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Please Teacher! Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

12 min read

Please Teacher CoverNothing good comes from standing still.

What They Say:
Kei Kusanagi isn’t your typical 15-year-old high school student. He’s actually an 18-year-old with a rare disorder that puts him into what he calls, a “standstill”! When he was younger, this disorder left him in a deep coma which stunted his growth for three years. Mizuho Kazami isn’t your typical teacher, either. She’s actually an alien sent by the Galaxy Federation to observe the Earth!

As the sole human being with knowledge of Ms. Kazumi’s secret, Kei must… marry her?! Homework, dating, and a gorgeous wife – going to school has never been quite this fun!

Contains episodes 1-13.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track as well as the previously create English language track in stereo with both encoded at 192kbps. The show is one that is very much dialogue driven overall, with a few comical action moments here and there, so it’s fairly straightforward but comes across well. It gets a little help from the music and incidental sounds from time to time to give it a little more inclusion, but largely the dialogue is kept to a full feeling with some occasional placement and maybe a touch of depth from time to time. Overall, it’s a solid track that conveys the original material well and does it without any problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2002, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The thirteen episode series is spread across three discs in a five/four/four format that gives it plenty of space to work with alongside the extras that are spread across them. Animated by studio Daume, the show has a bright, colorful and appealing look for a show of this time where digital production was really increasing. Having seen this a few times over the years from the previous Bandai release, this version is like night and day. Colors are stronger and richer, there’s a better solidity about everything and it often simply feels like a brand new show. It’s working off of the same materials as before, not a remastered version, but it looks like it due to the better encoding and care put into it. The visual pop here is strong and with no problems such as cross coloration or noise and very minor line noise during a couple of panning sequences that’s in the source, this is a great looking transfer.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release goes in a similar vein to what we had before, but in a tight and compact single keepcase design that has one disc against the interior wall and the other two on the hinge. The front cover wraps everything in the striped design while the main image brings us a very clean and appealing image of the main cast together in the stairwell at school. There’s plenty to infer from it with the way the characters are arrayed and their expressions, but it has a good look and doesn’t overwhelm while still providing for some good detail. The back cover ups the striped aspect in a way that really stands out, but all the attention is on Mizuho here on the left in her teacher uniform with a nice smile and the glasses falling just right – as Marie watches on from her right. Above Marie we get a good breakdown of the premise for the series in a clean way as well as all of the extras. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is one that works well overall, though I’ll admit this many stripes on a big screen can get a little sore on the eyes. Using the angled stripe layout from the back cover as the backgruond, which gets lighter as it goes towards the lower right corner, we get the basic navigation along the lower left above the bright and colorful series logo. The navigation strip is straightforward and easy to use with a good font size and design to it. To the right we get the character artwork in static form that changes with each of the discs, but naturally starting off with Mizuho as the primary. The submenus all load quickly and we didn’t have any problems navigating them.

Extras:
This release brings all of the extras from the previous edition here, which is always welcome to see, outside of the design gallery pieces since those aren’t easily replicated. The biggest one we get to start with is the eight minute “trailer” that provides a really interesting mix of artwork styles to promote the show as well as a lot of text. The promo clip and commercials bring more short elements of the shows actual animation style to play and showcases the early advertising that went on for this “Thursday 6:30 PM” show. There’s also the episode one preview that runs for about 30 seconds. The music clip is essentially the opening song in full length but set to animation from throughout the series and is quite enjoyable to watch. A short trailer advertising the shows original airing in Japan is here and we also get the clean opening and closing sequences.

The really fun one for me is the Marie Love Theater, a two and a half minute piece done in old style film with no audio other than music that has Marie and Miruru exploring their physical selves in the quest for love. The thirteenth episode also gets some props here by showing the preview for it and a promotional clip.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While there is a manga and light novel out there for Please Teacher, the show is what spawned it all as an original work, and it shows. With a lot of manga and novels adapted into anime, you can see the way the structure of the periodical or novel is brought into the structure of the show, which can be frustrating as it hits so many familiar beats. With an original series, the opportunity to change things up is there and to not work the same kind of dynamic helps to let it stand out a bit. I had thoroughly enjoyed Please Teacher he first time around, and in subsequent viewings, and getting into another experience of it here in a cleaner and richer form definitely worked well in reminding me why I enjoy it – and Mizuho.

Please Teacher takes the tried and true story of a school romance of some sort and adds a dash of science fiction fun to it. The series opens up with a quick flit through space as we follow a spaceship that ends up landing on Earth and settling into a lake in a quiet country town. This arrival doesn’t go completely unnoticed though, as we see young Kei Kusanagi sitting alongside the lake when it all happens. When a gorgeous woman materializes on the shore near him, he panics and bolts, though she does give chase. He eventually loses her, though he passes out and mysteriously finds his way back home. The arrival of this ship, which is all the talk in his 10th grade class, also brings about the departure of Kei’s classes teacher and the arrival of a new one. The class is all a flutter over it, as the old man is gone and rumor has it the new teacher is a hot woman. So when the very attractive if awkward Mizhuo Kazami finally does show up, it’s a fun time to be a boy in that class. All the boys begin to fall in love with her, though plenty of the girls naturally take less than a pleasant view of her.

