Whether reveling in a comedy show or enjoying an action series, we have all probably had that “aha” moment when watching anime. Even in anime, we can find teachers and lessons in unexpected places. Learning is not always confined to the classroom, and some of the best teachers or sensei-like figures are in anime outside of the school life genre. The following is a list of the top ten sensei/teachers we can find in anime. Though not all of them are schoolteachers per-say, we can still learn form them nonetheless.
10. Nino from Arakawa Under the Bridge
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2010 - Jun 2010
Nino, a self-proclaimed Venusian, appears to not be a part of the education system much less a teacher despite her school uniform-like sweatshirt. Yet, there is much more to meet the eye in terms of who is a teacher and who is not. This is particularly true for Nino as she educates her boyfriend Kou Ichinomiya, also known as Recruit, of the ways under the bridge.
While Recruit acts as teacher for the village’s children on the banks of the Arakawa River, Nino is the one who really teaches him how to slow down life and appreciate the weirder things in life. As a self-proclaimed Venusian, she has an almost out of this world perspective on everyday life that can give us a refreshing take even on the mundane elements of everyday life. Though a bit on the odd side, her offbeat outlook and lack of formal sensei-like predilections makes her appealing and mind changing to the audience.
9. Daigorō from 30-Sai no Hoken Taiiku (Health and Physical Education for 30-year-olds)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2011 - Jun 2011
The “birds and the bees” talk is generally acknowledged to be among the most awkward of lessons to be taught. Moreover, when this talk occurs, we more often than not receive information impractical for the real down and dirty. Unfortunately, we did not have Daigorō, the God of Sexual Love, to guide us in they ways of love.
Yet, we can watch Daigorō guide Hayao Imagawa, a 30-year-old virgin, in the anime 30-Sai no Hoken Taiiku. His utter practicality in romance and sensuality and wingman-ship makes Daigorō an ideal teacher for life outside of school.
8. Izumi Sakurai from Nichijou
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2011 - September 2011
Moving to an academic setting, we have Izumi Sakurai-sensei. Though still young, rather easily flustered, and not the most confident sensei, Sakurai-sensei truly means well for her students, even if it means encouraging them to draw ikemen.
She perhaps is an ideal sensei due to her "ganbare" (try hard) nature that is both amusing and encouraging for her students. Along with her idealism of the perfect sense, Sakurai-sensei is definitely a sensei to watch out for, even if it is just for the laughs.
7. Obaba Tamura from Ping Pong: The Animation
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: April 2014 - June 2014
The realm of sports also has its fare share of great sensei-like figures, perhaps one of the best being Obaba from Ping Pong: The Animation. Looking like your typical grandmother, Obaba knows her way around a ping-pong paddle. Owner of the local ping-pong dojo and a former competitive ping-pong player, she also acts as a mentor for the budding Peco as he enters the competitive and professional scene.
As a teacher, she is both tough and wise, offering support during Peco’s times of need and severity when Peco’s preparing for success. This balance and adaptiveness to her student elevates her status to the ideal sensei.
6. Ittetsu Takeda from Haikyuu
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2014 - September 2014
High School volleyball club. Though he lacks experience and knowledge of volleyball, he actively endeavors to learn more about the sport, taking notes whenever he can.
Additionally, he is extremely supportive of all the volleyball club students and truly has the best intentions in mind. Even if he is not the best advisor when it comes to the nits and what more can we ask of a sensei who actually cares about his students?
5. Junichirou Kagami from Denpa Kyoushi
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2015 - Ongoing
Returning once more to the classroom setting, we have Junichirou Kagami from Denpa Kyoushi. A certified genius in his own right, he is also an anime and manga otaku and formally a NEET (not in Education, Employment, and Training). At the insistence of his sister, Kagami becomes a sensei and begins changing lives.
Even though he is a genius, that does not mean he is distant and uncaring toward his students. Rather, his otaku, genius past allows him to help and evaluate his students in ways most teachers never could. In this way, we can see the power of otaku and how it creates an ideal teacher.
4. Nozomu Itoshiki from Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2007 - September 2007
On a slightly downbeat note, we have Nozomu Itoshiki, the pessimistic and quasi-suicidal sensei in Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei. Seeing everything in a negative light, Nozomu-sensei at first glance does not appear to be the ideal sensei. From failed suicidal attempt to failed suicidal attempt, this teacher acts more like a bad influence on impressionable teenagers than a glowing paragon of education.
However, oddly enough, Nozomu-sensei’s despairing antics bring to light the contradictions and struggles that riddle everyday life. Through his eyes of pessimism, he teaches his students to look at the world with a more critical eye, though such criticism breeds despair.
3. Jiraiya from Naruto
- Episodes: 220
- Aired: October 2002 - February 2007
We now turn to among the most famous mentors of contemporary anime history: Jiraiya. For those well entrenched in the world of Naruto, it perhaps goes without saying why he made it to this list.
For those not as familiar with Jiraiya, here is a small lowdown on his ideal sensei qualities. Despite his perverseness, his ability to mentor Naruto, not the easiest student to educate, and guide him to maturity alone elevates him to the level of ideal. This, combined with his comedic persona and bravery, we have a great mentor.
2. Kumatetsu from Bakemono no Ko
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: June 2015
Listing a character from an anime film that has not left the shores of Japan is perhaps a bit cheating. Hopefully, listing Kumatetsu amps you up for the greatness that will soon enter the anime scene outside of Japan. Also keeping in mind many have not yet seen this film, I will also try to avoid spoilers.
Kumatetsu does not fit the typical ideal sensei image. Messy and slap-dash, his teaching ability seems to hold little promise. However, Kumatetsu proves that mentors grow along side their students and that teaching goes both ways. His transformation as a mentor and the true feeling he has for his student Kyuuta more than proves his worthiness as an ideal sensei.
1. Eikichi Onizuka from Great Teacher Onizuka
- Episodes: 43
- Aired: June 1999 - September 2000
We return finally to the classroom, this time for a sensei least expected to be found in school. A former bike gang leader, Onizuka takes his street smarts to education using unconventional methods to both help and discipline his students.
While he did not enter education with the best intentions in mind, Onizuka transforms into a teacher who is passionate about the welfare of his students. His growth as a teacher and subsequent zest for teaching is immense. Going from a delinquent to an unexpected role model, Onizuka differentiates himself as a head of the rest though his support and protection of his students.
Hopefully this list has helped guide you to the top ten teachers of anime. If you feel like this list is lacking or have any questions, comments, concerns, or complaints feel free to leave a comment below!