School Babysitters Series Review: They’re Cute… And?

The Winter 2018 anime season was rife with cute shows, so how does this bit of adorableness stack up?

Review:

It should have become fairly clear to anyone who reads my blog and reviews with any regularity that I am not a fan of cute kids. Sweetness and Lightning didn’t last long on my watch list and while I didn’t mind Usagi Drop, I was hardly dancing in the streets after watching it (though I guess that wasn’t the emotion they were going for anyway). So picking up an anime that seems to have cute kids as its entire premise might seem a little out of character, and believe me, no one is more surprised than me that I saw this through to the end of the season.

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For all that I will offer some criticisms of the anime as the review progresses, I actually had a lot of fun with this title during Winter. It was that small touch of adorable sweetness that I needed each week and kind of went well with How to Keep a Mummy in terms of giving me something that was cute for cute’s sake to look forward to. But still, if all I want is cute there was a myriad of show’s during Winter, so why did this one stick for me when other, quite probably better anime (Place Further Than the Universe/Laid Back Camp), fell off my watch list?

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Part of the answer comes during the first couple of episodes where certainly things are sickly sweet at times and the super close relationship between the brothers might lead you to thinking this anime is going a whole other direction. This anime actually gave me a few genuine emotional moments early on with the central characters dealing with the grief and loss of their parents despite being genuinely an upbeat show. It was that balance early on that sold me on the show and while I might later be annoyed that it didn’t commit to developing these ideas thematically, choosing instead to focus on lighter slice of life aspects or support characters I didn’t really click with, I still feel that emotional connection with the protagonists because they really nailed it early in the show. Points for not delaying character development and just putting it out there.

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They also returned to this idea at the end of the series allowing the loss of their parents and their need to grow up without so many of the things they had thought would be in their future in the final episode. There are differences as the two characters are now surrounded by others and Kotaro is now far more willing to reveal his emotions, but it felt like a nice way to bookend the series with this focus on the protagonists and their personal grief.

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Unfortunately that means there is a lot of stuff in the middle that really only can be described as fluff. Sometimes it is good fluff. It makes a point or gives the audience a cute moment. A couple of the support characters are actually kind of fun and it was enjoyable watching them have their moments.

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But…

There are those moments that miss the mark. The character you can’t stand or question the existence of. Also, one particular episode that deals heavily with gender norms and seems to present a fairly alarming willingness to simply agree that we shouldn’t challenge people when they have pre-established expectations on the roles of men and women. Maybe that’s me reading too much into the episode, but really it left a fairly sour taste in my mouth and came directly after a beach episode so that was kind of a low point at the three-quarter mark for the series.

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Though, if I had to say what my favourite part of this series was, it was definitely watching Kotaro. He is an interesting child and part of me wonders if we are supposed to be reading more into him as at times he presents some interesting behaviours. While trauma and grief might account for it, particularly as he appears less emotionally repressed later in the series, there’s certainly room for a lengthy discussion about Kotaro. And when you couple this bundle of pure cuteness with his adoring older brother they almost always create a winning formula regardless of how poor other aspects of the episode might be getting.

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Ultimately though, while I am recommending this series, there is no point going into it expecting some kind of narrative or character master-piece. It is a show that very clearly knew what tone it wanted to establish and it sticks to it time after time. Episodes generally present two mini-arcs that are loosely connected to the overall plot as the characters go about their year so very few ideas have sufficient screen time for anything resembling depth. Which makes the emotional moments the show has succeeded in even more surprising really.

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Anyway, cute kids in a day care and brotherly love. Worth trying even if it doesn’t stick with you.

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Karandi James

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School Babysitters Episode 12: Let’s All Believe In Santa

Finally, this adorableness has come to an end and while I’ll leave the question of whether there was ever any substance other than the power of cute kids in the anime to the full series review, episode 12 kind of had a good crack at reminding us about some of the solids this series has offered us. Specifically, the focus turned back to Ryuuichi and Kotaro’s relationship and their dealing with their life without parents.

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However, as much as this episode hit many of the right notes, a few things continued to undermine any attempt at serious drama. While there are certainly some reasonable issues raised, everything ends on such a saccharine note it is hard to take seriously. Or maybe that is just me and my general cynicism coming out.

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Still, if you made it this far, this final episode is certainly worth watching and I’ll do a more in depth look at the series soon.

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Karandi James

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School Babysitters Episode 11: Why Don’t They Have Relief Staff?

The only actual babysitter (though he spends more time sleeping) employed in this anime is sick leaving Ryuuichi with a sudden moment of panic before the butler guy steps in to look after the kids. What I want to know is what normally happens given there is no way I’m believing that Usaida has never had a sick day before.

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And of course, because this premise couldn’t last a whole episode even if they wanted it to, we then shift to part two where we see Ryuuichi’s classmate and stalker sneaking around the day care before Inomata drags her in and we find out kids freak her out. Not that I blame her really. The tears, the snot, the general potential for them to fall over is all a bit much particularly when they have multiplied in a day care setting.

