by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 10 of
School Babysitters ?
We now know Usaida's hidden talent: he makes fabulous vegetable costumes. Of course, they're not costumes made with ease of movement taken into consideration – only Kirin's carrot outfit allows her to move and carry trays of juice with any sort of skill. Granted, her lack of spilling could also be due to the fact that she's slightly more coordinated than the other toddlers, but looking at Kotaro's cabbage or the twins' tomatoes and the way they hamper their movements, I can't help but think that Usaida prioritized cuteness over function. (And isn't Midori just the cutest little onion you've ever seen?) Since Kirin's dad appears to be the one most in need of impressing, things do work out though. This is our first time meeting him (although we've certainly met his type before as the protagonist of numerous shoujo romances), and poor little Kirin's got a rough road ahead of her – not only is her dad an incorrigible flirt, he's also incredibly protective of his little girl, possibly because he's an incorrigible flirt. When he realizes that she and Midori are the only girls in the daycare, he freaks right the hell out, instantly suspecting all of the boys of having designs upon his darling.
I'd call shenanigans on this plot except that I witnessed my cousin doing the exact same thing about his daughter when she was a toddler. As with the kids, School Babysitters does a good job of showing us a variety of parents, from Taka's mom who's okay with her boys' violence toward each other to overprotective dads like Kirin's and even low-key overprotective Midori's dad. There's less variety in the moms, but that could be due to the fact that this is based on a shoujo manga, making the array of dads more novel for reader observation. We even get Saikawa thrown into the mix as substitute dad – the chairwoman can't make it to the veggie juice café because of work. While this does lead to a great joke about characters who have perpetually closed eyes, it also makes an important moment possible; when Kotaro sees Saikawa, he gets excited that “ba-cha” is coming. This is the first time we've seen him show outward affection to anyone besides Ryuichi, which stands as an important factor in his emotional growth – he's beginning to feel safe getting attached to someone besides his brother, which will eventually allow Ryuichi to expand his world as well.
But first, chickens. The second half of the episode involves Taka and Hayato's mom inviting the toddlers to come see the chicks she's incubating in the science lab hatch, and no one is more excited than Kotaro. We've seen his fascination with small creatures before (the way he'll always stop to look at a bug or two), but this is even more exciting, and there's something about seeing his face plastered to the incubator that feels particularly real. Ryuichi is hardly less invested in the chicks, even though he's already got a bunch of wee ones imprinted on him. (Now that Kotaro's got his own flock of chicks, can't you just see them all trooping down the hall after Ryuichi?) But the absolute best part of this event is watching Kotaro try to send his energy to the hatching chicks to help them. From the effort noises to the look of concentration on his bright red face, it says a lot about Kotaro as a person and how much he wants to help wherever he can.
While all of the toddlers' voice actors have been doing an impressive job, this episode reminds me that Kotaro's actress, Nozomi Furuki, is really wonderful. Not only does she nail the abbreviated forms of words that Kotaro can pronounce, but she does so without sounding overly twee. For the most part, all of the kids sound more like actual toddlers than an adult's idea of what a child sounds like. (Taka treads closest to this line, although Yuko Sanpei does some impressive wailing.) That helps to give this show its combination of sweet and sad without going too far in the former direction. It's not always easy to pull off, and the toddlers' voices are part of why it works.
Next week it looks like Usaida will be even less helpful (not his fault; I think he gets sick, which is a real issue working with kids), so we'll see if the helpers who fill in for him are less terrifying to the children than Hayato. Seriously man, stop threatening to hit small children. It's not okay.
School Babysitters is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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