by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 6 of
School Babysitters ?
Should Usaida or Yagi be allowed around small children? There are different reasons for each of them to be suspect, but I'm honestly torn, even though I suspect that missing backstory from the source manga may be behind their anime version issues. The fact remains that both guys don't appear to be suited to small child interaction this week.
Yagi's more of an issue, with his nosebleeds around the chubby adorableness of itty-bitty kids. It's clearly meant to be a mistaken-pedophile gag, which is uncomfortable in and of itself. But looking at his interactions with his buddy Chukichi's younger brothers, as well as with Kotaro, it looks like he just finds them really cute in a mascot character kind of way. It's still uncomfortable, and the little Kichis (seriously, this family has taken their naming theme too far) don't like it, which is a problem, but he doesn't seem to want much more than to tousle hair. It's still not okay since the kids aren't happy being touched by him and I'm not defending a tone-deaf “joke,” but I do think it's meant to be harmless. I'd still be happy if this was the last we see of him, though.
Then there's Usaida. After the Kirin-Jumps-From-a-Balcony disaster, this week he decides to let Kotaro carry Ryuichi's lunch to him in the high school wing. At first he really does let the little guy go off alone before he tricks Inui into following him, so I suppose it's to his credit that he realizes this would have been a really bad idea. In a school, there are plenty of people to keep half an eye on the toddler, assuming they don't accidentally step on him or kick him down the stairs. But still, as a childcare worker, the whole thing seems pretty damn irresponsible, as just the latest in a string of questionable choices he's made.
Of course, Usaida's questionable choices do make for more plot progression. Kotaro is currently in a battle with How to Keep a Mummy's Mii-kun for the King of Cute award, and both halves of this episode show why he's a top contender. Kotaro's single-minded determination to bring his brother his forgotten lunch is both adorable and inspiring – neither snow nor sleet nor confused high schoolers will stop him in his mission to do this all by himself. Watching him struggle up the stairs gives a sense of how much he wants to help Ryuichi, indicating once again that he knows how hard his brother works to make sure that he's happy and safe. That feeds into one of the best moments of the first half, when Suekichi (or is it Kichi?) smacks Ryuichi's helping hand away and Kotaro goes into shock – how could anyone possible reject onii-chan when he's such a good, kind, and perfect specimen of older brotherhood? The look on his face even without the deep space imagery says it all, and it's wonderful. This ties in with his proud blush in the second half when he finally makes it to Ryuichi's classroom with the somewhat battered lunch. At last, he clearly thinks, he's done something helpful for his beloved brother.
All deep meanings aside, this episode also has a lot of wonderful little details. As usual, Kotaro is the focus of most of them – the way he holds food is not only spot-on but consistent throughout the episode, making the way he holds the box of manju from Chukichi foreshadow how he'll hold Ryuichi's bento later on: vertically. (It's more impressive that he holds the lunch properly for at least half of his trek.) It's a realistic detail that mirrors how real children that age are most likely to hold something, and it also shows that no matter how competent he is for a toddler, Kotaro is still just a few steps removed from a baby who's still figuring out how things work. He's totally willing to buy Inui's paper bag mask as a disguise (or maybe just as something big kids wear), but he understands the importance of being careful with the lunch and on the stairs. He's a combination of stubborn and patient that will probably be a pain when he's thirteen, but right now it hits the right notes for a kid in his situation and for the show's cuteness factor. He also speaks his longest sentence ever this week, which either indicates his burgeoning verbal skills or how big and important he feels bringing his brother his lunch. Either way, it puts him in a good spot for when it looks like a new kid arrives at the daycare next week.
School Babysitters is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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