|Learning to be Happy|
At first glance, Happy Lesson is a fan service harem comedy featuring the protagonist, a young teenager with five drop dead gorgeous women who are also have the forbidden fruit thing going for them as they are not only older than him but also his school teachers.
However, the relationship between this young teen and these women isn’t the slightest bit romantic but rather maternal in scope. The protagonist, Chitose is a troubled orphan who is failing in high school. As a result; five of his sympathetic female teachers decide that he needs a mother figure to help stabilize him—and they decide simultaneously to appoint themselves to that role. But even though these women have the best of intentions, I think that all of them are severely unfit to handle the task.
It doesn’t help that each of them has wildly divergent and differing viewpoints and ideals about “what’s best for Chitose” with the mother who is a part-time priestess/exorcist who cheerfully believes he needs spiritual meditation and exorcism rites; another is an immature cosplayer who wants him to play and have fun with her; the exercise fanatic who thinks he needs to work out until he drops; the mad scientist who seems to view him as an experiment to be obsessively monitored and observed; and the academically obsessed mother who feels that Chitose needs to study until his eyes bleed. Naturally, all of them is absolutely certain that their ideals is the answer to Chitose having a happy life and absolutely certain that the others are entirely wrong. It’s no wonder that Chitose’s home life is even more chaotic and insane than ever before with these five women competing for his time and attention. Sometimes, it not exactly clear just who is the child and who is the parent.
Meanwhile, Chitose desperately struggles to keep his weird home life a secret as living with his teacher (albeit five of them) would destroy their careers as professional academicians and despite the chaos that they inadvertently cause him, the five genuinely care for Chitose and do their very annoyingly best to smother him with their love and affection and although he is occasionally irritated by their over-the-top antics, he seems to care for them as well. They might be a touch unconventional … but they are a family.
The episodes tend to focus on one of the various characters separately and a situation involving them, giving each of them a little focused screen time to explore their motivations and personalities a bit more. Overall, it manages to be sweet with plots that tend to be a bit simplistic with Chitose originally being annoyed or irritated at the behavior of one of his mothers and over the course of the episode, learns to accept it and them as well—basically a lesson on how to be happy.
Another weakness to the series is that the mother characters themselves are stereotypical archetypes. They got a gentle domestic type; the incredibly strong tomboyish sports player; the young, innocent, enthusiastic and slightly clumsy one; the stoic samurai warrior; and the introverted brainiac. And none of them have much personality beyond that.
Also, don’t expect to try and understand the series too deeply because there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense such as Kisaragi’s science technology or the fact that she has little elevators that allows her to descend or ascend out of nowhere. It’s just one of the gags that populate this series. And it’s an almost non-stop parade of them as well as some characters named A and B stamped on their foreheads who live to make embarrassing commentary.
Animation wise, Happy Lesson is generally fairly excellent but sometimes seems a bit inconsistent here and there which leads me to suspect that different animators or studios do different parts of episodes and their quality isn’t quite so good. I have also found that the English dubbing to be rather lacking with several of the voice actors so I have to recommend the Japanese subtitles—but I tend to prefer the Japanese voices anyways.
Overall, Happy Lesson is an engaging comedic series which relies on the character jokes for the humor and it tends to be a bit saccharine and cloying at times. But it’s still perfectly enjoyable and a pretty entertaining story.
RATING: 3 and 1/2 STARS.