes it clear enough: Mr. Kumatsuka actually flirts with the boys when he thinks they're girls ("If I were 15 years younger") and, yes, even with MIDORI ("If I were 30 years younger".) He's not the only character here with a fetish for kids- there's a student named Yagi (who's popular with the girl students, by the way) who gets arousal nosebleeds around the children- but the fact that this is a MARRIED FATHER who's apparently enabled by his wife bugged me, and YES, I DO know this is obviously being played for comedy.
But I wasn't laughing. How THIS guy and his wife (a rather Goth teacher named Yayoi) had such a sweet kid as Kirin is a mystery. (On the other hand, Midori's dad Yutaka, an archaeologist whose face is mostly buried beneath beard, seems pretty normal.)
And then there's the halfhearted "romantic" subplot. We are given a rather traditional anime choice here between two female suitors for Ryuichi's attention, Maria Inomata and Yuki Ushimaru; the former is our tsundere type, a by-the-books top student who, of course, denies that she actually likes Ryuichi; the latter is the usual alternate choice, namely timid, demure, and busty. To the show's credit, the children manage to twist Inomata's denials in knots, hoisting her on her own pretenses, and there's something very pleasant about seeing this sort of posturing demolished by literal childlike innocence. To the show's detriment, this whole "romantic triangle" plot seems perfunctory, tacked on because a show is "supposed" to have one rather than that the writer really cared about it, and it seems about as irresolute about romance as Ryuichi is himself. (I really didn't like EITHER of the girls that much, but I gravitated a bit more toward Inomata (despite her flaws) than I did to Ushimaru.)
I know that there are plenty of people who have already given five stars, or their equivalent, to this show, based on the kids alone. I couldn't go QUITE that far, given some creepy and/or unnerving cast members, and its indifferent "romance." But, yes, the kids (at least the little ones!) really ARE alright. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Some mild fanservice (swimsuits, and some boob jokes involving our boob-iest girl, Ushimaru.) But a dad who's obviously a child molester at heart? I'll nevertheless be generous and say PG-13.
Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on Crunchyroll.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
School Babysitters © 2018 Brain's Base
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