Gakuen Babysitters Ep. 4: Babysitting… babysitting never changes

Can you believe that a year has already come and gone? Ryuuichi is apparently a first year in high school now. Does he look a little taller? Does he look a little more grown up? I can’t really tell.

And it doesn’t appear as though any of these kids have aged at all either. I thought kids at that stage developed really quickly, but then again, changing things up would be challenging. Sticking to the status quo, on the other hand, makes it easy to write this story.

Also, have you ever wondered if Kotaro has the sort of personality that a psychiatrist might want to look at? When a piece of paper falls on his head, he just stands completely still with his arms sticking out. When the other kids sing and dance, Kotaro doesn’t keep up with them. He’s not embarrassed. He’s not shy. He just… different. When they visit the Drama Club and one of the kid’s moms is dressed up as an evil spirit, Kotaro doesn’t react at all to it. He’s not scared, but he’s not happy about it either. He has no reaction. He’ll also pause in the middle of walking to stare at bugs. And yet, despite everything I’ve listed above, Kotaro is unusually smart for his age. Sensing his brother’s sadness, the kid goes out of his way to recruit Hayato into the Babysitting Club. One by one, none of these things I’ve listed seem all that significant. But when you take them together, I don’t think it’s fair to simply say that Kotaro is different. He’s more than different, but I doubt we’ll ever really explore what’s truly up with this kid. Gakuen Babysitters just feels too light-hearted for that.

Speaking of Ryuuichi’s sadness, this is probably the closest we’ll ever get to the main character having an actual flaw. He’s trying to recruit people to join the Babysitting Club, but as he takes the kids to visit all the other clubs, he ends up feeling slightly bummed out that he’s too busy to do any of the other cool stuff.

We visit Maria in the Cooking Club, where she naturally yells at Ryuuichi for letting the kids run around unsupervised. While she has a point, there’s a time and a place…

We then visit the baseball team where Hayato is practicing. Naturally, he ignores his brother’s love, then when his teammates tease him about it, he goes over to Taka and hits the kid on the head. A year has passed and  yet nothing will ever change… except apparently Hayato splitting time between baseball and the Babysitting Club. But yeah, that’s it. Ryuuichi’s short bout of sadness is about as flawed as he’ll ever be. The moment quickly passes when he learns that Kotaro had recruited Hayato just for his sake, and we’re right back to the status quo. I dunno about you, but I much more enjoy shows where the main character has to grow up and come to grips with his or her flaws. At this point, Aishiteruze Baby and Usagi Drop still blow this show out of the water. I really don’t really think there’s anything Gakuen Babysitters does that is superior to those two shows (minus Usagi Drop’s manga ending, but we can just pretend that ever existed).

In the final third of the episode, Ryuuichi wakes up with a cold.

So we just get to see the chairwoman reveal a softer side to her character, but I still don’t really like her…

…and Kotaro amusingly try to squeeze out a few drops of lemon juice for his dear brother’s tea…

…only to accidentally knock the cup over and spill all his hard work onto the ground.

In his sleep, Ryuuichi has a nightmare of an alternate timeline in which his parents had taken Kotaro with them. Also, he fears he might not be responsible enough to take care of his brother all by himself. Y’know, this scene would resonate a whole lot more if the audience didn’t already believe that Ryuuichi is a saint. Had we seen the main character screw up — like, say, yelling at his brother because he’s frustrated or showing up to the club late because he wanted to go hang out with friends — then yeah, this insecurity would me empathize with the character. But again, he’s a saint, so I don’t believe his worries for a second. Anyways, that’s that.

The episode ends with Ryuuichi getting some love and care from his brother and the chairwoman. It’d be heartwarming if I could identify with and embrace these characters, but sadly, Gakuen Babysitters’ perfect world and perfect main character continue to keep me at an arms’-length.

Please refrain from posting spoilers or using derogatory language. Basically, don't be an asshole.

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