「その11」 (Part 11)
It’s turned out to be a pretty decent winter season in the end. Not great, but better than I initially expected I think. That’s in part because of the surprisingly great and not just good (Koi wa Ameagari) and surprising altogether (Kokkoku, though I did call it a sleeper – along with the equally worthwhile Miira no Kaikata). But it’s also because Gakuen Babysitters has largely upheld its duties as the tentpole series it looked to be going into the season. It hasn’t had to carry the banner alone (as I feared it might) and it hasn’t been an outright masterpiece, but it’s been every bit the heartwarming and sneaky subtle show I figured it would be.
We won’t know until next week how this show does on disc, but it would be foolish to expect much – based either on Stalker points or recent history with such series. So it’s probably a safe bet that next week’s final episode of Gakuen Babysitters will be the final episode, which certainly makes me sad – it’s been a weekly dose of warmth and bittersweet familial love that’s done my heart a lot of good. But that’s the nature of adaptations like this – one cour to plug the manga, and in that sense it’s done its job – the series continues to be very popular in manga form (Kotarou was even voted “character you’d most like as your little brother” in a fan poll – and I can’t argue with that).
This penultimate episode gave a bit of exploration to a couple of secondary characters, starting with Saikawa-san. He’s who Usaida calls in to pinch-hit when he’s too sick to come into work (somewhat out of character, perhaps, he’s not faking). Saikawa seems singularly ill-suited for this job – indeed, humbling and prostrating himself before a group of toddlers seems like quite a disastrous move (though it may actually have been kind of clever). Fortunately for “Sa-chan” the stalwart Kotarou (seriously, I’d run through a brick wall for that kid and that’s knowing he’s a fictional character) is ready to help in whatever way possible.
It’s not surprising that the only real trouble comes in the person of Midori-chan, because she’s really the one whom Usaida most literally takes care of (though he does imagine Kotarou with a “sad panda” book mourning his absence). Midori has bonded so much with Usaida-san, in fact, that he gets an “Udda!” before either parent gets a “Mommy” or “Daddy” – a bit of a sort point, understandably.
Next up it’s Yuki-chan’s turn after Inomata catches her spying on the daycare room but misinterprets her reason for doing so. Yuki is pretty much a lost cause as far as Ryuuichi is concerned – she’s pot-committed, even if she can’t tell him that. The problem is that the one part of her lie to Maria-chan that was true is that she’s bad with little kids – and that syndrome doesn’t get any better when Kirin-chan makes a beeline straight for her décolletage, and the boys (sans the gentleman Kotarou, of course) soon follow suit (is it OK for Kirin and not them, I wonder?). The only one more upset about this unwanted oppai attention than Yuki is Maria, in fact.
The point of this sketch is actually an important one, I think. Yes, little kids are disgusting – they’re snotty and sticky and they pee on you and put grubs in your hand, a lot of things a 16 year-old girly-girl is going to struggle with. But as Ryuu says, the transition comes when they stop being “little kids” and become people to you – because, of course, they are people. And IMHO kids, even from a very young age (much younger than most credit them for) know when adults (or near-adults) don’t treat them like people. They’re better judges of character than we think – and they hate being condescended to…