" Meet the most melancholy high school teacher in Japan: Nozomu Itoshiki, whose fashion sense is strictly nineteenth-century, whose personal goal is self-annihilation, and whose signature phrase is “I’m in despair!” He’s similar to Franz Kafka and Jean-Paul Sartre–if Kafka and Sartre had had to deal with a classroom of short-skirted, lovesick students. And to make matters worse, Itoshiki’s family wants him to get married. Forget the bride, here comes the gloom!"
- Del Rey, Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei, Volume 2.
Honorifics Explained pg. V
Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei: The Power of Negative Thinking volume 2 pg. 1
Chapter 11 - May the Moon of This Month's Evening Cloud Over with My Tears pg. 4
Chpater 12 - Your Front Hair Swept Back for the First Time pg. 18
Chapter 13 - Thou Shalt Not Know pg. 32
Chapter 14 - I'm Predestined to Be in the Shadows pg. 48
Chapter 15 - Confessions of a Pen Name pg. 62
Chapter 16 - The People Are at the Breaking Point pg. 76
Chapter 17 - Sister-in-law, I'm an Aristocrat pg. 90
Chapter 18 - Leap Before You Lock Eyes pg. 104
Chapter 19 - That Is Why You Are to Flee, Follow Me! Philostratus pg. 120
Chapter 20 - Because It Is So Unsable, I Went to Search the Skies pg. 134
Bonus Materials pg. 148
Translation Notes pg. 159
A list and general description of many of the most common Honorifics in the Japanese language.
Kaere has more charges she made with characters in this volume.
Plantiff: Kaere Kimura
Defendant: Perry (Assumed Name)
Plaintiff: Kaere Kimura
Kouji Kumeta writes more "paper blogs" about the topics covered in the manga.
There's a survey that doesn't take itself seriously.
Little Miss Precision Starring: Chiri Kitsu
There is also a literary compilation called "Run, Eros!" It is about abandoning someone to not pay for beer money.
If there is something that requires alterations or a Japanese phrase/joke needs explaining. The translators explains things here.
Just like the previous volume, there are translation notes for the running gags throughout the chapters.
As Nozomu looks at the paper wishes hang on bamboo branches, he starts complaining about how wishes don't come true and that the Tanabata star festival is a waste for people. As he continues to observe his students' wishes, Kafuka says that successful people have made wishes in their past lives to become successful. This statement causes an uproar with the crowd as they make wishes for the future lives. Nozomu gets enthusiastic and "hangs" his wish; he tries to hang himself so he can move onto the next life but it does not work.
It is July 13th, the anniversary where Commodore Perry pressured Japan to open their diplomatic relations with the United States. Perry bursts through the classroom door and starts opening everything up like dried horse mackerels, books, a zipper fly, and the swimming pool. Abiru says that no one has opened Nozomu's heart and Perry tries to open it but cannot. After his unsuccessful attempt, he admits to not being Perry and how Kafuka remarked in the past how he looked like him.
Nozomu censors all of his students' report cards since he considers himself a "non-reporter" and will give out non-report cards. He starts despairing over society since it always tries to tell you too much information. Some of his students give examples of things people non-report. Nozomu decides to run away from everything; he hopes to not be informed about anything but he ends up seeing odd "signs" around him that he presumes are trying to tell him something. Chiri gets annoyed because she wants to know her grades so Kafuka leads her to a housewife that knows everything. After giving chiri's report card scores, Nozomu asks what is the truth of the universe. The housewife shows an odd place where the world is sectioned off. Nozomu wishes he did not know the truth.
As Nozomu walks in the shadows of summertime, he explains to Chiri and Kafuka that some people try too much to get attention but fall flat and not get the sun's rays on them, thus being overshadowed. Some examples he uses includes Pierre Curie versus Madame Marie Curie, populations of China versus India, and Kaere's bust versus Chie's bust. When Kafuka shows Kagerou Usui's shadow and eventually introduces him, Nozomu doesn't realize he is the chairman of his class since he is overshadowed by Chiri.
While Harumi rushes to the printers, she runs into Nozomu on the street and her doujinshi work flies everywhere. They misunderstand each other and Nozomu gets invited to sell his "doujinshi" at Comiket with Harumi. While waiting at the table, he and Matoi get hounded by camera people thinking they're cosplaying. Chiri comes along and looks through Harumi's doujinshi. She gets upset because there is no plot, climax, or conclusion in the story and that all doujinshi should follow 4-koma structure. Nozomu comments that this structure has a hidden fifth part that is full of darkness.
As Nozomu complains about taking his class on a summer trip and thus wasting his vacation, the landlord of the boarding house yells and punches him for stepping on the newly waxed floor even though there was no warning to avoid places to walk in the first place. Nozomu observes that everything and everyone in the boarding house and its respective area are on edge about everything. This includes the support pillar of the house being on a fine tip and adding more people on a car than the limit. While Nozomu tries to run away from these issues, he keeps running into people who are highly stressed and over the top.
Kafuka gets a summer cold so she goes to visit a doctor. She looks at him and notices that he looks like her teacher but finds out that he is his older brother Mikoto. She writes his name and notices that it spells zetsumei (meaning death) so he gets the affectionate nickname Dr. Death. Mikoto holds a minor tantrum and the nurse says to not focus on his name and how people don't visit his clinic because of it. As Kafuka leaves, she spots Chiri who found a note saying that Nozomu has "gone missing." Kafuka ignores this notion and suggests to ask Mikoto about it. He explains that he went back to their family's home for an arranged marriage meeting. Chiri gets upset and demands to know where the house is. Several of Nozomu's students get to his house on accident. The butler at the estate welcomes the students as they arrive. They are introduced to the Itoshiki family including Rin, the younger sister. The butler further explains about the miai procedures at the estate where if one looks at the eyes of a person, they automatically get married.
