Drama Reviews: Gokusen 1 (NTV, 2002); Gokusen 2 (NTV, 2005); Hana Kimi (Fuji TV, 2007)

High School Farcical
Part One

by Ender’s Girl

With a precious few exceptions (like Nobuta wo Produce), high school-based J-dramas seem to be nothing but an endless wasteland of sheer inanity, where people are one-dimensional buffoons and situational plausibility gets pimped out for cheap laughs. In this world, school IS a joke. Literally.

I give you Exhibit A:

Groundhog Day with the Gokusens

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The Cast:
Nakama Yukie, Utsui Ken, Namase Katsuhisa, and a truckload of Johnnies, Johnny-types, Johnny wannabes, and Johnny rejects… plus the seasonal posse of Angry Young Rebels aka Yankumi’s Core Group

In a Nutshell:
Young math teacher Yankumi + her homeroom class of toughies and teenage dirtbags = Too much violence, waaaaaay too much playing hooky, but not enough algebra. (Stand and Deliver this ain’t.)

(SpoilLert: Ehhhh… the whole damn nutshell IS the plot.)

[Recommended companion track: “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus]

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I finally gave Gokusen a try because of all the hype surrounding the series/franchise/commercial juggernaut. And I suppose anyone would’ve found the story *marginally* enjoyable… if they were FIVE years old, that is. Sitting through the Gokusens I kept feeling like frikkin’ Bill Murray in Groundhog Day: You’re forced to relive the same episode over and over and over again, watching various permutations of the same rehashed situations: The baaad, baaaad boys of Class 3-D are mean to Yankumi! Yankumi gets tough on them! The boys get into various scrapes/fisticuffs with the Criminal Elements of Society! Yankumi saves her “precious students” — because Yankumi is really… a Yakuza scion trained in the age-old art of a$$-kicking! So the boys inevitably end up learning Valuable Life Lessons! Like… Obey your elders! Choose your battles wisely! Learn to appreciate your teachers! Finish high school, and reach!your!potential! Follow your heart! (Hahaha)

Really, they could’ve done ALL OF THIS with just one SP and achieved the same result — instead of 3 seasons, 2 SPs and a feature film.

But for purposes of comparison: Gokusen 1 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Gokusen 2.

Gokusen 1 is definitely less frenetic and less cartoonish than G2, and loads more enjoyable. (And the 3-D classroom of G1 looks so… normal, unlike that pigsty from G2. *shudders*) I actually found myself emotionally involved at some level — the Kumai boy’s (Waki Tomohiro) story in particular. And Nakama Yukie has great chemistry with Matsumoto Jun as Sawada Shin, G1’s Alpha Male of the Angry Young Rebels. Nothing sexual or anything (she’s his frikkin’ teacher, duh), but their scenes make the viewer wish for some post-graduation romance, haha. NOW I understand why there are like, 1 million YankumixShin shippers out there (…and why the Kame haters increased by 1 million when the movie came out this year, lol).

And it’s interesting to see MatsuJun and Oguri Shun in their career-making roles (this was way back in 2002, after all)… even more interesting to see how they looked before the advent of eyebrow threading and orthodontia, lol.

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<Now this is the part where my three regular readers get whittled down to two. (Run away!!! Run away!!!)>

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Yes, I watched Gokusen 2 for Kamenashi Kazuya, yes Kame that sick little skank from KAT-TUN, because I’m a Kame Kompletist, and that’s what you DO when you’re a Kompletist, you watch all his dramas no matter how Krappy, and don’t even get me started on the Krappiest of them all, Gokusen is decent compared to the other things I’ve seen Kame in, oh my eyes, my eyes… /end of run-on sentence. Well, the only thing I liked about Gokusen 2 was… Kame. (Surprise, surprise.)

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But was it just me, or did he actually have some chemistry with Nakama Yukie, as well? Heh heh heh… Not in a YankumixShin way, of course, but… Kame’s character (Odagiri Ryu, this season’s Alpha Male of the Angry Young Rebels) is the only one in his class who doesn’t treat Yankumi like she’s their teacher/buddy/bodyguard/knight in shining armor. I actually like how the Yankumi-Ryu dynamic is developed in this drama.

