Kuro no Onna Kyoushi (黒の女教師) is a school drama centered on “dark” teachers Takakura (Eikura Nana), Fujii (Kobayashi Satomi), and Uchida (Ichikawa Mikako), who handle problems at their school in a cold and purely for-profit way.

Kuro no Onna Kyoushi Title

I’m going to describe the main conflict of this episode up-front. A female student is working at a girl’s bar – a hostess club, if you will – so that she can make money and pretend that she’s from a rich family, but in the process she’s being taken in by a sleaze. Meanwhile, there’s a male student interested in said female student, but finds it difficult to approach her. Does this sound familiar? Well, Great Teacher Onizuka episode 3 featured two intertwined plots – that of Haruka (a female student working at an escort bar to make money and pretend that she’s from a rich family while being taken in by a cad) and Murai (the male student interested in her but has trouble approaching her). There’s no point pulling punches – the GTO version was better. I won’t make this a point-by-point comparison between the two dramas (easy as that would be), but will point out useful parallels to illustrate my point.

Another thing worth mentioning – this episode is also similar to episode one, where a girl gets suckered by a guy trying to make money out of her (in that case, he makes her sell drugs). While we’re at it, the other episode centered on a female student was episode two, and in that one it was a girl gets taken in by a male teacher. There’s too much similarity in these plots.

Matsumoto Shiori

On with the story, the girl in question is Matsumoto Shiori (Tsuchiya Tao) and the hapless boy is Tachibana Satoshi (Katoono Taikou). Tachibana sees Matsumoto trying to attract customers right outside the club in the opening scene.
The GTO version was gritty even though it’s a comedy and this isn’t, as Haruka started off by getting bid for, and her first lines were how much she charges for tea and karaoke.

Tachibana Satoshi

Then Uchida-sensei walks by, but while she seems to notice Matsumoto, she doesn’t go up to Matsumoto like Tachibana expects her to, instead approaching the manager of the bar, Kawai (you know, the sleaze).

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Apparently, Uchida once dated Kawai. She acts like she’s still interested in him, but considering she’s a dark teacher, we’d better not take anything at face value.

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Meanwhile, Matsumoto seems to enjoy taking advantage of the customers, receiving gifts from them. Her manager fills her with talk about how “smarts” rather than education leads to success. By smarts, he means the ability to take advantage of others, of course.

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Back in the classroom, Matsumoto feels pressure to keep up with the consumer culture of her friends – in this case, their smart phone standards. She also shows off the purse one of her marks gave her.

Keeping Up Appearances 1

Her friends fawn over her, praising her wealth, but Tachibana knows the truth.

Tachibana Looks On

As usual, Takakura throws ice water all over everyone’s hopes for a fun summer break. This time, though, her point has a lot of poignancy on this side of the Pacific Ocean, too, since she discusses the widening gap between the classes in terms of educational opportunity. I don’t know about you, but I’m still paying off my college loans, and last time I checked, costs had more than doubled since I graduated eight years ago. (I just checked the website of my alma mater, and make that more than tripled) So, yeah, you tell them, Takakura.

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When Tachibana approaches Matsumoto about the Girl’s Bar, we see another way this episode falls short of GTO. He comes off like a total asshole. First, he sounds like he’s taunting her, as if he wants to blackmail her. Then, after he says he won’t tell anyone, he tells her to quit in extremely rude terms. While this is somewhat realistic given his wealthy background (in other words, he’s a snot-nosed rich kid), he changes completely during the course of the episode at an unrealistic pace. In the middle, he’s a wimp unable to defend himself, and we wonder how he ever worked up the courage to speak to her at all. By the end he’s a selfless hero, able to stand up to the meanest thugs. I like character development, but I couldn’t wrap my head around Tachibana’s personality.

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We find out about Matsumoto’s goals in life, telling Takakura and Aoyagi (Kimura Fumino) that she just wants to be a full-time housewife to someone rich (even though she could get into Tokyo University).

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In the next scene, Fujii-sensei seems to be sending a message, but what could it mean?

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Uchida-sensei is, as usual, much clearer about her message:

Uchida's Message 1Uchida's Message 2

Then we get a token Toda Toshio (Matsumura Hokuto) scene while Tachibana is inquiring about Uchida (after her in-class comments). Mysterious student Toda has even less of a part in this episode than in the last one, and there doesn’t appear to be a point to him being in this one at all, except they want to remind us that he still exists. This is a horrible way to treat an overarching plot (if we’re drawing comparisons to GTO, the overarching plot there is Aizawa Miyabi, who stays at the center of the action even when the story isn’t about her). Why was Toda much more involved in the earlier episodes than he is now? I’ll be very surprised if there’s a good answer to that question.

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The dark teachers have dinner earlier in the episode than usual, and we find out what happened between Uchida and Kawai:

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After Tachibana once again fails to handle things with Matsumoto appropriately, the focus is on the machinations of Kawai, who first tries to get Matsumoto involved with really seedy stuff, then has dinner with Uchida, probably with some ulterior motive.

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Meanwhile, Takakura is already reading moves far ahead in this game, and predicts that Matsumoto will eventually reconsider her future, and decide to try for Tokyo University, after all.

Takakura Sees the Future

Speaking of token scenes for characters, Aoyagi-sensei promises to solve the Matsumoto issue even though she doesn’t know what it is and has had no success at all so far. She does this in every episode and in contrast to Tachibana, shows a complete lack of character development. I think she’s supposed to show that normal methods of solving the situation won’t work, thereby justifying the extreme methods used by the dark teachers, but she actually has legal options to solve the situation, she just doesn’t have the information. So, her only possible purpose is to be a straw-man argument.

Aoyagi Continues to be Useless 1Aoyagi Continues to be Useless 2

By the way, Kimura Fumino-san is simultaneously playing a teacher in Naniwa Shounen Tanteidan, and is a completely superfluous character there. Can you be typecast as a useless character?

Next, Matsumoto saves Tachibana after he proves unable to defend himself:

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Halfway into the episode, things finally get tense, when Kawai blackmails Matsumoto into “graduating” from the Girl’s Bar and into less legal activities.

How will the dark teachers solve this one? The additional issue of Uchida’s connection to Kawai does make it a bit more interesting and different, but the interactions between Uchida and Kawai didn’t feel authentic, so whatever tension it might have added was somewhat diminished.

In the end, the weakest link was Tachibana. I don’t think a person can go from trying to solve a problem by throwing money at it to acting like a bloody hero in a heartbeat. There wasn’t any credible catalyst – not even an Onizuka shouting at him – to explain the change. More importantly, there was an opportunity for him to do something that was in his character – to take Takakura’s offer immediately. That would have been consistent.

So, count this one a second disappointing episode, made all the more harder to take because of the similarity to the GTO plot. Hopefully, episode six will be something completely different.