Gokusen the Movie: formulaic but entertaining

As mentioned last night, I was determined to find the Japanese movie “Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac”, but my search through Torrentz, ISO Hunt and other downloading sites proved futile. In my desperation, I checked out YouTube and MySoju and this is what I found instead:

Of course, we all know Gokusen. The story of Kumiko Yamaguchi (or Yankumi to her students) who is always assigned to teach and advise the 3-D class, composed of miscreant, gangsters and the worse students of the schools. These students will not accept her at first and will try to rebel–usually going against her advices. More often than not, they will get in trouble (usually with gangs) where she will bail them out by going on a hand-to-hand combat with the thugs. But not before she utters these lines:

…Who am I? (after the thug ALWAYS asks her who the hell she is) (she removes her first ponytail)
…I am just the homeroom teacher of that student you were bullying/fighting with (she then removes the other ponytail)
…I will not let you hurt my beloved students…(she flings her glasses somewhere)
…I will not let you ruin their future (she steps forward)

KYAAAAAAAH!!!! (major ass-kicking follows)

This has happened season after season after season.

This happened in Season 1

And yet again, during Season 2

Once more, on Season 3

This also happened of course in the movie, where instead of your friendly neighborhood thugs and biker gangs, Yankumi and her students from season 3 (HARUMA MIURA as REN KAZAMA!) was caught in a web of deceit and drug trade by a former delinquent turned politician (who of course heads the drug syndicate). Kamenashi Kazuya returns as Ryu Odagiri from Yankumi’s 3D class in Kurogin High School and now a trainee teacher assigned at Akadou High.

The same formula (yes, FIGHT-O! is still present) and the principal we all love to hate, Goro Sawatari. Yes, the students hate her first but would come to love and respect her in the end. But what is special in this episode is the return of former students whose lives were touched by Yankumi. There was Haruhiko “Uchi” Uchiyama (yes–THE Shun Oguri), Takeshi Noda, Youichi Minami and noodle proprietor “Kuma”–all from Season 1.

But one particular alumni was noticeably absent:

Yes, my Sawada Shin was not able to come back and pay his respects to his former high school teacher. My guess is he is now busy with his career, being a politician’s son and all. (or maybe Jun Matsumoto’s schedule just can’t accommodate the guesting) 😦

Keita Takeda (now a salaryman), Hikaru Tsuchiya (an assistant cameraman at a local TV station) and Kosuke Hyuga (still helping his dad in the tofu shop) were all present.

What I particularly loved about the movie is that it was able to show how the students turned out after graduating from their respective high schools. Some was able to continue studying in college (Kazama, Odagiri, et al) while some had to work in order to earn a living (Uchi, Tsuchiya). If we are to look for the touching part of the movie–maybe it’s Yankumi’s message to Odagiri (and all her former students) that she will always be their teacher for as long as she lives.

Yes, Gokusen followed the successful formula it displayed in the series–and why change it when it always works. But also note that Gokusen succeeds in tugging the heartstrings of the “student” in all of us. It is movies such as these that makes me want to be a high school teacher.

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