Review Status: Incomplete (6 Volumes/? Volumes)
Licensed: Yes, this is licensed by Shojo Beat in the US.
Art: It might be shoujo, but the lines are incredibly clean, the fights decently done, and with great faces and expressions for the characters.
Summary: Mafuyu is the no-nonses, take-charge and hard-hitting leader of her high school gang. But when she gets expelled for being a delinquent, her mother, fed up with her daughter’s wayward ways, sends Mafuyu to an isolated school far off in the country. (Back cover of Volume 1)
Review: A shoujo that isn’t a romance?! LE GASP. To be honest, that’s why I picked this series up in the first place – because I’m tired of shoujo series assuming that all girls only want to read about falling in love all the time. Oresama Teacher changes that up a whole lot, and that makes this an incredibly awesome and memorable series.
Oresama Teacher had me from the get-go. The first few pages are incredibly deceptive – Mafuyu seems to be merely an ordinary, klutzy high-school girl. And then she basically beats up some delinquents that are bullying a man in the streets…a man who happens to be her new homeroom teacher and knows quite well that if she’s caught fighting again she’ll be expelled. So what’s a girl to do in that situation? Give into the teacher’s blackmail, join the Public Morals Club, and duke out the school delinquents to keep order, all the while dodging the rival Student Council and avoiding being expelled to do it!
The characters are what makes this whole situation. Mafuyu is a good girl, a little rough around the edges but only wanting to live up to the standard set by the next door boy that she admired as a kid. That boy taught her how to take knocks and keep on going, becoming the toughest fighter in her school. She also loves her mom and wants to live up to the expectations set for her, so sees the new school as a place to really start over and make new friends…and that means her dismay at being blackmailed is unbearable. Nevertheless, lemons get turned into lemonade. She ends up club members with classmate Hayasaka, who is a fellow delinquent and doesn’t really have any friends or place to fit in (until he joins the club, at least) and Shinobu, a Student Council spy/ninja. I’m particularly fond of Hayasaka, who is really a bit of an idiot but wants friends and is genuinely likeable. Shinobu is his own brand of hilarity, with smoke bombs, ninja stars, and other ninja-esque antics that always seem to end up defeating his own ends.
And then, of course, there’s the Teacher. Takaomi is a major player, but always in the background. A puppet master, a shadow king, his motives for starting the Public Morals Club are shadowy and vague at best, and every volume spends some time trying to unravel what’s going on and why. I don’t know whether I really like him – he’s a jerk, but at the same time there seems to be genuine goodness in him. He’s complex, and that makes him very well-written. To be honest, I think he steals the show, even from Mafuyu – and I happen to be unusually fond of Mafuyu as a shoujo heroine!
Oresama Teacher is really about the silly antics that go on – Mafuyu having to disguise herself as SuperBun (puts on a rabbit mask) to fight without being recognized so she can attempt life as a normal high school girl, dealing with the friendship and camaraderie that happens when kids are in a gang (and the schoolyard fights that go along with it), dealing with a Student Council president that can make his fellow students fall in love with him with merely a single glance (to the point they’ll fight to the death over him!)… It’s all good fun and comedic exaggeration. It’s actually rather impressive how many little moments playing off of these few things just set me laughing like no tomorrow. The characters might be exaggerated, but they’re lively, and the story does know when to throw in a more sobering moment or two to temper things out, be it Mafuyu dealing with her mother or figuring out how to move on from her old gang.
It’s not the comedy gold that Yotsuba! is, but it’s a wonderful change from what I normally read.
Recommended: 13+. There’s a little blood in the fights, but the worst of it is how Takaomi is known for being a womanizer and shows different women going into his apartment. It would be a PG-13 movie right there.
Overall rating: 9/10. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s darned original and good fun.