by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 11 of
School Babysitters ?
Yuki learns an important lesson this week: just because you're not a blanket fan of little kids doesn't mean that you dislike all little kids. It's just like with any other group of people – it's less about the group and more about individuals you form a bond with. That goes for toddlers as much as anyone else, and even though Yuki thinks that not “being good with” (which seems to be her code for "too uncomfortable around") small children means she can never get married, this week takes steps to assure her that this isn't true. The whole “marriage = kids” thing aside, it's a good theme for the week, because it gives Ryuichi another chance to explain that he's not some sort of even-tempered god of children; he gets just as grossed out and annoyed as anyone when the kids pee on him or ruin his phone. He's simply formed an attachment to the little guys in daycare, so he can overlook the indignities visited upon him.
It's a good episode for character development all around, with the first half of the show seeing poor Usaida succumb to the flu and call in sick. While it's kind of amazing that this is the first time it's happened (kids of all ages can be germ factories), it also gives us a chance to see that despite his lackadaisical attitude, Usaida really does care about everyone. (Also, he's got a sewing machine right by his bed: costumes explained!) He wants them to miss him, he worries about them, and he doesn't want to inconvenience Ryuichi by not finding a substitute. Making his substitute Saikawa seems kind of weird at first, especially when he shows up in his customary suit, (although I can remember my dad having to take us all to work with him a few times, so “man in suit towing small girls and assorted paraphernalia” isn't that unusual), but as it turns out, Saikawa's a natural. Sure, he doesn't realize how babies can flood their diapers (and he's lucky it was just urine), but he manages to almost immediately put the kids at ease and make them feel special by asking for their help. Kotaro being happy to see him doubtless helps clear the way, but Saikawa's lack of panic when he's faced with a roomful of wailing toddlers and a soggy baby really works in his favor. Plus he can magic up a cloth diaper with random fabric. If anyone's an even-tempered god of children, this guy has my vote.
More importantly for the overarching plot, Kotaro's clear love of Saikawa once again shows that he's able to move beyond his brother in terms of attachment. He's not just comfortable with Saikawa; he's obviously pleased get to spend the day with him. Thinking back to the early episodes of the series and how Kotaro actively teared up or wanted to follow Ryuichi out of the room, this is major progress, and seeing Kotaro instantly recommend "lemon tea" for Usaida's illness also says that he's fond of his usual babysitter as well. Earlier he would have been content to stand back and let the other kids talk; now he's comfortable enough to offer the one thing he believes works. Usaida's frantic run (or stagger) to the school also reminds us that he does like taking care of the kids – and seeing Midori say her first word while tugging angrily on his pants speaks to a mutual affection we don't often get to see.
As always, School Babysitters gets credit for not glossing over the grosser aspects of small children. There is a lot of snot involved in seemingly endless quantities, babies do leak through diapers, and yes, you're going to get covered in both of those things and more, if you're taking care of them. But as this week also points out, that doesn't matter nearly as much if you love the kids in question. That's a balance that Usaida and Saikawa understand, that Ryuichi (and some of my dad's business partners) have learned, and that Yuki may come to understand with time. It's also part of what's made this such an enjoyable series, one I'll be sad to see come to its conclusion next week.
School Babysitters is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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