Thursday, 26 January 2006 20:26

Onegai Teacher (TV, 2002)

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Overview

I wasn't going to check this series out, actually, as the high school drama usually isn't my sort of thing. None the less, after much cajoling on the part of K`thardin, I decided to pick it up - after all, who can resist a cute babe with glasses and red hair? Besides which, by the time that I finally took the plunge, I'd begun to grow curious about the main character, who seemed very much to have split personality disorder, from all the artwork I'd seen of her. One, the cool, cute, and composed school teacher, the other, the sexy, and decidedly hot babe that traipsed about in a silk teddy that I could only describe as... skimpy. In any case, locating the series wasn't very hard, and very soon I was enjoying my first meeting with Mizuho Kazami.

Review

A warning straight out for the guys out there that are looking for action from this title - you're not going to find (much of) it. Onegai Teacher! is first and foremost a romance story, so if you're thinking about picking it up expecting space battles and adventure, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Instead Onegai Teacher! focuses on the developing relationship between Kei and Mizuho, as events thrust them together out of necessity, and those of the students in his class. Yes, guys, that does indeed mean that this is a 'curl-up-with-your-girlfriend-series.' Kei, you see, has a particular disease (the causes of which are gone into detail toward the end of the series) which causes him to go into a sort of suspended animation. We're talking cryo-tube level here - Kei doesn't even age when he goes into one of these 'standstills,' as he calls them, and his body stands as close to death as is possible without actually dying.

One such standstill lasted for three years, and so this is how we find the story opening, with Kei a student. Living with his aunt and uncle, though he is eighteen, he only appears to be fifteen, and in order to fit in he's hidden his real age and joined a sophomore class. Only his aunt and uncle know his secret. One night while sitting on the shore of the lake near where he lives, he has a brief stand-still spell, and awakes to a strange light on the edge of the lake. He sees, much to his surprise, a girl appearing out of thin air - and unlike most anime characters, does the sensible thing and runs like hell when he realizes that she's seen him too. In the end, it seems that he's escaped, but the next day at school he - and his class - get a new teacher...

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I think that the story of Onegai Teacher! is excellent, and of course, one would only hope that the plot of a romance would be very good, to say the least. Still, even considering the prerequisite level of writing required to pull off a good romance story, Onegai Teacher! excels at the onion peel layers it uses to both keep the main story going while still allowing for variance between each episode. The characters are compelling and keep your interest - Mizuho's family is a remarkably good source of humor - though I did get a little sense of some of the side characters being a little rushed. It's not overly noticeable, with the exception I'll mention in a moment. Though there is a little bit of repetition toward the end of the series, it's excusable in the face of what is, all together, a great job of storytelling. I do have one minor complaint, though - I would have liked for the writers to spend a little more time on Ichigo's character, and Koishi's as well. In both cases, the end of the series brought major changes, and though they are side-characters, I thought that they deserved more than the brief mentions they received.

The animation in Onegai Teacher! is top-notch, good enough that I couldn't really tell it was CG - there was none of the plastic, stiff look of early CG to be found. A considerable amount of time and attention was devoted to detail, the sort of attention that's usually reserved for cel-animated series. I've complained about CG animation before - though it makes for better, and certainly cheaper animated series, all too often that animation doesn't seem to be gone over and cleaned up. That leaves a certain amount of lifelessness, and happily, that's not the case in Onegai Teacher!; the animators did their job, and did it well.

The soundtrack, unfortunately, was nothing particularly special. It wasn't bad, or annoying, but none of the themes stand out as worth notice. They were background noise, nothing more. To a point, that's to be applauded, because I despise out of place music that dominates a scene to the level of distraction from important scenes. Even so, every soundtrack should have one or two standouts to bring recognition to the series. Onegai Teacher! just didn't have that, the opening and ending themes aside. Unfortunately, while I did enjoy the opening theme, even that didn't particularly stand out against other themes from romance series.

The voice actors are a different matter entirely. The entire cast does an excellent job, both English and Japanese. Fans of Ah! My Goddess! will of course recognize the incomparable Inoue Kikuko as the voice of Mizuho, and so perhaps it is unsurprising that her English VA was Bridget Hoffman, who filled the role of Belldandy in the Ah! My Goddess! movie, as well as so many other of Inoue's other roles in their English counterparts. Viewers of CN might also recognize Kei's English VA as Saito from Ghost in the Shell, voiced by Dave Wittenburg.

Overall

This series is an easy choice for the girls, despite being somewhat marketed toward guys, what with the fanservice to be found throughout. Like I mentioned above guys, if you're going into this series expecting action, you're going to be badly disappointed. There is some to be found, but it's not going to be of the sort or level that you want. That's not to say there aren't any draws for males - quite to the contrary, I was pleasantly surprised by the moments of humor scattered throughout the show. And of course, as anybody who's read my reviews has to know by now, I'll never pass up a good story when I find one, so if you like plot as much or more than you do action, you can't go wrong here. This is a great series to curl up on the couch with your girlfriend, and chances are good that if you liked AMG you'll probably like Onegai Teacher! for the same general reasons. While there is a fair share of fan service to be found, I don't think it'll be enough to hold your attention if that's all you're watching for - with the exception of the bonus episode, of course. Go ahead and pick this up if you're ready for a break from action action action; avoid it if you can't stand things like character development and heart-searching.

Additional Info

  • Title: Onegai Teacher, Please Teacher, おねがい☆ティーチャー
  • Genre: Romance, Drama, Magical Girl, Science Fiction
  • Director: Yasunori Ide
  • Studio: Daume
  • Licensed: Bandai Entertainment
  • Network: Animax, WOWOW, Bandai Channel
  • Format: Television
  • Episodes: 12 + 1 OVA
  • Animation: TOASTY! (+4)
  • Writing: Very Good (+3)
  • Pacing: Groovy (+5)
  • Voice Acting: TOASTY! (+4)
  • Soundtrack: Good (+2)
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