Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei #1 - Volume 1

is a manga book published by Del Rey Manga that was released on 09/16/2005

Plot Summary

Del Rey Edition Release Date: February 24, 2009

Nozomu Itoshiki is depressed. Very depressed. He's certifiably suicidal, but he's also the beloved schoolteacher of the class of unique students, each charming in her own way: The stalker. The shut-in. The obsessive-compulsive. The girl who comes to class with strange bruises. And Kafuka, the most optimistic girl in the world, who knows that every cloud has a silver lining. For all of them. it's a special time, when the right teacher can have a lasting positive effect on their lives. But in that teacher Itoshiki, a.k.a. Zetsubou-sensei, who just wants to find the perfect place to die?


Honorifics Explained pg. v

Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei: The Power of Negative Thinking pg. 1

Chapter 1 - Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei pg. 1

Chapter 2 - Zetsubou-sensei Returns pg. 20

Chatper 3 - Beyond the Tunnel Was Whiteness pg. 30

Chapter 4 - Before Me, There's No One; Behind Me, There's You pg. 44

Chapter 5 - Not Losing to Elbows, Not Losing to Knees pg. 58

Chapter 6 - Fly Over That Country to Come Here pg. 72

Chapter 7 - The Antenna Is Rising... We Must Attempt to Live! pg. 86

Chapter 8 - Align Your Books Precisely on the Shelves, Go Out into the Streets! pg. 100

Chapter 9 - No Matter What, We've Got to Stick Together pg. 114

Chapter 10 - This Clas Has Many Problems, Please Understand pg. 128

Bonus Materials pg. 151

About the Author pg. 164

Translation Notes 165

Preview of Volume 2


Honorifics Explained

A brief explanation of the various honorifics in Japanese culture and their uses.

Translation Notes

This section details all the various puns, both translatable and untranslatable, within the manga, as well as various Japanese cultural references.


  • General Notes: Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei (title)
  • General Notes: Signs
  • Kafuka's tree names
  • Naming rights
  • Dense forests around Mt. Fuji
  • Inauspicious characters
  • Hiro*Tsunoda
  • Zetsubou
  • Hair
  • "The Chuo train stopped running again today, didn't it?"
  • Post-Graduation Career Hopes Survey
  • Post-Graduation Career Despair Survey
  • Momogi Animation School
  • Celebrities' examples
  • Planet Pororoca
  • Kafuka Fura
  • Beyond the Tunnel Was Whiteness
  • Street signs
  • Hikikomori
  • Zashiki-warashi
  • Hinouma
  • Double Suicide Notes
  • Before Me, There's No One; Behind Me, There's You
  • Street signs
  • Schoolgirl prostitution
  • Newspaper and TV
  • Text on blackboard
  • Boy's Love Club
  • Manga Michi
  • Not Losing to Elbows, Not Losing to Knees
  • Sambo
  • Domestic violence
  • Street signs
  • Kyoko Hamaguchi
  • Saint Tail
  • Tail signs
  • Street signs
  • Faithful Elephants
  • Fly Over That Country To Come Here
  • Watching fireworks
  • Rakuten and Shidax
  • eki-in
  • Dejima Island
  • Kaere
  • "I'm at my limits as a Japanese girl!"
  • Signs in lower right panel
  • Konan Bridge and Shini Rurubu
  • Sign on wall
  • The Antenna Is Rising... We Must Attempt to Live!
  • Meru
  • Genshiken
  • Famous quotations
  • Store signs
  • hazukashigariyasan@dacamo
  • Dacamo
  • eise grass and namaniku flowers
  • Align Your Books Precisely on the Shelves, Go Out into the Streets!
  • Famires Cafe
  • Raou's speech patterns
  • A weird hairdo at a top sumo wrestler's funeral
  • Family register
  • No Matter What, We've Got to Stick Together
  • Taro Sekiuchi
  • Street signs
  • Food
  • ODA
  • NEET
  • List of kindnesses
  • This Class Has Many Problems, Please Understand
  • Pantasia
  • "Ordinary?!"
  • Nami
  • Signs and books
  • Hitonari Tsuji
  • Traumerei
  • Assorted References
  • Death Country

Full Plot Summary

Chapter 1: Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei

Kafuka Fuura is walking down a line of cherry blossom trees where she sees Nozomu Itoshiki hanging himself. She tackles him to the ground almost choking him to death. He exclaims in annoyance that she might have killed him. She says that it is a beautiful Spring day and that each cherry blossom tree has a name and thus should not have to experience seeing someone die. She casually nicknames him "Pink Branch Boss" much to his dismay and she points out that he isn't trying to kill himself, he's trying to become taller.

Itoshiki-sensei enters his classroom and finds Kafuka is one of his students. He introduces himself to the class and says his name is one of the worst names one can have. Kafuka comes up to the board and writes his name horizontally and notices that it says "Mr. Despair."

Chapter 2 : Zetsubou-sensei Returns

Chie Arai, the school counselor, asks why Itoshiki wants to commit suicide this day and he answers that his twisted psyche is forcing him to see his heart is unclean.

