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The Gokusen #1: The Unteachables PDF Print E-mail
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R1 DVD Reviews
Monday, 15 May 2006 00:00
Volume One (Cover Art)Take one Yakuza leader with a desire to moonlight as a teacher, a class of grade-A reprobates (by reputation if not by fact) and a talking bulldog, and you have The Gokusen.  You would think a gang lord would have no problems dealing with an unruly class, but Kumiko Yamaguchi's about to discover that her dream career isn't all plain sailing - but her Yakuza background gives her some unique ways of dealing with the problems she's handed...

  1 - Rookie Teacher with a Secret is Born!
It's Kumiko Yamaguchi's first day at her new job - teacher at a private boys high school - and it's at possibly the roughest high school there is. Her first day proceeds pretty much as the vice-principal warned it would, but if anyone's capable of handling this bunch of rebels, it's Kumiko - grand-daughter of a Yakuza boss, she's more than capable of taking care of herself. Not that you'd know by looking at her, as she does such a good impression of being a complete ditz that it's impossible to guess her background. When one of her students is threatened, however, her real nature shines through...

The ManagementPlaying dumb

2 - Duel!! Shin -vs- Ojou?
Shin & his mob are still trying to figure out who took care of Kuma's attackers last episode - Shin has a pretty good idea Kumiko was involved, but the rest of them won't believe him. Kumiko's got other problems on her mind, though - she's got an evaluation class coming up, and she needs to find a way of making sure her class behave on the day. Shin's not feeling too co-operative, however, and organises a class walkout just when Kumiko needs it the least. His price for getting the class to co-operate - fight him. Meanwhile, the vice-principal seems to have a vested interest in making the school look bad...

Guess who's in trouble hereSwapping student notes

3 - Kuma's First Time?
Kumiko's royally pissed at her class as their final exam papers left a lot to be desired - including answers, in a lot of cases. Time to teach the mob the value of remedial lessons. According to the vice-principal, remedial lessons are a non-starter in a school where most of the pupils have a hard time turning up for normal classes - what chance of Kumiko getting her failures to turn up after school?

Mean motherTaught a lesson

4 - Ojou Goes Blond!  Whodunnit?
There's a problem around the school - someone's attacking old ladies near the school grounds, and with the pupils' reputations, guess who the prime suspects are? So when Yankumi sees Noda handling a woman's purse, she jumps to conclusions. Somewhat pissed at having been falsely accused, some of her class come up with a plan to clear their names & catch the culprit. As usual, all does not go according to plan...

Strangest dog I've ever seenDealing with the police

5 - Ooedo Clan in Crisis!
When Kumiko's grandfather falls ill, she's left in charge of the family while he recovers. Just one cryptic warning - he's been hearing rumours of trouble lately, but nothing more than that. Details start coming out soon enough - seems some people claiming to be part of the Ooedo Clan have been attacking members of a rival clan, agitating for a gang war. Kumiko knows her boys wouldn't be that stupid, so it seems someone's trying to set them up - but who? Kumiko has to deal with senior Yakuza to clear up the problem - so we get a look back at how she became the woman she is...

Payback in younger daysDressed for business

Ugly art, fun OP, and who in their right mind puts a bow on a bulldog? So much for first impressions. "Gokusen" is apparently a play on the Japanese words for 'Gang-Lord Teacher', so you get the general idea of where this is going. Kumiko's a high-ranking member of a Yakuza family, who for some reason wants a normal teaching job as well - go figure... The fun of the show comes from Kumiko's efforts to keep her double-life secret, while regularly slipping into her Yakuza persona when her students are threatened, and her gangland ethics and the requirement to protect your own come into play quite often.

After the first half-episode or so of Cromartie High, I figured my appetite for hoodlum high-school boys was pretty much sated (Cromartie's a show that really didn't appeal to me...), so I wasn't expecting to sit through more than a few minutes of this. Next thing I know it's the end of episode 3 and I realise, to my surprise, that I'm enjoying it immensely... That's something that doesn't happen very often! Put the not-asthaetically-pleasing art style & talking bulldog to one side and you'll find that Gokusen is a very well put together sitcom. For all her mob upbringing, Kumiko has a heart of gold, while her class-from-hell aren't as bad as their reputation would have you believe. Put them together and you have a story & cast that's great fun to watch - but someone really does need to do something about that bulldog.

Overall, then, highly recommended so far. Looking forward to watching the next volume...

Rating - ****

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