animefringe december 2003 / reviews

Onegai Teacher: Mizuho & Kei's Diary
Format: English novel / 200 pgs.
Production: ComicsOne / GO ZAPPA / Taraku Uon / Hiroaki Gohda
Comments: An excellent story that could've used a lot more polishing in the editing department.
Animefringe Reviews:
Onegai Teacher: Mizuho & Kei's Diary

I'm glad that we're finally getting more domestic translations of Japanese novels over here. The Ring and Battle Royale have made it, just as Musashi and other notable works. I'm still waiting for Slayers and the Lodoss War books to appear, of course, but I'm a big fan of Onegai Teacher, so I snatched this up the minute it arrived.

Before I get going, I'd just like to point out that Comics ONE has been pretty impressive when it comes to starting and maintaining many of the standards we've come to expect over the past two years. They've released books unflipped, they are the industry leader in Chinese comic domestication, and even without killer titles like Inu-Yasha or Love Hina, they continue to hold their own against their fellow publishers.

Releasing this novel is another step forward in the right direction, though they're not the first to do it. Unfortunately, it's not exactly a steady step forward.

Onegai Teacher is the story of a relationship between two mismatched people. Kei Kusanagi was trying to simplify his life after waking from a coma induced by a traumatic event in his past. Medical science had no explanation for his condition, for while he was unconscious, his bodily functions entered a dormant state. For the two years he was out, he didn't age or develop in any way, and upon waking, he discovered the world had passed him by.

He moved away from his school rather than return, and he decided to live with his aunt and uncle in the countryside. Seeing as countryfolk tend to be behind the times, it made sense to get away from the bustle of the city. Even after waking up, Kei still experiences what he calls stagnations - moments when he freezes in time - whenever he is under an inordinate amount of stress. Such was his life when Mizuho Kazami entered the picture.

Unexpectedly, she entered it from the doorway of a spaceship. Hers, in fact. And she appeared from her spaceship in front of Kei, hovering above a lake.

Half-human, Mizuho is the appointed observer of the backwater planet known as Earth. She's forbidden from revealing her presence to Earthlings since they're so underdeveloped, but she's always wanted to find out more about her father's home world. Landing a job as a planet watcher was the best way she could spend time on Earth, even though she was grossly overqualified for the position.

As it turns out, Mizuho happens to be Kei's new homeroom teacher - a job she applied for to better gain an understanding of the inhabitants of her father's world. As luck would have it, Kei happens to be one of her students, and when he sees the beautiful young teacher for the first time, she is strangely familiar. It's not until she moves in next to him (again, coincidentally) and he helps her unload some heavy items that he recognizes her as the same mysterious person he saw suspended in mid-air above the lake.

When Kei discovers Mizuho's secret, it binds them together, starting a relationship between teacher and student neither of them expected. This connection, apparently forged by fate, is that one they would willingly sacrifice everything to keep.

I love the story of Onegai Teacher. It's charming, and the characters are as great as the interesting setup. Sure it has simliarities to other series such as Oh My Goddess and Guardian Angel Getten, but it's cute nonetheless. The only thing that brings this release down is the lackluster editing. The book is not very polished technically, and it could have used some smoothing out in the language department.

There are numerous gramatical errors (such as using it's in place of its) and noticable typos. I also noticed instances of subject-verb disagreement. Sometimes, awkward descriptions are given, such as the following sentence illustrates: "Minoru is a kind of guy who became an adult but ended up with a lot of student-in-a-boys-only-school-like mentality still in him that makes him tense up just by looking at a woman eating a bannana."

Now, I understand what that sentence is trying to convey, but it's a mess. I'm not claiming to be an excellent writer, but that's what editors are for. While this is a lovely story, many people may be turned off by the clumsy flow of words it presents. In order to enjoy this book, I had to think of it as if I was translating the original Japanese on my own on the fly. The book feels rushed and incomplete, and honestly, there are fan-scans out there that read much better.

This book would be excellent if someone had gone through the entire work again and re-written the entire thing. Now, I'm not suggesting the original translation be disregarded, but concessions must be made to allow for greater readability. As it stands, this book is only readable because of my love for the anime and manga. Otherwise, it comes across as the work of a junior high school student. I've read fan fiction that sounds much better than this, and from a major publisher, I expected a lot more.