Oresama Teacher, Vol. 29

By Izumi Tsubaki. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by Viz Media. Translated by JN Productions.

Though it’s not an explicit canon pairing, be warned I do talk about the IMPLICIT canon pairing in this review, so ‘ware spoilers.

The final volume of Oresama Teacher, a series that ran for thirteen years, and one of my own favorites, even though it will likely always be overshadowed by the still-running gag comedy Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun. It’s a shonen manga that ran in a shoujo magazine, and certainly had shoujo art, but one look at the plot and characters told you this was essentially a “gang” manga at heart, and featured a lot of “new bad guy arrives -> slowly win them over through being nice and/or beating the crap out of them -> now they’re friends! -> new bad guy arrives” in a circle with Mafuyu as its pivot. We’ve had so many ridiculous situations, so many awesome fights, so many cool teenage girls and dorky teenage guys. The journey to get here was wonderful. So, should I still be disappointed if the ending is not one I personally wanted? I mean… if you exist in fandom, yes, it ruins everything. Fortunately, Oresama Teacher only has 29 fanfics on AO3.

First of all, despite the cover art, this is not an OT3 ending, alas, and we do not see Mafuyu getting married. We start off resolving the cliffhanger from last time, and if it feels a bit like it’s undercutting and mocking the drama, well, that’s what this series has always done best. Adfter this we deal with the last remaining open plot hook – what happened to Mafuyu’s memories when she was a kid? The answer, as Takaomi warns her, is not only something she will regret knowing when he tells her, but also something far less dramatic than you’d expect. It is, however, very in character for her. It even ties into the ending, as it turns out even Mafuyu can get into college if she applies herself… in the wrong way. We then get an extended “where is everyone off to after graduation” chapter, and end with a brief epilogue showing our main characters as adults.

So yeah, surprise, once again Japan loves teacher/student and jerk pairings more than the West. I always suspected that we were going with a Takaomi endgame, particularly when Hayasaka’s past only turned out to be the end of Part II rather than the whole series. Mafuyu’s memory loss ties in to her obsession with him – she couldn’t imagine living without him after he had to leave her to go to educational college, so she literally erased her own memories, somehow, to forget him. That is both in character and EXTREMELY frustrating, frankly. As for Takaomi himself, he’s far less effusive, but honestly, he hasn’t stopped her chasing after him her entire life, so why would he stop now? The epilogue shows he’s started a company (it’s unclear what it does, but it’s implied it’s a “we fix your problems” sort of company) and both Hayasaka and Mafuyu are employees there. And again, while the implication is the “they’ll always be friends!” was meant to be the emotional heft, there’s also his implication he’ll propose to her in three more years. Eh.

So yeah, not the pairing I wanted, but I enjoyed everything else about it. In the end I’ve enjoyed every single Izumi Tsubaki series. Sometimes I am alone in this (I will defend The Magic Touch to my dying day), sometimes I am part of a much larger horde (Nozaki-kun 2nd season WHEN?). Oresama Teacher fits squarely in the middle. Its fans love it, but it’s still a bit of a cult. Its huge, huge cast can give readers a headache. And you’d better love dimbulbs, because this series runs on them. I’ll miss it dearly.

Oresama Teacher, Vol. 23

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

Last time I reviewed Oresama teacher I thought that it might be wrapping up in 2-3 volumes. Well, perhaps I was being a bit hasty. The cover art has all the feel of a “Next stage!” sort of deal, and indeed we now begin the new year with a new bunch of first years and Mafuyu getting to be a sempai. The rest of the volume is also content to roll out new subplots, as we get not one but TWO new villains to contend with. That said, it is starting to feel a little overextended, especially given how monstrous this cast has become, and especially because, despite graduating last volume and moving on to college, Miyabi and Okegawa both end up coming back to help the Public Morals Club out. Which is probably for the best, because Mafuyu and company are finding themselves in over their heads, and Takaomi is not around to save them.

