“It’s the obvious and natural thing to do, but still it’s strange that at this moment in time Mizuho Kazami is now Mizuho Kusanagi. I just married…my teacher.” – Kei Kusanagi “Please Teacher”
The story itself sounds like something ripped out the news headlines years ago–teacher meets student, teacher falls in love with student, teacher and student begin a secret love affair and get married. “Please Teacher” takes it several steps further–the teacher in question is a covert Galatic Observer, the student in question is actually older than his appearance, thanks to a condition known as a “Standstill”, and the marriage in question is used to cover both of these secrets…or does it? If there’s one thing about “Please Teacher” that can be said in this introduction it’s this: it will stretch your thoughts and ideas of love to the near-breaking point. What am I going on and on about? Well, just keep reading and find out.
Warnings and Notable Objectionable Content – “Please Teacher” is currently rated for viewers sixteen and up for nudity and some sexual situations. Honestly, the series is relatively clean; it’s the OVA/Episode 13 that would give a few people pause. Also, the idea of a teacher/student relationship of this magnitude might not sit well with some people…your mileage may vary.
Series Availability – “Please Teacher” is readily available at different sources, mostly online. Aside from an individual volume set, there is a “Complete Collection” set that includes all four volumes. Online retailers like Best Buy and WalMart carry the Complete Collection sets, while brick and mortar stores like FYE might have it available either new or used.
Story Breakdown – “Please Teacher” is a thirteen episode series [technically it’s twelve regular episodes and one OVA, however the DVD release refers to the OVA as “Episode 13”, so we’ll grade it as such…no point in confusing matters, right?]. There is a Manga series that looks as though it ran concurrently with the original anime series, but only two volumes were created. The story follows Kei Kusanagi as he deals with several problems that have seemingly piled onto his plate. His body periodically goes into what’s referred to as a “standstill”. A “Standstill” is when a persons body pulls a Windows 95 and locks up during times of extreme emotional distress. During this time, a persons body does not age at all, and has no concept of time. Due to a particularly bad three-year standstill, Kei has the appearance of a fifteen years old, but is technically eighteen years old. After coming around from a standstill on the side of a lake, he encounters Mizuho Kazami, a half human Galatic Observer from space who has been sent to Earth to observe the daily lives of earthlings. As such, she becomes a teacher in Kei’s school, much to his chagrin, and also moves in next to him. After being locked inside a school storage shed by accident, Kei and Mizuho end up confessing their individual secrets to each other and, just as the two are leaning in for a kiss, along comes the school principal who assumes the worst. Faced with the possibility of their individual secrets being discovered, Kei gives up his secret that he is of legal age, and states that the two of them are actually married. To make the charade even more believable, the two of them make it official by filing a marriage license and moving in together. And so, “Please Teacher” carries on from there, following the ups and downs of their sudden taboo nuptials; keeping their relationship a secret from just about everyone while learning to live and relate to each other. The story is unlike anything I’ve seen before or since, and I admit to being more than a little freaked out over the premise, [Images of Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau flew about my head…] but I have to admit, it is intriguing and it keeps my attention from episode to episode. I love the fact that it doesn’t solely focus on the two main characters and their relationship, but it also touches on the relationships of Kei’s friends, which is entertaining to watch and acts as a great comparison to the relationship between Kei and Mizuho. The series officially ends at episode twelve, and it’s a great ending, wrapping up everything nicely. The OVA is…interesting…to say the very least; toeing the line between perverted comedy and soft-core pornography and not bringing much, if anything, to the party in terms of story. But it’s good for a laugh. [24/25]
Characters – The series starts with Kei Kusanagi, an eighteen year old trapped in a fifteen year old’s body due to a condition known as a “Standstill”. He has not revealed this fact to anyone save for his aunt and uncle who he lives with in a clinic. However, in the scope of a few days, he now finds himself married to and living with Mizuho Kazami, a Galatic Observer from space who was sent to observe Earth. One thing that makes Kei believable as a character in his situation is that the way he acts and interacts with others gives him the illusion of being out-of-place. Even his character design gives him an “odd-man-out” appearance. With regards to Mizuho Kazami, I really enjoyed her character throughout the series. She has her shortcomings with regards to personality, but you can’t help but admire her for her resolve and determination to make things work. With regards to the other characters, the only one I had a problem with was Koishi Herikawa, the girl with a crush on Kei at the beginning of the series. Seriously, this girl just doesn’t want to take the hint–he is CLEARLY not interested in you, so WHY are you pushing the matter? And then, when you finally get it through your head that this dude doesn’t like you…you move on to your scruffy haired TEACHER. Now, it should be noted that she does not suffer from the “Standstill”, and she really is around fifteen years old…so…why is she…you know what? I’m not going to go there. I’m just going to take the points… [23/25]