The butler says that once a pair of people (regardless of gender or other factors) meet each others' eyes, they are instantly married. The students are given kimonos because everyone in the Itoshiki domain participates in this ritual. Nozomu expertly starts running away and has his eyes downcast to avoid all eye contact from people. The butler monitors all the action happening as he says to himself how they hired "looking pros" and even the hyakume kozou (goblin with one hundred eyes). Chiri uses her third eye, which Kafuka names as her clairvoyance, to find Nozomu. Usui looks directly into Abiru's eyes but she cannot see him. Everyone starts to leave as Nami arrives from the ordinary train. Meanwhile, Harumi is at comiket.
Nozomu leaves a note in class saying he has missed five days worth of vacation for school activities so he won't be going to school. However, Chie drags him into the classroom since the school system does not work that way. Since he was criticized and he believes that people are not prepared to get criticism, he will start criticism training with someone from the fire department. He starts criticizing students one by one but Usui stops him from telling him anything by criticizing himself to soften the blow. When Chie criticizes Usui, he does not mind since she is a beautiful woman. People end up getting in line to get criticized by her.
A typhoon is blowing gale-force winds and the students remark that the weather is unstable. Nozomu clearly indicates that he, among other things, are more unstable than the wind. He then contradicts himself stating that people desire stability by creating instability but it is okay to contradict yourself because that means you are unstable. Each student talks about their instability as they go to a national museum of instability. Nozomu points out that the Global Destabilization Committee are meeting to fix stability issues. Chiri goes insane and states she will make everything stable. Maria is not stable as she balances on a see-saw looking apparatus and makes everyone help stabilize the situation with a lot of exaggeration.
|Who Knew Despair Could be so Funny?||4 out of 5 users found this review helpful.|
Publisher: Del Rey
Author: Koji Kumeta
Genre: Comedy / School / Satire
MSRP: $10.99 (USD)
Contents: 10 Chapters / 176pg.
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is first and foremost a comedy series that rips off the scabs of issues in society. Things people might be rather sensitive about coming to light. Nozomu Itoshiki is a teacher in despair as the head of a class of unique individuals, but he was pretty down before his first class ever took place. The world is filled with a dark side, and he's just the kind of guy to see it and point it out for all to see. Though dark, thankfully for us it always seems to have a funny side to it as well.
It was last week when I was hoping to purchase the first volume of Highschool of the Dead, but when I got to the store I learned that my local store was only selling it via online. Rather than doing that, I took advantage of the store's buy four and get one free deal. This was one of the many manga I purchased that day.
The joy in reading this series has to be in the absolute over the top cast that fills it. Each character has a personality flaw that is taken to extremes. Though the teacher is determined to always see the bad side of things. He has a student named Kafuka that is just as determined to see the positive to equally wild extremes. We got to meet most of them in the first volume, but in Volume 2 we actually get to meet some of Nozumu's family, and their names are just as dark and twisted, if you get the joke.
We also see the cast make wishes for their next life, they go to the famous Comic Market convention to sell doujinshi, we learn just how absurd and outdated the concept of a Miai can be, take some training in being criticized, and we learn the truth of the universe. Even Commodore Perry, who opened Japan back in 1854, drops by. Bet you never expected all that in this manga.
The artwork is unique in this series. It's simple, but I find the style to be often beautiful. The characters are unique in their designs so that you always know who you're looking at. One of my favorites has to be Chiri Kitsu. It's funny to watch her flip out when things aren't just right.
Satire is the kind of comedy style that is best enjoyed when you know what the author is making fun of. Otherwise, would you really know why these things are so funny? Think of movies such as Spaceballs or the Scary Movie series of films. In their own right they are funny movies, but the fact you are familiar with Star Wars, Star Trek, and the list of horror films these movies makes fun of does make these movies a lot funnier, right? That kind of makes the Sayonara Zetsumou Sensei series a challenge to read, because it's target is Japanese culture. That's not to say there aren't things for the manga and anime fan to enjoy as well. In the first chapter about people making wishes, there is a wish hanging from the bamboo tree that was written by Vegeta that he wishes to beat Goku in the next life, and a Gundam SEED reference. Also, there are detailed translator notes in the back of the volume to explain some of these issues.
This manga series is so heavily dependent on Japanese culture. I really couldn't imagine this being published by anyone other than Del Rey. They don't touch the story what so ever. In a way, the series serves as a light and entertaining lesson in modern Japan.
A downside to a series such as this is that I think it would be hard to appeal to a wider audience. It's not something you read if you want wild action and heavy fanservice, thought there is a little bit of that here. It's all about social commentary. The thinking man's comedy, but the author Koji Kumeta does it with a goofy twist. The personalities of the class and teachers sell this.
There are a lot of jokes in this manga that went over my head, but reading the notes helped me understand a bit better. I think you need to be willing to sit down and carefully read the manga. The chapters average at about twelve pages, so, it's not difficult to enjoy in short bursts. This is Volume 2. If you haven't read Volume 1, some of this could be overwhelming and confusing.
The culture shock might turn off many readers, but I think you might have fun if you give it a shot. Either way, it's very well published by a company who knows their stuff. Del Rey does a great job at holding your hand through the culture. It's a funny manga, well translated, and has a wildly interesting cast that makes this all fun to read.
While I can't recommend this for all readers. Enjoy the personalities and stay for the comedy. I would rate this a 4 out of 5.