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It isn’t the best episode this show has offered but it also isn’t the worst by a long shot. The worst part of it is the beginning where they seriously ask you to believe they don’t have a back up plan for looking after the kids, though the fainting at the sight of bugs thing is probably a close second for worst moment. But if you want the best moment look no further than Ryuuichi’s explanation as to why he can deal with the kids.

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So cute.

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Karandi James

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Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

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School Babysitters Episode 10: Sexist Dads and Impressed Chicks?

Before watching the episode of School Babysitters this week I’d read a fairly scathing review of the anime focusing on the father’s attitude to the daycare being staffed by men. At the time I read the review, thought it seemed a little bit over the top for an anime that has mostly been pretty benign (however it does regularly reinforce stereotypes and doesn’t really question some of the more problematic issues that have come up).

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Then I watched the episode. I’d like to now say the reviewer did not go far enough. This wasn’t casual indifference to the reinforcement of traditional gender stereotypes, this seemed to firmly support that people should bend over backwards to accommodate those who have outdated, narrow views of the world without even an attempt at actual dialogue on the issue. I found the lack of an attempt at discussion worse than the ideas being presented given encountering someone with a different viewpoint happens, but the way the daycare dealt with this father was completely ridiculous. Needless to say, I found the first half of the episode this week disturbing.

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The second half returned to its usual mix of calm and relaxing with a few social points you might want to question but for the most part you could just switch off and enjoy the brothers getting to enjoy hatching chicks. The chicks getting impressed on Kotaro and following him around the science lab is pretty adorable.

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Karandi James

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Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

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School Babysitters Episode 9: Yet Another Beach Episode For The Winter Anime Season

Review: 

It is probably harsh to judge an anime episode based on an annoyance that every series seems to have shoved a beach sequence in over the past two weeks and yet just on seeing the water rushing onto the sand I wanted to stop the video and move on. I get that there are staple elements to these kinds of shows and a beach episode is one of them, but they could at least pretend for originality (or stretch them out so they don’t all air within a week of each other).

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The beach sequence really added nothing to this plot other than a brief reflection that Kotaro and Ryuuichi’s parents have only been gone a relatively short time and that the two of them are codependent at this point (both points are already pretty obvious so that makes this entirely superfluous). Then we move on to Taka destroying Kamitami’s property and Kamitami getting mad for real.

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Of course everything is solved and happily ever after with lessons learned by the end, but this was a truly unspectacular episode of School Babysitters which is a shame after the adorableness that was episode 8.

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Karandi James

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School Babysitters Episode 8: There’s a Perfect Level of Stupidly Cute Achieved This Week

Review:

It would be hard to argue that this was a better episode than any other of this series so far. It pretty much does everything that you would expect it to do. And yet twice during the episode, instead of just a smile, this episode managed to make me laugh out loud to the point where I had to pause the episode because I could’t keep reading the subs. It is hard to really poke holes at a show when it gave you that much of a good laugh.

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Kotaro and Taka’s phone conversation was priceless and I think what makes it work is because the entire situation is so grounded in reality and you could genuinely see the two of them doing just that and it is stupidly cute. Okay, the plot this week is pretty ordinary with Ryuichi receiving a love letter and then realising he needs to turn it down because his attention should be on his brother for the first half, followed by Kamitama and Ryuichi taking their brothers to the festival with fairly expected results, but when individual moments are hitting their mark the way they did this episode, the overall lack of substance becomes less of a hurdle to overcome.

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This one is pure cuteness and it is working fairly consistently with only one episode so far that really didn’t work for me. So, this one continues to surprise me by being appealing, but it is appealing.

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Karandi James

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Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

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School Babysitters Episode 7: It Absolutely Isn’t ‘Like’

Review:

I’m glad it isn’t just me confused by anime characters that can’t admit when they like someone or not. This week, Inomata confused the kids to no end when she claimed not to like Ryuuichi, which in kid logic means she hates him. They then set out on a semi adorable quest to prove he is likeable but that mostly just leads to a touching moment between the brothers before that single most awkward moment most people can imagine in highschool.

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It’s a very good thing Ryuuichi is denser than a brick wall sometimes. Outside of this story, we then had one about one of the twins having a cold and needing to stay home and the question of whether or not the other one was lonely. Again, this was played for the most adorable look that it could be played for and for the most part the story works.

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Overall, this show continues to be better than expectations and the kids remain cute enough without crossing into overload territory so I’m continuing to enjoy this even if it doesn’t have all that much substance.

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Karandi James

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If you enjoyed this post and would like to see Patreon2more great content on this blog, consider becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month.

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Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

Finally, you can use the affiliate link to shop at Play-Asia.com ifPlay-Asia.com - Play-Asia.com: Online Shopping for Digital Codes, Video Games, Toys, Music, Electronics & more you are interested in anime, soundtracks, figures or games. Should you use the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.