From loud bratty children to soft squishy cheeks; snotty snub noses versus wet puppy dog eyes; tragic circumstance made inspirational; growing others to growing up yourself. Anywhere from mild irritation to cheerful happy smiles, slice of life anime adaptation Gakuen Babysitters (School Babysitters) knows how to push our buttons.
Having lost both their parents in an airplane crash, high schooler Ryuichi is left to care for his baby brother Kotaro. While this alone would be grounds enough for a tear jerking drama, Gakuen Babysitters is quickly steered back into light hearted comedy through a series of daily life adventures, each new episode serving up typical slice of life anime situations.
When generously taken in by the stern and physically imposing Morinomiya Academy chairwoman, Ryuichi must earn his stay by helping out at the understaffed school’s babysitter’s club where he will not only get to spend time with a panoply of high spirited toddlers but also enjoy the company of various peculiar individuals such as teachers, children’s parents and his own classmates. Adapted from Hari Tokeino’s manga by animation studio Brain’s Base, Gakuen Babysitters is a sweet, laid back, easy to watch series for all types and ages for a guaranteed moment of distraction and entertainment.
It’s all in the title: school babysitters; growing teens caring for tiny growing humans.
The moment Ryuichi walks through those nursery doors, a change of pace indicates the threshold to a different universe where the colours are traded in for happy pastel shades and we’re suddenly surrounded by a flock of overly active and animated children, each of them with a colourful character, tinting their unique personalities with ever so realistic childish traits. If Ryuichi’s baby brother Kotaro is more of a shy and soft spoken character, his classmates fulfil the rest of the rainbow with personas varying from loud and bratty to perfect princess sweet. Extremely expressive toddlers with hilarious yet entirely familiar expressions are what truly animates the series as we recognise a younger self, a sibling or an old friend within each youthful character. With each episode illustrating one or two daily adventures, crocodile tears and tantrums become routine, lending a hand in keeping an innocent front contrasting well with some of the other more heavy themes from the saga such as the weight of responsibility, grief and growth.
Gakuen Babysitters is a character driven story, each individual having a determined (and somewhat extreme) set of traits, altogether making for a typical comedy anime cast. Also typical are the art and animation delivered by Brain’s Base, both of them getting the job done yet somehow losing something in translation in the adaptation from manga to anime. Left intact however, are the toddler’s adorable character designs, their plump silhouettes and spot-on expressions giving back to the anime some of its personality. Having their animation as dynamic as their spunky behaviours almost makes us forget how loud the children can be throughout the series. Almost. While bewildered snotty faces can both be humorous and endearing at times, a running gag will grow tired eventually if overdone.
While a more classical shoujo manga (aimed at a young girl demographic) approach can seem repetitive with already seen before tropes, it can also be comforting to know what to expect, with this particular series playing on youth and innocence, remaining pure for start to finish, a delicacy for fans of this particular genre.
The anime is an easy watch and, screaming children aside, a relaxing one too with the anime’s slice of life format keeping it easy, breezy and smooth sailing even if somewhat monotonous at times. Piling it on with everything sweet, your time with Gakuen Babysitters is sure to make good on filling up cuteness quotas, making it warm and fuzzy when needed and maybe even making you relive a second childhood the way a good cartoon takes you back to more youthful times.