Manga-ka: Yaya Sakuragi
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: April 2009
Synopsis: “Hey, sensei…play with me?” Straight-laced Math teacher Isa is shocked by this proposition, but quickly regains enough composure to give the student, Homura, a good whipping. Undaunted, the brazen Homura continues to shower sexual advances upon the hapless Isa every chance he gets. Sensible and rational as the discipline he teaches, Isa calmly dismisses and rebuffs the student’s passionate display. But when Isa glimpses sincerity in Homura’s eyes and realizes that his pupil’s confession of love is true, his cool demeanor begins to falter…”
Despite being based on a bit of a taboo relationship, Hey Sensei? is more sweet than scandalous. The book deserves its 18+ rating because of the love-making scenes between the characters, but the generally sweet tone of the book gives the sex scenes a gentler vibe than found in many other yaoi.
The book is quick to explain the back story between Isa and Homura. Before becoming his math teacher, Isa went out with Honmura’s older sister. Isa realized that he wasn’t attracted to women, and soon Honmura’s sister dumped him. Now Honmura himself is making moves on Isa and Isa must figure out how he feels about his student.
The ten-year age difference between the two main characters isn’t actually that big of an obstacle. Sure, Isa feels insecure about being so much older and Honmura worries that Isa sees him as just a kid, but these problems are easily resolved when the two of them share their worries with each other. It’s nice to see a couple who actually talk about the things that worry them, rather than let it simmer for chapters at a time.
Isa and Honmura’s relationship is interesting because neither of them is really more dominant than the other. Honmura may top in bed, but he’s still very dependent on Isa emotionally and is desperate to please the older man. As for Isa, he’s never been in a really serious relationship (outside of dating Honmura’s sister) so it’s a case of the blind leading the blind. Naturally, they make some mistakes as they try to figure things out, but it’s nothing they can’t fix.
During the course of the book Isa and Honmura have to deal with typical relationship issues like finding time and a place where they can be alone together, to more unique problems like making sure Honmura’s grades don’t slip because of all the time he has been spending with Isa-sensei. One funny subplot involves another teacher at Honmura’s school. Kurehara-sensei often asks Isa out for drinks, making Honmura jealous. However, it turns out that Kurehara has love problems of his own, and when Honmura learns about them it makes him look at his relationship with Isa in a new light.
There is an unrelated short story at the end of the book called “Unbreakable Bonds.” It involves a local cop in a small town and the noodle delivery guy who brings him lunch every day. The story is fun because the characters don’t fit into stereotypical uke and seme roles. The layout is interesting because when the sex happens, it comes as a bit of a surprise. One page features a sweet love confession, complete with sparkly screen tones and tears, and then with a turn of the page they’re naked and going at it. I don’t mind the sudden transition, I just found it kind of funny.
The art overall is very attractive. Isa and Honmura are both sexy in their own way: Honmura with a more wild look while Isa is the prim and proper teacher. There aren’t too many characters in this book besides the two leads, but those who do appear have appealing designs in their own right. The layouts are all well-done, making the most of both the words and text to move the story along. If I have one complaint about the art, it’s that sometimes the character’s hands are just too big. It doesn’t happen too often, but when I spot a character sporting monster hands it just takes me out of the story.
Digital Manga did a nice job of translating the book. My only nitpick is that when people stutter in comics, I prefer to see hyphens rather than commas (i.e. ‘W-what?’ rather than ‘W,what?’) but it’s a small thing.
The book includes a nice afterword from the manga-ka where she talks about her regret over making Isa a math teacher, as it meant she had to look through old math books in order to have stuff to put on the chalkboard. If she had made him a science teacher, she could have dressed him up in a sexy lab coat (thankfully she includes a illustration).
Hey Sensei? manages to be sweet without being too cute. The fact that it has such an innocent air despite having a sex scene every chapter would make it a good gift for someone just getting into yaoi. It also has enough charm to win over long time yaoi fans.