Oresama Teacher Volumes 1 and 2 by Izumi Tsubaki
Izumi Tsubaki is the author of the high school massage club manga Magic Touch, that didn’t generally get favorable reviews from most manga bloggers. I read one volume from Magic Touch that was from the middle of the series and didn’t think it was horrible, although it didn’t inspire me to pick up the rest of the series. Oresama Teacher seems so much better! There’s an element of subversive humor on display that many shoujo series
lack, and some of the unconventional interactions between the characters made me think that Oresama Teacher seemed a bit like a kinder and gentler version of an Ai Morinaga series. And I love Ai Morinaga.
One of the things that I liked right when I first picked up Oresama Teacher is the fact that the heroine is a semi-reformed juvenile delinquent being packed off to an alternative school. I wish we had more teacher-centric female juvenile delinquent manga released in English, and can only hope that one day we get Gokusen translated over here. Mafuyu is able to fight and lead a gang with great competence, but she is utterly incapable of living alone and cooking for herself. When she goes out to replace the instant ramen she destroyed, she happens upon a handsome older man who is getting beaten up. He acts mysterious and bizarre and steals her food. Of course, when Mafuyu shows up at school the next day she discovers that the man is her homeroom teacher Takaomi.
Tsubaki comes up with something I didn’t think was possible – an interesting twist on the old “I have met my beloved childhood friend again as a teenager” plot device that is used so often in shoujo manga. Takaomi is Mafuyu’s long lost neighbor, but he carefully trained her to be a delinquent from a young age. Mafuyu at first remembers her old friend tenderly, but when her real memories start to come back she realizes that due to Saeki, her childhood was filled with brutal training sessions and savage beatdowns. While she starts school determined to act like a normal girl, join clubs, and fall in love, Mafuyu soon finds herself confronting her former ways. She sits next to young delinquent Hasakaya who is able to detect her innate bloodlust. Hasakaya is so eager to fight that he takes on large groups alone, and Mafuyu decides to rescue him while disguising her actions. Hayasaka is just dim enough to believe that she had no involvement when he wakes up with bodies piled around him. Saeki appears to be sociopathic and manipulative, getting Mafuyu and Hayasaka to join his “Public Morals Club” and indulging in the occasional bit of sexual harassment.
Many of the characters in Oresama Teacher are hilariously dimwitted, the better to set up Tsubaki’s jokes. This is the type of thing that gets a little tiring after multiple volumes of a comedy manga series, but Tsubaki’s characters have a bit more depth than usual, because she’s careful to develop everyone’s individual motivations. Hasakaya’s weird code of honor ensures that he’s always going to get into trouble by challenging multiple people to fight him at once, and Mafuyu’s impressive fighting skills and desire to save her friend ensure that she’s always going to come to his rescue. Her new found friendship is important to her and she doesn’t want Hasakaya to think that she’s odd, so she makes a rather pathetic attempt to hide her identity by wearing a bunny mask. Mafuyu’s penpal by way of carrier pigeon, the macho guys in the crafts club, her growing friendship with Hasakaya and the inexplicable relationship between her and Takaomi have me looking forward to the next volume. Oresama Teacher is a great manga to pick up if you’re looking for something light and funny that also serves as an antidote to more typical shoujo.
Review copies provided by the publisher