When your teacher packs a mean punch

I’ve noticed that several cable channels are now showing anime late at night and I’m not just talking about Adult Swim on Cartoon Network. Starz Action, Imaginasian and I think even the Independent Channel air anime.
Of course these are the versions dubbed in English.

Starz Action recently finished showing “Gokusen” or “Gokudo no Sensei” which is the tale of an heiress to a Yakuza family who teaches high school. A lot of folks have dismissed it as a lame rip off of “Great Teacher Onizuka.” “GTO” as it’s more commonly known, is about a former gangster who decides to be a teacher and gets handed a problem class.

I like “GTO” but Onizuka’s behavior and his unorthodox teaching methods will never fly in the real world. This is not to say that “Gokusen” is grounded in reality. It isn’t.

Consider that the Japanese mafia members in “Gokusen” are portrayed as rough characters who are really decent guys. Excuuuse me? The Yakuza? Anyway, you have to suspend a certain amount of disbelief when watching the show. It is anime after all not a documentary.

Kumiko Yamaguchi is the granddaughter of the current head of the Oedo clan, which is a Yakuza group. Her parents died and she was raised by her grandfather. Right now she is the acting head of the clan because her grandfather is ill. She also just started her new job at Shirokin High where she becomes the home room teacher to a classroom of punks. She hides her Yakuza connections because it would mean the end of her teaching career once it becomes known.

Most of her students look like they were beaten with an ugly stick as babies which I guess is a cliche in anime. The ugly boys are juvenile delinquents. The only exception is Shin Sawada, the red-headed leader of the class who is smart but ended up at this no nothing high school because he punched a teacher in middle school. Shin smells something fishy about the new teacher who the class nicknames, “Yankumi.”

Kumiko believes that every student deserves a chance and would not hesitate to pound someone who harms her students. Of course she does this on the sly since most of them don’t know she’s a good fighter.

At 13-episodes, “Gokusen” is a short series. I didn’t much like the ending and would have wanted to see more character development. But it’s worth a look.

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