Mania Grade: A-
0 Comments | Add
Rate & Share:
- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Menus Rating: A-
- Extras Rating: A-
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Bandai Entertainment
- MSRP: 29.98
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Please Teacher
Please Teacher Vol. #1: Hot For Teacher
By Way Jeng
June 20, 2003
Release Date: May 06, 2003
Please Teacher is an anime series that might turn away viewers on a first glance. The series' title implies an anime about romance with older women, and the description on the back of the box is confusing. However, to judge the series by these two impressions fails to do the show justice. Please Teacher is a highly entertaining and humorous anime, and while it may not offer anything revolutionary to anime it does serve as an excellent reminder that genre conventions become as common as they are for good reason.
The premise behind Please Teacher sounds complicated, but in the end it's not much worse than any other anime. The main character is Kei Kusanagi, who appears initially to be a fairly normal fifteen-year-old kid. However, it's not quite that simple. Kei suffers from a unique medical condition wherein if he becomes depressed his metabolism slows down. Depending on the severity of his feelings the episode lasts a proportionate period of time. His shorter episodes, which he terms a standstill, last a few minutes, but in severe cases can last whole years. As a storytelling device this works well enough, as it gives the story some mystery and also somewhat explains Kei's occasional reflective moments.
The female lead of the show is Mizuho Kazami. Her story is somewhat more complicated. An alien sent to observe Earth and watch our society to ensure that humans don't do anything destructive to themselves. To blend in she takes a job teaching at Kei's school. There are a few more details, but none of them are central to the story so far. It's worth noting here that one of the possible objections to this show, that it's an older woman anime, isn't exactly correct. While her apparent age isn't discussed in any detail Mizuho appears to be in her early twenties, so while there is an age gap it's not a tremendous one.
The show has a fair number of secondary characters. First are Kei's uncle and aunt, Minoru and Konoha. The rest of the supporting characters are made up of his friends from school. This group contains two guys, Matagu and Hyosuke, and three girls, Koishi, Ichigo, and Kaede. Overall all the characters basically get along with each other, which is a good thing since it lets the show be more about humor than working out the hate between various factions.
>From what is shown in this first disc Please Teacher follows the tradition of animes where the main character is a constant victim of circumstances beyond his control that thrust him into endless situations he has to explain his way out of or run away from if he's lucky enough to be able to do so.
Just as in most shows the first disc of Please Teacher is spent introducing characters and setting up the premise of the show. This process takes about the first three episodes, after which the show seems basically set up. In the meantime the show still produces a lot of laughs. Mizuho arrives on Earth, and as her ship lands Kei witnesses it. He later recognizes her when she starts teaching in his school, teaching his class no less, and after a number of unfortunate coincidences several people begin to believe that the two are romantically involved. In order to avoid telling the truth about Mizuho Kei instead goes along with the misunderstanding.
Naturally the situation just continues to snowball, and Kei gets forced into doing a number of things he didn't anticipate, such as marrying Mizuho and moving in with her, to keep the act going. Add in his friends' curiosity into what Kei's been up to in his free time and Koishi's crush on Kei and you've got the makings of a lot of funny situations. To some extent the situations can't help but be contrived, but they're funny and don't demand much more suspension of disbelief than any other show.
It's difficult to get a feeling for the episodes because there's so much backstory to be explained and characters who have to be introduced, but the show seems to be primarily about putting Kei into awkward situations and getting him out again. The show does have a few more serious moments, particularly in the beginning and ending of each episode when Kei has short monologues. These aren't exactly prologues or conclusions to the episode in terms of a plot synopsis, but are instead more of a description of ephemeral feelings.
It should be noted that a lot of the humor of the show gets repeated quite a few times, such as Minoru being jealous of Kei and being reprimanded by Konoha or Mizuho constantly declaring everything to be a priority one. On one hand the jokes are funny, but viewers who are prone to find them boring after the first few times or don't find them funny at all are likely to be frustrated and annoyed.
Regarding the voice acting for Please Teacher I will be commenting on the English language track. Overall the voice acting for this show seems to be a mixed bag. While most of the characters have average performances with nothing to note either good or bad a few characters should be noted. For example, both Kei and Mizuho have good performances, solid without much reason to complain. Voicing for Koishi is strong, with the performance sounding very natural and well emoted.
