Comics / Manga

Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei: Volume 1

By Leroy Douresseaux
February 23, 2009 - 10:54

Sayonara cover image is courtesy of

Rating “OT” for “Ages 16+”

Many people have expressed wonder that the late Charles M. Schulz not only created a newspaper comic strip about a depressed boy, but he also created such a strip that became a sensation.  That strip, Peanuts, was a worldwide hit that continues to captivate untold millions over multiple media platforms to this very day.

In Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei: The Power of Negative Thinking, Vol. 1, readers discover a new comics work with a depressed protagonist, the suicidal teacher Nozomu Itoshiki.  Although he is constantly trying to kill himself, Itoshiki has something for which to live – a class room full of unique students who all adore him.  There’s the “super-positive girl, Kafuka Fura, who drives teacher crazy with her insistence on putting a positive spin on even the most awful situations.  Kiri Komori is a hikikomori girl – a shut whom Itoshiki and Kafuka finally get to leave home, only to have her become a shut-in who never leaves her new room at school.

With others including “poison email girl,” the anal “methodical and precise girl,” and “super-love-obsessed stalker girl,” why wouldn’t Itoshiki want to hurt himself?

THE LOWDOWN:  I didn’t know what to expect of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei, especially considering its premise, but I actually enjoyed it.  Creator Koji Kumeta’s ability to come up with a new eccentric student with a pet peeve or hang-up practically for each chapter is impressive.  In a way, Kumeta’s skills at coming up with weird characters is similar to the talent of Akira Amano, who constantly invents bizarre new characters for his manga Reborn!, which like Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei, is an episodic comedy.  Unlike Amano, though, Kumeta is not particularly strong at giving each character a look that is different enough from every other player.  That makes this manga sometimes feel a bit repetitive.

POSSIBLE AUDIENCE:  Although rated for older teen readers, Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei’s style of comedy and the level of execution of the stories make it practically perfect for a junior high school audience.



Last Updated: June 23, 2021 - 00:45

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