「その6」 (Part 6)
That was some weapons-grade kawaii right there.
Halfway through its run, it should be pretty clear to all by now what the major theme of Gakuen Babysitters is. Love stories good and bad of all sorts are abundant in anime, but ones mainly focused on siblings (and I’m not talking about otaku-bait “wincest” tripe here) are relatively rare. Uchouten Kazoku is a superb recent example that comes to mind, though of course that was a more plot-driven series than this one. With Gakuen Babysitters, sibling bonds are at the heart of the story.
To be more specific, brotherly love is the core of this show. And we’ve already seen it manifest in many forms, most obviously of course with Ryuuichi and Kotarou but just as prominently with Hayato and Taka. The brother thing is complex and each bond is as unique as a snowflake, and we see yet another iteration of it here with the Nezu family getting the spotlight in the first act this week. We met Nezu Chuukichi briefly a few weeks ago, acting as a sort of sidekick/conscience for #1 student and kiddie otaku Yagi, but it’s Nezu who takes the fore here.
More correctly, it’s Chukichi’s (though he acts like the eldest, the family naming conventions suggest he’s a middle son) younger brother Kichi (just “Kichi”?) who headlines this act. He shows up at the school as Ryuu is doing the laundry out back, promptly gets himself stuck in the hedgerow and whacks Ryuu on the hand (much to Kotarou’s horror) when he tries to help. Kichi has had a little tantrum about being poor – his family apparently has eight siblings and Chukichi has special dispensation from the school to work to help support them – and Kichi just wants to see how the other half lives for once.
Kichi has a twin, Suekichi (seriously, Nezu parents – really?) who shows up to defend his sibling and ends up stuck in the shrubbery too. After Yagi and Inomata show up (Ryuu has called Yagi, looking for Chukichi’s contact info) and do their respective kiddiecon/tsundere acts for a bit, Chukichi finally does arrive and settle things down. Yagi and he go way back of course, and Chukichi experienced some of the same frustrations Kichi did so he’s more than sympathetic. In fact he’s taken on extra shifts in order to buy his otouto the game he craves (Hayato is put to shame as an older brother yet again), which I’m fine with to be honest – when kids that young are forced to live tough lives, it’s fine to spoil them once in a while as long as they’re made to understand that there’s a cost behind getting what you want.
I don’t often use the term – in fact I don’t recall ever using it before now, or wanting to – but what comes to mind as a descriptor for the B-part is “ruthlessly cute”. I mean, this was take-no-prisoners adorable as Ryuuichi begs off the daycare for lunch so he can finish a chemistry project, but forgets his lunch. Kotarou, naturally, volunteers to take it to him – and Usaida-san, being the irresponsible caregiver he is, allows him to do it. That he enlists (bribes) lovestruck Inui-kun into looking after Kotarou and slips Ryuuichi’s name and class on a tag around his neck is marginally better than nothing, I suppose, but not by much.
I’m glad he did it, though, because it gave us a chance to see Kotarou’s odyssey through the school. I was very much reminded of a story from Flat, a manga I adore which will sadly never be made into an anime (or fully translated, I fear) – something about that first errand for a little boy is really emotionally-charged. Ryuu is getting plenty to eat – first Yuki offers him her bento and then every boy in class shares their lunch in horrified response – but Kotarou isn’t to know that. Inui actually steps up, putting on a “Masked Helper” paper bag when foot traffic on the stairs proves to be unmanageable for Kotarou solo (Kotarou’s bow of thanks was the cutest moment in an episode bursting with them). I’m not sure there was any deep philosophical significance to this chapter, but it sure was a joy to watch.