What They Say:
Junichiro Kagami is on his sister’s last nerve. Despite his genius and scientific accomplishments, he’s spent most of his adult life cooped up inside, surrounded by anime and manga, working on trivial things like a blog. But now, it’s time for him to get a real job! His reason for being such a bum? He suffers from YD: a debilitating illness that means he can only do things he yearns to do. Tired of this lame excuse, his sister gets him a job doing something he’d never expect teaching!
Teaching is the last thing Kagami yearns to do, at least until he comes across the various problems his students face outside of the classroom. Between their quirky dreams, serious attitude problems, and surprising secrets, Junichiro is definitely in for some far-out lessons. What he teaches these kids will be beyond the books!
The audio presentation for this series is one that’s pretty appropriate as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language dub, which doesn’t get an unnecessary 5.1 upgrade, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show does have its outlandish moments at times and that’s well handled with the way placement works across the forward soundstage, but a lot of it is just your kind of standard dialogue piece with silly bits and some fantastical elements thrown in from time to time. The show works well with the way it tends to focus on just a few characters at a time for the most part but it shows off just a touch more toward the end with more characters around as the size of the groupings grow. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes for this set are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by A-1 Pictures, the show has a bright and colorful look to it that adds to the kind of cheery approach it takes. That’s encoded well as the colors are solid and there’s plenty of pop throughout since our lead character is a bright one himself. The backgrounds have a decent look to them as they have a good amount of detail without going for the crazy overdone realism but also not going far in the direction of cartoonishness. The character animation is solid throughout and the few high motion scenes are well handled with no problems. The encoding is essentially free of noticeable problems such as macroblocking or line noise but there are a few areas where gradients are visible, something that’s in the source itself but more noticeable in high definition presentations.
The packaging design for this release brings us a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case that has an o-card which mirrors the case artwork itself. The cover is definitely a bright and eye-catching piece as we get the main cast spread out over it, mostly in smaller form that lets our brother and sister pair dominate, but with so many people and so many designs it has a good kind of busy about it with the action lines and the bright red background. There’s a lot to take in and it’s fun to notice the individual character details and how much they get in there. The logo is still one of the worst I’ve seen though as it’s just ugly looking. The back cover carries the red background across it sans action lines and it uses some notepaper to bring out the summary of the premise. That takes up a lot of space but works well to convey the basics. We get a small selection of decently sized shots along the right as well as the extras. The bottom is more problematic as the production and technical information is done as small black text on a dark red background, making it hard to see without a lot of light focused on it. While there are no show related inserts with the show we do get artwork on the reverse side where the left panel has a cute image of Kagami alongside the breakdown of the episodes by number and title with the extras while the right side has a look at a lot of the supporting characters in their fantasy costumes.
The menu design for this release is kept simple but busy as we get the static image approach that dominates the real estate here. And they’re fun ones that work similar to the front cover, using some of that artwork in fact, where it’s just a massive cast filled piece with everyone in front of the academy. It’s bright and colorful with all the costumes in play and the sky blue itself. The logo, again, is the main detractor. The navigation strip is nicely in-theme this time around as it uses the notebook paper approach with some nice font design using the blue and pink to give it a little more pop and fun. It looks good when used as the pop-up menu as well during playback.
The extras for this release are what you’d call Funimation standard and that’s a welcome thing to have with any release. We get the inclusion of the clean opening and closing sequences and we also get two newly produced English language dub commentaries from the actors talking about their characters and the show itself.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga series by Takeshi Azuma known as Denpa Kyoshi, Ultimate Otaku Teacher is a twenty-four episode anime series that aired in the spring and summer of 2015. Animated by A-1 Pictures with Masato Sato directing, it’s the kind of show that feels like it’s going to play big to the otaku themes with the word in the title but is more restrained than you might expect. There’s a good sense of fun about the show to be sure but it feels like it’s kind of superficial in how it deals with the otakuness of it all. The show really does come across as a lightweight Great Teacher Onizuka without the overly serious material or the pervy nature of it. Which is fine as it does work well but you also get the sense that it really did have the opportunity to do just a bit more.
The show revolves around Junichiro Kagami, a man in his early twenties who is pretty gifted as his physics work back when he was seventeen upended a lot of science. Not that it’s dealt with here but it’s the key point in why he ends up as a teacher early on in an academy because he’s well-known and can attract a lot of interest. Kagami, for his part, wants nothing to do with anything involving work as his main goal is to do whatever it is he wants to do, which is primarily working on his anime blog in order to increase its rank and maintain the top position. His focus on that is what drives him and the only thing that pushes him off of it from time to time is that his younger sister Suzune forces him into things because she knows he needs more than that. She ends up getting him that initial job which ends up being very short term before he ends up in another teaching job at Ichou Academy.
What we get is Kagami dealing with the various situations that his students get involved in from time to time and his figuring out ways to use his otaku-ness to teach them. Or, more properly, how to use teaching to advance his otakuness. There are some good character things he deals with along the way here, such as the opening episode with a girl who’s being bullied in school that he tries to understand and help. We also get a decent little arc toward the end with another student named Koutaru that’s locked himself up in his room for the past year and only plays online games that he knows. He’s more prone to looking like a girl than a boy and that keeps him from school as well, which is something that Kagami helps with in a roundabout way because he pushes the idea of being true to yourself (by being a gamer) and that spills over elsewhere.
There are obviously several other characters he gets involved with and the second pursuit by Ichou Academy to get him to be a teacher there. These are fun but largely forgettable stories that throws in cute otaku bits, such as the hunt for certain figures, dealing with autographs and lines, and some amusing tricks played on some of the students, such as a seemingly planned gaming match over soccer that instead is an actual soccer game, much to the chagrin of the student. Kagami deals with most of this fairly well as he has a plan for each student as he discovers what’s going on and a lot of it is kept in a pretty self-contained way. That helps to expand the cast over the course of the season where we get to know the basics, albeit with everything still largely revolving around school itself and little in the way of who these kids truly are.
Where the show kind of loses me a bit is toward the end of this half of it where it becomes focused on a game where everyone “enters” it and takes on the fantasy era costumes. Kagami is using it to teach strategy and warfare aspects but is mostly trying to use them to win at certain events that are coming up as he needs a certain sized party. This brings in a lot of his students but it just feels like it slows down to a terminally boring level along the way, though the shift in focus to Luce and the truth behind her is the interesting part. It’s totally in the nature of what Kagami would do by doing all of this but the visual presentation is just a real fanservice grab in some ways and doesn’t do anything to advance any of the characters or the story. It goes on to varying degrees for a few episodes and slows everything down.
Ultimate Otaku Teacher is a catchy name with a fun concept behind it that doesn’t quite take advantage of what it could be. We’ve seen otaku teachers before and Kagami is certainly one of them but it doesn’t feel like he’s as invested in it as he says he is. We know he is but he doesn’t work it into the curriculum in a way that sells it strong enough. There are plenty of fun gags, some amusing character situations, and certainly some colorful animation to work with and with twenty-four volumes of manga as of this writing, well, there’s plenty of material to draw from as well. Funimation put the release together well as it feels like it’s just what it should be but the show itself just falls a bit short of what it could have been for me.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 3 Commentary, Episode 9 Commentary, Textless Opening Song – ”Youthful Dreamer”, Textless Closing Song – ”DREAMIN”’, U.S. Trailer, Trailers
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 15th, 2016
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
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.