Oresama Teacher, Vol. 6

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

It’s the rare manga that can make me laugh when I open the front cover and look at the title page, but that’s what Oresama Teacher does here. Shinobu not only lampshades one of the more obvious faults of this series (a lack of other female characters), he also suggests Mafuyu is trying to create a “reverse harem”. Though there are a few guys here that are falling for her, I’d argue that he’s incorrect. This isn’t a reverse harem as this series is simply not focused on romance – mostly as the leads are too dense to understand what they’re feeling. How can you recognize love if simple friendship is beyond you?

Likewise, the first chapter of this volume is simply top comedy, as we meet yet another cast member with no common sense. Shinobu is simply a flake, albeit a skilled one, and therefore matches up well with “Super Bun”, who gets trotted out here again to my delight. It’s interesting to note that Shinobu flat out worships the series’ main villain, Miyabi. In fact, it almost borders on BL, without ever quite going there (just in case both are needed later to have feelings for Mafuyu). The fight itself, meanwhile, shows how clever Mafouyu can be when she’s strategic – thinking on her feet about how best to defeat a ninja and even using some pseudo-ninja techniques.

The rest of the volume is not nearly as funny, but that’s not a bad thing – we’re finally getting a pile of plot and backstory that has been hidden from us. Shinobu ends up joining the Public Morals Squad (as the world’s most obvious mole), and the three club members start to analyze exactly why the bet the school principal has with Saeki is so weird – why does the administration WANT delinquency in the school? Mafuyu thinks that she now has enough that she can get Saeki to tell her the rest, but he proves surprisingly cold, pushing her away by pushing on one of her biggest buttons – the “I want to stop being a delinquent” button. But is that really what she wants?

Having also been abandoned by Hayasaka (whose reasons are far more teenage boy-oriented than Saeki’s), we then get a wonderful scene of her opening up to the other girls in the class, and trying to be friends with them. It’s wonderful not only because her desperation and tomboyishness is amusing, but also because the other girls in class genuinely seem to like her, even if they find her incredibly strange. You could argue this is because they’ve never seen her fighting, but it’s rather nice, and makes me hope that one day we will see more female presence in this manga. It’s not going to be today, though – after defending Hayasaka, who still has his horrible reputation, Mafuyu runs off, realizing that hanging out with the other guys is where she wants to be.

Then there’s Saeki. If you recall, he’s the title character (though France actually changed the title to “Girl Fight”, putting the emphasis more on Mafuyu). His reasons for pushing Mafuyu away are entirely predictable, but this doesn’t make them poorly written, and the scenes with his grandfather are both touching and intriguing. A telling point comes towards the start of the book, when Mafuyu is running off to fight Shinobu, and Saeki asks her why she fights. Note that she doesn’t give a typical manga reason like “to defend the weak” or “to battle injustice”. She fights because she was challenged, and that’s it. She is Saeki’s reminder of what he once was, and that’s why he tries to get rid of her. Of course, she’s made of sterner stuff, which he knows but would rather not admit.

We end on a cliffhanger, with Saeki starting to tell Mafuyu the real reason for the bet, and what the bet actually involves. It’s going to be a long wait till the next volume, but when it comes I’m willing to bet there will be lots of fights, stupidity, and shoujo cliches. Just the way I like it.

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