What do you get when a children's textbook update morphs into viral fandom? A public relations disaster, as far as its creator is concerned.
That's the situation in Japan, where a cute teacher featured in the New Horizon line of textbooks named Miss Ellen Baker has taken the public by storm after the textbook got a manga-style overhaul. The friendly fictional English-language teacher has spawned fan art, cosplay, memes, and more.
Meet Miss Ellen…
…and her many fans:
Kongou engrish cannot be changed anymore. Not even by English sensei Ellen Baker, www pic.twitter.com/OKoGRGMvmm— Anime Piano Sheets (@Animenzzz) April 7, 2016
Ellen Baker has come here to chew bubble gum and teach English...— スティーブＰ (@SteveMWhitfield) April 7, 2016
...and she's all out of bubble gum. pic.twitter.com/hQr8St3IWQ
This new Ellen baker fad is amazing. pic.twitter.com/NRgkQVXspl— Deadthing (@Deadthingyz) April 6, 2016
OMG I kind wish I taught English in Japan right now... Ellen Baker is becoming a legend!— Gaijin Goombah (@GaijinGoombah) April 8, 2016
How did Ellen Baker take over the internet?
New Horizon is a classic English-language textbook in Japan. It's been around since the late '60s and has become a staple of Japanese classrooms. It's known for its friendly cast of characters who may change over time but all help guide Japanese kids through the ins and outs of learning a new language.
Here's how the New Horizon characters used to look:
But the publisher's most recent update gave the art a total overhaul, introducing a manga-style aesthetic and a cast of new characters:
The inner pages look even more like a happy anime opening:
Miss Ellen Baker introduces herself in the pages of New Horizon as a Boston-born Red Sox fan who's moved to Japan and is eager to teach her students English. Apparently it was love at first sight for many anime and manga fans across the globe:
My new wife is Ellen Baker from this English learning textbook pic.twitter.com/v70B1CZp25— Wine of Zamorak (@BeachEpisode) April 6, 2016
But not everyone was happy — specifically Ellen's creator, Japanese artist Denchubo. In an interview earlier this week with BuzzFeed Japan, he confessed he was a bit worried about Miss Ellen's more, er, avid fans. You know, this kind:
Ellen Baker:— Sully (@Hukero) April 8, 2016
Part-time BEST swimming teacher pic.twitter.com/3K1IzkET9x
According to RocketNews24, Denchubo worried that if her fandom began emphasizing explicit artwork and fantasy too heavily, it might make parents and teachers think twice about buying the book (though there seem to be no signs of that yet).
Still, Denchubo was clearly enjoying the phenomenon. On his artist website Friday, he contributed to the Miss Ellen craze with a little art of his own: