The Spring 2015 Anime Preview Guide
Ultimate Otaku Teacher
How would you rate episode 1 of
Ultimate Otaku Teacher ?
The setup for Ultimate Otaku Teacher sounds like it could've been the start of something interesting. Our main character is Junichiro Kagami, a NEET who used to be a theoretical physics prodigy (but only because he wanted to prove an Anywhere Door was possible), but would now rather spend his time fiddling away with his anime blog. He has no desire to get a real job and groans when his sister tells him she's gotten him a job as a high school physics teacher at his alma mater. And so he goes, muttering and sighing the whole way, put off by the very idea of having to do any sort of work that doesn't involve watching anime or polishing his figure collection.
On his first day of class, he gets an idea. He's going to set his pupils to work playing an online smartphone game. You see, he may be an unmotivated NEET, but he's supposedly still a genius after all, and that includes reading the social hierarchy of an entire room of teenagers just by watching them work together on a game. He thinks he's being clever, and the show wants us to think so, too. The problem is, Junichiro is such an unpleasant and unlikeable wad that anything he does comes off as arrogant and exhausting showboating. Maybe had he stayed longer in his orientation meeting, he would've realized his job was to go through the syllabus, not play counselor for a room of kids he just met. He's not exactly the person you'd want to hear advice from anyway—just earlier that day, he mocked a student for saying she wanted to be a voice actress. You see, the joke is structured around the fact that he's an otaku, so in his mind, voice actresses are goddesses, and no mere mortal (and certainly not some pitiful high schooler! Bah!) could ever hope to succeed in the industry. She punches him in the face, earning her the nickname Face Punch without any secondary reflection on his part as to why she might have reacted that way.
Inexplicably, through his weird social experiment, he learns that three of the girls in his class are picking on Face Punch. They make her drink tea with chalk in it, and even post her personal information on an underground website. But despite Face Punch's insistence that she take charge of her own life, and become her own hero, Junichiro decides to take matters into his own hands. ("Even Batman has Robin," he says, although Robin was not an egomaniacal, self-righteous dick in charge of molding the minds of tomorrow.) His next actions are just spiteful. He decides to give the bullies a taste of their own medicine, tricking them into believing he's streaming their confrontation online and releasing their personal information to the world. Again, the audience is supposed to think he's clever (after all, he's the one who built the super-secure underground website the girls are using!!!). But instead, it's just another sign of his conceit. He's not doing this for Face Punch. He's not doing it to stop bullying. He's doing it for himself. He has no vested interest in Face Punch, whom he can't even stomach the idea of becoming a voice actress. He simply wants to take revenge on girls who have permuted his old website by controlling them with fear.
The entire joke of Ultimate Otaku Teacher is that Junichiro doesn't want to be a teacher, but ends up using his otaku ways in his teachings. But while there are a number of ways this could've been fun and delightful, and even a little self-deprecating to otaku viewers, the way that this episode was executed saps every ounce of energy and light-heartedness out of it. Instead, our otaku teacher is a self-absorbed prick, interested only in the things that amuse him, and every "otaku" nod is a tedious and drawn-out excuse to explain Junichiro's unorthodox behavior. Such shows are typically set up such that the teacher ends up learning as much from the students as vice versa, but it doesn't seem like it'd ever be possible here.
Junichiro Kagami is an otaku anime blogger who claims he has “YD” - he can't do anything he doesn't “Yearn to Do.” Kagami opens this episode as merely obnoxious, as he complains about being forced to work by his sister and ultimately settles into being a physics teacher. Apparently he was once a Nobel-worthy genius, but he didn't have any interest in continuing that work, so that career was right out. He progresses swiftly to “insufferable” as he rags on his student Minako for her dream of becoming of a voice actress. But it takes until the episode's second half for him to become truly “intolerable,” as he emotionally abuses the girls bullying Minako in order to rescue her, and then walks smiling into the sunset, soundtrack playing gaily as a shadowed figure remarks on him being a “most interesting teacher.”
I think you're supposed to like Kagami, or find him endearingly unconventional, or something of the sort. That's the impression I get from the show's music and direction cues - that the scenes that come off as “when will this obnoxious main character stop talking” are supposed to be amusing, and the ones that land on “wow, he's actually threatening to release their personal information online in order to terrify them into obedience” are supposed to be triumphant. There are definitely moments that I was sure were supposed to be actual jokes, because the characters made faces at the camera, and others that were supposed to be heartwarming reflections of Kagami's ultimately caring nature, because the soundtrack did that little “he's not so bad after all” trill and characters tilted their heads while looking at him thoughtfully. But I can only acknowledge those elements in an academic sense, because in an emotional one, my primary reaction to this episode was “when can I stop spending time with this horrible man.”