Oh, and I liked the music of the second season, particularly that horribly infectious “No More Cry” by D-51 as the theme song, and “Kizuna” (hehehe) by Kame as the insert track.

Awwww, looky, someone’s feeling left out ‘coz E.G. didn’t mention him, not even once…

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I think the best thing about the Gokusens would be Yankumi’s interaction with her granddad (Utsui Ken) and their Yakuza homies (Anan Kenji, Uchiyama Shinji, Kaneko Ken — hilarious, all). Entertaining stuff, if hardly realistic. The producers/writers obviously wanted to make the Yakuza angle as benign as possible, considering the school kids and tweeners who (presumably) made up the lion’s share of the TV audience. Yankumi’s gramps is portrayed as this kindly old man who couldn’t hurt a fly, but all the time I was thinking, “He’s a frickin’ MOB BOSS… how many people has he had killed, anyway?” But then pretty much everything else in the Gokusens is trivialized, so it’s easy to see why the writers glossed over this, er, little detail (Yakuza! = Organized! Crime! Syndicate!). Durrrr…

And as for Gokusen 3… hahahahahahha I’m not THAT shtooopidddd…

(But I’ll be watching Gokusen the Movie once the DVD is released, so I guess I AM. Doh!)

Grade
Artistic & technical merit: B- (G1) C- (G2)
Entertainment value: B- (G1) C+ (G2)
Overall: B- (G1) C (G2)

Exhibit B:

Hanazakari no Kimitachi e / For You in Full Bloom

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The Cast:
Horikita Maki, Oguri Shun, Ikuta Toma, Mizushima Hiro, a dog, and more truckloads of Johnnies, Johnny-types, Johnny wannabes, and Johnny rejects

In a Nutshell:
Girl travels halfway across the globe to help Serious Sporty Guy “find himself,” but first needs to pose as a guy to get into Serious Sporty Guy’s all-boys school. This other dude, Funny Dorky Guy, completes the requisite love triangle.

(SpoilLert: None!!! Because I am Kind and Generous…)

But first, let’s sing…

The Hana Kimi Tiny Toon Adventures!

We’re tiny, we’re toony,
We’re all a little looney,
And in this cartoony,
We’re invading your TV!

We’re comic dispensers,
We crack up all the censors,
On tiny toon adventures
Get a dose of comedy!

I really don’t have to continue writing about Hana Kimi because that song from the Warner Bros. animated series sums it up beauuuutifully. But I will anyway, hahaha.

So why did I slog through this high school farce-o-rama? Because Oguri Shun is Love.

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Repeat after me: Oguri Shun is L-O-V-E. Love. Okay, so maybe he isn’t classically handsome — but then this is Japan, so who is, right? Lol. (The only classically handsome J-actors I know would be Karasawa Toshiaki, Fujiki Naohito, Tsumabuki Satoshi, and (a pre-anorexic) Tamaki Hiroshi… Yep, that’s about it… Oh no, not you, KimuTaku, I never found you classically handsome, sorry… Nope, not even in Good Luck!… Back of the line, buddy! Lol) Back to non-classically handsome Shun: But there’s something about good acting that makes a character (and the actor playing him) so… compelling to watch. Towering over everyone else, Shun may look a bit too… mature to be playing a high school student on Hana Kimi (*ka-ching!* understatement of the year! hahahahaha), but but BUT I never would’ve found this drama tolerable without him in it. Yep, without him as Sano Izumi aka The Serious Sporty Guy, I would’ve chucked my DVD out the window right after Episode One.

