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.

Oresama Teacher, Vol. 21

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.

I have a confession to make. While I love Oresama Teacher, and try to recommend it to everyone I know, I love some parts of it more than others. And I must admit that whenever the narrative turns its attention back to Mafuyu’s old stomping grounds and her underclassmen delinquents, I groan a little. Mostly the reason is that the cast has become nightmarishly huge – check out both the character sheet at the start of the volume and the relationship chart at the end – but the East High/West High guys aren’t as well defined as Midorigaoka’s cast. Kangawa may be the exception, and I’m glad he’s here at the start, but the beginning of this volume, revolving around Mafuyu pretending to be a boy so that Sakurada (a boy who likes to dress as a girl) can let down another guy who’s fallen for “her”. Mafuyu looks bored, and so are we.

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Luckily, the rest of the volume is back at Midorigaokoa, and proves far more interesting, as a new as yet unrevealed antagonist is setting out to go after the Student Council and blame “Super Bun”, which of course means Mafuyu. Her secret identity isn’t threatened, at least not yet, but she’s offended at the very idea of someone using Super Bun for nefarious purposes. Also tying into this is the cliffhanger for Vol. 20, where Hayasaka seems to have almost figured out Super Bun’s true identity. Of course, now that there’s a doppelganger running around, that’s all gone to hell. Speaking of doppelgangers, the most intriguing choice this volume was to have Mafuyu, unfamiliar with the concept, end up being rather terrified of discovering just who it is impersonating her – what if it really IS her evil twin?

The titular teacher also takes a backseat in this volume, with Takaomi reminding Mafuyu how easy it is to impersonate Super Bun but not doing much beyond that – he doesn’t seem to care much about what’s going on as long as it doesn’t impact his bet. Also uncaring is Hanabusa, even though the culprit shoves him down the stairs and breaks his arm and leg. Hanabusa is pretty unflappable to begin with, but this is a bit unusual even for him. I have a suspicion that whatever the explanation for this is, it will prove to be far less threatening than we’d expected.

Despite evil doppelgangers, there’s still plenty of humor to go around, though not quite as much of the standard ‘tsukkomi’ variety. Shibuya and Komori’s budding relationship is still adorable, and the fact that the Public Morals Club has been shunned to an extent also makes life difficult for Yui’s relationship with Wakana – though sadly not for the reason everyone expects. As for Mafuyu, aside from Kangawa’s one-sided crush, there’s no romantic movement here at all. But this is not really a romantic manga, even though it may end up with a pairing. It’s a comedy with lots of kicking ass, and that’s what you get here in Vol. 21, same as you did in Vol. 1.