Mafuyu Kurosaki used to be the bancho of her school (though she didn’t realize it at the time) until she got nabbed by the cops and expelled. Her mother finds a school in the country that will accept Mafuyu, and ships her off for a fresh start. Although Mafuyu is a skilled and savvy fighter, the allure of life as a normal girl is appealing, and she embraces the opportunity to start over, full of self-assurance developed from her days as a gang leader.
Alas, she soon encounters her childhood first love (Tamaoki Saeki), who was responsible for steering her toward the path of delinquency in the first place. Worse, he’s now her homeroom teacher, and embroils Mafuyu and her lone-wolf classmate Hayasaka (another brawler) in his wager with the principal that he can boost the school’s enrollment by quelling the disciplinary issues arising from the lax admittance policy. Mafuyu and Hayasaka are the muscle to keep the other delinquents in line, essentially. Mafuyu is not very keen on this, especially because she’s enjoying how Hayasaka treats her like an ordinary girl, so masquerades as a couple of other people (a boy called Natsuo and Super Bun, a rabbit-mask-wearing girl whom Hayasaka idolizes) when administering the necessary smackdowns.
I almost wrote “hilarity ensues” at the end of the prior paragraph, because that’s just what one does after detailing a suitably wacky premise like this one, but the thing is… Oresama Teacher really is funny, and that’s got everything to do with the characters. I don’t care much for Saeki—mangaka Izumi Tsubaki resists the temptation to endow him with redeeming qualities—but he works as the instigator of over-the-top situations, and some of his interactions with Mafuyu are very amusing (like the scene in which they discover that neither of them can cook).
More to my liking is the relationship between Mafuyu and Hayasaka, which persists despite both of them frequently misunderstanding the other’s motivations. When she tries to find out more information about Saeki (in order to confirm he really is the same boy who used to live next door), for example, Hayasaka assumes she’s looking for material with which to blackmail him. At first, Hayasaka resists the idea that they are friends, but his prickly attitude gradually starts to dissipate. He’s incredibly dense and easy to fool with lame disguises, but Mafuyu, used to being looked up to by her followers/friends, likes the way he treats her as an equal. At one point, he begins to suspect that she is his idol, Super Bun, forcing Mafuyu to dissuade him of the notion just so he’ll stop looking at her all dreamy-like. It’s lonely being revered.
I never did read Tsubaki’s other Shojo Beat series, The Magic Touch, as general consensus seemed to be that it wasn’t that great, but I’m exceedingly glad I didn’t let that stop me from checking out Oresama Teacher, which is a genuinely entertaining read. Tsubaki herself doesn’t seem all that keen on the story—she makes several references in her author’s notes to the fact that various elements of the series were dictated by her editors—but you can’t tell while reading it. And anything that makes me snicker as much as these two volumes did is definitely a keeper.
Review copies provided by the publisher.