Amid the crazy, meandering stupidity of Hana Kimi, Shun brings a certain… gravitas, and a core of believability to the story. I’ve seen him in pretty good productions (Hana Yori Dango, Stand Up!) as well as pretty awful ones (the abortion that was Yuuki, and now, Hana Kimi), but I was blown away by his performance in each one. He really seems to understand, as in really understand what each character is about — no matter how well, or how poorly written that role is — and he has that gift (yeah, the one soooo few actors have, lol) of inhabiting a character and making it his own, despite crappy writing/direction or mediocre co-stars. Shun can make whatever character he’s playing feel like a real person, whether the material is hardcore comedy, or more serious fare.

It also helps that his character on Hana Kimi is (writing-wise) the meatiest of the lot: the whole character arc of Sano Izumi is developed (i.e. his internal conflict, his motivation, his worries and insecurities, his family baggage) and so you really get to witness his personal journey throughout the drama. But then this is Shun, so even with the character of Sano being the best-written on the entire drama, a lesser actor may have messed it all up just the same, lol. And yeah, I’d totally believe his character was this record-breaking track star — with that super athletic body of his? *wolf-whistles, lol* Baby baby baby. You can (high)jump me anytime, lolz. (PLUS, sporting that jet-black hair, and walking around in those to-die-for Nike track suits, Shun certainly looks his cutest among all the dramas I’ve seen him in. Oooh-la-la!!!)

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Then there’s Ikuta Toma aka “The Johnny That, er, Johnny Forgot” (lol), as Nakatsu Shuichi, the Funny Dorky Guy who develops feelings for Horikita Maki’s character — which naturally convinces him that he’s gay, which naturally generates more laughs for the story. I thought that Toma’s “dark” (lol) turn on Hana Yori Dango 2 was rather laughable, but he really surprised me on Hana Kimi. Providing the comedic foil to Shun’s straight-arrow character, Toma is freaking hilarious as Nakatsu Shuichi — typically J-com, but never annoyingly over the top. And I like that as an actor, Toma doesn’t balk at making fun of himself, and is refreshingly unselfconscious despite all the outrageous situations his character finds himself in. Nakatsu doesn’t realize right away that Horikita Maki is a SHE, and it is this (erroneously based) Gay Awakening of his that provides the drama’s funniest moments. (Nakatsu’s 5,866 nosebleed scenes were highly amusing, and I was LMAO during the scene when he goes all moony over Ashiya Mizuki (Horikita Maki) at the okonomiyaki parlor, and the camera zooms in on his expression, with water dribbling from his mouth and love cataracts glowing in his eyes.) At least I had fun watching Toma, even if the rest of the comic acting from the cast felt so fake.

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But oh dear, Horikita Maki: the weakest link of the three. I was HOPING to see a Girl acting like a Boy (same kind of role that Amanda Bynes NAILED!!! in the 2006 film She’s the Man — aka Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” for the MTV Generation, heh), but it was sooooo frustrating to watch Maki Not. Even. Trying. Or. Acting. Like. She. Was. Trying. What we have instead is a Girl who still acts like a Girl but has everyone thinking she’s a Boy because: 1) the boys at Osaka High are THAT dumb, and 2) the writing decreed that nobody would ever find her out until the last episode. Durrr. Maki doesn’t even lower her voice, or walk like a dude, or adopt other mannish mannerisms — things Amanda Bynes did in She’s the Man, with delightfully hilarious results. She’s the Man was so entertaining (despite being — yessss, another high school rom-com) because Bynes attacked her role with an almost gleeful gusto, and wasn’t afraid her Disney/Nickelodeon-weaned image would take a beating by appearing in a gender-bending role, or by deglamorizing herself to the point of being unrecognizable. The whole film is really about the comedy of errors that ensues as Viola (Amanda Bynes) tries her darnedest to fit into the all-boys school, despite getting into a lot of hairy near-scrapes, compounded even more by the maddening proximity to her super-stud of a roommate, Duke Orsino (Channing Tatum).

