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The Gokusen #3: The Road to Graduation PDF Print E-mail
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R1 DVD Reviews
Friday, 22 December 2006 04:00
GokusenIt's the final volume of The Gokusen, and Yankumi's secret is out - but first she has to deal with assorted thugs, police commissioners and threats to close the school, not all of which are natural territory for a yakuza leader to deal with.  Could this be the end of the line for her teaching career..?

10 - School in the Crosshairs!
A group of masked thugs has been attacking students from the school, with the latest victim being Tanaka from Yankumi's class.  Rumour has it that if you wear a particular badge (cost: 10,000 yen), the thugs will leave you alone - in other words, there's a protection racket going on, and soon almost everyone at the school is wearing the badge.  Protection rackets are probably more Yankumi's territory, though, and once she's aware of what's going on she becomes determined to put a stop to it - especially when she finds out another yakuza family may be behind it...

Neko!A few harsh words

11 - Shin Drops Out of School!?
The headmaster delivers word that Shin's dropped out of the school - his father had dropped by to deliver his withdrawal letter, but with no reasons given Yankumi's more than curious about his reasons.  Was it because he was hurt fighting along with her, or are there other reasons she's not aware of?  At first, she's keen to drop over to his home to find out, but when she learns his father is the Police Commissioner, suddenly her enthusiasm drops a bit.  When she eventually learns that Shin's father has him literally under house arrest she's far from happy - but this time around there's none of her usual solve-the-problem attitude.  If she wades in without thinking on this problem, the future of the Ooedo clan could be at stake...

Dropout?Planning a breakin

12 - Shirokin High Closing!?
The school chairman (the principal's older brother) pays a visit to the school to announce that the Board of Directors have decided to stop taking applications and close the school - it's been running at a deficit, and the type of students it's been attracting are hardly the sort to encourage them to give the place a second chance.  When she hears the news, Yankumi's outraged - in fact, the only person who seems happy at the news is the vice-principal.  Yankumi makes a deal with the Chairman, though: if the students can somehow make the school #1 in Japan in any sporting or academic discipline, within 2 weeks, the school will be saved - and so the race is on for the teachers to turn a bunch of losers into a bunch of winners.  Shame the students don't seem overly interested in the plan...

Little and LargeLoser...

13 - Yankumi's Final Act of Honor!
Having saved the school, Yankumi and her class are getting a lot of praise from the other teachers, and they're enjoying it while it lasts.  Only the Vice-Principal is holding back with the compliments - and there are no prizes for guessing why that may be.  Keen to avenge the loss of his new job, the VP turns up outside Ooedo clan's HQ to take a few incriminating photos of Yankumi, hoping to use the evidence to get the school's closure back on the agenda.  Keen to make sure that she can't be held responsible for any decisions about the school's future, she resigns her position - but her students aren't about to let her go so easily.  Meanwhile, Kudoh's been keeping an eye on her, and finally decides it's time for him to settle the score...

Gathering evidenceDelivering a warning

Tenkai Group are a happy bunch.  Suspiciously so.  "If you laugh, it brings good luck," is the word from the boss' doctor - so they're laughing with all their might.  They're not behind the racket, but since it's going on on their turf, they're happy for Yankumi to look into it, and the revelation that Kudoh and Nekomata Group are involved doesn't really surprise anyone.

The vice-principal plays a more important role than usual in these eps, after he sees Yankumi coming out of the Tenkai HQ and gets suspicious.  He gathers more evidence over the remaining episodes until he feels he has enough to really bring the school into disrepute - but he never gets the chance to use his evidence, on account of being reminded how cold Tokyo Bay can be.  If Yankumi's going to be on the receiving end of underhand tactics, it's only fair to return the favour.  There is a reason behind the VP's eagerness to see the school closed, but I'll leave you to watch the show to find that out rather than spoil.

The last of the outright comedy is Yankumi's efforts to raise a boxing team and save the school - she ends up doing most of the hard work herself.  The other stories here have their fun moments, but there's a serious undercurrent running alongside that give them a slightly different feel.

I've definitely enjoyed Gokusen - it's a little bit different from the usual high-school comedy, without being as whacked-out as say, Cromartie High School.  The premise of a gangster teacher was definitely a good one.  Maybe one day Media Blasters will see fit to bring the live-action version of the show to DVD - in the meantime, the anime version is well worth a look.

Rating - ****

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