「その2」 (Part 2)
You know, I think at heart what Gakuen Babysitters brings to the table is very straightforward. This is not brain surgery – it’s emotional connections that are about as elemental as any in the human condition. I suppose it might resonate more if one has siblings (having two myself, I can’t truly understand the perspective of the only child), but in terms of dealing with children, I really don’t believe one has to actually have children to intrinsically get that. We’ve all been children, whether we have them or not, and we all remember (at the subconscious level at the very least).
I’ve drawn the comparison to Shounen Maid before, but I keep seeing traces of it all through the narrative of Gakuen Babysitters, and I think the issue of abandonment is central to both series. We might intellectually understand that a tragic death is not an intentional act of abandonment, but (and this is obviously even more true in very young children) death is emotionally the ultimate abandonment. Children left behind by those they love can’t help but fear it will happen again, surely – and this makes them cling all the more tightly to those that remain behind with them, even if they often build walls to try and protect themselves from the potential pain of being abandoned again.
The other theme we see in the early episodes of Gakuen Babysitters is the portrayal of two very different types of sibling relationships. Hayato-kun may be exactly right in saying that Kotarou is “way too in love” with Ryuuichi (though given their circumstances, who could blame either of them) but he represents a very different sort of big brother. Frankly I don’t approve of his constantly boxing Taka on the head every time he acts up (I don’t think Ryuu does either). I think we can assume if Taka ever gets a little brother he’ll do exactly the same – just as Hayato’s mother does to him (hmmm…).
The thing is, I suppose, that this is complicated for all its simplicity. Kids are really, really hard to deal with sometimes – which is one of the myriad of reasons I’ve never chosen to have one. Through no fault of their own they’re almost unerringly selfish and relentlessly needy. When Ryuu tries to leave Kotarou to go to class (in the new uniform the “cheap” Headmaster has bought him), Kotarou follows him. And when Kotarou follows, all the others follow him Usaida is asleep, as usual). People like Hayato (who’s still a child himself) can easily lose patience with them – it’s really Ryuuichi who’s the unusual one here.
Also lacking patience is Inomata Maria (Akesaka Satomi) the top student in Ryuu’s year, and she demonstrates when she remonstrates Ryuu for “bringing” the children into the middle school. Her problem with kids seems to be a general lack of experience with them, and her trip to the daycare is looking rather disastrous until Usaida fakes an illness and asks her to help Ryuuichi watch the kids. Her bark is worse than her bite, but the jury is kind of still out with Hayato. Boys his age are generally shy about showing emotion, but his refusal to tell Taka he loves or even likes him is problematic to say the least.
That incident complicates Ryuu’s suggested field trip to the zoo, which ends up involving all of the children (Usaida is right – brothers or no, in that room Ryuuichi can’t play favorites) – a trip prompted by bratty Taka telling Kotarou he was “dumb” for wearing a tiger shirt when he’d never seen a real one. Most of the kids end up being accompanied by their moms, but Taka and Hayato’s mother can’t attend – and Taka makes it very clear he’s not interested in having Hayato take her place (he’s a boy too, after all).
That trip to the zoo was spot-on for realism, as anyone who’s ever tried to navigate the minefield of the gift shop with rugrats in tow could tell you. The only part that didn’t ring true was the tiger exhibit, because they seem invariably to be lounging around doing nothing when they’re visible at all. Taka and Hayato’s relationship is definitely a work in progress, and it’s very much a central one in Gakuen Babysitters – both Ryuuichi and Kotarou’s circumstances and their relationship are exceptional, but it’s easier to see it in that context when we’re presented with alternatives that are far more typical.