Onegai Teacher #1 Memories Special (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, May 09, 2002
Release Date: Thursday, April 25, 2002
What They Say
Straight from Japan, Bandai Visual brings us the next, great, romantic, science fiction, comedy, fantasy, adventure, fanboy extravaganza featuring Kikuko Inoue of Belldandy fame. Since this series will inevitably be released in the United States, it was probably a little foolish to import the R2 disc, but I wanted to see for myself what the excitement was all about.
The disc only includes the original Japanese language production. The audio is nice-sounding, and there are some nice stereo and ambient effects during the busier scenes, but overall it lacks a little something. For instance, the sound separation in the OP theme on the DVD, compared to the version on the bonus soundtrack CD isn't as clear and the bass isn't as aggressive.
The video is nice, just as you'd expect from a new, digitally-colored series. There is extensive use of artificial blurring to create depth-of-field and give the series a nice three-dimensional look. Unfortunately, it isn't always effective, and most of the show has a slightly soft look, which doesn't work with some of the simplistic character designs.
The Memories Special version of disc one is something quite special. The basic packaging is nearly identical to the standard version, in that it features a letter-post motif, complete with alien postage markings and a nice illustration of Mizuho.
The case itself is a two-disc Amaray flippy, which includes (as a Memories Special bonus) a special 48-minute soundtrack CD. At this time, there is no separately available soundtrack CD, other than a single with the OP and ED themes, so if you want some of the background music from the series, this is the best option. At about ¥2000 more than the standard version, the addition of the soundtrack is equivalent to purchasing an album separately. The music is nice, though not terribly memorable or moving. I am glad to have it, but I wouldn't have missed it either. It includes TV length versions of the OP and ED as well as a new image song from I've, who also perform the OP and ED.
Also included is a "Memories Diary" album which provides a storage location for the diary itself and the beautiful postcards that will be accompanying first-pressings of Onegai Teacher DVDs. The binder comes with seven empty album pages, one for each disc in the series. The binder is made of sturdy cardboard, but still has a somewhat flimsy feel.
Finally, the set includes a nice booklet of production designs and character backgrounds. Since the first two episodes do not do a very good job of introducing the supporting cast, the booklet is actually very helpful, and by printing it separately, rather than including it as an extra on the disc, I was able to scan it when new characters appeared during the show.
The menus are very simple, though, there was still a menu map included in the keepcase. The main menu is Mizuho in teacher clothes in front of a chalkboard. From there you can select either of the two episodes included here, the Onetei promotional video, trailers for other shows, and episode chapter stops. Unfortunately, whenever a menu selection is made, Mizuho transforms into her space outfit and teleports away, making transitions quite slow.
The extras on the disc are very sparse. The Onetei promotional movie is little more than several minutes of production illustrations set to music with a running text commentary. It is interesting to watch, if only to see some of the changes to the show. Mizuho herself has a taller, slimmer (dare I say sexier?) appearance. In the final version of the series, they made her face rounder, younger-looking, and made her chest larger. The movie was interesting, but not something I plan to sit through again.
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The shounen romantic comedy fantasy (or magical girlfriend genre) has been a genre that has always been popular in anime, from the early days with Rumiko Takahashi's brilliant Urusei Yatsura, through the prototypical Tenchi Muyo and Oh My Goddess, and which even influenced Love Hina, one of the most popular anime shows of the last few years. Now along comes Onegai Teacher which brews up the magical formula together one more time with decidedly mixed results.
Onegai Teacher's basic plot is quite simple. Kei Kusanagi is a sickly high school student who is prone to pass out during periods of high stress. Though the doctors cannot determine exactly what is wrong with him, it is fairly clear that Kei is very sick and that his illness is denying him the chance at a normal teenage life. Kei's condition is so bad that he lives with his doctor and his wife in a rural village. Late at night, however, Kei's life changes forever, when he sees a UFO landing out in the lake near the village. Once the ship has come to a rest at the bottom of the lake, Kei sees a young woman materialize out of thin air and begin to walk toward him. In a panic, Kei runs, but blacks out.