When he returns to the classroom, he is given the "Post-Graduation Career Hopes Survey" to pass to his students. He exclaims that there is no such thing as hope and that they should write their things they can never hope to achieve. After seeing each students' survey, he starts mocking their dreams and how impossible they are.

One of Itoshiki's fellow staff sees the surveys and admires his class's big hopes but after seeing Kafuka's survey where she wants to be God, a person from the future, or an alien, he says to keep an eye on her.

Chapter 3: Beyond the Tunnel was Whiteness

Once again Arai asks why Itoshiki wanted to commit suicide. He says that the train stations that have the card reader device could have read train cards in his wallet may have been rigged by a gang of criminals who will steal all his money. She changes the subject by telling him that he has a student that is a hikikomori and that he should go visit that student.

Itoshiki is in front of the student's house and he sees Kafuka walking along. They enter and see the student inside a room telling them to go away. Kafuka says there is no such thing as a hikikomori and that the student is a zashiki-warashi. That means this house spirit should not leave the house because it will cause ill-fortune and they end up boarding her up in her bedroom. As Itoshiki checks her window, he almost accidentally hung himself there and scares the student. She throws a tv at the door and notices all these creepy dolls and enchantment papers around. She yells that she does not want to be here anymore and Itoshiki opens up her hair bangs to see her face. He says that she is a lovely girl and that if she were to commit suicide, contact him. Kiri Komori ends up becoming a shut-in within the school instead of home.

Chapter 4 : Before Me, There's No One; Behind Me, There's You

Itoshiki now has to deal with Matoi Tsunetsuki, a student who stalks her ex-boyfriends because she is obsessed over them. Kafuka says that it isn't stalking, it's true love. Matoi becomes worried and rushes toward her ex's house. Itoshiki follows and yells that the truest love gesture is to commit a double suicide together and that if Matoi wants to commit suicide, she can happily join him.

Arai shows Itoshiki pictures of Matoi and her previous boyfriends. Itoshiki notices that she changes her persona every time she dates one of them.

Matoi enters the classroom wearing clothes similarly to Itoshiki. He notices that she watches him intently and that she follows him around.

As Matoi follows Itoshiki, her ex-boyfriend notices that she is not following him anymore. He gets worried and decides to stalk her. All of a sudden, there's a chain of stalkers following in a line behind Itoshiki. Kafuka remarks that Itoshiki is like Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Chapter 5 - Not Losing to Elbows, Not Losing to Knees

Abiru Kobushi always looks like she is abused by domestic violence and Arai asks Itoshiki to visit her father. Every time Abiru's father enters a store and wants to buy things, Itoshiki assumes he is going to use the merchandise to somehow hurt Abiru. This ranges from a frying pan to an eraser. After every story owner shuns the father away, Itoshiki thinks that this father might be one of those special desert assassins, apologizes to him, and runs away. Arai finds Itoshiki and tells him to follow her. They notice that Kafuka has fallen into the tiger pit of a zoo. Kafuka says it is okay if she gets eaten by the tiger because she will become a buddha. Abiru comes by and yells affectionate things to the tiger and they roll around the ground laughing.

Abiru explains that she loves animal tails and that she likes to pull them. This is how she gets all the injuries she has all the time.

When Itoshiki enters her room, he notices a wall of animal tails. She explains that she wants to travel and pull on many animal tails around the world. She then starts wondering what tail would look good on Itoshiki and puts one on him. He runs away.

Chapter 6 - Fly Over That Country to Come Here

Itoshiki explains to the class that a new transfer student is coming from overseas and that she will help bring the class average higher. After Kafuka points out that these Japanese students are raised abroad, Itoshiki starts despairing that these type of students are the ones that will bluntly answer yes or no, stare into your eyes while talking to them, and that he will be nagged in multiple languages.

Kaere Kimura, the transfer student, enters the classroom. She wonders why he won't look her in the eyes and he yells that she would sue him for sexual harassment. He starts making other claims about foreigners and says that he is an isolationalist. Kaere says that lots of aspect of Japan is peculiar but she picks random things that fellow Japanese citizens see as strange. She starts spouting how her life back in her home country is different compared to Japan. After someone says her name, she is reminded of horrendous memories of children mocking her to go back to her home country. Her personality changes to a complete 180 and she becomes a bashful student. Arai comes in and explains that she has two different, conflicting personalities to go for the different attitudes of the countries she has been to. Her Japanese personality is named Kaede Kimura. Kafuka says this could be a lifestyle related disease. She falls for Itoshiki but notices that her Japanese bashfulness is getting her nowhere. She jumps off of Konan bridge but Itoshiki grabs her by the legs to make sure she does not fall. From his angle, he can see her pomegranate underwear, which makes Kaede revert back to being Kaere, who threatens to sue Itoshiki.

Chapter 7 - The Antenna is Rising... We Must Attempt to Live!

