Episodes 1-3 – The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting

The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting is a charming little story of the “tough guy and adoptive daughter” genre. Kirishima is a Yakuza lieutenant, and his boss asks Kishima to watch after his only daughter Yaeka. The boss can’t be out and about due to his need to run the family and Yaeka’s mother is out of the picture. Kirishima has to adapt to this new assignment, getting to know the shy Yaeka while trying to adapt to the new skill set of (step-)parenting.

I can tell this one is going to be a wholesome comedy. It gives off similar vibes to to works like SPY x FAMILY, The Way of the Househusbandand the Yakuza game series. This is a classic setup and I like the added twists to the formula here. Usually the tough guy role acts as a more direct adoptive father, but here we have a twist in that Kirishima is just a protector and facilitator of sorts – Yaeka’s father is still technically in the picture. In fact, Yaeka’s father actually wants to be a good dad, but his responsibilities keep him from being able to do so. This makes Kirishima’s role both more and less challenging, and adds some texture to his interactions with Yaeka.

There also seems to be a solid supporting cast right out of the gate. Yaeka’s aunt and Kirishima’s friend both manage to add a lot to the scenes they are in, both comedically and emotionally, and already we get a good sense of the scope of the Sakuragi family in this first episode. The animation seems to be good to great throughout as well, with pleasant character designs. Not entirely sure where we are going plot-wise but I’m sure the show will focus more on character development and that the plot will be largely irrelevant. Definitely looking forward to more of this.

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Oh folks, they’re coming for our heart-strings with this one. A heart-warming and heart-breaking two-parter, this was another strong showing from The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting.

The first half of the episode was a delight of course. The visit to the fair and the rigged game sequence was very sweet. It actually reminded me of an incredibly similar sequence in Beat Takeshi‘s Kikujiro, a film where an ex-yakuza ends up on a road trip with a young boy and fights a rigged game operator at a carnival for a stuffed animal. I really liked the shot of the trio making pinky promises in front of the fireworks too, that was certainly one of the emotional highlights of the episode.

The back half focused on Yaeka’s mother Miyuzuki and the struggles with her injury. We learned that she is suffering from injuries incurred in a car accident and that she is non-responsive. The bit where Yaeka is trying to hold her mother’s hand and it keeps going limp is agonizing, so if for some reason the audience wasn’t invested in Yaeka before we definitely were after that point. The extra element of her trauma response being that Yaeka does not even believe that her mother is another gut punch, but Kirishima’s speech to her set things right.

The show continues to look terrific as well. I liked the city shots that helps set the mood and all the play with lighting in this episode. I do sort of wish the fake Kirishima and Sugihara sub-plot had been given a bit more time to breathe though. Obviously it got resolved and there were other topics to cover, but I think there were opportunities for more of the real Kirishima and Sugihara running around cleaning up there mess that could have been great. In all though, this was another strong episode.

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Clearly, The Yakuza Guide to Babysitting wasn’t satisfied having just one absurdly adorable character in the show. So now Yaeka has a new cat, Ohagi. And not just any cat, but an adopted street kitten who Yaeka is now a surrogate mother to. Anime like this need to come with clear warning labels for their potential to cause toothaches from sweetness and severe pain from chest-clutching.

The big feature of this episode is largely the expanding roster of side characters. Aoi is the first in the mix, a former family lieutenant who is no longer with the organization. Aoi was Kirishima’s mentor figure and now continues in a similar vein as a full-time dad. It was great seeing his interactions with his son juxtaposed against Kirishima and Yaeka, and it gave a great contrast to what we’ve seen thus far. The flashbacks to Aoi and Kirishima in their younger days were nice but I do wish those sequences had a bit a bit longer or revealed a bit more about them, they felt too short to leave much impact.

Hanada and Ohagi also entered the picture this episode. Hanada was genuinely my favorite part as her sort of deadpan delivery, awkwardness, and bottomless void for donuts made for quite a funny character. Her struggle was both relatable (school is tough!) and absurd (she could just… go home) and that’s what makes for good comedy character writing I think. Ohagi is, as previously mentioned, adorable. And I’m sure this isn’t the last time Yaeka and Ohagi’s relationship is going to make us all cry from cuteness.

The preview of a new(?) villain entering the picture adds a bit of suspense for what comes next to boot.

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The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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