On the other hand, the voicing for Ichigo and Kaede both sound forced. It's not that these two characters sound bad, just that they both sound like there's an actress in a booth somewhere trying to get the voice right. They come off sounding vaguely artificial, and it does detract from the enjoyment of the show somewhat. Fortunately, both are minor characters and the impact is minimal.
The music for this show is average. The opening song is fast and energetic, and the closing song is slower and more sedate. For the most part I enjoyed both songs, though found nothing outstanding about either. The background music didn't leave much of an impression on me, either, though this is partly because background music isn't used in too many scenes.
Visually this show leaves little to be desired. Character designs are all well detailed, and don't rely on crazy hairstyles to differentiate the characters. The designs for Mizuho and Koishi are attractive, which is only expected in a show of this sort but is good to see nonetheless. Production values are relatively high, though the backgrounds are somewhat simplistic at times because they are mostly rustic scenes not involving a lot of people. On the other hand this is understandable because the show takes place in a small town, and the backgrounds are well done within that context.
The packaging for Please Teacher is very well done, offering almost everything you'd want. The volume number is clearly labeled on the spine, and the back lists the episode titles as well as the count. Having the titles might not add a lot of information, but does give a rough idea of what to expect coming up in the disc and is preferable to seeing a nondescript count. Also on the back are the disc synopsis and a list of extras. In this case the list of extras is good because it gives the impression that the extras are robust, though in truth that feeling still fails to live up to the reality. The cover itself is fully reversible, with the reverse showing a different picture of Mizuho.
The insert for this disc is excellent. A three-panel insert, the front shows the same image as the front of the disc. The back is an advertisement for the manga. The third panel lists the credits for the show, which includes the English voice acting credits. In a large number of animes the English voice actors are not credited individually, and this can lead to difficulties determining exactly who plays which character. Having the information readily available from the insert rather than needing to go to the end of an episode is certainly an improvement. Finally, the insert folds out to show a mini-poster of Mizuho. All around this is a great insert.
The menus for Please Teacher are fairly standard in the options they provide, and all the menus follow a school motif. Done badly this might have been annoying, but the motif is still allows all the options to be clearly presented, and doesn't get in the way of making choices or presenting information. All of the menus have fairly long music, with the main menu having the longest. Access times are also quick.
Extras on this disc are plentiful, and add a lot of value to the disc. First up is a fairly long trailer for the show. Though most trailers run only a minute and a half long this one goes much longer, having a runtime of approximately eight minutes. It features a large number of images from the show, though it has a tendency to stop at background shots and show text for long periods of time. The text isn't too helpful at describing the show, being mostly the sort of abstract talk given that the beginning and end of the episodes. Ironically, after finishing I still had no idea what the series was about, and I found it more interesting to watch after I had seen the disc than as an introduction to the series.
Second is a promo clip for the series, which resembles the trailer in many respects. It's composed of a series of small clips from the disc set to an extended version the theme song, and actually makes for a better trailer than the trailer itself. It runs slightly less time than the trailer at approximately five minutes, and where the trailer showed the somber and reflective side of the show the promo clip does a good job of showing a few of the humorous moments as well.
Third is a small collection of the original television commercials. After watching the super long trailer and promo clip one would probably expect these commercials to also be very long, but that's not the case at all. Each lasts about fifteen seconds, and is pretty much what you'd expect. They're interesting to have, but given that they're so short they fail to make much of an impression besides reminding us that anime is broadcast as a television series before we get it in this format.
Rounding things up is a preview for the first episode and a design gallery. The preview is the same as the previews for all the other episodes save that this one is for episode one and therefore technically occurs before the series begins. The gallery shows a number of images used in animating the show, and is quite large.
On the whole this is a lot of extra material in terms of viewing time, and its inclusion on the disc is very much appreciated. It might have been nice to have a clean open or close for the show, but this is just the first disc and there's plenty of time to see those. These extras provide good introductory material for the show, and since that's what a first disc is all about it fits in nicely.
Sharp 13" television, Microsoft XBox