Ultimate Otaku Teacher's aesthetics are bland but serviceable. Its characters designs aren't terribly interesting, but the characters don't go off-model, and the direction here is all very straightforward shots of characters in frame. I'm not sure who I'd recommend this show to, but it is at least a competent articulation of whatever it wants to be. The writing isn't particularly good or bad, so the main thing distinguishing this show is its profoundly unlikable protagonist. That seems like a fairly questionable hook, but hey, you gotta stand out somehow.
I'll cut right to the chase on this one: this show is the polar opposite of funny in every scene, every line, every moment of its runtime. Great googly-moogly, was this unpleasant to watch. Holy cannoli, it was bad.
Here's the premise: Junichiro Kagami is a layabout otaku who is secretly a super physics genius but became a complete NEET after high school because he's just too lazy to apply his brilliance anywhere and would rather watch cartoons and schmooze off his sister's money to buy merchandise. It's supposed to be funny, but if you're anything like me, you just find this kind of character immediately unlikable as well as incredulous. Oh, he's a passionless jerk who takes advantage of his loved ones. Yeah, I'll bet he's a super physics genius. If the contrived dialogue in the show says it, it must be true. Anyway, he's forced to get a job as a high school teacher, proceeds to be a hugely condescending asshole to an aspiring voice actress in his class because voice actresses are goddesses who have mastered their craft and how dare she have dreams and aspirations. If he's going to be the Ultimate Otaku, they could have at least made him the kind who's knowledgeable about his obsession without tipping the scales into delusion and hero worship. Once again, his heartless treatment of the would-be seiyuu girl might be more excusable if it was at all funny but this is a comedy bereft of jokes.
Then it gets "better." Seiyuu girl is being bullied by three haughty bitches at school. Tearfully, seiyuu girl slips into a suicidal fog, pours her heart out in an online chatroom, and asks why there are no heroes in the world to step in and stop this kind of harassment. (Comedy gold!) She gets a "Aw, u depressed lol?" message that tells her to pull herself up by her own bootstraps and become her own hero. Guess who sent her that condescending advice? Of course it "inspires her" somehow, even though it's the exact opposite appropriate response to someone with suicidal thoughts. (And once again, the biggest problem: it's not funny.) But in this alternate reality, every selfish, smug, reprehensible thing Junichiro does is not only charming but just, as the episode's coup de grace sets out to prove.
So, if your "unconventional teacher" anime is going to directly rip off the most infamous scene from the most well-known "unconventional teacher" anime of all time, you probably shouldn't make it both more offensive and completely unfunny. In a blatant reference to Great Teacher Onizuka, Junichiro gets vengeance on seiyuu girl's bullies for her, meaning he has the gall to tell her she should save herself, but then not work with her to actually help fight her own battles. He's a chode and a hypocrite! Here's the real killer, though. In the scene they're ripping off from GTO, three bully girls are confronted by Onizuka for beating the tar out of a kid, stripping him naked, and taking pictures for blackmail. Onizuka responds with the philosophy "a butt for a butt," corners the girls and takes pictures of apologies from their bottoms written in permanent marker on their undies. Is it inappropriate? Sure, but in light of that, the original show had the foresight to have Onizuka leave the camera with the girls, accepting his own incrimination and not even keeping the blackmail pictures, and then the whole insane comeuppance was followed with a full episode of consequences, where even the (justifiable) threat of his dismissal and/or arrest was depicted in a funny way. What's Ultimate Otaku Teacher's riff on this scene?
Oh, Junichiro doxxes the girls. He livestreams their faces while counting down to a release of their phone numbers and home addresses to the public. Say what you will about the inappropriate nature of the original GTO scene, but at least the series treated it as inappropriate, and at least the revenge could be considered funny. Apologies written on butts, addressed from butts, is funny. There is nothing funny about releasing someone's personal information and gloating that they will be harassed for their entire lives, even if the threat is fake. Junichiro reveals (through a personal cell phone call to one girl) that he didn't really release their info, he just could have, but that means he still has that information himself and obviously he can't be trusted with it. So, the threat is genuine, and they do have every reason to be terrified and collapse into tears and trauma, which they do. Then he compares himself to Batman and condescendingly encourages seiyuu girl to become his Robin. Heck, on the note of hypocrisy, Junichiro justifies his behavior by saying that bullying is technically a crime, and citing the specific laws the girls were breaking. Yes, so is illegal obtainment and dissemination of personal information, you monster. Where's the joke? Is the joke supposed to be that a person this myopic, hateful, and self-absorbed has been given power over high schoolers that he clearly shouldn't have? Onizuka was stupid and arguably incompetent, but at least he was a decent human being.
