Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gokusen Manga

Genre: Shoujo, Comedy, Drama, Slice of Life
2000 Kozueko Morimoto, Shueisha, Serialized in You Magazine.

Gokusen DVDs
Gokusen Art and Manga
Gokusen Original Soundtrack
Gokusen Fashion
Gokusen Shop Product Description:
Kumiko Yamaguchi is the heir of the Oedo Yakuza family, but it's her dream to teach the youth of Japan. She puts aside her yakuza cunning and takes up the role of a normal air-headed graduate, landing a high-school teaching job. Now Kumiko is determined to understand the teen-age mind, teach higher math and maybe carry on a little romance. Of course, there’s always the danger of her slavishly loyal army of brutal hit men murdering the students who misbehave.

(15 tankubon)

Campus-related stories must always be this hilarious! >>> by skysenshi
Funny how I mentioned in my review of Aisuru Hito (which I wrote just an hour ago) that I am not a fan of student-teacher relationship stories, but here I am, rooting for Shin Sawada in the Shinohara-Kumiko-Shin love triangle. More on that later.

I first encountered Gokusen via the live action series, with Yukie Nakama (The Ring) playing Kumiko and Jun Matsumoto (Matsujun of Hana Yori Dango) wearing Shin Sawada's shoes. Matsujun is probably the reason why I get butterflies in my stomach whenever I see Shin Sawada even in the manga version. I was so disappointed that the TV series changed the entire cast of characters in Season 2, so I turned to the manga instead.

The manga is even funnier. Kozueko Morimoto may not be one the best illustrators around, but she sure knows how to entertain. Gokusen is like Great Teacher Onizuka(in story) and Initial D(art) combined. You follow the adventures of a Yakuza heiress as she strives to inspire young delinquent students despite their resistance. Of course, the results are side-splitting. It isn't easy to lead a double life, especially when it comes to stomping down one's ass-kicking tendencies because work requires one to be gentle and learned.

Most of the chapters deal with events/monster-of-the-day themes, although the mangaka develops each of her characters' backgrounds evenly...including that of Kumiko's dog, Fuji. I appreciate the chapters dedicated to Fuji because these are the few instances where Shin shows signs of emotions. He's the only one unlucky enough to be involved in Fuji's misadventures anyway. The Yakuza-related chapters, on the other hand, provide fresh insights into the lives and businesses of the Kuroda Ikka (clan of Kumiko's grandfather Ryuichiro Kuroda). Lots of action, combined with silly histories, abound here.

Now, being the romantic that I am, I tend to focus a lot on the Shinohara-Kumiko-Shin love angle. Shinohara is the Kuroda Ikka lawyer, who also happens to be the epitome of manhood: smart, handsome and classy. I could really understand Kumiko's hang-ups about him throughout the entire storyline. Unfortunately, the young lawyer is too conscious of his moral responsibilities to even take notice of Kumiko's affections. And then there's Shin Sawada, a smart but sullen brat who seems to lead the entire class. Well, he's just too adorable for words.

Of all the teacher-related anime titles, it's with Gokusen that I can relate most. I have handled a bunch of delinquent students, who would defend me to the depths of their capabilities. We also have our funny moments so really...I sometimes can't tell if I'm being biased here or the mangaka is really that good. Then again, I don't think I'm the only one in this community screaming for Shin Sawada.

Highly recommended.

Individual Rating: Art 8; Story 10; Characters 10

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