Geoffrey Tebbetts rates it:
Author/artist: Please!/Shizuru Hayashiya
Whether by mistake or on purpose, we’ve all witnessed the “hot-for-teacher” fetish in action. Back in 1984, Van Halen waxed poetic about it. During its evolution, it became the all-too-common subject of bad pornography, and it was an unthinkable taboo until it started hitting the news. While such a fetish has been depicted as being less than pure in manga and Japanese popular cutlure, the student-teacher relationship hasn’t been discouraged that much either, whether it be humorous or perverted. Onegai Teacher opts to soften some of those images by presenting the romantic side of the student-teacher affair for a change.
The whole scenario revolves around Kei Kusanagi, a seemingly normal high school student from a small lakeside town. However, Kei has actually been diagnosed with an unexplainable disease– at times of high physical or psychological stress, he suffers from acute seizures, something he calls “stagnating.” An extreme attack in junior high left him comatose for three years; therefore, despite being a sophomore in high school, he’s actually eighteen. You may already see how the first stone has been set into place; while still considered a high school student, Kei is legally an adult.
Kei’s already unstable life changes drastically one night when he witnesses a UFO landing and a mysterious woman floating over the town’s lake. He dismisses it as a trick of the eyes, until he first meets Mizuho Kazami, his gorgeous new homeroom teacher and next-door neighbor. Now, I don’t mean to introduce a derailing tangent here, but Mizuho is a prototype of the ideal otaku male wet dream. Not only does she dress in conservative yet unintentionally tight skirts, wear her long hair up in a ponytail, and don glasses, but her favorite snack food is Pochy (known to you, me, and every con-going soul as Pocky). On top of that, Kei accidentally stumbles upon her dirty secret– Mizuho’s actually the same alien he saw the night before. While trying to escape from Mizuho, Tench– I mean, Kei then proceeds to ground her spaceship and teleport the two of them into his uncle’s bathtub. Somewhere in the middle of the rumors of an affair, Kei and his legal guardians, his perverted uncle and his condescending wife, cook up a scenario to save Kei’s skin and Mizuho’s identity: Mizuho and Kei are actually married, a possibility since Kei’s actually an adult.
From here, things pretty much run the way a sudden relationship between an Earth male and a superhuman female usually do. Kei’s scripted romance with Mizuho becomes more of a reality as time passes and his friends get closer to learning about their “affair.” Things complicate in the obvious ways; his classmate Koishi presents clear hints that she has a thing for Kei, and Mizuho’s younger sister intrudes, disapproving of their relationship in the same way that Skuld did to Belldandy and Keiichi in Oh! My Goddess. During the entire time, Kei’s unknown sickness threatens to strike at any inopportune moment.
I was impressed by Hayashiya’s strength as an artist. Before Onegai Teacher, his expertise was in “bloody, violent comics,” but he draws a very clean story. His style is consistent, and he draws Mizuho in a very attractive and sexy style without making her appear trashy. The story itself in pretty heartfelt, thanks to plenty of undercurrent provided by Kei’s classmates, and Hayashiya’s soft touch adds to that. It’s the overall presentation, however, that brings it down a few notches. The story itself is extremely short, and that rushes things ahead to an ending that feels premature. It makes Mizuho’s identity as an alien almost an afterthought, and her “pet” Marie annoying. The editors at Comics One don’t help too much; they throw around phrases like “stagnating,” “accelerating,” and “matter of the highest priority” like they were buzzwords, and vertically-placed words are difficult to follow, reading more like Chinese characters.
Onegai Teacher reads a lot like Tenchi Muyo! and Oh! My Goddess, but the taboo affair surrounding Kei and Mizuho, as creepy as it looks, puts a different spin on things. A lot of restraint has been put on the series to make it unique and keep it from straying into dangerous waters, thanks to good use of a solid cast and satisfying art. Had this decent series been a little longer, there might have been no need to introduce the spin-off Onegai Twins, but that’s a review for a different time.
Added: Friday, August 06, 2004
Related Link: Comics One