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On the surface it may not seem fair to pit Hana Kimi against She’s the Man. “Comparisons are odious,” as the saying goes. But they ARE inevitable. And cultural differences aside, the only valid point for comparison between Maki’s turn on Hana Kimi and other gender-bender roles would lie in the believability of the performance: did the actress play a girl playing a guy to a convincing degree? Horikita Maki = not in my book. What made me want to tear my hair out was watching this insipid, half-a$$ed effort from her that would’ve been pleasantly watchable — if her character hadn’t pretended to be a guy from the start. She’s SUCH a girl here, and what astounds me even more is how the writing loves to make her character dress up in ladies’ formalwear (e.g. the pageant, then later the dance contest), then later makes a big deal of her being outed as a girl, when everything about the drama (the writing, Maki’s unconvincing acting) somehow conveniently forgets how bloody important it is for Ashiya to act as boyishly as possible, and not give even the barest hint that she’s actually a girl!!! Argh!!! *self-destructs*

Granted, Japan is crawling with bishounen types, so mannishness (even in men) may not be as idealized as in other cultures. But Maki didn’t even play androgynous convincingly, IMO. She obviously got poor direction from The Director, who (with The Writer) ought to take the brunt of the blame for the whole phony treatment of Hana Kimi. The effectivity of a performance (or lack thereof) is really the net effect of the writing, the direction, and the actor’s own interpretation of the role. Which is why it’s SO important for actors (especially those serious about TEH CRAFT!) to view their portrayal as a collaborative process. And this can only be achieved if the actor and director truly understand how the character was written and share in the same creative vision. But if all the lead star ever does is mouth her lines and hop when the director says “hop,” and never really goes deep into her character, then that’s another story altogether, heh.

What’s best about Hana Kimi: Oguri Shun, Ikuta Toma, the Nike track suits, and the dog.

And the worst? Everything and everyone else. Especially YOU, Maki, you… GIRL.

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Grade
Artistic & technical merit: C+
Entertainment value: B-
Overall: B-

***
Photo credits: crunchyroll.com, dramawiki.com, hallyudorama.com, kitine.wordpress.com, soompi.com, ampf.vox.com

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27 Comments on “Drama Reviews: Gokusen 1 (NTV, 2002); Gokusen 2 (NTV, 2005); Hana Kimi (Fuji TV, 2007)”

  1. outcast Says:

    wait this is japan right. where there are pretty boys so pretty you’d think they be girls.

    Go watch ouran high school host club. It has somewhat same premise.

  2. doozy Says:

    E.G., this review is not only insightful but also hilarious! Thanks for making me laugh, especially the tiny toons adventures bit. I thought you were going to throw in some of your own poetry as well but I guess that’s reserved for a certain somebody on a certain special occasion.

    Btw, will you be reviewing Nobuta wo Produce? Just wondering coz I really liked that show.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Gosh, I wasn’t even sure if the mean age of this blog’s readership would actually be old enough to remember Tiny Toons (Buster! Babs! Plucky Duck! lol). T___T (But really, how can you watch Hana Kimi and NOT think of that song? *nasty grin*)

      No more poetry for now (although I see that somebody else is on a roll… ganbatte, Peggy!!!! :-)). My little rhyme-cranking elves are all zonked at the moment in that dingy sweatshop–er, workshop of theirs (which I plastered with Kimura pin-ups, for extra inspiration). Now all they seem to whinge about is the Fair Labor Act or sumthin’. Bah.

      Re NwP: Oh my goodness. Are you kidding me. My heart feels like exploding whenever I start thinking about that drama… how can I even review it??? How??? How???? Why else have I been spending my days mucking about with Gokusen and Zettai Kareshi and stoooopid Asunaro Hakusho??? NwP is probably my mostest belovedest drama outside my Top 5 Kimuradorama, and I hope that someday I’ll have gained enough perspective to churn out a decent review. Someday.🙂

  3. goblin Says:

    Uh oh, I’m diametrically opposed to you again…
    I hated Sano and loved Mizuki! I though Sano was a righteous, boring prick who was nothing but mean to Mizuki, who was always so damned NICE to him. He didn’t deserve her, grrrr. Give her to Nakatsu! (Or to me please?) (I may be revealing my breathless fascination with girls dressed as boys here… yeah, she was the character I was mooning over in this drama.)
    Okay, so she was girlier than she should have been, but seriously – I’ve seen Japanese boys who look that girly. So really it’s only the voice that’s suspiciously feminine. And she’s just so damn cute…

    I think I need to see “She’s the Man” now.

