Title: HR (Home Room) de Tsukamaete (Catch me in home room)
Author: SAKAI Miwa
Queens Comics, 2005
MIWA Sakai has been one of my favorite mangaka for a long time. She has such a large body of works to her name — she has been putting out manga since the 70’s — and she is still releasing more volumes each year. It can be kind of hard to keep up! For the most part, her series fall into the “josei” category, which is manga aimed at women (20’s+ as opposed to teens or school kids). This means that a lot of time her manga is published without the helpful furigana characters on top of the kanji, which makes it more difficult for my wimpy Japanese skills to handle ^_^ Yet I still end up collecting her series. There is something I like about her artwork. Even though she draws chins a little more rounded than I would like, I still really enjoy the light and delicate look to her stuff. It is very… feminine or something. Even when her series get smutty (and it surprised me to realize that most of them do, this one does as well) it still manages to be airy and feminine and silly. It also helps that she gravitates towards the types of stories I like — large age gaps, and student-teacher series. ^_^ It has also been fun to watch her get into the whole gothic lolita fashion trend with some of her artwork. This manga is a teacher-student series, and as I write this, it has 4 volumes and is still running.
Our heroine is the teacher. Her name is MIYAUCHI Sayu. She is 30 years old, and is a bit hopeless at first. As a teacher, she is rather timid, so her students often bully her or talk right over her, and she has a hard time controlling them. As for her looks, well, she is very unfashionable. Something I like about her is that she is not the typical stick-thin shoujo manga heroine. Sayu is short, and while she isn’t exactly fat, she is sort of round or compact. Basically, she looks more normal instead of being tall and willowy. But she doesn’t know how to dress for her body shape, so she looks very uncool most of the time. Her nerdy glasses don’t help either. Amazingly enough, Sayu is married.
Her home life is rather uncomfortable. She doesn’t really get along with her in-laws, but she is stuck living with them. Her mother-in-law is sort of nosy, and her sister-in-law is a bit haughty. They are both the type that laugh in that “oh ho ho ho ho!” snobby person sort of way ^_^ They are always putting Sayu down. As for her husband, he isn’t much help either. He is also cold, and not very considerate. He thinks she has gotten rounder since they got married, and she needs to watch what she eats. The constant presence of his family is not helping their relationship.
The only glimmer of relief or excitement in her drab life is a student. He is 18 years old, and his name is UBUKATA Kou. During class, he actually helps her out a bit by telling his classmates to shut up so she can teach. He seems genuinely interested in what she has to say. This is surprising, because he is not a normal student. He looks kind of tough like a delinquent, and his speech is rough. However, the other students listen to him, so Sayu can get in some peaceful teaching time.
Well, there is an obvious reason why Sayu is becoming rounder. One day at school Kou-kun helps shoo away some girls who were bullying Sayu. Before Sayu can really talk with Kou afterwards, she realizes she is bleeding. This is not any sort of normal bleeding. Kou freaks out and takes Sayu to the hospital, where she learns she was pregnant! She WAS pregnant. She has just had a miscarriage. She wasn’t far along, and apparently this is not the first time. Sayu is upset over the fact that she can’t conceive. Kou, a tough guy who looks very awkward being stuck with Sayu during this situation comforts her by telling her why he is so nice to her — she helped him out a lot about 10 years ago when he was a kid. Sayu now remembers him (what a difference, he was a small kid, his last name was different, and now he is so tall!) and is amazed that the kid she remembers is now one of her students!
Sayu’s husband reacts badly to the news that she was pregnant and lost the baby. In fact, he is a complete ass, who calls her whole situation “tiresome”. Soon after, Sayu realizes he is having an affair. Oh what a mess her life is! Kou is amazed to see Sayu return to school the very next day after her ordeal. Sayu is the type to put on a brave face and try to tough things out, but Kou’s concern makes her lose control, and she breaks down crying. She doesn’t resist when Kou puts his arms around her. Or when he kisses her….
And so begins a forbidden student-teacher relationship. Sayu is very clumsy and a bit insecure, but she is very resillient. Kou looks tough, but he is actually very caring and somewhat awkward as well. Sayu does her best to resist the temptation of Kou. And naturally, there are other obstacles in their way (aside from Sayu’s husband). Two other students at the school get mixed up in everything. There is a very fashionable and classmate of Kou’s, and a very uptight student council president guy who complicate matters. Can 30 year-old Sayu start a new life with 18 year-old Kou-kun?
I also like the fact that there is a little omake comic at the end where Sakai-sensei talks about the fact that she likes the big age differences, and she mentions her previous series with similar themes, how she came to start this one, and silly musings over possible future pairings – 80 and 40? Hahaha 🙂