For Kei, it gets worse. She ends up moving into the apartment complex next door to the clinic where he lives with his relatives. Due to a mysterious illness he’s had for years, which he terms “Stillness”, he’s had to live in the more serene and calmer region of Japan to keep from being depressed and falling into another deep Stillness. So he lives with his relatives here, the town doctor Minoru and his ever pleasant wife Konoha. This is a great couple, with Minoru always talking about the various women that come into his life while Konoha manages to, well, manage him properly each time. It’s a dynamic that keeps Kei awake at the least.

But with Mizuho moving in next door, Kei offers to help her out, even though he’s got that nagging feeling that she’s the same alien he saw land last night. The two get along well during the move-in phase, but when Kei accidentally stumbles on a portal that sends him to Mizuho’s ship, everything goes off from there. Mizuho tries to deal with Kei as an intruder, but Kei’s own misadventures in the ship causes him to smack the ships avatar, which has sent its programming off fairly well. The cute and funny Marie now doesn’t do everything Mizuho tells her to do, which results in some awkward positions. The end result is that Kei, now knowing the truth about Mizuho, finds himself actually living as opposed to just getting by. He terms his life as accelerating now, something that helps fight against the Stillness episodes he’s had. With an agreement with Mizuho, he agrees not to reveal her secrets and the two begin a very nice and soft relationship. Naturally, it expands in various ways as these episodes progress, including one area that I found very amusing, especially since it was something that Kei’s relatives decided to suggest.

As a science fiction based romantic comedy, all the trappings are certainly there at the start with how these two come together. Keeping secrets can draw them together well, but it can also take some unusual turns. We do see the two of them becoming closer quickly, as she has a real draw to him, but they also end up in some uncomfortable situations that has them trying to explain why they’re getting close, something that’s obviously wholly inappropriate for a teacher and student. So when it’s called out by the principal and with Kei’s aunt and uncle brought in, it takes an unconventional turn that manages to work. Because of the complicated issue of Kei’s illness, which he’s hidden from most everyone, revealing that he’s actually eighteen (with the mind of a fifteen year old), they got with the play that he and Mizuho are actually married and that’s why they’re together. It’s a surprising twist to be sure – to everyone there – but they do formalize it and begin to move forward from there, all while keeping it a secret in general because it would be scandalous in the school.

So that puts Kei and Mizuho in the same apartment now and learning to live together and about each other, but not in a carnal way because that would be going too far apparently. It keeps to the tender side of things in how they learn about each other and grow closer, but it also presents opportunities to work through jealousies and the like as well as each of them are dealing with the relationship in different ways while keeping up the facade of teacher and student. This is even more complicated for Kei because he’s hiding both this and his illness from others, so they don’t know the age difference. Even worse is that Koishi is really into him and she does her best to win him over by being honest about it and in her approach to it. Which is refreshing, since most of the time it’s played in other ways and often with a rivalry being born. Since there’s questions about Mizuho but no firm proof for most of it, Koishi doesn’t have anyone to really struggle against other than Kei saying that he’s in love with someone else.

Along the way we get a lot of smaller little stories of relationships amid the group as some get closer and deal with their issues while others reveal their own secret pains that exist, which makes a larger impact in the final storyline that has to bring everything to a conclusion.There’s also the usual fun that comes in along the way with stories like these, such as Mizuho’s mother coming to visit and Kei not realizing who she is at first and thinking she’s Mizuho, hence some awkward groping at a time when he was just starting to get bold. And there’s also the expected younger sister with Maho that comes with her, who is decidedly against this entire marriage and relationship and intends to strike it down hard. She has her own little companion like Marie as well, named Miruru, and that makes things hard for Kei from time to time. At least until Marie and Miruru end up hooking up.

And there’s naturally the vacation episode that goes horribly awry as well, with Kei and Mizuho out far away from home in order to enjoy each others company and maybe take it all the way for the first time, only to end up in the same hotel as all their friends and even a teacher from the school that Koishi is good friends with. This does offer up a good part of the fanservice quota with swimsuits and silliness, but it has a lot of laughs and some really difficult material at the same time in regards to relationships, interactions with others and an understanding of sexuality that’s more complicate than I want to diverge into in a series overview review. There’s also the lens of time applied to the show and the cultural differences that you have to accommodate as well, though that goes only so far. But as difficult as some of these situations make the show from time to time, in the end there’s a lot to like here with what it does because the show feels so earnest and honest in a way with the relationship between Kei and Mizuho, as strange as it is, that it’s easy to become invested in it and to want to see it succeed.

In Summary:
If there’s a show that’ll I’ll qualify as a guilty pleasure, more so now than in years past, it’s going to be Please Teacher. The show works the romantic comedy angle pretty well throughout with some good fanservice that doesn’t get offensive or over the top that really makes you roll your eyes. I like the cast in general, there’s some nice little twists that comes into it and the whole stillness thing is odd and really feels like a very Japanese kind of thing to play into. Studio Daume did a really good job with the look of the show and outside of the hair lighting design that is simply a part of the time period, it looks like it could easy be broadcast today and look pretty current, if a touch stylized. Nozomi’s release brings us most everything that we had before in one compact and priced down package that’s welcome, but with a fresh and strong encoding, that makes it a must-own upgrade for those that had the previous version and had hoped for something better.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Marie Love Theater, Clean Opening and Closing, Promotional Videos, Music Clips, Commercials, Preview for Episode 13

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
Release Date: June 2nd, 2015
MSRP: $39.90
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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