    And yes, I thought “Gokusen” was repetitive too, though enjoyable (who needs subs when there’s so much fighting and over-the-top acting?)

    Like you, I adored “Nobuta wo Produce”. But I never was interested much in anything else Kame did, or Pi for that matter – I think it was the characters that I loved. Siiiigh.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Lol, you should read Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic sci-fi novel, “The Left Hand of Darkness,” about this planet where people switch sexes every mating season. That weird little book is the mother ship of gender-bender stories.😉

      I think my love for the characters on NwP kind of spilled over into the actors (esp. the boyz hihihi). (And that’s also partly why I’m so tough on Maki, because after NwP I expected so much from her.) Well, even if you don’t watch anything else that Kame and YamaPi have done, Shuuji and Akira were their best work, anyway. Like, ever. (Except for that hideous “Seishun Amigo” music video. Totally LMAO.)

  4. ditdut Says:

    LOLs I was SO frustrated watching Gokusen. But I gotta admit that the beginning of the episodes is the fun part, where Yankumi would have breakfast her gramp and the two yakuza buffon.

  5. maAkusutipen Says:

    Did you know that they will still have Gokusen but Nakama Yukie wont reprise her role as Yankumi?

    Really television execs really just want to milk people of money. It sells and it is not broken so don’t fix it..

    UGhhhh…

    Well it will be the starting ground for all the theater, kamen rider budding bishounen afterall.😄

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      A Gokusen without Yankumi, huh… Wow, stroke of freakin’ genius. Now why didn’t those rocket scientists at NTV think of that in the first place? But seriously, good for Nakama Yukie, heh. She could probably see the turkey (=Gokusen 4) flapping its wings a mile away, and very wisely decided to bail–lest her star be tarnished forever. *applauds*

      • maAkusutipen Says:

        Yankumi will still be there but a new actress will play her… Argghhh her name always escapes me… Someone with Goto for the family name… ehehe.

        Well Japanese likes old formula’s being beaten to a pulp. Just look at all the pokemon games sold. XD…

        Anywho I stopped at 2 actually (up to the 3rd ip). With the first season I also had a lot of fast forwards,,, hehehe

  6. jicks3 Says:

    ^I seriously think they need to lay the Gokusen series to rest!! I haven’t heard about the 4th series but bravo (or God bless??) to the actress who is stepping in Nakama Yukie’s shoes ><"

    I think the episode stories were more interesting in the first Gokusen but I loved seeing Kame & Jin together. Plus, Hayami, Koide Keisuke & Teppei completed the perfect gang of 5 (if I were Mizuki of Hana Kimi fame, I totally would've disguised myself to go into this school instead ^^;;) OMG kizuna! Cried everytime it played Y___Y

    Toma was amazing in Hana Kimi. His monologues were pure gold xDD As much as I love Oguri Shun, I kinda side w/ goblin here, Sano's character didn't really do anything to deserve Mizuki… except he did always made sure he looked exceptionally hawt ^^;;

    BTW, Fujiki Naohito irritates the freaking bjesus outta me.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Jin was totally OTT in channeling the “oooh lookit me, I’m a baaaad boy y’all!” vibe, but yeah, he and Kame did look good together. (But I’m NOT one of those Akame shippers, BTW! *cough* ShuujixAkira 4vr! *cough*) Hahahaha I like Kizuna, too! (I think Kame’s best Kizuna solo perf was at the 2007 Cartoon KAT-TUN to You (WTF? lolz) con, the one with the changing light displays and the Joonyahs dancing in the cages–er, boxy thingies.)

