Reviewby Rebecca Silverman, Jan 15th 2012
Mafuyu and Hayasaka have humiliated the school ninja, Shinobu. In revenge, he decides to infiltrate the Public Morals Club – but only if he can defeat Super Bun! But it looks like the club may not be around much longer, as Takaomi's attitude is well on its way to destroying things. What's his deal, anyway? And will Mafuyu finally get to be a high school girl?
This series really should be funny. It has an amusing premise, fun characters, and a strong heroine. The art is good with a nice grasp of physical humor. In the hands of Bisco Hatori or Yoshiki Nakamura, it would be comedic gold. Unfortunately as it stands, an uneven stew of comedy, emotion, and backstory, Oresama Teacher is at best comedic bronze.
Volume six picks up where five left off, with Shinobu the sort-of ninja attempting to attack the Public Morals Club for the Student Council. When he is thwarted by Hayasaka's unwitting genius, Shinobu decides to infiltrate instead of destroy. He has a debilitating fear of Hayasaka, convinced that the boy is some sort of brilliant fiend who will annihilate him utterly, much to Mafuyu's confusion. In order to gain entry into the club, Shinobu challenges Mafuyu to a duel, something she is reluctant to do in pursuit of her mythical high school girl ideal. So she tells Shinobu that there are actually four club members (neglecting to mention that three of them are her) and that he must fight Super Bun instead. It has been a while since we've seen this alter-ego of Mafuyu's, and it remains as entertaining as ever – she introduces herself as “the lovely Super Bun, a cute and stylish rabbit,” and her “secret ninja techniques” are, if not hilarious, at least very funny.
Unfortunately for readers in this for the comedy, this is the funniest – and best – chapter in the book. Shortly after Shinobu's attempts to join the club, the members discover a hidden history of their school. Yearbooks only go back five years (some good visual gags here), extra classrooms have been re-purposed, and history seems to have been deliberately erased. When Mafuyu confronts Takaomi about this, he becomes a bastard with a capital “f” and tells her that he doesn't need or like her, effectively forcing her to quit the club. If TSUBAKI had continued on with the mystery plot about Mafuyu, Hayasaka, and Shinobu trying to learn the school's past, the book might have really taken off...but instead she chronicles Mafuyu's attempts to be the shoujo manga stereotype of the high school girl.
Given the precedent set in earlier volumes of the series, this should have been remarkably funny. TSUBAKI is really at her comedic best when she is mocking the tropes of her genre, so this should have been a shoo-in for funniest book in the series. Sadly it falls flat. The two “normal” girls Mafuyu hangs around with are utterly generic and don't even merit names (though a third does) and their activities are dull, with missed opportunities for humor during a trip to a cafe, a photo booth, and an arcade. Some small attempts are made, but overall Mafuyu's life as a normal girl comes off as dull and not even particularly sweet. The one highlight of it is when she realizes how much she likes who she really is and how much she misses hanging out with Hayasaka. If the whole section were played straight, this could have been very touching.
The same might be said for the snippets of Takaomi's past that we see this volume. Mafuyu calls him out for not giving her the full story about his attempts to restore the school's reputation, and we see that built upon in the later chapters of this book. (They were briefly hinted at in volume five, but seemed so out of the blue that they were more confusing than not.) If his motivations had been spelled out more clearly, and his attitudes more fully explained, his reasons behind the formation of the Public Morals Club and his use of Mafuyu would make for an emotional ride. Or, conversely, if the whole thing had been handled with a light and humorous touch, the chapters could have been very funny. Unfortunately TSUBAKI unevenly mixes the two and the result is like a cake with chunks of flour throughout – just not as good as it should have been. That Takaomi is totally unlikeable in this book does not help.
It is worth noting that TSUBAKI is branching out a bit with her storytelling style this volume. Chapters are narrated by Hayasaka, Shinobu, and Takaomi, broadening the viewpoint (and proving that yes, Hayasaka is that dumb) and developing the characters, particularly Takaomi. Artistically she takes a stab at drawing the elderly and proves that she does in fact have a firm grasp of the basic bones of the human body – shots of emaciated wrists have a sense of frailty that is very real. Craft-wise, this book is an improvement.
Oresama Teacher is the child that can't quite settle on what she wants to be when she grows up. Tragedy? Comedy? Drama? Ballet-dancing fire-fighting lighthouse-keeping veterinarian pirate? Once TSUBAKI settles on just one of those with snippets of the others, she'll have a much better series. Until then, this is one series that is headed nowhere fast, and this volume does very little to help it out overall.
Overall : C-
Story : C-
Art : B-
+ A shake-up of the storytelling techniques, the beginning is quite funny. Improved art.
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