Oresama Teacher, Vol. 5

By Izumi Tsubaki. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by Viz.

In the last volume of Oresama Techer, it was non-stop wall-to-wall delinquency. Here we get a change of pace, and we see a few chapters of Mafuyu managing to deal with life as herself. Although, being who she is, delinquency is never all that far away…

The cliffhanger kiss from last volume is rightly tossed away quickly. Despite a bit of tease, this is not particularly a romance manga. Instead, we start off with our two leads showing us once again that they completely fail at anything resembling normal in their life. Mafuyu’s idea of beach couple fun is straight out of shoujo manga (old-school shoujo, not the modern HtY-style), and Takaomi is far more interested in working off steam and starting fights. He’s always been menacing in a comedic way in the prior volumes, now we get another glimpse of the sort of beast lurking within – Mafuyu is awestruck, and she should be.

Takaomi actually gets a bit of backstory here, though its presentation is fairly elliptical. Given the author’s style, both here and in The Magic Touch, her previous series, I’d say it’s 50-50 whether the subtlety is deliberate or accidental. Tsubaki-san is fantastic at basic gag comedy – even more here than in her prior series – and her pacing has improved monumentally. But plotting is still a weakness, and it’s noticeable even in this volume, which is a collection of ‘breather’ anecdotes. No one is reading this series to discover Takaomi’s past, or to see which guy Mafuyu will hook up with. (Contrast this with The Wallflower, another gag manga, where people *are* reading it for the romance – and thus are far more annoyed.)

Still, you can get away with this as long as the book is funny. And it’s funny. I read this while I was depressed over having no power this week, and it managed to buoy me right up. There’s facial expression comedy – the entire sequence with the ninja boy, and the contrast between his stolid expression and his actions, capped by Mafuyu and Takaomi’s stares. There’s character-based comedy – the entire sequence with the rich girl and her butler, typing in with Takaomi’s past and featuring him being both brutal (he carries the heiress around like a sack, as he’s used to doing with Mafuyu) and touching (his yelling at the butler to step up and not be satisfied with what little he has). And there’s the purely random “what the hell” style Osaka comedy (the entire sequence with the flower arranging club, or Sakurada imagining Mafuyu revealing that she’s really an alpaca wearing a human skin).

This volume was not as strong as previous ones – the extended 4-koma series at the end reeked of filler – but it’s still great fun. And now that Hayasaka has managed to tick off another villain with his sheer denseness, I expect things to get even worse for the public morals committee. Perhaps we may even need to see the return in Volume 6 of… SUPER BUN!

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