S.S. Astro

The vast majority of high school manga and anime series released nowadaysd are primarily focused on the lives of the students, with the teachers either non-existent or relegated to being mere background pieces in most scenes (although Azumanga Daioh and K-on touched on a few of the teachers lives, the series was mostly based on the pupils)

S.S. Astro on the other hand shows us high school life from the teacher’s viewpoint.

The series, from Negi Banno, and which originally ran in Manga Time Kirara Carat in Japan between 2005 and 2007, and has now been translated and released by Yen press, follows the lives of Izumi (who has a Tomboyish attitude to the job) and Yuko (who wears a kimono and eats her own weight in food), both of whom are graduate teachers. We follow them as they return to the school they grew up in as members of the faculty, and watch the comedy unfold as they realize that the biggest problems aren’t the kids – it’s their colleagues!
These include the nursing teacher Setsuna (who has a seeming fascination with blood and injuries of the grisly nature, and would give even Dracula the shivers) alongside foreign language teacher Kaname, who has a stalker-like infatuation with poor Izumi.
There are also star turns from other staff members, who compliment the series nicely – Izumi’s brother and part-time teacher Itsuki and his “relationship” with Setsuna, to cooking teacher Hibiya
whose skills in the kitchen could put Gordon Ramsay to shame. All in, it’s a great cast and the author clearly had fun invented them.
The only real criticisms I have is that the series uses the four panel Yonkoma layout – in most series I’ve read in the same vein the use of this medium seem to be pulled off wonderfully, but in the case of S.S. Astro however it just seemed to constrain the book, stifling the artwork and plotting and also resulting in the supporting characters never really getting the chance to truly shine in my opinion.
However, whether you’re a teacher yourself, know someone who is, or just want to see an engaging twist to the high school manga genre then this series is for you.
Ding Ding! School’s in!

Additional information
The name of the series, for those of you interested, is short for (deep breath) Asashio Sogo Teachers ROom – you can see why they shortened it. But where does the S.S. come from?
As to be expected from Yen Press, the book comes with a comprehensive set of translation notes in the rear – ever wondered what Monjayaki is? Read on and find out more.
Additionally the book comes with an 8 page preview of another Yen Press release, Suzunari.
The school where S.S.Astro is set is based on a real life school (Tokyo metro HS senior high school – what is it with the Japanese and excessively long names for places?)

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