Please know that I start this post with a very large sigh. Kao Dake Sensei was airing in the same time slot in 2021 as both Keita Hatsukoi and Kotodamasou, so I couldn’t watch it while it was airing. It showed up on Japanese Hulu earlier this year and I picked it off my plan-to-watch list at random and well…
For the first time in a very long time, I seriously considered dropping it. I should’ve known better at this point with stories like this. But as I do, I’m a bit ahead of myself.
Kao Dake Sensei, or “The Teacher Whose Only a Pretty Face”, is the story of Kametaka Chisato (Kanjiya Shitori) hiring a new part-time teacher who looks similar to her favorite body builder/idol. Endo Issei (Kamio Fuju) is a confusing personality, who appears at surface level to only have a pretty face, but managed to change his students’ outlooks on life through his eclectic teaching methods.
The basic story is a mix of “unique teacher comes and changes the school!”, teacher inspirational porn, and “look at all the fucked up stuff that students go through in high school in Japan!”. The majority of these themes have been done before, and done better since this series really didn’t address them in a meaningful manner.
It’s annoying to mention every time, but this is for people new to the blog; I’ve worked in education in Japan. These types of stories really just read as teacher inspirational porn rather then anything of true substance to me. Which isn’t helped since the majority of the student’s problems are written as one and done, rarely having extended or meaningful implications in the drama.
The stories varied from teens leaving high school before graduation in order to be a provider, suicide ideation, difficult parents, reclusive students, along with teen drama between classmates. These topics had mixed results, some episodes handled their issue way better then others. But as the title implied, they were addressed overall, in a superficial manner. Of course, there then came the dreaded and I had sincerely hoped it wouldn’t come up but of course it did topic – episode six, a student (male), teacher (female) relationship with a pregnancy involved.
I absolutely hate this troupe/concept/whatever. I have removed so many titles from my radar due to this conflict alone. This is very much a me thing, with my personal beliefs and ethics as an educator, but I won’t bore you all with that. I’m all for talking about this topic, because this happens frequently in Japan. This series was not the place to have that discussion. Just know I don’t agree with how it was brought up and concluded in the story. Narratively, the story did turn itself around a bit in episode seven and the conclusion but not enough to salvage my personal opinion of it.
As you can guess, I got suckered by said pretty-faced teacher played by Kamio Fuju, and secondarily by Hasegawa Makoto as a student. I don’t particularly have much to say about their performances, probably because the lack of care in the story-telling. Kamio Fuju was fine, he finally graduated from being a student to being a teacher so to speak, but it’s not one I’d hold up as his best work. Makoto’s character Morito Tomoya was fun to watch, even if sub-plot towards the end was a bit ham-fisted. Aside from those notes, there weren’t any noteworthy performances here.
Overall, this was an honestly middling to below average drama for me, even with the star-studded cast. I’ll take it as a learning curve. This drama finally making me swear off watching stories where the teacher is the main character instead of the students. I think viewers who aren’t as jaded by the school system, particularly in Japan, will probably get a lot more out of then I did. That much is obvious. But even disregarding that, I can’t bring myself to say something like “watch it for your fave” or something since this drama didn’t do anyone any favors.
Well, this was pretty harsh lol. I’m not a fan of teacher dramas per SE so I’ll probably skip it anyway
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I try not to be (my first draft was worse!), but this was not it. And fair enough to skip it, there are better dramas out there.
I don’t mind teacher dramas in general terms, but yeah, this sounds pretty bad (and fairly generic considering those same themes have been done plenty of times before, as you rightly point out). And like you, I’ve also worked in education in Japan so I imagine exactly the same kind of stuff about this would bother me if I tried to watch it.
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Teacher dramas have their merits, I just wish there was a bit more care in those stories. And I’m glad I’m not alone in my feelings that some of these issues (or others!) are a bit bothersome to see portrayed on screen.
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