Title:Sensei’s Pious Lie Vol. 1 Author: Akane Torikai Publisher: Kodansha Comics Language: English Format: Paperback Pages: 382 Genre: Slice-of-Life, Drama Publication Date: April 26, 2022
It’s no secret that Inio Asano is my favorite mangaka; however, a couple of months ago, his wife, Akane Torikai began a new series and I decided to check it out.
Sensei’s Pious Lie centers around a high school teacher named Misuzu Hara. Everyone calls her Misuzu instead of by her last name which gets a bit on her nerves. Misuzu has a friend named Minako who is getting married to a man named Hayafuji… there’s just one little problem… Hayafuji is very unfaithful and will sleep with just about anyone… including Misuzu. The only issue here is that it is never consensual. Hayafuji finds a way to push himself onto the girls that he wants all while maintaining the façade for Minako.
The book also tells the story of Niizuma… a loner at school who everyone believes is a virgin. Then, after passing a note in class, they all suspect he’s gay until he’s seen coming out of a love hotel with an older woman. Suddenly, he becomes everyone’s hero. Turns out that he has a part-time job and the wife of his employer is the female version of Hayafuji. She pressures Niizuma into having sex with her creating a dual tale of rape.
The first omnibus ends with Minako growing more and more frustrated with Hayafuji. She ends up having a sit-down conversation with Misuzu where they tease that she will confess what Hayafuji has been doing.
Misuzu is fairly young but has this belief that all women were put on the planet to get defiled by men. After her encounters with Hayafuji, this mindset grows stronger and stronger. For those women who don’t want to or cannot fight back, this offers a glimpse into the psyche of a woman whenever she experiences something as unpleasant as this. They quickly blame themselves and some even come to accept things even though they know it’s wrong. Misuzu herself isn’t really that outgoing, either. She’s relatively quiet and while she will speak up at times in her class, they usually ignore her. Some of her students won’t even take her seriously because of her timidness.
Niizuma, on the other hand, is a symbol to show that men are not the only ones capable of rape. He even refutes Misuzu during a conversation saying that there are other types of force that are not physical. There is psychological pressure as well and it paints a picture that there are two sides to every coin. Most of the time, society only looks at one side so it was nice to see this manga take a view from the other side as well through this character. Like Misuzu, Niizuma isn’t very outgoing and keeps to himself. While he does end up dating a girl named Mika, he, himself, isn’t sure why. He even admits that he has a fear of a women’s genitals which plays into why he becomes submissive around Aoda, his boss’ wife.
I can see the type of story that Sensei’s Pious Lie is trying to tell. It is also trying to fit a couple of world views into the story in an attempt to raise awareness that anyone and everyone can become a victim. The book does get a bit preachy at times but I believe it’s done so in order to put a spotlight on the issue and what some women’s innermost thoughts truly are.
Rape is definitely a very touchy subject to write about. Usually, when morals become involved in fiction, there are those who will try to look past that fiction in order to grab the pieces they want to pull out to criticize or debate them. Given that this is a slice-of-life genre series and given who this author is married to, sometimes the grittier sides of life tell the best stories.
Is this series telling a so-called “best story?” Time will tell but so far, I do find the setup interesting. I already want Hayafuji to have his day of reckoning and for Misuzu to find happiness but we have 6 volumes (or 3 omnibuses) left to go so I’m sure the road is going to be bumpy until we reach that conclusion… IF we reach that conclusion at all. This is Asano’s wife we’re talking about here.
I’ll stick with it for now because, as I said, the first omnibus was interesting but it’s the kind of series that needs to stay interesting without any lulls to hold one’s attention.