High School Farcical
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
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]
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.
<Now this is the part where my three regular readers get whittled down to two. (Run away!!! Run away!!!)>
(No, come back! Come back!!!) Next up: Gokusen 2 and Hana Kimi! Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!