      EDIT: ^ ERRATUM! I was thinking of a totally different Kame song, “Someday for Somebody” when I referred to the concert performance. Had a brain fart when I typed the above comment.

      Heh, Shun lookin’ “exceptionally hawt” was more’n enuff fer me… *hentai leer*

      “BTW, Fujiki Naohito irritates the freaking bjesus outta me.” => LMAO!!!!! Hey, he wasn’t so bad in Hotaru no Hikari! Quite adorable, really… XDDD But I pretty much hated/was unmoved by him in everything else (ProDai, LoveRev, Slow Daze)…

      • jicks3 Says:

        I think if the Jin of today were to play the same role in Gokusen II, the bad boy attitude would be much less wannabe & more much naturale. lol You are a ShujixAkira shipper! I like Nobuta though I can’t say makes my top10. I think Kame cops too much flak for his apparent bad acting ability, I mean, from the series I have seen he has actually been the better actor on all occasions.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          “much more naturale” – LOL. No wonder Jin-Jin looked so stoned in the ’07 and ’08 KT cons, heh. But at least he looks and acts like a GUY, unlike Kame. Kame… is a queer little thing. Nebulous sexuality and all. But the fact that I like him, that’s even weirder, lol. Y____Y

          Oh, I’m not a ShuujixAkira shipper in an Elton John and David Furnish kind of way, lol. The boys just look so cute together and I’d much rather see them nurture their odd, lovely (and hopefully, platonic) friendship in that seaside village than live apart.😉

          I agree re Kame. I was thoroughly satisfied with his acting on NwP, THnK and–yes, even 1PG, despite the slapstick treatment. I can see Kame as a much more convincing and versatile romantic lead than YamaPi can ever hope to be. (I LOVED THnK to bits despite the cliches.) Kame has had his fair share of clunkers (and WHAT clunkers!!! lolz), but overall, not a bad actor. =)

          • jicks3 Says:

            lol typo from my end (I do not have Dyslexia btw)

            I feel the same way w/ these OTPships. Not that I would be upset if some were indeed more than platonic, but I just like seeing male friendship. Even in drama series, they seem much more solidifying than female friendships. I suppose w/ girls I am always just waiting for one of them to stab the other in the back lol

            I finally have grabbed a copy of “Sapuri” so I will be on it soon. Kame & Eita in the same series, hell yesssssss.

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            Hey, I wasn’t lol-ing at your typo (typo, schmypo, who cares?). I just found it funny how Akanishi “Mizbehavin'” Jin has finally come into his own, hence you said he’s now “much more natural” than his former wannabe attitude. (Mebbe all that pot he smoked during his California sojourn did him some “good”…)

            Shuuji and Akira are soulmates through and through. But if Nobuta had to end up with either boy, I’d totally give her to Akira… and Shuuji would be the best man.🙂 Arrrgh now all I want to do is go on my nth re-watch of NwP

            “Even in drama series, they seem much more solidifying than female friendships.” => Yes! Agreed. Now that you’ve mentioned it, I just finished my nth re-watch of Pride and one of my favorite things about that drama is Halu’s friendship with Yamato and Tomo (oh, go away, Makoto *roll eyes*). I super loved following the bromance within the team much more than Aki and her girlfriends. Maybe it’s because well-written, platonic male relationships are so rare in dorama and film these days?

            Well, looky looky, I just got mesself a copy of Sapuri, too!😉 Was going to watch it after Ninkyo Helper, but I kinda miss seeing Kame in a romantic drama, so… hell yesssss!!!!! (You’re just going to have to wait, Tsuyopon sweetie.) Lolz (Yay, Eita!)

          • jicks Says:

            I totally marathoned Sapuri in one day! Have you finished yet? I love Eita but I def think Kame was the better man IMO here. I’ve also decided Ito Misaki is too physically perfect she was actually freaking me out alot in the series.

