Friday, July 16, 2010
Gokusen was a drama which hooked me in instantly. An idealistic school teacher? Really? More than the story, what made me buy the DVD was Yukie Nakama's beautiful and magnetic face.
I have always been skeptical of teachers, especially school teachers since none of my school teachers were any good (I hope they read this). They lacked the ability to understand and appreciate the individuality and talent of students and instead tried to force them into a pre-conceived mould. Anyhow, I am here to review Gokusen, not to criticize my teachers.
The story is about Yamaguchi Kumiko (played by Nakama Yukie), a woman, who has just received her teaching degree and is itching to make a difference in students' life. Being the daughter of a Yakuza (Japanese maffia, loosely translated) boss's daughter, she is unlikely to find employment anywhere until she hides the fact.
In the beginning of the drama, she is preparing for her job as the homeroom teacher of clas 3-d of Shirokin Gakuen, where she had been given employment because the principal knows her family and is willing to give her a chance.
She is excited on the first day.............until she meets her students. As soon as she wals into teh class, they start throwing stuff at her and refusing to listen to her, walk out of class. Class 3-D, it turns out, is a class of all the delinquents, pranksters and troublemakers. Thier leader is Shin Sawada (played by Matsumoto Jun).
After a terrible day at schoolm, she returns home and tells her grandfather, Tetsu and Minoru (her grandfathers' minions or something) about the students' unwillingness to accept her. They urge her to try harder and with renewed determination, she goes to school next day where she finds out that one of her students has been accused of stealing school money. She believes in him and tries to give him support. And what follows is one of the most heart-touching and soul-stirring human dramas about how a teacher's trust and understanding can transform a student.
Gokusen stresses that it is a teacher's duty to believe in her students and stand with them at all times. Yukie Nakama's acting is phenomenal and one of the strongest points of the drama. All the other actors act well too.
The drama is a must-watch. It has everything- romance (well....it was pretty shallow, but it was there), loads of action and fighting, laughs and heart touching dialogues.
Nakama tells her students that there is a difference between violence and fighting and encourages them to work harder. She tries to convince everyone that despite their rougish appearence, all her students have noble and kind hearts and not to judge them based on their appearence.
Gradually all the students grow to like and accept her, so much so, that the reason they come to school is to see her.
All seems to go well now.....until it is discovered by a reporter that Nakama is the granddaughter of a yakuza boss. He reports this to the paper and Kumiko is defamed. The school management tells her to leave school, otherwise, they will expell all her students. To protect her students, Yamaguchi resigns.
The students, however, don't want her to go. They argue with the management and protest
at an assembly. All of them tell the repoters how much their teacher Kumiko means to them. In the end, everyone is moved by the students's speech and the speech Nakama gives after that. She gets back her job and they all go back to their happy high school ife.
When I finished watching Gokusen, I was both happy and sad. That is a strange feeling. You have to watch Gokusen to know it. Here are my scores for Gokusen (out of 5)
A truly outstanding drama.