OP: 「Youthful Dreamer」 by TrySail
「高校教師始めました」 (Kōkō kyōshi hajimemashita)
“I’m a High School Teacher Now”
Disney-esque cartoons and sanitised fairytales have been telling kids to follow their dreams and do whatever they want for generations now, but when I was a toddler I dreamed of growing up to become a dinosaur, and here I am still a warm-blooded sack of soft human flesh. Bah. Don’t blame me for being cynical. Denpa Kyoushi hides those messages behind a thin wall of absurdity, but it’s still more or less Japan’s take on similar themes. How does it do?
I read the original manga for Denpa Kyoushi before watching its pilot, which I consider a disadvantage for enjoying a show. This is especially true when we’re dealing with a comedy, because jokes just as funny the second time around. There’s also the initial impression that the manga leaves on you, which is hard to shake. It’s funny how Denpa Kyoushi did a big rant about seiyuu in this episode, because I found that some voices just didn’t work for me, which is not a thing that happens often; I thought myself a fairly flexible person in that regard. Perhaps Kamiya Hiroshi has too distinctive a voice, so his performance of Kagami Junichirou sounded like someone else despite the good rants. But Matsui Rena is a newcomer, and her rendition of Suzune just seemed stilted; perhaps she tried to play the jock a bit too hard. Who was the sound director again? Nagasaki Yukio? No amateur, that one. Well, at least Amamiya Sora can sing, so Face Punch was fine for me.
The fact that I actually had an image of and predispositions about these characters and their voices in my head to begin with is probably a compliment; it means that the cast was endearing. That’s going to have to carry Denpa Kyoushi, because it’s a character comedy first and foremost, and a lot of the laughs—and occasionally the tears, if they play up the drama—is going to rely on the audience actually liking Denpa Kyoushi‘s band of misfits. It’s unfortunate that better visuals couldn’t be mustered to back them up, though. A-1 Pictures are as anime mercenaries; they can assemble a team to do anything, but their performance hinges greatly on how much money the producers can funnel into them, and this time it seems like the amount is ‘not as much’. There’s some visual flair now and then, but for the most part the aesthetics are mediocre at best. To put a positive spin to it, Denpa Kyoushi looks somewhat old-school; consider the OP, which is a rather retro character parade on abstract backgrounds. This could well be the influence of director Satou Masato, who’s old, and/or it could have been a deliberate choice. Great Teacher Onizuka didn’t look at all good, but it was still ultimately one of the great anime of its time.
Indeed, if we consider Denpa Kyoushi to be something of a new age GTO, that would be about right. Adolescent problems exist as much today as it did back then; they’ve just been upgraded a bit. For example, bullying has gotten slightly more sophisticated. Therefore, while in 1999 Onizuka-sensei needed to be unorthodox and strong, in 2015 Kagami-sensei needs to be unorthodox and smart. The core principles are still the same, though; in every age, in every societies, there are teens who have temporarily lost their way, and that one understanding teacher who catches them early can very well shape the rest of their life. In particular, Kagami Junichirou needs to reinvigorate an entire young generation of a Japan that has been in recession for decades. You may have noticed that he only sets out to avenge Face Punch when the bullies try to crush her dreams. And because this is an ultimately idealistic series, the good guys win! The bad guys reform! Yay! And where in real life Face Punch’s teachers would have foamed from the mouth to hear that she’s taking voice lessons instead of studying, Kagami-sensei, despite his warnings about the seiyuu industry, is ultimately supportive. Sure, a message like ‘only do what you want to do’ may sound a bit rich coming from a Nobel-winning young genius with both the ability and the resources to franchise whatever he wants to do, but his heart is in the right place. And as the Great Teacher Onizuka showed us, a little heart goes a long way.
ED: 「DREAMIN’」 by 東京パフォーマンスドール (Tokyo Performance Doll)