Animation – You know, I made a comment to OtakuAndrain during my review that I never noticed before how nice and bright the animation is. Considering that this show was made in 2002, it has the look of a show from the later 2000’s. All the colors are bright, and the character designs are really well done. As I mentioned above, I think it is an interesting choice that the creators made Kei pale in comparison to his normal friends, and also that, whenever he wears his school uniform, it’s always unbuttoned, reflecting that it may be too small and kind of acting as a metaphor for his current situation–his spirit is too small for the body it’s currently in. It’s that attention to detail that makes “Please Teacher” an interesting series to watch, and gives it plenty of re-watch value. The design of the spaceships remind me of the “Tenchi Muyo!” series, in that they look like the very LAST things you would expect to see flying through space or entering Earth’s atmosphere. The OVA takes a bit of a departure from the standard animation style, but not by much…reactions are more anime-like and out the box, but it still maintains the look of the earlier twelve episodes. [12.5/12.5]
Music and Soundtrack – The music of “Please Teacher” is your standard fare with regards to incidental music. It does its job, but doesn’t overshadow the dialogue. The opening song, “Shooting Star” by KOTOKO, doesn’t sound quite right for some reason…I just don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t really match. The end song, “Sora no Mori De” by Kawada Mami makes up for this. It’s nice and mellow. The ending song for episode twelve, “Love a Riddle” by KOTOKO goes well with the ending montage. [10/12.5]
Performances and Production – “Please Teacher” was licensed by Bandai Entertainment and dubbed by Bang Zoom! Entertainment. The director in charge of this project is Tony Oliver, a guy who has had his hand in quite a few successful projects both as a director, producer, script writer, and voice actor. Our male lead, Kei Kuanagi, is voiced by Dave Wittenberg, and he does a bang-up job of it too. He does an awesome job of playing an older person trapped in a younger person’s body, and he conveys the emotions very well…almost too well, as I still get a twitch in my eye whenever Kei calls his wife “ma’am”. Bridget Hoffman takes the role of Mizuho Kazami, and she does a very respectable job as such. she matches the emotions with the orignal voice actor line-for-line. All the other actors, like Julie Ann Taylor as the old-soul Ichigo, Kirk Thornton as the energetic friend Hyosuke, Sandy Fox as Maho Kazami and Wendee Lee as Hatsuko Kazami put on exceptional performances across the board. Overall, this is yet another feather in Tony Oliver’s hat with regards to dub work. [25/25]
Story Breakdown – 24/25
Characters – 23/25
Animation – 12.5/12.5
Music – 10/12.5
Performance and Production – 25/25
Final Score – 94.5/100 – A
Lagniappe (A Little Something Extra)
- Towards the end of episode thirteen, Maho can be seen reading what appears to be a script for “Please Teacher”.
- Mizuho, Maho and Hatsuko all eat vasts amounts of “Pochy”, which is, of course, a stand-in for the real snack “Pocky”. It should be noted that each of the three characters enjoy different flavors: Mizuho eats regular Pocky, Maho eats strawberry flavored Pocky, and Hatsuko eats the dark-chocolate flavored Pocky.
- The town where “Please Teacher” takes place is an actual city: Lake Kizaki in Nagano Prefecture, Japan.
- The movie Kei and Koishi saw in Episode four is actually the Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo OVA. Also, JAM Project’s “Storm”, the OVA’s OP can be heard in the background.
- In episode three, when the principal reveals that he had a relationship with one of his students, Mizuho exclaims “She’s so young!” to which Kei replies in soto voice, “She’s just jailbait”. In an episode from the anime, “Lucky Star”, when Konata shows Tsukasa and Kagami a picture of her father and late mother, the same lines are repeated. This could be a bit of a joke made by the writing crew.
- Also in Episode four, a “Titanic”-like movie poster can be seen in the background.
So what does that leave us? Well, “Please Teacher” is one of those stories which requires you to leave a few things at the door in order to fully enjoy it, but once you do, it makes for a very interesting trip. With its story line that makes you stand up and take notice, characters that are fascinating to observe, animation that stands the test of time, Music that does the job [if not all that well], and an acting cast that needs no introduction, “Please Teacher” is an anime that tells the story of unconditional love and does so in an unconventional way. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you make it your Priority One to do so.
And so, that’s it ladies and gentlemen! Yet another Love-Love anime out the door! Quite the improvement over “ToHeart”, I have to admit. To wrap up our Love-Love February, we’re going to do a special “Drew Threw it to You” Award”, OtakuAndrain is going to give us a first look of “Dansei Koukousei no Nichijou (Daily Life of High School Boys)” and I’ll write-up my last review for this month on an anime that takes a unique view of relationships…the male point of view. Yep…I’m doing that one. Heaven help me…Keep your eyes glued to “The Cajun Samurai” as we take on…