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September 19, 2011
 

Bento Bako Weekly: Oresama Teacher 3, Sakura Hime 3

Title: Oresama Teacher
Author: Izumi Tsubaki
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 3 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2008 by Hakusensha in Japan, July 2011 by Viz Media
Genre: Comedy

[Volume 2 review.]

Out of food and lacking the skills to cook, Mafuyu decides to head home for some of her mother’s cooking. Her mother immediately assumes she’s been expelled again, but Mafuyu quickly clears that up. However, she doesn’t manage to clear up the fact that her mother mistook her description of her new friend Hayasaka for a normal female friend. To make up for it, she goes out to observe other girls around town and try to develop a strategy for becoming friends with her fellow females. She doesn’t get a chance to enact her bizarre strategies, however, as she spies a fragile girl surrounded by a group of thugs. Always the (haphazard) hero, Mafuyu rushes to the rescue, only to find herself captured by members from her formal school’s rival West High. She’s not the only one, however, as her former number two and number three (now the leader and his number two), Kohei Kangawa and Yuto Maizono, have also been captured. The leader of West High, Asahi Sakurada, has challenged East High to a rematch of the battle fought when Mafuyu led East High (which she won, giving her gang control of both schools’ turf), and so has captured East High’s leaders to keep them out of the fight. Mafuyu does some quick maneuvering to free herself from her bonds (which of course was taught to her by Takaomi), then gives Kangawa and Maizono a quick delinquents 101 lesson on how to keep the ropes loose as they’re being tied to make escaping easier. After freeing her former followers, it’s time to orchestrate an escape. It’s all Mafuyu can do to keep the boys focused on her plan…and by that I mean that she can’t keep them focused in the slightest, and they run right into every danger, doing exactly the opposite of her suggestions. Zany hijinks ensue as the three make their way through the building, although Mafuyu eventually gives up on them entirely. She runs into a member of West High during her escape, who bizarrely offers her some snacks, and then explains his leader’s plan to her. Confused, Mafuyu asks why he would reveal such plans to an enemy, but the young man replies that it doesn’t matter, because Mafuyu isn’t the leader anymore, and isn’t even a member of the gang anymore; she’s an outsider. This news hits Mafuyu like a rock, though she insists the bonds with her former followers go beyond the gang, that they are all friends. However, her beliefs are shaken when Kangawa repeats the same ideals, and insists that Mafuyu stay out of the fight entirely. She decides to watch in secret, however, and realizes that her gang is just fine without her under Kangawa’s leadership, but a surprise as she is leaving also reinforces her belief that the bonds of friendship remain regardless of distance. After some quick fan service for the romance lovers, we launch back into the main story at the school involving the Public Morals Club. Takaomi is ready to put his next plan into action; it’s time to take on the Student Council Chairman, the academy president’s son, Miyabi Hanabusa. Hanabusa and the student council rule the school with an iron fist, helped along by Hanabusa’s gorgeous face that makes boys and girls alike literally dizzy with its beauty.

This is the story of the three amigos. Or, should I say, the three idiots. The three super idiots. Mafuyu’s former underlings provide a lot of laughs in this volume, and the top three leaders of East High make the perfect comedic trio. How Mafuyu ever kept the masochistic Maizono and the hyperactive Kangawa under control when she was the gang’s leader is a mystery, because she can barely control them now. The entire segment with them trying to escape the building they were held captive in is very amusing, and I couldn’t help laughing out loud several times. The back of the book has some 4-panel comics of the gang trying to get by with their Miss Mafuyu that are also quite funny.¬†One of the most amusing parts of this volume is the opening, which features Mafuyu running around town trying to figure out how girls make friends with other girls. Her observations and ideas always sound like they’re coming from an adolescent boy, rather than a teenage girl, and it shows just how much Mafuyu is going to have to work if she still intends to become a normal high school girl. It’s also hysterical. To her, girls are fragile angels. When she witnesses an instant friendship form between two random girls on the street, her developed strategy includes “flirting,” and asking a fellow female out for coffee (like a date). She’s completely ignorant of how to interact with other girls, though her tomboy qualities and hyperactive nature also make it difficult for boys to interact with her as if she were a girl. Most of them simply act like she’s one of the boys, like her former gang and now Hayasaka. Only Bancho (whose real name I forget) seems to get a little flustered around her, and it’s quite endearing; I’d love to see more interaction between them; he reminds me of Ouran High School‘s Ritsu Kasanoda. As always, another racing and entertaining volume of Oresama Teacher.

