Shoujo Manga Maniacs: Gakuen Babysitters
By: Meg Humphrey
I lost it over this manga. Absolutely lost it. The plot is pretty simple, newly orphaned Ryuuichi (15) and Kotarou (~2) are invited by the chairman of a private school to stay. In exchange for room, board, and education, Ryuuichi must spend all of his free time as a member of the “Babysitting Club” – a daycare for the children of the teachers at the school. The babysitting club only has one full time employee, Usaida, so the rest of the assistance has to be filled with students. At first Ryuuichi is the only member, but his sincere personality brings his classmates Kamitani (who has a little brother there) and Inomata (a very serious student who is top of the class) to occasionally help.
Gakuen Babysitters has this wonderful way of portraying babies and toddlers so they are impossibly cute. The kids just look like precious dumplings. Even when they are throwing tantrums and getting their snot everywhere they are still cute. It’s crazy and wonderful.
There is barely a romance plot in this manga (and if there is one, it can come from third party characters rather than the mains). It’s refreshing to see a high school manga that doesn’t focus on romance, but love in different ways. Familial love is obviously huge in Gakuen Babysitters. It shows how strong bonds are and what happens when they are tested.
Gakuen Babysitters is full of lessons about growing up. There’s a lot that people can learn about themselves from seeing others go through difficult situations. Although they are toddlers, they often deal with issues that people of all ages suffer – jealousy, loneliness, how to express your feelings and more. The diversity in the characters, toddler and older, makes the manga feel real. Although there are definite “types” of people (like Kamitani being the rougher, manly one), they are actually all quite well rounded.
This is a feel good manga. Every chapter has left me smiling, even when it has previously brought me to tears. Tokeino Hari is weaving a wonderful story about real life using some pretty ridiculous circumstances. There are currently nine volumes and since it hasn’t been licensed in the United States, you can read the scanlations online!