The Gokusen formula

I spent the Christmas/New Year holidays watching Japanese dramas, among other things. I completed seasons 1 and 2 of Gokusen, which formed the bulk of what I has watched. Looking back, I had no idea why I chose Gokusen. Maybe I was tired of WWE (haven’t downloaded any WWE PPV since…. heck, I can’t even remember). Maybe it was a random click on a bookmarked page.

Anyway, I do not regret watching Gokusen. Sure, the show was formulaic and corny, but it was a funny corny show. Every episode made me laugh, though there were awkward moments. But I do have some beef with the show.

I know it paid handsomely to stick to the formula, but they could have deviated a bit from it. The formula consists of:
* Yankumi being hired to handle a difficult class. That is a given, and the root of all the plot points. Also, is she handling other classes?
* The students hate her. At first, of course. Would it be wacky if at least one student liked her immediately?
* A student (or group of students) will get into a fight and lose spectacularly. And from time to time, it’s the same set of students who got beaten to a pulp. I wonder if insurance companies would cover the expenses.
* Yankumi runs to the rescue. She was always running. That’s why she was always late: her kawaii students were already pulpy bits when she got to the scene. She should have invested in a motorbike. Poor handsome faces.
* No warm feeling after each rescue. The poor students have to have some shred of dignity left, you know. Besides, she came in late, when they were already vegetables.
* Yankumi gets into trouble at the end of the season. She is always forced to leave the school. Sometimes you have to admire her patience.
* The difficult class manages to graduate. The school closes down soon thereafter.
* She doesn’t get the boy of his fancy. Maybe the fighting’s her outlet for love frustrations.

If you are a nitpicker, there are loads to nitpick at this series, but hey, the series is fun. As a former teacher, the show validates some of my thoughts about teaching. And on watching the show, I was glad I left the academe – if I stayed on, I would have turned into an apathetic teacher.

Acting by Yukie Nakama and Katsuhisa Namase were excellent. Namase was wicked, and Nakama pulled it off playing Yankumi – dreamy and determined at necessary scenes. I don’t dig most of the student characters, like Kazuya Kamenashi. They just frown and shout and lie beaten down. Maybe that’s why out of all those actors playing students, only Tomohiro Waki managed to stay on throughout the series.

I love the music. You should go buy it, seriously.

Gokusen the Movie is available at Yes Asia.

Gokusen the Movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD at CD Japan.

Get the Gokusen 2002 DVD Box at CD Japan.

Get the Gokusen 2005 DVD Box at CD Japan.

Get the Gokusen 2008 DVD Box at CD Japan.

Get the Gokusen 2008 DVD Box at

Get the magnificent Gokusen Original Soundtrack at CD Japan.

Get the magnificent Gokusen Original Soundtrack at