Title: Sakura Hime
Author: Arina Tanemura
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 3 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2008 by Shueisha in Japan, August 2011 by Viz Media
Genre: Fantasy, drama, romance

[Volume 1 review.]

I did not receive volume 2, but apparently Sakura was not killed by her fianc√© Aoba. It does seem, however, that they continued along a rocky path after, you know, he tried to have her killed. Somewhere along the way, Aoba’s uncle and the Togu (which I think is sort of like the crown prince), Fujimurasaki, proposed marriage to Sakura. He also gave her her first official duty to hunt down a youko (demon), but while waiting for the youko to appear, she is attacked by her lady-in-waiting, Oumi, who turns into a youko and attacks her. Sakura is unable to kill Oumi, but everyone is interrupted by the one who was controlling her – the youko of Uji, and the Emperor’s Councilor. A powerful demon named Enju wants Sakura captured and Aoba killed, so while Sakura protects Aoba, Kohaku, Hayate, and Byakuya do what they can to stave off the Councilor’s attacks. Enju, unhappy with the Councilor’s methods, ends things himself, and disappears. Back at the palace, Aoba finally grows a pair and confesses his love to Sakura, then demands that Fujimurasaki return her to him. Fujimurasaki gives Sakura up easily, though there’s evidence that his true feelings aren’t what he shows on the surface. His part in the story is far from over, however, as he is seen speaking with the Emperor, where it is clear that the Emperor sees Sakura as a mere tool to be used to protect the land, which doesn’t sit right with Fujimurasaki. Sakura is oblivious, of course, as she and Kohaku have some girl time together talking about their first loves. Here we learn about Sakura’s older brother, Kai, who was very kind to her, but died of an illness. Or so she thought. DUN DUN DUN. Sakura’s brother is back, and he isn’t about to let the royal family have their way with his precious sister. Especially after what they did to him.

[Note: I tried to keep the major spoilers out of the above summary. I’ll be revealing one major one in my analysis below, so you’ve been warned.]

Yeah, I still dislike Arina Tanemura. I don’t think anything is ever going to change that. I just fundamentally dislike just about everything about her works. I can say one honestly positive things this time, however. With the addition of Sakura’s twisted brother, things might actually become moderately interesting. I was actually pretty shocked at how brutal the sequence portraying his torture was (Spoiler spoiler spoiler Kai is captured and held inside a water tank where, as an immortal, he drowns and is revived over and over again, completely destroying his sanity); I didn’t think Tanemura had it in her to so thoroughly torture and destroy one of her characters. I flip over broken characters like that, so let’s have more Enju, please, and I might actually become interested in this series. My distaste for this series was pretty well put forward in my previous review. Particularly my annoyance at how a nice Heian Era period piece was ruined with magical girl nonsense. Not that I have anything against magical girls (Have you seen Sasami Magical Girls Club? It’s only just about the cutest thing on this planet.), but I feel Tanemura’s decision to make Sakura a full on magical girl rather than just a girl with supernatural powers ruined the setting and the story overall. I don’t have much else to say about the series or this volume, really. Aside from the things I’ve pointed out, it’s pretty typical Tanemura, as far as the main characters go, and her art and writing style; so her fans should enjoy it.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net
@girlg33k_kris

Review copies provided by Viz Media.

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