By Kurusu Natsume and Sai Izumi. Released in Japan as “Jingai Kyōshitsu no Ningen-girai Kyōshi: Hitoma-sensei, Watashi-tachi ni Ningen o Oshiete Kuremasu ka……?” by Media Factory. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Linda Liu.
Look, I appreciate a surprise as much as the next person. I love it when a book I thought was going to be one thing turns out to be something totally different. But sometimes there is also joy in picking something up because you know what it’s going to be, and have it be exactly that. This is one of those books. The plot description made it sound exactly like the Japanese sub-genre of “new teacher enters the lives of their students and changes them for the better”. Now, Hitoma is never going to come close to Onizuka, or even Kumiko Yamaguchi. But that’s OK, because these series live and die on the strength of their student cast, and these students are fun, and they do have one or two big surprises. It helps that we don’t have to deal with a huge cast herd. This is a school for demi-humans, and there’s only four in their “senior year”.
Hitoma is a man in his late twenties, and he’s been holed up in his family home ever since a traumatic experience when teaching led him to quit. But he spots an ad for a teacher at an all-girls school in the middle of nowhere in the mountains, with great pay and benefits. He arrives for the interview, and discovers the catch: this is a school for non-humans trying their best to become human. He’ll be in charge of the advanced class, which has upbeat mermaid girl Minazuki, teasing bird girl Haneda, sullen rabbit girl Usami, and shy wolf-girl Ohgami. Each have a wish that can only happen if they learn how to be human and graduate, and Hitoma is here to help them. That said, the graduation rate is very low…
As you might guess, there are individual chapters dedicated to each girl and her circumstances. Minazuki is descended from Poseidon, and really should be mermaid nobility, but wants to be a dancer. Ohgami has a different personality every full moon, one that is her polar opposite, and also is a reverse werewolf. Both sides have suicidal tendencies and a desire to sacrifice. As for Usami and Haneda, the spoiler is the point there, so I won’t go into detail. They’re all fun. As for Hitoma, “misanthrope” is not really all that accurate, “depressed” fits better. This does not stop him for earnestly helping all the girls – he’s a good teacher. (They tease him about teacher-student relationships, but he never rises to the bait – he IS a good teacher). Given the cover of the 2nd book has three different girls, I wondered if the entire cast would leave the series at the end of this volume. That’s not true, but it shows just how much everyone has grown that it’s totally plausible.
So yeah, Book 2 is the latest out in Japan, and as noted, there are different girls on the cover. I’ll be here for it, though. This is heartwarming and life-affirming, and I greatly enjoyed it.