By Izumi Tsubaki. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by Viz.
In my review of the last volume, I said that Hayasaka’s past was looking more serious than this manga usually gets, but I didn’t think it was going to get that dark. Boy howdy was I wrong. Not that Oresama Teacher has suddenly turned angsty and depressing, but certainly this volume hinges on the fact that Momochi’s mental manipulation of Hayasaka is being helped along naturally by his own traumas, and that he has in fact had this sort of thing happen before. Luckily, he has the Public Morals club to help him this time, and the volume ends on an upbeat note (albeit one with our heroes at the bottom of a cliff – what is it with Hana to Yume series and cliffs?)
Tsubaki enjoys playing with reader preconceptions and that’s certainly the case here, as Hayasaka’s supposed family background is the sort of thing we’ve seen in manga and anime before, with the mistress kept in a locked room away from everyone. Only that turns out not to be the case, and in fact is something that Hayasaka has created to cover up the real tragedy that he refuses to accept. The scene with Hayasaka and his father at the funeral is heartrending, something I never really thought I’d say about Oresama Teacher. And in fact, again contrary to our expectations, Hayasaka’s family turn out to be mostly okay – his hatred of his father stems from something that isn’t happening anywhere but in his head, and his dad, while trying to keep Hayasaka’s past hidden, shows genuine concern for him.
There is some humor in this volume, rest assured, though I wonder if the story turned more serious when Tsubaki was starting off Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun. Most of it comes from Mafuyu and Yui, who continue to react in a hilarious way whenever called on to be normal or mature. Mafuyu also gets an emotional arc in her desperation to make Hayasaka recover his memories, though I wonder if that will come back to bite her in the end, as it’s hinted that the main reason that Hayasaka hasn’t realized Mafuyu is Natsuo or Super Bun is his own mental blocks, and those may be coming down. Her emotional tears in the last chapter are well earned, though.
We’re still not quite done with this arc, though, as Momochi is still a threat. We see she’s used her ‘hypnosis’ powers in the past, and has forced several students to withdraw from school – even non-delinquents. There are, of course, nasty rumors about her, and I have a feeling that Hayasaka may not be the only one with a tragic past. (And he has a first name now! Though I can see why he wants to keep it a secret – and an endnote might have helped there, Viz.) Oresama Teacher is still worth reading for the comedy, but as it barrels towards a theoretical conclusion soon, it’s also gaining real depth and heart.