Going into this post, I want to quickly mention three types of stories that I really like:
- A story that involves someone being thrust into taking care of a child (e.g. Usagi Drop).
- A story that revolves around two brothers.
- A story that makes me dawww and hnnnggg or so to speak.
Here is a quick plot summary for Gakuen Babysitters:
After his parents died, Ryuuichi ends up in charge of his adorable, younger brother, Kotarou. The two of them are taken in by a school chairman who assigns Ryuuichi as a volunteer for the school babysitter club that is populated with the young children of the school staff.
A quick read of the plot description above shows that this manga clearly satisfies each one of the aforementioned bullet points. That is to say that unless the manga really botches up on presentation, it is pretty much guaranteed to be good in my eyes. Gakuen Babysitters most certainly does a splendid job of meeting all of the above criteria, but I wrote this post because it does so much more.
This is one of the best manga I have ever read….and I have read a lot of good manga.
GB’s success at heart string tugging (more on this later) comes from the great cast. Other than the two brothers (both of whom are very likable) and the daycare’s children, there are several other interesting students and adults. From the students, I really like Kamitani. He is blunt and mean at times, but a great older brother when it counts. My favorite adults are probably the Chairman (or woman rather) and her butler.
For the most part, none of the characters are eccentric enough to be etched permanently in your memory, but they are all reasonably well developed and most importantly, they act like human beings and as such, their experiences will resonate with you.
The characters themselves are great standalone characters, but it is when they interact with others that the manga truly shines. Making the children exceptionally cute also helps.
A while back, Bradley once said that an anime fan should not justify his or her love for an anime by simply claiming that the anime is cute. I still do not exactly know to what extent I agree or disagree with Bradley on that, but I honestly think that a love for GB (Gakuen Babysitters) can be more than justified by its adorableness alone.
This manga is really, really cute.
While most of the adorable scenes revolve around the children, there are several that don’t. The following images come from the 5th volume extra chapter:
Maybe I am stretching a bit too much here, but the sense of “dddawwww” elicited by this manga feels much more authentic than any faux pass “dddawwww” generated by a moe series like Chunibyou (great anime by the way, you should watch it). When I react to this manga, I feel like I am reacting as a human being and not so much as a connoisseur of cute. It is a strange feeling and one that is hard to describe. Perhaps it is just me being silly and all forms of cuteness are indeed equal, but regardless, this manga is still really cute.
Having said that, even if you have a deep loathed hatred of all things cute and an iron heart, this manga will still move your heartstrings.
Humanity and Compassion
When I think of drama, I think of pain, suffering, annoying feelings, mindless whining and finally an emotional tug. This manga has drama, it has some pain, it has some suffering, but it skips the annoying feelings, the mindless whining and jumps straight to the emotional tugs and good god, does it tug.
It’s not like this manga is particularly sad or complex. The plot points moving the story forward are normally simple things like inviting a guardian to a recital despite their busy workload or dealing with the loneliness that comes from being separated from a sibling, etc, etc. The feelings involved to are normally very simple and devoid of complex philosophical thought.
And yet, despite its apparent simplicity, or rather because of it, Gakuen Babysitters showcases compassion on a level most mangas can never reach.
It’s the little things characters say like “you fool, it is okay to ask me for favors now and then” or little things characters do like covering sleeping characters in a blanket that truly move you.
They are little things that we take for granted and yet they are presented in a truly beautiful heart moving manner. Gakuen Babysitters teaches us that we don’t need to save lives to be good people, we only need to show love and compassion to those around us. (The Granny and her butler in particular always impress me with their silent guardianship. I love them so much.)
Good god, just thinking about this manga makes me want to cry.
All in all, this is a really good manga. I can’t promise that everyone will like it, but I honestly can’t see a reason why they wouldn’t. Give it a shot if you have the time. I think as of this time, 5 volumes have been translated and the manga is in its sixth volume back in Japan.