Pikachi Ohi’s yuri romance series Our Teachers are Dating! has been pretty consistently wholesome all the way through, and an absolute delight to read as a result. Given the way the narrative has flowed up until this point, there was only one possible way things could end — and, indeed, the final volume does not disappoint in this regard.
That predictability is, in some ways, a strength, though; it allows Our Teachers are Dating! to become an immensely comforting series with a lovely warm atmosphere throughout. While there have been moments of tension in the previous volumes — and indeed there are in this one also — it’s a series that you can safely read when you need a nice pick-me-up, secure in the knowledge that everything is most certainly going to Be All Right.
There was quite a gap between volume 3 and volume 4 of Our Teachers are Dating! being released in the west, so let’s take a moment to recap before we move on.
The series concerns a same-sex relationship between PE teacher Asuka Hayama and biology teacher Saki Terano. Hayama initially puts across the impression of being stern and rather uptight, whereas Terano clearly has an endearing childish streak to her. But as their relationship develops, it becomes very apparent that the pair of them are somewhat pining for their lost youth — and they see the opportunity to engage in the most fuzzy-wuzzy lovey-dovey of relationships with one another as a great opportunity to hold on to those youthful feelings for a while longer.
Their relationship is by no means shallow, mind; while the desire to hang on to their respective youths is definitely part of things, it’s obvious right from the outset that the pair of them are absolutely head-over-heels for one another. They’re keen to support one another, they reassure one another when things get difficult, they take care of one another when they are in need and they’re constantly on one another’s mind when they’re not together. It’s adorably sweet, yet it somehow never crosses a line into being overly sickly.
The final volume of Our Teachers are Dating! involves Hayama and Terano doing the various things that involve “formalising” their relationship — meeting their respective families, proposing and eventually getting married. The various chapters each focus on a particular incident in this regard, beginning with Terano’s sister Maki dropping by for a surprise visit.
Up until this point in Our Teachers are Dating!, we haven’t seen much of either Hayama or Terano’s families; one gets the impression that Hayama in particular is someone who has very much found a sense of “family” in the friends she surrounds herself with, and indeed later in the volume we discover exactly why this is. More on that in a moment, though.
Maki is a little bit enigmatic when she first shows up. While she carries an air of grumpy disapproval about her on her first appearance, we’re subsequently shown that she very much cares about her sister. Indeed, as Hayama and Terano are cooking her dinner in the kitchen, she dozes off and thinks about how much she loves her sister. It seems that despite Terano being the older sister, she has always had that childish streak; she was always a bit of a crybaby, but Maki nonetheless drew comfort from her and found her to be an immense source of support.
In fact, Maki finds Terano to be such a source of comfort that she is frustrated others don’t see how wonderful she truly is, instead focusing more on her childish aspects. They’re endearing, to be sure, but they’re surface-level features; Terano’s true appeal, so far as Maki is concerned, is her caring and kind nature, so it’s understandable that she’d be upset no-one seems to see it but her.
Except, as we know, that’s not the case. Maki, half-asleep, happens to overhear Hayama complimenting Terano in the kitchen and saying what a good older sister she is, and feels reassured about their relationship. And she continues to feel better as they finally settle down for dinner together, and Hayama continues to be openly affectionate and caring towards Terano. Here, it seems, is someone who truly appreciates who Terano really is on a level much deeper than “aww, she’s so cute”.
Following Maki’s visit, Hayama and Terano head off on a school trip that has clearly been organised by yuri-loving teacher Bandou-sensei in an attempt to light some romantic sparks.
Things don’t go quite to plan when a significant portion of both the students and teachers on the trip end up seasick; Hayama naturally ends up hanging back to take care of Terano and the students, but the whole thing acts as a rather lovely bonding experience between everyone, particularly for an unnamed girl who has clearly been pushing people away for a long time, but finally reaches “breaking point” when she sees all the couples and friendship groups around her.
A key part of this sequence involves an older woman on the trip — separate from the school party, but hanging back with the seasick group — speaking about a girl she fell in love with in her youth. Circumstances dictated that the pair would be separated, but the one left behind claimed that she would wait for her love; much to the older woman’s surprise, the girl she left behind was true to her word. Now that the older woman was entering middle age, she was heading back to her love to propose, and finally be able to spend the rest of her life with the person who was more important to her than anything.
Both Hayama and Terano hear the story — though Terano initially doesn’t know that Hayama also overheard it — and are inspired by it. The pair of them very clearly want to spend their lives together, so it becomes evident a proposal is absolutely on the cards. But when? Ohi plays with our expectations a little bit, as one chapter ends with Hayama wanting to talk about something “important”, and then chickening out by providing information about an important meeting prior to the school group’s aquarium trip.
