Ellen-sensei is back and ready to keep her fans company all year long.
Last year, the publishers of the English-learning textbook series New Horizon decided to give the books an update, complete with anime-style illustrations to help add some visual appeal and hold the interest of young minds. The plan worked better than the publishers could have ever imagined, with New Horizon’s cheerful and cute Ellen Baker going straight from the books’ pages into the hearts of otaku across Japan.
But as Ellen-sensei (as the character quickly became known) grew more and more popular, the inevitable occurred. Fan artists began producing their own illustrations of the character, and not all of them were chaste. Even after Ellen-sensei’s original designer and the books’ publishers asked artists to refrain from inappropriately using the character’s likeness, prurient depictions from third parties could still be found, such as a half-nude Ellen-sensei huggy pillow.
So you might assume that the just-announced Ellen-sensei 2018 calendar series also shows the character in sexy outfits and poses. But Eight Station, the company making the products, has taken the high road by not only keeping the Ellen-sensei illustrations official and non-sexualized, but also by staying true to her mission of helping people learn English.
The first of two wall-mount calendars, the ringed LP-size (1,620 yen [US$15]) shown above features a different seasonal illustration for each month along with a selection of English phrases and cultural notes on English-speaking countries.
The B3 calendar (1,728 yen) may not have the extra-large artwork of the LP, but it’s the choice for serious linguists, as Ellen-sensei provides an English vocabulary word of the day for the entire year.
Finally, the compact A5-size (1,296 yen) s designed to sit on your desktop and offers an illustrated vocabulary list of a dozen or so words each month.
While the illustrations for desktop’s vocabulary means they’re listed in English only, the other two calendars are actually bilingual, so as long as you can read their hiragana or kanji, they’re actually just as effective at teaching you Japanese words and phrases as they are English ones.
Eight Station plans to sell the calendars through its online shop (found here) as well as through Amazon Japan. They’re not available just yet, but should be ready in plenty of time for January, making them a good choice if you’d like to have Ellen-sensei cheering you on as you keep your New Year’s resolutions, language-learning-related or otherwise.