Saturday, April 18, 2015


Of course, there are just as many teacher-related manga as there are school-related manga, and more than a fair share of them involve student-teacher relationships.  Today's selection is considered by some to be a classic, but does it hold up after all these years?

ONEGAI TEACHER! (Onegai Ticha!), by Please! & Shizuru Hayashiya.  First published in 2002, and first published in North America in 2005.


Kei Kusanagi feels as if his whole life is stagnating.  He feels removed from his classmates thanks to an ongoing heart problem, a lack of libido, and a keen interest in UFOs.  One night he happens to not only discover a UFO, but a beautiful redhead who emerges from the ship before disappearing into the night.  He would have been willing to write this off as a dream until that same redhead becomes both his new neighbor and his new homeroom teacher.

He discovers that the woman, Mizuho, is an intergalactic observer sent to study Earth and she can't afford to have her job compromised or her identity revealed by Kei.  They decide that the best way to help her is for the two to marry.  Kei's has a hard enough time keeping his and Mizuho's secrets away from nosy family members and classmates with crushes, but he could have never anticipated that the growing affection between him and Mizuho might be the biggest complication of them all.


Well, I'll be damned.  I've never been someone who was all that keen on the magical girlfriend concept, as the worse ones tend to be rampantly sexist and intellectually insulting and even the better examples feature relationships that feel more like mother and child than two young lovers.  Yet I was struck time and again by how genuinely readable and enjoyable Onegai Teacher was.  It might just be one of the better examples of the magical girlfriend to be found on the manga market.

It helps a lot that Kei is rather down to earth when compared to many other characters in similar places.  He's a very mellow, even contemplative kid for his age.  His lack of libido means that he's not the panty-chasing nose-bleeder that so often pops up in these sorts of stories, and he possesses enough social grace to be able to talk to girls without having a nervous breakdown (even if he remains utterly oblivious to their advances).  Mind you, the writers make up for his mellowness by having Kei's uncle and friends supply the loud, girl-crazy perviness, but it's easier to overlook it when it's coming from the supporting cast instead of the lead.

It also helps that Mizuho is also fairly well-rounded herself, and not just because she's a conveniently humanoid and conventionally attractive woman.  She's no bubble-headed ditz, mewling sex kitten, or substitute mother.  Instead she is gracious and professional on the job, and at home her gentleness is tempered with a feeling of believable awkwardness around her newfound spouse.  These two barely knew each other before being taken to the alter, so their awkwardness around one another is understandable and relatable, and the story is more than content to let their relationship build in a slow, gentle manner.

That's not to say that the story is perfect.  It does end up utilizing some of the same old tropes you've seen before.  There are plenty of suggestively staged mix-ups and misunderstandings to create drama, there's an overprotective little sister whose only gag is to beat up Kei as often as possible, and there's even a cutesy little critter that turns into a spaceship that almost certainly is there because Tenchi Muyo did it first.  Still, there's a heart and soul here that one rarely gets from magical girlfriend stories, and the fact that it's a TV-to-manga adaptation makes it all the more marvelous.  So often the emphasis is on broad humor punctuated with a lot of jiggle and bounce, but here the emphasis is establishing a proper romance and the story greatly benefits from that.


Shiyahiyo did have the advantage of not having to come up with the characters wholesale, but as a whole he makes them all look great.  He doesn't mess too much with the original character designs for the sake of sensation, which means that the curves on the ladies remain grounded in reality and fanservice is all but nonexistent.  He instead saves his exaggeration for the humorous bits, but even then he doesn't stretch things too far.  Really, everything here is fairly minimal, from the backgrounds to the angles to the composition, but it's all good and solidly drawn and it does a good job translating the show into written form.


This is a magical girlfriend series who prefers them more in the line of Oh My Goddess than Chobits.  It translates a sensational premise into a surprisingly down-to-earth and engaging romance that holds up to the ages and even now is well worth seeking.

This series was published by ComicsOne.  This series is complete in Japan with 2 volumes.  Both volumes were published, and all are currently out of print.


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