The thing that keeps this all from descending into depressingly relatable misery is that Bernie’s social anxiety is often played for laughs. My favorite sequence so far involved a minor misunderstanding between her and one of my male students, with Bernie’s reaction immediately jumping from “oh my god, he hates me” to “oh my god, now we’re going to be lifelong rivals and our feud won’t end until one of us kills the other.” As their professor, my response was to have Bernie and this guy fight alongside each other in my next battle and boost their stats in a complimentary way. Now they’re good friends, whether they like it or not, and it’s all because of my weird meddling. I’m no teacher; I’m a cruel puppet master who manipulated their lives just like all those damn well-meaning teachers tried to do to me. To make matters worse, I didn’t do it just to help a shy kid; I did it so I could win fantasy wars more easily. Were my teachers this selfish? Did they just want me to be a good fighter in some future war? I grew up in the George W. Bush era, so yeah, probably.