The main villain, as it turns out, is the next wave of Hanabusas. Miyabi’s sister Toko has surprised everyone by not going to school in Tokyo to be near him, but instead enrolling at Mafuyu’s school to… well, cause trouble, it seems. She’s not there to help her father, or so she says, but she’s certainly doing a good job of it anyway. That says, she does bring up a good point regarding why Miyabi went there, as he’s graduated with all the people he was trying to protect still there. Now, I suspect Miyabi feels that they’re strong enough to carry on without him, but they’re already going through withdrawal pangs. That said, Miyabi feels a lot like Momochi, there to be a potentially bad villain who will be converted by the power of Mafuyu’s shininess.

The other villain is less obvious, but I have a feeling will be a lot more trouble. Mafuyu and Hayasaka are rather surprised at first that Takaomi is NOT their homeroom teacher for their third year. In fact, he’s teaching the first years, including Toko… at first. Instead, the new third year homeroom teacher is Mr. Maki, who is seemingly nice but airheaded… but his airheadedness is actually destroying the public morals club twenty times faster than actually standing against it would do. With new attacks both direct and indirect, Mafuyu and Hayasaka have things looking bad for them right away.

Of course, it’s not all drama – this is still a series written by Izumi Tsubaki. There’s loads of laughs here to be found, particularly once you realize what actually happened to Takaomi. We also get Hayasaka’s unfortunate summer break, Yui once again breaking out the world’s worst ninja skills, and (as always) the entire conversation between Mafuyu and Okegawa. But there’s a lot more serious here than usual, the most we’ve seen since Hayasaka’s brainwashing, and I have a feeling that when Vol. 24 rolls around things are going to get worse before they get better. That said, for fans of Oresama Teacher this is still an essential volume.

Oresama Teacher, Vol. 22

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

After the previous volume’s ups and downs, I’m pleased to say that this Oresama Teacher is back on target with a very strong entry, as we discover just who has been impersonating Super Bun. It’s not exactly a surprise, particularly once you realize the evil doppelganger is not all that evil. The rest of the volume is devoted to the graduation of the third years, including Okegawa (at last), and Hanabusa, who this volume is really all about. Because yes, spoiler, he was the Super Bun impersonator. We finally get a lot of answers in this book regarding just what he was planning to do and why the Student Council is filled with so many broken people. And throughout it all we get Mafuyu, running forward no matter what as always, showing off the qualities that make her one of my favorite shoujo heroines.

The best scenes in the volume, as I said, revolve around Hanabusa. He’s always been a somewhat ambiguous villain, and the reason for that is that he’s not really much of a villain at all. The revelation that the Student Council members, with a few exceptions (Momochi, who’s still recovering from events of the last few books, and Shinobu and Wakana, who luckily fit the bill anyway) are there to be PROTECTED rather than to be the PROTECTORS turns a lot of events in the series on their ear. It also shows how far Hanabusa himself has come, as now he feels it’s safe enough to leave his friends behind and go to school in Tokyo. The final scene in the book with Mafuyu, where he thanks her for everything she did the past year and says she’s his hero, is one of the two scenes in the book that made me choke up (the other being the ending to the hide and seek game).

As for the rest of the cast, Takaomi once again takes a back seat except to provide helpful advice. Hayasaka is also not given much to do, but that’s fine as I’m assuming that the finale, which should be in a few more volumes, will feature him heavily. Okegawa gets more focus, though, mostly as he too is moving on, though I have a feeling we’ll see more of him in future volumes than Hanabusa. His relationship with “Morse” has always been subtly different from all the others, and I felt that if this is the last we see of him, it got a good sendoff. And of course there are any number of hilarious moments here – it’s no Nozaki-kun, but it acquits itself admirably, especially with the various alternate Super-Bun masks and the over the top reactions to everything.

We don’t get this series all too often since it’s caught up in Japan, but I always enjoy each volume we do get. I have a feeling it may be wrapping up in 2-3 more volumes, but for now we have this. Go get it.