10 August 2006 | gemtsoi
Imagine you were the homeroom teacher of a bunch of the wildest, most rebellious delinquents in an ill-reputed school. What would you do?
Yamaguchi Kumiko (Nakama Yukie), better known as Yankumi to her students, decides to love and trust them. That is basically what she does in the 12-episode drama (including the special), though of course a lot of punches and lectures are involved. Yankumi, herself a 3rd generation heir of the Oedo family, the Yakuza, isn't in the least fazed by her multi-coloured punkish students. She takes them on to the end, protecting and believing them, and proving that a teacher's first concern should always be the safety and growth of her students.
'Gokusen', though formulaic and predictable, shines through because of its characters. Yankumi is a funny, interesting person who has unorthodox ideas. The students do her justice. Sawada Shin (Jun Matsumoto), the ringleader and quiet rebel, is the key - the one who makes the difference. Because of his anger, resentment, and fiercely loyal and quietly humorous personality, Shin really brings a different angle to the students. Though of course it's not to say that the other boys aren't lovable, because they are. The Head Teacher is a joy to have...a real comedic character.
The acting is more than adequate. Yukie, Matsujun, and the other students and staff play their roles very well. Although the music is limited, the humour is sometimes campy/lame, and the episodes are very formulaic, Gokusen nonetheless manages to carry its storyline off. The teacher-student relationships are endearing, the characters are above likable, and the overall presentation of this show is good.