「その6」 (Part 8)
“Obligation” is definitely the thematic center of this episode for me.
Several things have become clear over the past few episodes of Gakuen Babysitters. First of all, Ryuuichi is indeed popular among the girls – be it his “comfy” nature or not that’s the allure. Second, It would be no exaggeration to say that Kotarou is stiff competition for any girl interested in winning Ryuu’s affections. And third, whatever else is going on in his life Ryuuichi is not immune to feelings on the subject of romance – in that sense at least, he’s a normal 15 year-old boy.
It’s a sad function of her role as story catalyst that the girl who gives Ryuu his first love letter is a dread “Girl X” – she’s given neither a face or a name, and her identity really isn’t important. It’s more about what the letter brings out in other people that matters. It’s abundantly clear (if it wasn’t already) that both Inomata and Yuki are very much invested (though only Yuki will admit it). As for Ryuuichi himself, this whole business puts him rather off his game – to the point where Kotarou is convinced he’s ill (and so is Morinomiya-san).
Kotarou’s vigorous attempts to swap roles with his brother (the blanket, the mikan, the decision to go straight to sleep) aside, this is something only Ryuuichi can work out for himself. That he does reject the girl’s confession is kind of sad – both for itself (though we know nothing about her), and for the fact that he’s doing it because he doesn’t think he’s “together” enough to handle a relationship and caring for his brother. Ryuu is all about his obligations – to his brother, to the girl who confessed and deserves a straight and prompt answer – but maybe not so much to himself. Kotarou, it seems, is in fairly good hands in terms of a support network and Ryuu really could branch out a little if he truly wanted to (which suggests at least a small part of his decision may be an excuse). Whether either Maria-san (or) or Yuki-san is the one to convince him of that is an open question.
Meanwhile, it’s festival time (truth be told, if you expand your reach to a few towns or neighborhoods in Japan, you’ll find a matsuri just about every week). Taka and Kotarou figuring out how to (badly) hold a telephone conversation (along with the black pants bit) is the funniest moment of the episode, but the date is made for the two main sets of brothers to hang out together – and Morinomiya-san makes sure both her charges are dressed for the occasion.
I remain convinced that, on the whole, Hayato-kun is basically a terrible big brother. What I’m not sure is whether Gakuen Babysitters feels that way too – I go back and forth on that. There’s something to be said for Ryuuichi being too kind, too tolerant, too yielding – but surely that’s better than hitting your brother constantly and every other sentence seemingly intended to make him cry? Hayato seemingly makes no allowances for the fact that Taka is a toddler, and even if he’s a bratty one that lack of empathy on his brother’s part is certainly not Taka’s fault.
The incident where Taka loses his beloved toy sword (sure Hayato was right in predicting it – but so what?) is a good exemplar of the difference between these two as onii-sans. For Hayato, looking for the sword is an obligation – and he can’t understand why Ryuu would want to do it if he doesn’t have to. For Ryuu it’s s simple decency – Hayato is his friend and Taka one of his charges (even off the clock) and he knows the sword is important to the little guttersnipe. Maybe Ryuuichhi should have gently pushed Taka to give up sooner – but I’d still rather err in that direction than telling Taka he’d never bother spending time with him if he didn’t have to (which is a truly terrible, hurtful thing for an elder sibling to say). Happily Hayato does give a tiny bit, offering a compromise (a try at a fixed carnival string game) as incentive to Taka to give up on the sword, and that brings us to a happy ending for all. But even when Hayato does a nice thing for Taka (which I could count the instances of on one hand) it seems almost like an accident…