Anime Review: Onegai Ticha! (Please Teacher!)
Writer's Note: While the Japanese name of the series is "Onegai Ticha!" and the official English name is "Please Teacher!", most north american fans (yours truly included) refer to it as "Onegai Teacher!"
"Onegai Teacher!" is a sci-fi/slice of life shonen romance about a young boy named Kei who suffers from a rare and unknown illness that puts his body in statis when he gets too depressed (referred to as standstills throughout the series), and his attempts at a normal high school life despite having been in a standstill for three years, including friends, family, dating, and general coming of age stuff. There's also a series of unfortunate events involving his teacher, Kazami-sensei. Oh yeah, and Kazami-sensei is an alien. An absolutely beautiful alien. Goodbye, normal high school life.
The Plot (may contain spoilers of unimportant events)
Kei Kusanagi is a seemingly normal fifteen year old boy, going to high school in a small prefect. He lives with his uncle, a physician, and his aunt. But he holds his own secrets: He suffers from an unnamed illness that causes "standstills," a near-death form of stasis that leaves him unconscious for varying lengths of time, whenever he's depressed. When in a standstill, there is no breathing, his pulse is undetectable, he doesn't age at all, physically or mentally. When he was younger, he was in a standstill that lasted three years. Despite looking and acting like a fifteen year old, Kei is actually eighteen. He moved out of his parents' place to live with his uncle in order to get a fresh start in life.
One day, while relaxing outside, he sees a whirlpool in Lake Kizaki and a woman materializes in front of him. This of course would cause anyone to panic, and so of course, Kei does. After some hilarious hijinks, it is revealed that this beautiful woman, Mizuho-sensei is an alien, as well as his new homeroom teacher. In an attempt to ensure Kei's confidence of her extra-stellar origins, she brings him to a spot where they can talk about these matters alone. They get caught by the principle, and so in order to avoid blowing her cover as an alien, he admits he's an adult (legally) and marries Mizuho sensei.
Are you following so far? Basically, Kei fulfills every boy's high school fantasy by marrying an alien and his beautiful high school teacher.
Predominantly, this is a coming of age tale for not just Kei, but all his friends as the grow from being young teenagers turning into young adults. Kei's requirement to keep his illness and his marriage a secret may pose some challenges for him, but it is also through these experiences that his friends grow too: two of his best friends Hyosuke and Kaede struggle with falling in love and their first sexual encounter; Ichigo learns that there are somethings beyond her control; Koishi, who had been pining after Kei since before the series begins, has to learn to move on since she can't be in a relationship with Kei (for reasons obvious to the viewer, but not to her); and even our heroes Kei and his wife Mizuno-sensei learn about what it means to be in a relationship, including trust, jealousy, and even slowly falling in love with one another.
It isn't easy. It's awkward for them, sometimes they may even hate each other, but over the course of twelve episodes, you really do watch them grow up.
Noteworthy and the Verdict
Just something I noticed, but it's clear that this story takes place in the future. I'm not entirely sure how far in the future exactly, since there's not any high-tech gadgets in the show we don't have here (except for the alien technology) but the Wikipedia article states that Kazami is twenty-four years old. If we assume that's in Earth years, then the series takes place between 2033-34, as it states that there was a manned mission to Mars that year (the story was written in 2001-02), and that Kazami's father was part of that crew. It's very rare to see a series take place thirty years in the future with virtually no major technological changes, but it was pretty refreshing too. Especially since we're supposed to be living like the Jetsons' right now, I guess this will leave future readers much less alienated.
Overall, I found "Onegai Teacher!" quite entertaining, although it appears to be a story that is getting familiar by now to regular anime viewers, the whole "Male Hero dates an alien/magical girl/time traveler/deity" story. At twelve episodes and one Original Video Animation (released later the same year), "Onegai Teacher!" is short enough that you don't get sick of it, and long enough that it tells a story worth telling.
For fanservice content, It lies somewhere between Haruhi Suzumiya and Love Hina. The fanservice can get pretty explicit at some points, but it isn't full of it. If you're not a sensitive parent, I recommend this for ages 12+. There is some swearing, and lots of cleavage. But it's not so much that it distracts you from the story if you're truly engaged. Also, some mild sexual conversations occur. This is a coming-of-age tale, after all.
Onegai Teacher at Amazon.com!
Volume One of the Manga series, based on the anime.