The next day, Kei and his classmates learn that their old teacher has unexpectedly resigned, and that a new teacher has been assigned to the class. The new teacher is none other than Mizuho Kazami, the woman Kei saw the night before. Nobody else in the village has seen the spacecraft, but they are both amused by and suspicious of the attractive new teacher. Kei and Mizuho play a game of cat and mouse, trying to discern what the other remembers of the previous night's encounter. When Mizuho realizes that Kei does, in fact, know that she came from the alien ship, she attempts to seduce him (badly, I might add) in order to gain his trust. Eventually, Kei escapes and flees through the ship, nearly revealing its existence to the townsfolk. The whole thing ends with Mizuho and Kei in the bath together, much to the consternation of his legal guardians.
If any of this sounds a bit implausible, then you've hit on the real problem behind Onegai Teacher. Kei's illness, so far, has served little dramatic purpose except to get him to collapse onto Mizuho in awkward positions in embarrassing situations. The alien ship has a teleporter, which seems to malfunction conveniently enough to drop the couple into bathtub together, or to strand them in the school equipment room so they must spend the night together. The show has a very high concept, but these early episodes are quite awkward as the basic pieces of the story fall into place. The show should be very funny, and may be as it goes along, but for now, the creators are content to go through the motions, offering just enough sci-fi elements and enough gratuitous fanservice to keep things moving along.
The supporting cast isn't much better, as they are hardly given anything to do. There is the typical outspoken friend who is unashamed about his lust for the new teacher or his basic teenage horniness. There is the typical cute, though nondescript, girl who has unspoken feelings for Kei. Kei has three other friends (two girls, one boy), each barely introduced by name in these two episodes. The characters lack depth or originality or pathos, and by the second episode I was already doing the math. Three male friends, three female friends, one overly sexy female teacher, and I am wondering which poor girl is going to be left out by the end of the series.
More interesting is Dr. Edajima and his wife, Kei's legal guardians. Edajima's youthful enthusiasm and general interest in women (especially a harmless fascination with Mizuho), and his wife's gentle consternation with her husband's wandering eye form the most satisfying character chemistry thus far in the series. Their gentle husband and wife comedy routine ("Yes, dear!") and deep affection for each other is wonderful to see, and I hope their characters get more attention as the story progresses.
Really, at this point, Onegai's main problem is just a lack of creative vision. The show features uninspired, by the book directing, and the emphasis on fanservice detracts from, rather than adds to, the story. There are hints at a deeper, and possibly darker story (Mizuho's parentage and mission, Kei's disease), but it is unclear how the story will develop. Just at the point when the story should develop and the characters interact in meaningful ways, the camera angle will suddenly shift to a cleavage shot without reason disrupting the flow of the entire scene.
If you aren't already burned out by the fanservice-heavy, male-oriented romantic comedy, Onegai Teacher is cute and light, if not terribly original. Though I was unimpressed with the first pair of episodes, it's seems that the story will move along very nicely once the various comedic elements start firing on all cylinders. It's entirely possible, though, that the show will meander on, delivering light laughs and totally gratuitous fanservice, never amounting to anything. I'm deeply, deeply torn, because the excellent, but limited, Memories Special packaging won't last forever, but without knowing where the show goes in the next few episodes, it's a difficult recommendation.
Japanese Language,Onetei Movie (Long Version),Memories Special Bonus Features:,Onegai Teacher - Sound Collection 1,Memories Diary Binder,Memories Diary Postcard,Booklet
Panasonic Panablack TV, Codefree Panasonic RP56 DVD player, Sony ProLogic receiver, Yamaha and Pioneer speakers, Monster cable. (Secondary equipment, Pioneer 105s DVD-ROM, ATi Rage Fury Pro, ViewSonic A90f, PowerDVD 3.0)
Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: C
Age Rating: All
Region: 2 - Japan
Released By: Bandai Visual
Running time: 52
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Please Teacher