Onegai Teacher (Please Teacher!) and Onegai Twins (Please Twins!)

Gratifying both an audience’s immediate desires and its deeper longings can be a challenge—a challenge met by the 2002 series Onegai Teacher (Please Teacher!) and its 2003 side story-sequel Onegai Twins (Please Twins!). These memorable Yasunori Ide-directed anime unabashedly service fetishes for hot high school teachers, and play to sister-twin-incest fantasies, while underscoring the human need for love, anxiety about facing one’s life ahead confidently, and the quest for community.

Kei Kusanagi is pondering just such fundamental insecurities as he first espies his soulmate, materializing in a column of light by the shore of a lake. I left out that she’s an alien, didn’t I? Initially he writes the episode off as a dream. Next day, he finds he has a new homeroom teacher, Mizuho Kazami, a stunner that has all the guys’ spirits way, way up. More than that, Kazami-sensei is moving in next door, and when, in helping her carry some boxes in, he recognizes her as the alien by the lake, she learns that he knows, and there’s trouble. Serious consequences are averted only with a pledge to keep her identity, an extraterrestrial sent by the Galatic Federation to observe the earth, a secret. But Kei has a secret of his own that Sensei must keep mum on. He suffers from a rare illness where he has “standstills”, a form of sleep-like stasis brought on by depression or emotional shock. Typically the standstill is brief, but once he had a standstill of three years’ duration. Thus, while Kei is a freshman in highschool and appears to be 15, he is actually 18; his move to the lakeside town, where he lives with his aunt and uncle, was done to avoid the shock of his old friends growing up and moving on in life without him. As the story continues, that most inveterate and practiced of tropes, getting locked in the sports equipment room with an attractive member of the opposite sex (and caught!), is shamelessly used to speed up a love affair that was bound to happen. Those who’ve seen more timid, slow-paced romance anime will be surprised just how quickly they make it official, though their emotional development all the while is in no respect hurried.

Yet for all the shared secrets, Kei and Mizuho-sensei aren’t left to sort out their problems alone. The town is a tight-knit community, and Kei shares strong bonds with several of his classmates, among them Ichigo Morino, a petite, quiet girl who may have something in common with Kei, and the attractive Koishi Herikawa, a potential love interest. The faculty isn’t short interesting characters either. Mizuho’s colleague Masaomi Yamada has a passion for human-powered aircraft, and Kei’s circle of friends cheers on his efforts throughout the series, Herikawa going so far as to deliver him lunches from her family’s grocery store. Most significant, too, is the setting. Characters may not much remark on, or take for granted living in, the peaceful, human-scaled lakeside town, but it is beautifully depicted in backgrounds. The lake is based on Lake Kizaki, a real lake in Nagano Prefecture, and thanks to t