|Original review author:||SpazzticBunnyhood|
|Webcomic name:||Please Teach Me or Oshietekudasai/教えてください (Literally Translated: “To Teach” modified to be a request)|
|Author:||Ki Hiwatari or Hiwatari Ki (Hiwatari being the family name) (courtesy of SmackJeeves)|
|Start Date:||Posted on September 26, 2009 at 1:21 am|
|End Date:||November 29, 2010 at 9:04 pm (though this was apparently finished Mid 2008)|
|Genre:||Romantic Comedy set in High School…except that no one gets together by the end.|
|Defining Flaw:||Distracted storyline that has very little to do with the initial premise.|
I originally found out about the works of Mr. Hiwatari through the article on this site by crookedglasses dedicated to Ki’s Webcomic Contradiction. I loved the article so much that I HAD to check out the comic, and it is still one of my favourite articles here. However, when I finished reading the comic, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness after such entertaining insanity. Either that, or it was indigestion. But, lo and behold! In the sidebar is a list of other comics by this insane little mastermind! And so, out of morbid curiosity, yearning for the insanity that was Contradiction, and a bit too much boredom, here is my binge read of Hiwatari’s Other Comics!
This story’s downfall was its structure…or lack thereof. Though, I suppose this only becomes really apparent on Page 27—where it completely retcons certain characters’ relationships.
Story and Plot
I’d like to begin by quoting Mr. Hiwatari in his Author’s Note for this comic. There has been one for every one-shot comic I’ve covered so far, but I’ve ignored them due to lack of relevance. Here, however, it reveals something very important about this comic.
Got that quote bouncing around in the back of your head now? Good. Keep it there.
First, the story is about how Sara Uehara, our non-entity protagonist, hates studying. It is her only character trait, and is resolved by the end of the story. Sort of. Also, she attends another one of those Weird High Schools Mr. Hiwatari seems to have an affinity for. You know, the ones that have something against single-bodied student populations? Anyway, this one segregates their students based on their grades. Is this relevant to the plot as a whole? Nope!
She sees Shin Kitashima, the character the “story” actually revolves around, who punches this borderline-identical guy for no apparent reason. And he just happens to go to her school too, and puts on a wig just so he can become his School Council President Persona. He then reveals that the school downright bans students from taking a part-time job, which is why Shin put on the wig. Shin’s Working Persona will show up for one more scene and is then never brought up again.
Then this girl named Hanaka shows up and Shin is cold to her. Sara was stalking Shin for no explained reason (first time of many). Then this scene happens, where I think Shin gets fired because he DARED to attend High School.
Sara stalks Shin again to a Job Postings’ Board. Shenanigans ensue. Also, apparently Contradiction exists as some sort of commercial entity in this world. Anyway, Sara hires Shin as a tutor. If you are anything like me the first time reading this, you’d expect the comic from here on out to be a series of bonding over studying hijinks. Nope. This scene is pretty much it.
So, Hanaka notices the tutoring and isn’t too thrilled. She tells Sara to stay away from Shin. If you think that this is the beginning of a rivalry over who gets to make Shin their Trophy Boyfriend, then you’re wrong. This plot thread is completely retconned in a few pages.
Next scene, Hanaka tells Shin that they’re siblings now. Um… I don’t think you can wake up one day and determine someone to be an older sibling… Actually, no, this just means that Shin’s Mom and Hanaka’s Dad are dating. Yeah, you thought Hanaka’s reason for being overly protective and clingy to Shin was because of her attraction to him? Nope! That stuff earlier was tooootalllyyy her just wanting them to be siblings. …Either that, or she wanted some sort of weird double hook-up, but I’d rather not think about that for too long.
Anyway, Shin’s mom hugs a tree and Shin storms out. Sara’s mad about Shin skipping out on the comic’s premise, and Shin hand waves it by giving her the answer key. Later the next day, Sara goes to Shin’s apartment to stalk him once more. She finds him standing over his dad’s grave, and she asks what he’s doing there. What does it look like he’s doing, idiot?! Anyway, Shin reveals that his dad died in a car accident and Shin just happened to be there because it was the Take Your Kid To Work Day, I guess? But that’s the reason why he doesn’t like Hanaka’s dad. Okay, cool. But what does any of this have to do with helping Sara study? A.K.A. The PREMISE?!
I think it’s worth mentioning that I am 44 Pages in, and I’m still having trouble describing the plot outside of “stuff happens, I guess”.
The conversation must have abruptly ended there because then Sara goes home to find that her dad has a completely new hair colour. Either that or she has two dads. Anyway, Sara shows off her decent test score, and her dad is so shocked by this that he speaks in Japanese for a panel. Sara then is like “in order to repay the guy who helped me get a good mark, I want you to sleep with his mother.” Luckily, Shin’s Mom is a Gold Digger, so she’s cool with this. But, unfortunately, Shin’s Mom doesn’t realize that Sara’s Dad isn’t straight, so she just texts him obsessively like Umbridge from A Very Potter Sequel. Oh, and Shin tutors Sara. Hoo…ray?
I’ve already said a lot about Mr. Hiwatari’s artwork over the course of this marathon, so I’ll be tackling a very small topic today. Actually, I’m going to be harping on one panel on this page. The “You Don’t Say!” Panel, as I like to call it.
Ladies and gentlemen, I just…no. No! No; no; no! What part of “show, don’t tell” do you not understand?! Okay, I’m going to calm down. But anyone who knows a thing or two about writing in general should be able to see everything wrong with this.
