I’ve been wanting to take a look at this one for years. I actually bought this together with the first two volumes of Train*Train and volume one of Saber Marionette J. After rereading it, the series holds up. Well, to a point. “Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei” is a great series that has very little changes in the formula, but still entertaining.
Nozomu is a suicidal teacher who hangs himself. Kafuka stops him, and tries to put some positivity into his life. Apparently Blogger doesn’t consider “positivity” to be a real word. What does that say about Blogger? Nozomu is in despair constantly, and he points out to his students (Kafuka included) the negative aspects of life. Negativity. Okay, Blogger accepts that. Nozomu’s students have quirks of their own, like Chiri, who insists on precision, Kaede, who wants to sue everyone and has two personalities, Meru, who looks shy but communicates through obnoxious texting, and Abiru, who’s always wrapped in bandages. To name a few.
The humor is spot on, and many of Nozomu’s observations are excellent commentaries on society and humanity as a whole. It’s supposed to be Japan-oriented, but much of the ideology translates well. What does not translate well is everything else. A lot of the references (and there are a ton) don’t really mesh with a Western audiences. Who is Shogo Hamada, and why does the song “Money” seem to only exist in covers?
I’m glad they kept the translation team from changing the references, especially since some of the references are to Dragon Ball Z. Like “Krillin, the strongest human, is overshadowed by the Saiyans” or “Krillin, who’s weak, laughs at Yamcha, who’s even weaker”. That’s alright by me.
My problems with the series, however, do not rest solely on the abundance of Japanese references. No, there’s more. I get a bit annoyed sometimes by the repetitive nature, even though I’m always amused. Sure, it’s a comedy, but the series finds a comfortable niche and stays there. Comedy should try to mix things up a bit more than changing the discussion and adding new jokes. Give new ideas! New horizons! Show us a day in the life of Chiri, I don’t know!
Well… there is a bit mixing up at the very end. The series stopped nearly halfway through in America, but Japan went on for 30 volumes. I’m kind of glad we never got that far. Spoilers ahead.
Okay, so the manga has certain recurring elements and jokes. All the girls fall in love with Nozomu, Majiru is Nozomu’s semi-adopted nephew, and the students constantly repeat the grade.
Are you ready for this?
Oh, so Blogger accepts “ahem” too. What is with this site?
All of the students were possessed by ghosts.
Let me say that again, with more elaboration.
The girls in Nozomu’s class were all attempted suicides. They were possessed by ghosts who really did commit the deed. So Nozomu held a “class” to exorcise the ghosts, giving them satisfaction to move on. It makes… it kinda makes sense. Abiru in bandages is a mummy, a stalker is a stalking ghosts, a recluse is a “stay in one place ghost”, Chiri, who can extend her neck, is a “long neck ghost”… they were setting it up all along, weren’t they?
That’s not all. Majiru is a ghost too, and now Nozomu goes to an island that has three other ghost children to “teach” them as well. This was foreshadowed in mock preview pages of the first volume.
That’s not even half. Kafuka didn’t really exist. She was an organ donor, and all of the girls had received part of her. Any time “Kafuka” appeared, it was one of the girls being possessed by her. Nozomu had a donation from her as well.
Here’s more. The girls ALL MARRY NOZOMU. Not at the same time, that would be indecent. No, the last chapter reveals that Nozomu marries whatever girl is currently being possessed. Then when another is possessed, he divorces the previous wife and marries the new one. A reporter comes to the island, and after an accident, she gets a donation as well, adding her to the harem.
I’m gonna be honest. I’m a little hurt.
“But that sounds nuts! How could you not like that?” It’s strange, isn’t it? That kind of twist ending should have been right up my alley. But I can help but feel that it was cheap. Sure, Koji Kumeta must have been setting it up all along; that’s fair.But it’s kind of jarring at the same time. Like finding out the turtle you bought is actually dead, it just has great reflexes after passing. I know some series are faux-cutesy, but turn out to be horrifying. That’s fine. But to take 30 volumes to say “everything was a lie!” is a bit cruel.
I love this series. Great humor, quirky characters and occasionally amazing art. But if you want to check out the whole series, be prepared for that ending. It shouldn’t ruin everything, but it is upsetting. Positivity. Seriously, I’m getting a red line. I’m in despair over word correcting tools that don’t know words!
All these words make me despair!
Man, I was sure “twerk” would be known by Blogger.