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Please Teacher Vol. 3

You know a show's good when the only complaints I have for it are technical. Let's get those out of the way. I don't agree with some of the translation choices here. First of all, there's the title, which sounds silly in English. I was waiting for Onegai Sensei, not Please Teacher!, but hey, whatever sells the disc.

Within the show, I found it a little odd that sensei is almost always translated (both in the dub and in the subtitles) as "ma'am." Really, in either, "sensei" probably could have been used (we all know what sensei means, thank you). In either case, repeated use of the word "ma'am" sounds odd.

The last technical detail that didn't really effect me much (I'm not a dub fan anyway) is the English language track. It's not the best dub I've heard, with Julie Anne Taylor's portrayal of Ichigo Morino coming across as a bit too zombie-like and Dave Wittenberg's performance as Kei being a little too nerdy, even for Kei.

With that out of the way, the rest still makes up one of the most touching shows I've seen. Kei Kusanagi is afflicted by a very rare psychological disorder that causes him to enter a small coma (what he calls a "standstill") whenever he is confronted by emotional stress. While in this deathlike state, his body doesn't change at all. His condition first began with traumatic event that induced a three-year standstill. When he woke up, he suddenly found himself in a world in which he didn't belong.

He subsequently moved out to the countryside to live with his Aunt and Uncle, and he has since made new friends and a new life for himself.

And then there's the little matter of his wife, Mizuho Kazami. Who is also his teacher. Who is also an alien observer of the human race. Go figure.

By this disc, Kei is finally beginning to fall in love with Mizuho. That is, he's progressing beyond the understandable lust any man would have for the curvaceous Pocky fiend. He is actually seeing her for who she is, not what she looks like. However, his schoolmate (and a super cute one at that) Koishi Herikawa has decided to confess her attraction to Kei. No one is aware of the (illegal, really) relationship between Kei and his sensei, so he certainly has a sticky situation to deal with when Koishi asks him out.

Please Teacher! will mess with your emotions, but it's very much a worthy ride. Alternately hilarious and bittersweet, the series has an amazingly realistic plot despite the presence of aliens, mobile AI units, and an odd undocumented disease.

Even without the excellent story and characters you could squeeze (out of love, not with intent to harm), the character designs and look of the show are both extremely appealing. Eyes, hair, and even background colors are vibrant and varied. It's a visual treat, with impressive animation for a love story, as well.

The music is good, though certainly reminiscent of video game background music, though people lucky enough to get the first disc with the collector's box already know that - the soundtrack was also included in the initial run of the package. Now that's an extra.

Extras include a montage of various scenes from the show put to music, a textless opening and ending, and a user-navigated design gallery. With only three episodes, a few more extras would have been appreciated, but I'll take what I can get. The cover is reversible, though the case is opaque, so many people might not notice this bonus feature. The enclosed booklet (only a page folded in half) has a mini-poster depicting the cast on the inside, and a full staff list on the back. The cover shows off the previously mentioned uber-cute Koishi, accurately suggesting the fan service that you're sure to encounter in the series itself.

This has quickly become one of my favorite series, mixing sci-fi elements and romance with the best of them (Video Girl Ai and Oh My Goddess, for examples), and it has some of the most beautiful visuals of any anime series out there. For a funny, touching, tender story, check out Please Teacher!, even if you'll have to hear or read "ma'am" more often than you're comfortable with. You won't regret it.

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