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            Am getting around to it! Popping the DVD into the player as I speak! I’m on it, I’m on it!!! Heeeeere’s Kame!!!! Lol

  7. v Says:

    haha…i’m a kame kompletist too! or whatever you call it.. i do watch his dramas although some are crappy crappy.. um.. *cough* that whatever wine drama *cough* and call me stupid.. i actually tried gokusen 3.. hihi.. didnt finish even with all the eyecandy. (actually, only one for me).. and for g2, i actually loved akanishi jin.. no cuz of his character. just cuz it was jin.. haha. and for hanakimi.. it was kinda of a disappointing mess. entertaining nevertheless. and annoying.. a lot. but still entertaining sometimes.. i liked horikita maki in AnD better. anyways, mostly, i agree with you. and thanks always for the review.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      “*cough* that whatever wine drama *cough*” LOL😀 hahaha, kami no shizuku put me into a coma before episode 2.

      aha! a kat-tun fan in the house! *waggles brows*

      • v Says:

        lol. yeah. thanks for reminding me of the name.. and, yeah, you’ve got a JE fan here… and not proud of it. but still a hardcore fan enough to know 90% of what’s going on with them. lol.

  8. Wesley Says:

    I agree with your review. The Gokusen series, in my opinion, is the most overrated jdrama ever. I glad to finally see a Gokusen review that is critical of the series. This drama taught me the valuable lesson that good ratings does not always reflect a drama’s quality.

    I actually bought all three seasons based on the immense internet hype about the series. Watching Gokusen 1 left me disappointed and wondering what all the hype was about. I didn’t even bother watching 2 and 3. The entire series was nothing more than a bunch of angsty teenagers whining about how adults can’t be trusted and how unfair life is. Oh, cry me a river… rolls eyes.

    I’m guessing the majority of netizens raving on about this show would be pre-teens and those that enjoy watching silly meaningless shows.

    I prefer emotionally engaging shows which are intellectually stimulating in the sense that they force the views to critically think about and analyse the themes, characters, and the significance of the drama. In this regard Gokusen fails.

    Even viewed as a light comedy, Gokusen fails because it’s not even entertaining. I found it incredibly boring and repetitive. I was never engaged by the characters and the story.

    I agree with you about High School themed jdramas. There are only a few diamonds in the rough. The HS jdramas that I have enjoyed are:

    LIFE: dark, engaging, and thought provoking
    Nobuta Wo Produce: meaningful and engaging
    My Boss My Hero: silly but surprisingly touching and thoroughly enjoyable. Nagase Tomoya is hilarious in this role.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Lol, thanks for the comment, although I can hardly call my Gokusen post a “review” since I barely touched on the stuff I normally tackle when doing my usual 874,938,584-word reviews.😀

      “The entire series was nothing more than a bunch of angsty teenagers whining about how adults can’t be trusted and how unfair life is. Oh, cry me a river… rolls eyes.” >> Bwahahahahaha so true! ^^,, And I don’t blame you for not finishing the other 2 seasons (and the SPs!!! don’t forge the SPs!!! and the movie!!! lulz), Season 1 was the best anyway. I watched the movie for Kame (and in so doing, fortuitously discovered Miura Haruma so I guess this means I’ll be watching Season 3 as well, lol) and it’s really just 2 drama episodes stitched together. Needless to say you won’t be missing anything by passing it up. @_@

      Re LIFE – Haven’t seen this but reading the premise got me more than intrigued. Thanks for the rec, will put this on my queue.😉
      MBMH – Nagase def. does sexyhot+insanelyfunny best, but I dropped this drama midway because Tegoshi Yuya was getting on my nerves, grrr.

      Have you seen Stand UP! (TBS, 2003)? Don’t be fooled by the JE cast or the “high school sex comedy” premise; it’s surprisingly deep and meaty and funny-without-tipping-over-into-Slapstickland. I’d rec this drama a thousand times over.🙂

      • Wesley Says:

        I haven’t seen ‘Stand UP!’. Thanks for the recommendation; I’m always looking for something new and good to watch.

        As for MBMH, the first few episodes didn’t really engage me. However, I started to enjoy the drama more as it progressed.

