animefringe june 2003 / feature
Animefringe Coverage:
Please Teacher - Love is Priority One!

One night, Kei Kusanagi was out by the lake when he saw something unexplainable, something ripped right out of The X-Files. He saw a UFO -- or rather, he saw an alien... a female alien, to be exact.

Now that alien is living right next door to him, walking the same path he walks to school, and even teaching the same homeroom he is in. That's right... Kei's teacher is an alien. And what's worse is he's now married to her!

Maybe that's not such a bad thing, but for Kei its just another pothole in his all ready dotted life. You see, Kei has a medical condition that sends him into a paralyzing seizure whenever he gets overly stressed or excited. He calls his condition a "standstill," and there is no known cure. In fact, his condition has robbed him of three years of his life.

Yes, during middle school Kei was in a coma for three years and it has taken its toll on his body. Though he may be 18 years old and in high school, he looks like a boy whose growth was stunted during puberty (though as the mild innuendo would have it, this hasn't stunted the important bits).

But how did Kei end up married to his teacher, let alone the fact that she's an alien? Well, blame that on some quick thinking to avert a potentially ugly scandal that would have resulted from Kei and Ms. Mizuho Kazami being found in the gym's storage room together. Yep, Kei "admitted" marriage to Ms. Kazami. He's made his bed, and now he has to lie in it.

And thus, the story really gets rolling. The struggles the new couple must face as they learn to cope with being more than just teacher and student, but rather as a couple is what makes the show so interesting. Kei doesn't want to give up his old life or friends, but he doesn't want them to find out he's living with their homeroom teacher. To complicate things, he has to also project to his principal the image that he is happily married. This is a serious quandary that offers up some serious drama, and comedy, in the process.

For Ms. Kazami, actually a reporter with the Galaxy Federation, her brief time on Earth has been a complete mess. Not only was she discovered right as she arrived on the planet, but reports of her spaceship were splashed across the news -- a problem that could very well jeopardize her mission. Now she's living with an Earthling, and trying her best to be the wife of a teen who wants nothing more than to live a normal life.

Let us not forget about Koishi, the girl who had her heart set on Kei long before Ms. Kazami entered the picture. The realistic portrayal of the jealousy that goes into being in a relationship is one aspect of this show that makes it the most real to the viewer.

With such an interesting lead cast, the supporting cast of Please Teacher is what truly brings the story home. From Kei's eccentric and perverted uncle, Mihoru, to the agenda-playing pipsqueak class representative, Ichigo, there is never a dull moment. Still, the one character that truly steals the show is Ms. Kazami's very own malfunctioning navigation system, Marie, a super-cute little alien-thingymabobber with an inflatable inner tube around her waist. This little sidekick pops up whenever Ms. Kazami gives her commands and finds some way to muck things up for everyone -- or in some *rare* cases, saves the day.

Beginning its life as a twelve episode anime series in 2001 and quickly spawned a direct-to-video thirteenth episode and a two volume manga adaptation illustrated by Shizuru Hayashiya. At first, the manga plays out almost exactly like the anime and then slowly tweaks some of the events to play out slightly differently, as seen at the end of chapter five of the manga where Ms. Kazami's sister, Maho, shows up.

Story wise, the manga glosses over the actual events of the night Kei saw Ms. Kazami's UFO arrive and skips right to her appearance in class. The anime spends more time initially to help flesh this event out, and offers a less perplexing detailing of Ms. Kazami's origins.

With two different companies handling the production of the manga and anime versions of Please Teacher, there are bound to be quite a few differences in the translations aside from the differences in title choices. Bandai's adaptation of the anime gives are more polished version of the material (albeit in the case of the dub, the dialogue is just short of colloquial), while ComicsOne's version offers a much more literal version of the material.

In fact, one big difference is in word usage. Kei's paralyzing seizure condition is called a "stagnation" in the manga, while the anime uses the term "standstill." A minor difference, but one that helps to give the condition a true basis in reality in the manga's case. Another such difference is in Ms. Kazami's trademark "this is a priority one." In the manga, this ends up being a wordier, "this is a matter of the highest priority."

Consistency aside, Please Teacher is one series that has the power to hook even non-fans with its likeable cast of characters and down-to-Earth story telling. Fans of Ai Yori Aoshi, Love Hina, and Kare Kano are in for a real treat, because this series is a keeper.