Yikes, what a mean-spirited and tasteless faceplant of a non-comedy this was. It looks awful from a production standpoint too; the art and animation is flat and poor. Absolutely definitely completely avoid this one if you like things that are in any way funny.
Review: Junichiro Kagami was so brilliant in physics that he wrote head-turning research papers on advanced physics theory while he was only 17. Now 24, he has lost interest in academics over time and claims to suffer from YD, which means that he can only do what he Yearns to Do. (In other words, he's a NEET.) His kid sister doesn't buy that and threatens him with bodily harm if he doesn't take a part-time position covering for the maternity leave of a physics teacher at his former high school. Though completely unenthusiastic about the job at first, he eventually decides that if he has to do it, he is going to do it his way, such as by using a smartphone game-playing assignment to ferret out the basic classroom dynamics and relationships. Through that he learns that one girl, whom he has nicknamed Face Punch because she punched him in the face after being critical of her chance of succeeding as a voice actress (and the way he was acting, he really did have it coming), is being bullied by other girls because she has eschewed the delinquent lifestyle that she once shared with them. Though she insists on trying to solve her problems alone, he has other ideas and finds a clever way to give the other girls a taste of their own medicine without doing any actual harm.
In other words, this series looks like it's going to fall into the “maverick teacher helps solve his students’ problems” category. This version offers two twists on the basic concept: it is (to my knowledge) the first of its kind to heavily integrate social media as a major component and instead of the teacher in question being a ruffian or super-powered individual, he is a brainy, dedicated otaku. Atypically, his students are also (mostly) not a bunch of delinquents; they are just an ordinary mix with seemingly-normal problems. His methods are, of course, unorthodox and more than a little hammy, but he does at least get right one of the most important tenets of modern-day teaching: that making personal connections with students is critically important. I can overlook the way the series plays fast and loose with professional standards in light of that.
Artistic merits are mediocre at best, with staying on-model seeming to be a particular problem in places, and the animation is decent but nothing special, so watching this one for how it looks does not seem likely. The closest it gets to fan service is the mildly sexy way Junichiro's sister dresses, although one scene does have a girl being rescued from a molestation attempt. No, this is a series which will live or die on how entertaining Junichiro is in solving student problems. So far it's middle-of-the-road.
Rating: 2.5 (out of 5)
Junichiro Kazami was known as a physics prodigy back when he was in high school, but now in his post-college years he's got a major case of YD – he claims he can only do something that he “yearns to do.” His younger sister has had enough of that crap, so she forces him to take the job at his old high school that he only applied to because he assumed he wouldn't get it. Now a reluctant teacher, he finds something that sparks his interest when Minako, one of his students who aspires to be a voice actor, is being bullied and things take a turn for the cyber.
In a lot of ways, this is a very basic show rehashing a premise that we've seen before and best exemplified by GTO: loser becomes teacher, blows everyone's minds with his ability to reach students like no one before. That Junichiro is an otaku is just the most recent twist on the plot, and it really doesn't do a whole lot to change the formula. Thus far we really only see it in his use of a cellphone game to figure out class dynamics and his rants about the godly powers of voice actors; yes, he does give the bullies a taste of their own medicine through skillful internet usage, but that hardly classifies as a specifically anime/manga/game otaku trait, at least in my mind. I'll grant you that the game thing was kind of clever, but in general, there's not much to distinguish Junichiro from any other former slacker.
What made the episode for me was when he took down the bully girls. After they physically injure Minako, after previously putting her in real danger, Junichiro decides that he's got to do something about it. Basically he gives them a taste of their own medicine, but the defining moment was when they protest that they weren't really bullying Minako. Junichiro tells them they're right – and then procedes to list all of the laws that they've broken in their harassment campaign. They weren't just bullying, they were breaking the law! Personally, I thought that moment made the entire episode worth it.
Apart from that, however, there really wasn't much to distinguish it. The characters all feel very reused, the animation isn't anything special, and the character designs are so basic as to be nearly generic. There are undoubtedly ways that Junichiro's hobbies can enhance his teaching and the idea of becoming a hero and being inspired by magical girl shows does ring quite true, since Sailor Moon definitely helped me get through high school, but this first episode sticks mostly to the tried and true of its genre. It might be worth another episode to see if it builds on its premise at all, but apart from that one scene, color me unimpressed.
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