First of all, let’s ignore the fact that this is a Generi-spression for a second. Mr. Hiwatari put a label on this face because he A: didn’t think the audience would be able to figure it out, and B: wasn’t able to draw the expression in a way that conveyed the emotion properly. That is a whole new level of incompetence! I mean you have the Same-Face-Syndrome with all of your characters, but you haven’t perfected the art to the point where you can express the subtle nuances of the face?
Also, I think it’s worth noting that this isn’t the only time he does it, as I recall it happening in Contradiction a couple of times, but I don’t feel like digging through the pages to find said frames, so you’re going to have to take my word for it.
And I just realized that I could have written this section about the general lack of expressiveness all of the characters have in the Hiwatari Comics, but I don’t feel like rewriting this Art Review.
EDIT: I am so glad I didn't.
HOLY GUACAMOLE! That story was aimless! And this isn’t just me—even Mr. Hiwatari recognizes it to some degree. I quote his Author’s Note again.
Now, when I read the following quote, this did not surprise me at all. That’s because the sexual tension in this comic is all over the place. The reason why it’s dangerous to change your mind midway through the story is because all the hints you placed earlier don’t line up with the finished result. You can feel the beginning of a romantic relationship in these pages, but it completely vanishes in the pages after Mr. Hiwatari decided they were going to be siblings. Then it makes one last awkward appearance in the last page. The same thing happens with Hanaka, only with her it’s much more extreme. Until Mr. Hiwatari wrote the plot twist that Hanaka’s Dad and Shin’s Mom were engaged, Hanaka was clearly written to be romantically interested in Shin.
Also, there was no reason why Shin had to have two personas, seeing as he drops one by the end.
There is a reason why, when you write a story, you have a general idea of where you want it to go by the end. It’s to avoid pointless meandering. And, while Mr. Hiwatari’s other work isn’t anything revolutionary, that’s the one thing all his previous stories have had in common—a POINT.
Oh, Mr. Hiwatari… Only you can screw up your own Character Tropes. And I love it.
Sara Uehara – Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the leading lady who has had the least presence in a Hiwatari Comic yet! I mean, WOW. If she wasn’t the main character, I would have forgotten about her a long time ago. The story basically appoints Shin the protagonist role after a while, except for that whole being told from Sara’s perspective thing. Say what you will about Mr. Hiwatari’s other leading ladies but at least you could say they that they contributed to the plot in one way or another. Sara is such a non-entity that she just barely exists after the first few pages.
Shin Kitashima – This guy is a weird fusion of Mr. Hiwatari’s classic Boy Next Door and Hiwatari Stu. (Shin leans more towards the latter during the last bit of the comic.) I mean, he literally has two different personas at the beginning of the comic. However, mixing these two character tropes together doesn’t benefit the plot at all, seeing how Shin drops his other persona after Page 18. What was the point of his other persona if you’re just gonna drop it like that?
Hanaka Takino – The bratty love rival is not a first for Mr. Hiwatari, since a similar character appears in Contradiction. But…wow. This leaves me speechless since she’s rewritten halfway through the story to wanting a sibling relationship with Shin, and then her character is completely dropped after Page 38 (I skipped this scene in the plot summary because it went nowhere). This would be bad enough except that, on the last page, Mr. Hiwatari asks the audience to write an explanation as to what happened to her. That’s a whole new level of lazy, Mr. Hiwatari. I just…wow.
Hikari Gakuen (The High School) – This school is so weird it almost has a life of its own. First it segregates their students based on their grades (which I guess makes some sense, but still feels really weird), and then bans all the students from getting part-time jobs? The heck? Why would you do that? Okay, maybe to have students focus on their grades a bit more, but…um…you do realize that people go to school so they can get a job in the future? And you know what looks good on a résumé besides basic education? Previous working experience! And not every family has an income that can pay their kid through high school. So, maybe some of the students take a part time job because they want to finish their education. Why are you sabotaging your students’ future and possible family income by banning ALL of them from getting a part-time job?! But, just like Hanaka, it’s dropped abruptly after Page 16.
…You know what? Mr. Hiwatari asked the readers to come up with an explanation as to what happened to Hanaka, so Challenge Accepted. Hanaka ran off with the School and they got married and had a ton of very confusing babies. The End.
I don’t even know where to start. Oshietekudasai was hard to talk about because of how unfocused it was. Each of Ki Hiwatari's comics are bad for varying reasons. Contradiction was Hilariously Bad, Turbulence was Frustratingly Bad, Autumn Love was Earnest-Yet-Corny Bad, Le Diable was Trying-Too-Hard-It-Was-Hilarious Bad, My Sparkling Prince-sama was Mediocre Bad, Memory Fragments was Creepily Bad, and Oshietekudasai was Boringly Bad. Don’t get me wrong, this comic won’t put you to sleep or anything, but after reading it, it made me mentally scream “WHAT WAS THE POINT OF ALL THAT?!”
This comic was obviously a side project done for fun, and Mr. Hiwatari pretty much admits it had no point. It started out vague and just continued to be unfocused from there. This comic should have remained unfinished. Either that or Mr. Hiwatari should have finished it, but never showed it to the internet. Long story short, don’t read this comic unless you want an example of what happens when you don’t stick to initial plans.
Other comics by this person reviewed on this site
- Blue Love
- Le Diable
- Memory Fragments
- Mouichido Rendezvous
- My Sparkling Prince-sama