        Tegoshi Yuga was initially a little annoying but I enjoyed watching the developing bond of friendship between the two of them and their friendship with the two girls.

  9. leilana Says:

    Awwww, “Gokusen”. Such a wonderful dorama and so NOT the type you’re watching only because it’s full of walking eyecandies you’d wanna fuck really really hard… Erm. Scrap that.😆

    Speaking about the third season, I must say it was really funny how they tried to convince the audience at the beginning that it won’t be the same story all over again. There are laik TWO leaders, but, unlike Akame, they HATE each other and have NEVER been friends! The class is laik SO torn apart! Ren (a.k.a. The Almighty King of Cutie Pies Miura Haruma a.k.a. I Have Such a Cool Seifuku and an Even More Cooler Haircut and My Boots Are Better Than Their Stupid Shoes a.k.a.The Only Reason to Watch the Third Season) gets accused of stealing, but NO ONE believes him! That’s only until Yankumi steps in and starts her never-ending preaches… and after two episodes everyone is friends with everyone. Ta-daaaaam!

    It even has the well-known conflict between le Father and le Son, this time with Takaki Yuya stepping into Kame and MatsuJun’s shoes (laik ZOMG). However, there’s also NEW HOT STUFF, as later in the series, Ren is admitted into hospital for being knocked unconscious after a fight (finally! finally! some common sense!) That touch of reality is torn into pieces however in the next episode, when Yankumi passes through a ceiling (!!!) to save her PRECIOUS! CUTE! students. At that point I was like WTF?

    But I’m gonna watch the movie as well. Miura Haruma’s in it and I’m shallow. *runs and hides in the closet*

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      LOL your Gokusen 3 summary is pretty hilarious!😀 And Yankumi seems to be an even bigger idiot in Season 3 than in the previous installments. And how come Miura’s character is always getting accused of something? In the movie he goes on the lam for being a drug mule or smthn. Tsk tsk X__0

      • leilana Says:

        Haha, thanks.😀 I kinda used you as inspiration, hope you don’t mind. ^_^

        About Haruma… yeah, I knooooooooooow. At the point Ren was involved in that drug transaction, I was like “OMG, Ren-chan, please tell me you’re not that idiot! I mean, someone gives you a huge amount of money for making a delivery AT NIGHT, and you don’t get suspicious AT ALL?! *facepalm* But I forgive you, because you’re CUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTE.” (see what he did to me?!)

        Oh, and I really liked the way Ryu turned from The Highschool Student Without Cheeks Who Always Was Beaten By The Baddies intro The Awesome Teacher Who Now Fights Along With His Former Teacher As Part Of His Training.😄

  10. Tran Says:

    I love your reviews🙂 Very informative and I found myself nodding along, lol😀 I don’t follow Kimura much, just Pride, Long Vacation, and Hero. Am more of an Oguri Shun and Kame fan, lol. Too bad Shun doesn’t act much nowadays (sad). His presence is mainly what started me watching Gokusen, actually. And then, well, G1 got Oguri Shun, G2 got Kame, G3 with Haruma Miura, so… in the end I watched the whole set of it (shamefaced, lol). Btw, the Gokusen manga is something else,😀. After watch the show, it took me such a long time to go read the manga. Luckily, I found it much better than the drama, and the dynamic between Shin and Yankumi is so much more developed, as it is one of the main point of the story. You said about Kame’s character in G2 “But was it just me, or did he actually have some chemistry with Nakama Yukie, as well?’. I think that Odagiri is another character modeled after manga Shin, with his hair, his background and his personality. Many details in his story arc (in G2 and Gokusen movie 2009) are also from manga Shin. So yeah, the chemistry is there, I suppose. As for ‘post-graduation romance’, the manga provides it, too, lol.
    I found the Jdorama high school stories are kind of repetitive, it is hard to find good ones. So far the only ones I really like are NwP and Dragonzakura, lol. In the mean time, I endure the rest of the plots by watching the (cute) boys, and read your reviews ^________^ THANK YOU


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