Kuro no Onna Kyoushi (黒の女教師 – possibly “the female teacher(s) of darkness”) is a school drama centered on three “dark” teachers who handle problems at their school in a cold and purely for-profit way. If you thought Great Teacher Onizuka was too cheery and optimistic, this is the antidote.

Kuro no Onna Kyoushi Title 1Kuro no Onna Kyoushi Title 2

Our story begins with a scene that actually occurs in the middle of the story, with the troubled main character running up to the school to implore the three dark teacher for help. Their response is to ask if she has the money, which she does, though she hates them for wanting to be paid to help.

Pleading for HelpThe Dark TeachersThe PaymentShe Hates Them

After the credits, we flashback to the normal flow of the story to find out that the main character is a new teacher at the school. We see her on her first day, busy rehearsing her introduction as she walks onto campus. Immediately, we know that she’s one of those cheery teachers who will have the full force of reality brought down upon her.

It's Her First DayIt's Her First Day 2

Her name is Aoyagi Haruka (played by Kimura Fumino) and she is told by the vice principal that her assistant homeroom teacher will be Takakura Yuko (Eikura Nana), and the way he says it suggests that she might have a problem with Takakura.

The Vice Principal 1The Vice Principal 2

We then find out about the plot element of this episode, as the vice principal warns her to be vigilant about dappo herbs (psychoactive drugs that are nevertheless legal). Of course, if you get a principal warning a teacher to be on the lookout for drugs in a drama, you can be sure that there’s someone in her class either doing drugs, dealing in drugs, or both.

Dappo Herbs 1

The vice principal also mentions “chime-to-chime,” which is the ludicrous idea that teachers only work from the start bell to the end bell. In no system is such a policy tenable, and I really got irritated by it. Of course, it’s only meant to be a way for the dark teachers to exact payment for their services (because they are not contractually required to do anything for students outside of the school context, they have to be hired on a separate – and expensive – basis).

Chime to Chime

As the school gathers in the assembly hall, we are introduced to the student of the episode, Yamagishi Rio (Taketomi Seika), who’s busy kissing her boyfriend:

Yamagishi with her boyfriend

In the assembly, we meet the staff (I’d fire the lot, myself), and Aoyagi not only forgot her introduction, but also smudged the copy on her hand.

Assembly 1Assembly 2Assembly 3Assembly 4

So far, this is all totally predictable. How many times have we seen the Aoyagi character before? Ah, but things start to take a less predictable turn when Takakura Yuko walks in:

Takakura 1Takakura 2

We quickly learn to hate her. In a mechanical voice, she tries to curb Aoyagi’s enthusiasm by telling her about how often first-year teacher are fired and how many teachers commit suicide every year. You wonder whether she’s personally responsible for that suicide rate.

Takakura 3Takakura 4

And, of course, she adheres completely to chime-to-chime, to the point of not being willing to talk about the students over lunch with Aoyagi.

Takakura 5

Aoyagi starts her first day of teacher by having a new student introduce himself:

Toda Intro 1

That’s Matsumura Hokuto-kun playing Toda Toshio and, I have to say, there’s not much difference between his character here and the one he played in Shiritsu Bakarea Koukou except he’s not punching people. He’s still the cool and quiet type, and he still gives off a menacing feel.

Bad Vibes

Right after that, administrators walk in to find out who stole a USB drive with test information, and Takakura steps in to threaten a call to the police if the culprit isn’t revealed.

Going Straight to the Police!?

I’ll leave the result out as a spoiler, since it’s pretty unexpected.

During lunch, Toda Toshio is all by himself and totally mysterious.

Toda Alone

Meanwhile, we find out a bit more about Yamagishi and her elite, lawyer-to-be boyfriend.

Yamagishi

As lunch continues, we find out more about the three dark teachers through their male coworkers. Sumire-sensei (Ichikawa Mikako) has a warped sense of humor, Fujii-sensei (Kobayashi Satomi) has a peculiar take on reality . . .

SumireFujii

. . . and Takakura-sensei is contrasted directly with Aoyagi. Aoyagi has the naïvely optimistic (humans are, by nature, good) view of human nature while Takakura has the naïvely pessimistic (humans are naturally evil) view.

The Happy ViewThe Depressing View

Both views are naïve, of course, because if human nature could be so easily summarized, life would be a lot simpler. The whole confusion to human interaction lies in its unpredictability. In a way, we’re wired to be a bit unpredictable to ensure our survival. But enough philosophy, time for some drugs:

Worst Boyfriend This Week Worst Boyfriend This Week 2

We find out that Yamagishi’s boyfriend is getting her to push drugs, which puts in the top five for worst drama boyfriends of the season.

Bad Stuff

Yamagishi sees Toda after she exits her boyfriend’s car, and wonders if Toda knows about her plans to distribute the herbs.

Yamagishi and TodaYamagishi and Toda 2Yamagishi and Toda 3

The next day, things come to a head when Yamagishi starts pushing the drugs and suddenly faces a school-wide search for dappo herbs.

Time for a CrackdownTime for a Crackdown 2Time for a Crackdown 3

Was it Toda who told the authorities? How will Aoyagi deal with the revelation that there’s a drug dealer in her class? How will the dark teachers get involved? How much do they charge?

What will Toda do?

The acting was all right, but for the most part not challenging. Most of the characters are stereotypical. Takakura’s stone-faced and robotic aspect works well to make the character feel dangerous, but it leaves the character limited so far. We’ll see if something happens to shake her confidence. There’s some indication that Toda, the cool and menacing student, might be the one to do that. At the end of the episode, Matsumura Hokuto earns marks for what might have been one of the more challenging bits of acting in the hour, during Toda’s confrontation with Takakura.

The plot was straightforward, but its resolution was interesting. I think that might ultimately be where this series has its strength – in the peculiar ways the dark teachers end up getting things resolved.

It’s also interesting to have such an anti-hero in Takakura. Sure, she gets the job done, but the viewer either hates her or is as cynical as she is. I’m interested to see how the writers take it from here, and mainly because I want to see how Takakura gets challenged.

The show kept up a moderate pace – there were some slow bits, but I never reached the point of boredom.

So, what we have is yet another solid school drama for the season. It’s at the opposite end of the spectrum from GTO, and I still favor GTO. Is it because I’m a happy little optimist? Not really. In GTO, our main character is likeable and clever in his own unique way. The way he solves problems is just as interesting, and you enjoy seeing him succeed. Here, whether you consider our main character Aoyagi or Takakura, one lacks cleverness and the other likability. There are likable cynics and clever optimists, you know. If the characters in this series break their mold a bit and get some depth to them, I might have to reconsider.