Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Oresama Teacher and a Little Personal History of Insanity...

 First- a little bit of background:

Manga Lassie- A Chronological Chart on Delusional Behavior:

  • Age 4: So enraptured watching Hong Kong Phooey that I never noticed that China, the cat, was the one really keeping it all together.
  • Age 6: Ardently wanted to be Tarzan. Not date him. BE him. As in swinging around on vines all day with a sidekick chimpanzee. This ended very badly with a time out due to wrecked living room curtains and running around clad solely in underwear.
  • Junior High: Somehow got it in my head that Bruce Lee is my shepherd and I shall not want... for fistfights. Made it my life mission during recess to attack all the boys in my class. It is a damn miracle none of the guys lost their temper and clocked me. 
  • College: My roommate dragged me to the opening of a popular martial arts flick with her Tae Kwon Do school. I was thinking of joining and was thus the lowest ranked one. My roommate, a yellow belt, was rubbing her hands gleefully, thinking she finally had a toadie to boss around, and was about to order me to sit in the back of the car. In the middle. However, the vehicle in question belonged to the school's head instructor, who had a little crush on me and explained that I got to ride shotgun next to him because I wasn't formally a student yet. Carte blanche for blatant disregard for rank!
  • College: I briefly dated a black belt in karate. He was very good and competed internationally. I became Kato to his Clouseau and would orchestrate elaborate ambushes attempting to catch him off his guard. He patiently and resignedly deflected every single one of my attacks. It was never meant to be.
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 I think everyone who reads manga has an archetype their sympathies gravitate to for various reasons. Mine is the tomboyish heroine who is a bit of a goofball, but can kick butt when necessary. I think that's why I like Kyoko Mogami in Skip Beat,  Chiemi Yusa from Junai Tokkou Taichou! and Kurosaki Mafuyu from Oresama Teacher. Ok- Kyoko doesn't do the whole martial arts thing, but she raises hell in her own way and isn't scared of displaying her very...spirited temper. Chiemi finds her match when she clocks Akifumi "Deranged Devil" Hirata at school- he falls hard: on the floor...and for her (aaawww...I set that up so nicely).

Mafuyu, from Tsubaki Izumi's Oresama Teacher, however, has given me the biggest laughs.

In so many ways she reminds me of myself whenever I'd get worked up with my heroic delusions. Except that she can back up her bravado...

The deal with Mafuyu is that she is pretty much a Yankee. A Yankee, in Japanese slang, is equivalent to our "gangsta." She is one tough chick, despite being a petite, skinny scrap of a girl. As head honcho, she is able to unify her high school's warring gang factions, but in the middle of the celebrations, is arrested by the police. Her mother, fed up with her delinquent daughter, gives her one last chance at redemption and sends her off to a different school where she is supposed to be a model student. If she can't pull it off, she will be disowned.

And poor Mafuyu has every intention of being a model student and becoming a girly girl... What she doesn't expect, though, is running into the person who taught her everything she knows about being the tough grrl she is: Saeki Takaomi.

Takaomi is her homeroom teacher at school and she cannot believe her plans of becoming a proper student and lady are totally derailed because of this. You see, Takaomi has ulterior motives for becoming a teacher at Mafuyu's school, and he needs to recruit her and clueless Hayasaka for their fighting skills in order to fix the school's problems. The school is the only one that will pretty much accept anyone- and as a result, it's a no-man's land filled with delinquents.

Ya gotta fight fire with fire, right? And Takaomi, as a former delinquent himself gets this. He's involved in a bet for ownership of the school, and Mafuyu is forced to integrate his special ops club.

At this point we are introduced to other hilarious characters, such as Okegawa Kyoutaro, the former banchou (or leader of the gangsters) who got his butt handed to him by Mafuyu in drag- aka Natsuo. (Y'all following this still?) There's also a student who is a ninja (who faces technical difficulties) and some not-so-happy reunions between Mafuyu and members of her old gang.

What is funny to me is how Mafuyu negotiates her desire to kick ass and her natural talent for leadership with her feelings of obligation towards becoming a responsible student and conforming to a girly stereotype. There's also great fear of getting in trouble again, because that would mean expulsion and being disowned by her mother. She comes up with the craziest solutions to her dilemmas.

Natsuo is her male alter-ego, but it's Usa-chan Man- her masked vigilante alter ego- unrecognizable by all, except Takaomi, who often has me in stitches:

Bunnies and justice go together like cake on crackers!

Despite the great goofy comedy, the pace of this manga can be frenetic  and the plot sometimes feels like it's careening off a hairpin turn on entropy... I have to be in the right mood to enjoy this manga because it can be tiring following all the subplots.

I'm also confused about the relationship between Mafuyu and Takaomi. At first things are set up like a typical teacher-student romance. The tension is there (and the age difference isn't that alarming)...but then Takaomi fades into a back story and several other male characters seem like possible contenders? I've read that this manga can be considered a reverse harem (a genre in which one woman is the object of several males' affection- as opposed to a 'harem,' in which the reverse is true), but as things stand now, it's hard to say what the rapport is between them- and it's difficult to predict what will happen. In some cases, it's fun to be kept guessing, but in this case, you feel like the author is avoiding the whole issue and is getting distracted with other tangential plots. Just give us a little something on occasion, kind of like you did at the beginning of this manga, oh revered Mangaka!

That being said, I'm going to keep reading this mainly because Mafuyu is such a fun character to watch....And...Well...Takaomi is muy guapo, in my humble opinion. I like his brazen, hell-raising ways. I have no idea where this manga is headed, but I'll go for the ride.

Yup. I just admitted that to the whole world.

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