Itoshiki calls on Meru Otonashi to read something from a textbook but she cannot. One of his students explain that Meru has a problem with communicating. He says he likes this type of student because they don't cause trouble or talk back. She shows him her email address written behind her tie. A student says that she only communicates through email so Itoshiki sends her an email. He gets a response from her saying that he is a dumbass and that his clothes are stupid. He continues to get hateful responses and despairs over the Internet culture. Her battery dies and she opens up her shirt to reveal many other cell phones which she replaces easily. Kafuka says her seat is out of service range so she and Meru switch seats. After switching seats, she tries to talk but it sounds broken and in a weird language that everyone freaks out. Meru ends up breaking her phone on her desk. Kafuka says that another way to communicate is through the eyes. Meru looks at Kafuka's eyes and becomes scared because Kafuka looks dangerous. Kafuka grabs Meru and Itoshiki's hands and spins around saying they are communicating the planet Pororoca.

Chapter 8 - Align Your Books Precisely on the Shelves, Go Out into the Streets!

Chiri Kitsu must have everything precise and perfect. If the desks in the classroom are messed up, she has to fix them. When Kafuka enters the classroom, Chiri notices that Kafuka's socks are uneven and fixes them. Chiri starts complaining about other things like Meru's grammar in emails, how the leaning tower of pisa should be straight or fall, things should be paid in full, and other things.

When she gets a cake, she sees three other people with her and she is about to cut it to four equal pieces with a strawberry each. Kafuka enters and asks for some too. Chiri decides to cut each strawberry into five pieces and the cake. Itoshiki comes by and also asks for cake. Frustrated, Chiri ends up blending the cake and strawberries so everyone can have an equal share. Kafuka sees a family album and remarks that Chiri does not look like her parents. When Chiri goes home, she demands to know whose child she is.

Chiri feels uneasy after all she has gone through so she goes to the infirmary. She ends up rolling to Itoshiki's bed and says they must fill in the family registry properly now.

Chapter 9 - No Matter What, We've Got to Stick Together

Kafuka finds a note on Itoshiki's desk that says to not find him. Everyone remarks that he is probably just playing hooky but Kafuka says that he is looking for experiences to share with the class. Arai comes in and says that she will be substituting. She takes attendance and notices that Tarou Sekiuchi is not there. A girl comes in saying "here!" and Arai just let's her go into the class despite not seeing her before. Chiri gets upset at this imperfection and follows the proposed Tarou home. Kafuka runs into her and wonders whe Chiri is there. Chiri is upset because she claims they are illegal immigrants. Kafuka says they're Japanese because the proof is in their Japanese names. The supposed Tarou says her name is Tarou Maria Sekiutsu.

Kafuka leads Chiri and Tarou to someone she refers to as "Former Tarou sekiutsu." Maria says that she bought his attendance number from him. The Former Tarou says that he will sell anything. Chiri accepts this because she says it is a fair trade. After Chiri remarks that she has to "protect this baby," all her classmates remark that they should protect Maria. Maria ends up getting lots of food and other things from her classmates and says that Japanese people are so nice. She gives examples of their kindness like adults "treating" children nicely, how people cry to songs with no meaning, and other things.

Chapter 10 - This Class has Many Problems, Please Understand

Nami Hitou says she is a truant student but she is going to school today because no one pities her. Nami tries to get pity from her fellow students but she gets trumped every time. Her truancy is shadowed by Itoshiki's (as a teacher) being a truant. Her small bandaged arm is outshone by Abiru's larger injuries. She tries to talk about her "poverty" but Maria is seen getting things through a garbage can. Nami says life is not worth it and is about to commit suicide by jumping through a window. She ends up stopping because Itoshiki appears outside the window upside down. Chiri says that she is glad to see Nami in the classroom because she is ordinary. Nami gets upset and starts recalling memories about being called normal. After Nami says that she is a truant student, Chiri gets mad because a truant does not go to school and that Nami should make up her mind if she will go to school or not. She should not be contradicting what a truant does. Itoshiki takes Nami to Kiri and Nami yells that being a truant is worse than being a sit-in. Kiri challenges Nami to stay in school after hours. Nami starts getting scared for the weird stuff that is happening there. Nami gets really scared of seeing the "ghost" Matoi and seeing other funky things.


  • Special Compilation: Itoshiki sees kids who only live through hope on an island. Apparently the series is supposed to be about "the lives of one teacher and three-point-one students." Itoshiki asks what the point one is for and one of the kids says that it's because Hiroshi's still alive. At the end, Itoshiki says this is not how the story will be like.
  • There are "paper blogs" from the mangaka about random things like reclusion, precision, and other topics, related to the issues brought up in different chapters.
  • Kaere Kimura has a section dedicated to "charges" she wants to file. Meru is charged for crime of insult while Itoshiki is charged for forcible acts of lewdness.
  • Meru has a section dedicated to the emails she send.
  • There is also a literary compilation called "Death Country" where tunnels are neverending.


A preview of Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei in Japanese.


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Kouji Kumeta artist, inker, writer,



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