School Babysitters
Episode 8

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 8 of
School Babysitters ?

Does anyone else feel like Kotaro spends an inordinate amount of time standing quietly holding a book while waiting for someone to notice him? It's kind of sad on first glance, because he's such a sweet little guy, but on the brighter side of things, it's indicative of his character – Kotaro wants to be as helpful as he can, and given his parents' personalities, that translated into being as little trouble as possible. The poor kid knows that his brother's not supposed to be his primary caregiver, and he wants to make it as easy on Ryuichi as he possibly can.

That really comes to the fore in the first half of this week's episode, when Ryuichi is utterly shocked to receive a love letter in his shoe locker. He's not the only one – both Inomata and Yuki are also surprised (albeit unpleasantly), as are Kamitani and Usokawa, the bespectacled classmate who's always on the prowl for ladies. But none of them are sent into as much of a tailspin as the letter's recipient. Not only has Ryuichi been oblivious to his own attractiveness (much to his classmates' collective shock), but he also has to decide what he wants to do about this particular girl. He's definitely flattered but equally unsure, so he jumps on the Wonderful Hamster Wheel of Anxiety for most of the segment. While that makes sense to us, because we know what's really happening, to Kotaro it just looks like his beloved brother is getting sick again. He tries to take care of Ryuichi as best he can, which means pretending that he doesn't need a bedtime story and bringing him a blankie—and of course, wandering off to pick a lemon, because that's what the chairwoman used to make him better before. It's not only adorable, but it also drives home the message that kids are always listening and paying attention, especially quiet, anxious kids like Kotaro. He's taking his cues from the world around him, and since he doesn't understand the whole love letter thing, all he can hear is that people keep asking if Ryuichi is sick. Kotaro feels like he needs to cure his brother, even if that means doing things he shouldn't (running off) or doesn't want to (forgoing the bedtime story).

Of course, not all toddlers are great listeners, and that's where Taka comes in. He invites Kotaro and Ryuichi to go to the local festival with him and his big brother (although he panics at actually speaking on the phone), and then promptly has a meltdown when he isn't allowed to play a (rigged) game, which is only exacerbated when he loses the toy sword Kamitani has told him to be careful not to lose. Taka not only serves as a foil to Kotaro, but also a really good example of the less cute side of little kids; sometimes they break down screaming unreasonably about something small. Taka's inconsolable for almost the entire time at the festival, and anyone who's ever interacted with a toddler will remember them doing the exact same thing. (My youngest sister was especially good at this.) It isn't as fun to watch as Kotaro being adorably concerned, but it does acknowledge that little kids aren't cute all the time, and it balances out Kotaro's refusal to eat his pretty cotton candy and Ryuichi's low-key embarrassment at the yukata Saikawa laid out for him so nicely.

This is also a pretty good episode for the chairwoman's mysterious manservant. The man's always been preternaturally prepared, but he really climbs to new heights this week, and I find myself wondering if he's some sort of ninja or master spy. How did he know that Ryuichi had gotten the love letter and to prepare a celebratory dish? And how did he know that the boys had been invited to a festival before they even mentioned it? Should we be worrying about this?

Rating: A-

School Babysitters is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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