Bad Teacher’s Equation 1 (omnibus ed.)
August 31, 2011
Kazuma Kodaka – June – 2011 – 10 volumes
this is an omnibus containing volumes 1-2
Normally I avoid any BL book with the word “teacher” in the title like the plague. Teacher/student relationships are really, really not my thing. But I agonized over this one. Usually, when June sees fit to publish an omnibus, it’s worth my time, and I’ve liked what I’ve read of Kazuma Kodaka’s work so far. So I took the plunge. It paid off.
I found the author’s notes in the back of the volume helped to give the series context. Apparently this was among the first wave of titles in BexBoy Magazine, one of the foundations of BL manga today. My attempts to dig around for more history are futile, since there’s a big blank in the 80s where it looks like doujinshi and June magazine were what BL fans had to enjoy, but it’s possible that this was at the beginning of a more “mainstream” BL genre, so to speak. That’s interesting to me, as is the fact that Kazuma Kodaka drew shounen manga before this, and then only BL afterwards.
Basically, this book is old, and looks it. It dates back to 1990, and the art reflects this. I like Kodaka’s very 90s hairstyles and character designs. There are a lot of mullets around, and the guys, including the students, are a little manlier than the bishounen types you usually find in BL manga. And, as expected, the fashions are hilariously dated. But other than that, Kodaka is a good artist, and the art is functional. I like series with older art like this, since it can get tiring looking at the same art styles all the time.
But my preamble about the history is mostly to explain the content of the book. I enjoy reading manga largely because I am a genre fanatic. I love seeing how well certain series do or do not fit into their genre categories. But this. I have no frame of reference for this series. It is unlike any BL manga, or romance manga in general, that I have read. It does fit some of the early 90s BL I’ve read in that series from that time tend to be more comedy-focused than romance-focused, but other than that… it took me a long time to get a handle on what was going on, simply because it doesn’t really fit into the usual categories.
If pressed, I would say that this series is mostly a coming-of-age story. There are couples in the story, but they aren’t romantic. There’s lots of comedy, but so far, it seems like the only character-focused parts of the story are about certain characters overcoming their personal problems with other characters. But even with that theme, it’s pretty positive overall.
The story starts off with Atsushi entering high school. So far, so good. The high school has a bad reputation, though, and the only reason he entered it was because he heard that his neighbor, a boy named Ma-chan, had recently been made the nurse there. Ma-chan was his childhood crush, but moved away before he could admit his feelings. So now Atsushi is bound and determined to confess his feelings. But when he gets there, he’s found that Ma-chan, a teacher named Shibata, is a care-free playboy type who’s rude, obnoxious, and utterly unlike the gentle Ma-chan of Atsushi’s memory. On top of that, Atsushi runs into another childhood friend who had a crush on him, a boy named Inagaki. Inagaki isn’t easily dissuaded, and he decides to stick by Atsushi’s side like glue. After Atsushi decides to be friends with Inagaki and love Ma-chan for who he is, he gets another bomb dropped: Ma-chan is just how he remembers him, the teacher Shibata is simply Ma-chan’s brother, Masayoshi. And the real Ma-chan, aka Masami, is dating another teacher at Atsushi’s school named Hagiwara.
So. Atsushi loves Masami. Masami loves Hagiwara, who loves him back. Inagaki loves Atsushi. Atsushi winds up falling in love with Masayoshi, eventually. Take that premise, strip the romance from it and fill it with comedy, then drop the characters into any number of situations. Basketball games. Hawaiian vacations. Races. Et cetera. There’s always a little something sweet to balance out the comedy, like the long-suffering Masami’s curse that Hagiwara will never, ever make a move on him. That rude guy Masayoshi is actually a great teacher despite his delinquent-like ways. That Atsushi can take his broken heart and deal with it how he will.
But it is mostly a comedy, complete with 90s-style slapstick and bad jokes. It’s totally not my type of series, and yet I find myself strangely drawn to the characters, even with no romance. I don’t know what to make of this first omnibus volume, but with the utterly weird character relationships, types, and strange plots (that are slightly less conventional than what I’ve said here, but only just), I couldn’t put it down. I was relieved it wasn’t a teacher/student romance, though, and I love that Masayoshi doesn’t return Atsushi’s feelings. Don’t change on me!
Anyway. I was confused and intrigued. I need a second volume to see where this craziness is going. But this only cements the June omnibus reputation in my mind. It’s true that it’s only the best series in these omnibuses.