So Terano takes the initiative, as she has done on a number of previous occasions. She openly expresses her feelings to Hayama while the pair of them are enjoying some time together taking in the sights of the aquarium, effectively proposing without actually popping the question.
“I wish these days could go on forever,” muses Hayama.
“They will go on forever,” says Terano, confidently. “Because from now on, I want to spend every minute and every second with you, Asuka-san. Even when we’re old women, I want us to always support each other and teach each other about youth as we live.”
Terano admits this was, in fact, a proposal, but is saddened that she doesn’t have any rings to formalise the arrangement. At this point, Hayama reveals that she’s been attempting to muster the courage to propose to Terano for some time, and has, in fact, been carrying some rings around with her hoping to find the right moment. And that right moment very clearly is right now.
Naturally, following the inevitable acceptance, it’s time for the happy couple to pay a visit to one another’s families. We begin with them dropping in on Terano’s mother (and Maki again, who still lives in the family home). Here we see where Terano gets a lot of her warm, caring personality from; her mother is thoroughly lovely, and the whole visit is a heartwarmingly pleasant experience for everyone involved.
It’s also extremely touching when we see Terano’s mother praying at the family shrine, reassuring her departed husband that their precious daughter has found happiness. It’s even more tearjerking when we see Terano wander in and ask for reassurance that her father would approve of what she’s doing; naturally, her mother has absolutely no hesitance in confidently declaring that he would be delighted for the pair of them.
Things are a little different when it comes to Hayama’s parents, however. Hayama is clearly quite scared of them, because she feels like they don’t support the decisions she has made for her own life.
“Getting the blessings of Saki-san’s family made me so happy,” she muses to herself. “But I also envy her, having a family like that. Ever since I was a child, my parents have tried to make me walk along the rails they laid down. When I wanted to become a teacher… when I tried to leave their house… both times, they were against it. Grandmother helped me manage. She fought for me. She was so kind… but she’s no longer with us.”
Indeed, when we first encounter Hayama’s mother and father, they are presented as stern, serious and rather sinister individuals with an immensely threatening aura. It’s clear that not only has Hayama not told them about her relationship with Terano, she probably hasn’t even come out to them, which, of course, puts the couple in a difficult situation. Terano takes it in her stride, though, recognising how much Hayama is struggling and encouraging her to have confidence in herself. She’s made her own decisions up until now, and those have been positive decisions not just for her, but for others also.
“I’ve decided,” she says. “I’m marrying Terano Saki-san. Being with her makes everything fragrant and warm. At every dinner she attends, the room brightens with smiles. I love her. I love everything about her. She’s so, so dear to me. To me, happiness is with Saki-san. That’s where we find happiness. Together.”
Hayama’s response to her parents is a direct rebuttal to their claims that the “rails they laid down” were an attempt to ensure her future happiness. What they actually meant was “financial security” — and Hayama’s speech reminds them that there is much more to life than just money. In fact, the joy one can attain from the people around them and close to them is often much more important than how much money you have in your bank account, or how many CEO’s sons are hammering on your door with insincere proposals of marriage that are more business deals than anything else.
With all the potential obstacles out of their way, Hayama and Terano are free to marry. And, as you might expect, their ceremony is a beautiful, heartfelt one where feelings overflow, tears fall and we are left in absolutely no doubt as to the future happiness of this adorable couple. And that happiness gets off to an excellent start in the final main chapter of the manga, which also happens to be the most sexually explicit chapter we’ve seen in the entire series. I’ll leave the details of that for you to discover for yourself, though; suffice to say that it is both spicy and sweet in roughly equal measure.
Perhaps the most heartwarming part of this final volume, though, is author Pikachi Ohi’s afterword, in which she explains how, apparently as a result of writing Our Teachers Are Dating!, she got herself a girlfriend and they are now living together. She doesn’t give specifics, of course, but one can make a fairly safe assumption that writing Our Teachers Are Dating! was something of a cathartic experience for Ohi, and may well have helped her feel more confident in expressing herself to someone very important.
Art is great like that; writing something as obviously heartfelt as Our Teachers Are Dating! clearly made Ohi recognise some things for herself and want to explore them further — and doubtless readers of Our Teachers Are Dating! are likely to feel similar things, also. In fact, as soon as I hit Publish here, I think I’m going to go and hug my wife and remind her how much I appreciate her.
Our Teachers are Dating! volume 2 is available in paperback from Amazon. Digital versions and alternative retailers can be found on Seven Seas’ website.
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