by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 12 of
School Babysitters ?
There really was no easy way to end this series. In part that's because it was open-ended from the start, with plot points being about each step of the boys' development as characters and people, learning to trust others and to cope with their initial grief. It was a good choice for the series as a whole, because it takes into account the realistic growth of Kotaro and Ryuichi, as well as the chairwoman slowly opening up. Had School Babysitters simply piled on the angst and left that character development for a last episode of melodrama, it wouldn't have been nearly as fun or effective. But it does leave the show with a predicament in terms of picking a good stopping point.
Using the boys' first Christmas with the chairwoman and Saikawa largely works, although I have to admit that I don't really dig Christmas episodes. School Babysitters does a credible job of showing Ryuichi try to provide what his deceased father used to give Kotaro, rather than indulging generic feelings about the holiday itself, which makes the whole thing more palatable. Kotaro is caught up in the idea of Santa Claus, and Ryuichi wants him to have the whole experience just like their dad gave him. The problem is that he's not sure how to pull it off, especially since both Saikawa and the chairwoman aren't around to distract his brother. Ultimately this goes farther than just trying to find time to put on a red costume – it comes back to him being fearful of offending the chairwoman and ending up with no place to call home. Even though she's never implied that to be a possibility, even at her crabbiest, he's still suffering from feelings of betrayal and abandonment caused by his parents' deaths, so he's not comfortable doing anything that might possibly constitute “annoying” his new grandmother. In his mind, it's just safer to provide as much for Kotaro by himself as he can. That way, they'll still be welcome in the house.
Perhaps the chairwoman isn't fully aware of how much Ryuichi has internalized this self-imposed message. Kamitani proves himself to be a good friend by cluing her in through a confrontation I'd love to have seen, but she's definitely been realizing on her own that Ryuichi may be taking her directive to care for the kids a little too seriously. That's why in the first half of the episode, Ryu gets to go to the movies with his buddies from class while Saikawa takes care of Kotaro – the chairwoman's given him explicit instructions that Ryuichi must be allowed to foster friendships with kids his own age. She may also be starting to understand just how much of a gap the boys are filling in her own life. When she comes home to find Kotaro and Saikawa in the library that belonged to her late son and daughter-in-law, her first reaction is a sudden feeling like she's gotten some part of her lost children back again. Not that she'll ever admit it, but she's getting just as much out of having Ryuichi and Kotaro in her life as they are.
And sadly, that's it for School Babysitters. The anime adaptation ends here, with Saikawa under the mistaken impression that playing with a toddler is like playing with a kitten or puppy, and before Kotaro can more fully explore the library and find even more inappropriate things to read. Hopefully someone will license the manga, because there's obviously a lot more to learn about this group, and it's been an absolute delight getting to know them. School Babysitters never faltered in showing both the wonderful and disgusting aspects of toddlers. It managed to be funny, heartwarming, gross, and charming all at the same time. Even if we're not around to see it, the series leads us to believe that Ryuichi and Kotaro will grow up well.
School Babysitters is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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