Mania Grade: C
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- Art Rating: C+
- Packaging Rating: A
- Text/Translatin Rating: C
- Age Rating: 17 & Up
- Released By: ADV Manga
- MSRP: 9.99
- Pages: 162
- ISBN: 1-41390-021-6
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
Happy Lesson Vol. #01
By Eduardo M. Chavez
June 13, 2005
Release Date: January 01, 2004
Happy Lesson Vol.#01
© ADV Manga
Writer/Artist:Mori Shinnosuke (Concept: Sasaki Mutsumi & Dengeki G's Magazine)
Translated by:Kay Bertrand
Adapted by:What They Say
Susumu Arisaka has just turned 18, and that means he can move out of the orphanage and into his childhood home. But five of his high-school teachers have gotten there first! They're looking forward to helping him around the house - and teaching him a thing or two about life in the process!The Review
Like all of ADV's titles Happy Lesson continues to have the original cover art on the front and back of the graphic novel. The front cover has an image of mama-teacher #1 Ichimonji Mutsuki in her typical teaching clothes. That image is placed on top of another blown-up image of her (in red/orange tone to match the background color) in a maid costume. The back cover has a nice collage of tiled images of the rest of the mama-teachers on a white background. The covers is really nice. Not only does it have a matted finish but the front cover art extends over the spine and creeps onto a bit of the back cover. Nice touch.
Logo Check!!! (2003 Megs).... the logo used by ADV is mostly from the original Japanese. ADV took out the kanji subtitle for the series and replaced it with English under the logo.
Inside the manga includes the color volume header and contents page. 4-panel comics found in the Japanese version are here at the end of each chapter, round out what appears to be a nice looking product. Unfortunately, the printing issues that ADV has had from the start are still here. While they are doing color a lot better, their scanning of tone is still very dark. It's really prevalent where lines are used on top of tone. In these situations you can often not see the mangaka’s lines, as the tone gets so dark and distorted that the once dark thick line blends into to now heavy tone.
The art of Happy lesson is pretty good. The character designs are fun and cute. Lines are pretty solid and designs are not very blocky. There is a good mix of deformity here, because of the comedy, but it doesn't really distract much as it looks pretty good.
I am not sure if it's just me, but I am having a little bit of trouble distinguishing a few female characters from each other. Mutsuki and Yayoi often look very similar. They have the same faces and with the tone issue their hair color is practically the same in most panels (when Yayoi should have lighter hair). The only way you can really tell them apart is by waiting to see their clothing (which is tough in this slapstick comedy that relies on facial expressions) or by checking if one eventually wears glasses (Mutsuki only wears them at home). Mutsuki looks similar to the class president as well, so I would get confused in certain close close-ups (as both of them wear glasses and have the same hair color).
Backgrounds are rarely there but with the layout being pretty crazy in this comedy they are not really vital to the story. I have to say the layout is still pretty impressive but more often than not I found myself wishing it was simpler to slow down the pace.
For those looking for fan-service, there is some here but with 5 young mama's one would expect much more.
In my opinion Happy Lesson is a tough series to handle but ADV does a good job here. The art is all over the place. It's very busy and often almost hyper. Many panels have a lot going in them, so ADV often used different techniques to translate the SFX because of it. Typically they would sub them and their translation of SFX is improving with experience. Unfortunately, there are still occasions where SFX are overlaid in situations where subbing would compromise art.
The translation is okay. I do not own the original tankoubon but I did notice aside text (which is often subbed like the SFX) being translated a little out of context at times. The translations would use slang and the context could change depending on your impression of the situation. A good example would be on page 19 panel 5's aside "Shobu ka..." That could mean "come get some" but that's usually when you want to fight or compete with someone. This series is full of fan-service so you could think "come get some" would mean come get some to Susumu (and in an indirect way it does) but I and my Japanese roommates interpreted this as a challenge to the other mama-teachers for Susumu's love (or whatever.) There are a few of those in this volume. They are correct translations but the context in English could be received differently depending on your perspective. Honorifics are also not left in. So the teachers are misses instead of sensei.
Eighteen-year-old Arisaka Susumu doesn't have a real family. Up to now his only homes have mainly been orphanages but this year he is able to go back to his childhood home. Almost everything is new to him. He is starting his senior year at his new high school (Koyomi Private High School) with new friends and a new life on his own. But he did not expect some of the new things in his life.
Five young female Koyomi High teachers volunteered to adopt Susumu and are living with him as his "mama-teachers". So as Susumu finally thought he could live alone his dreams were crushed five-fold. And if his five "mama's" are tough to handle at home, they tend to mother him as teachers at school. Luckily for Susumu the mama's are keeping it a secret from the student body.
As you can imagine having 5 young mama's could cause all sorts of trouble for an eighteen-year-old. They have their clothing all over the place. His mama's need to budget for themselves and the child they share. They need to share time raising him and at times they might even need to "date" him. It can get out of hand but Susumu tends to take all this in stride and actually likes the attention even though he wanted to live alone. But the more the mama's try the funnier/crazier the story gets. The results are hit or miss but the intentions are always good even though you may wonder how these people ended up with a child.Comments
For more than half of this GN Mori presents Susumu's life in chaos. Its really tough to get a grip on whose perspective its being presented from as practically every mama gets some time to put in her two cents. I found it hard to really tell what was going on as there was little direction but the problem was usually solved without much trauma so a happy ending came with every lesson.
The final few chapters went into a little more detail on each character as individuals with Susumu or their classes. Seeing the ultra-genki Shitennou Uzuki-sensei trying to act lady-like and romantic to make Susumu comfortable was really sweet. Following athletic and tough Gokajou Satsuki-sensei as she is recruited to be the dainty princess lead in a play was a hoot and easily saved the series for me with its humor and compassion.
In general this first volume tries hard to introduce readers to these characters and the unique situation they are in. Unfortunately with only 162 pages you do not have enough chances to get better acquainted. Instead, you could lose interest immediately, as these "mama's" are not at all responsible, not very professional and not experienced. Why are all of them mothers for one child? Who knows but for whatever reason Susumu and you readers have to accept it.
It's not all that bad though. If you can get past the lack of background, the minimal character development and plot you can find a couple cute moments where you can see potential bonds building between Susumu and some of the female characters.
If this first GN did not finish strong I would not even think of considering picking up volume 2. It was that much of a mess. But as I noted above this series has a lot of potential and the last two chapters really showed that. Happy Lesson could go in a number of ways. The situations are almost endless with these characters and if we get some more of what was there in "the Whirlwind of Love" and the "the True Whirlwind of Love" (and in some of "the Story of a Magical Young Girl") readers could be in for a treat as those were funny and more importantly very cute.