Yankumi, it’s over

12 10 2010

I did it. I finally watched it– Gokusen: The Movie. Yatta (!) for me.

Photobucket

I’d had a copy of the feature film lying around somewhere in my room for faight-o-knows-how-long but I hadn’t been able to bring myself to play it (I believe my DVD player deserves so much better lol) But the other day, I got a sudden burst of energy. I  had so much energy I determined no turd-of-a-movie could possibly be bad enough to send me to sleep… &, well, YES. I was in the mood to be entertained by some eyebrow-groomy-Johnniness. So I chucked it in (hayaku! Put me out of my misery already!)

For those of you unfamiliar, Gokusen: The Movie is the film derived from the success of the identically titled Jdorama series trilogy. It is the story of a 4th generation heir to the Ooedo Group (a Yakuza clan in Japan,) Yamaguchi Kumiko, who has one dream- to be a teacher. But time & time again, no matter what school she wanders into, she finds herself dumped with that school’s ultimate black-mark-of-a-class. In the end however, with her unwavering belief in them, she always manages to lure these so-called delinquents back onto “the right path in life” with her philosophical naggings (*gags* gomensai) teachings on family, friendship & all-round general good-human-being-ness.

Photobucket

Had they just stopped at Gokusen 1, then I’d probably somewhere somehow still have some form of respect for Yamaguchi sensei. The original Gokusen series was episodically repetitive (like all of them) but at least I found the students worthy of my sympathy & emotional involvement. These boys & their futures– I actually did give a (giant) rat’s ass. As for Gokusen 2… *digs out KAT-TUN uchiwa & starts flapping* (oh it hurts putting that ‘A‘ in there Y_Y gahaha) Yamaguchi was still ditzier as ever but this time, it really, really, honto-ni, reeeally got to me. From episode 2 onwards, I kept thinking to myself, “Please girl, why are you still like this?” “Be a woman already!” “Is this over yet?” (& also, “JinnyJinJin, you have an anorexic dramaography as it is, why make it harder for me to enjoy you as an actor by churning out something like this?” *hops on first plane to L.A.*) But as much as I thought S1 was far classier than S2, I did enjoy watching Kame & Jinny act like they were friends lololol

And er, Gokusen 3, you ask? LMAOOOOOOO. Come on guys, don’t joke with me. I’m telling you straight right now, I haven’t watched nor have I even thought about touching it, not even with a ten foot pole. No amount of Miura Haruma alpha-male attitude+kawaiiness could make me voluntarily sit through eleven more episodes of Yamaguchi sensei‘s “You are my precious students!” droning preaching (much less the preaching at random strangers.) Unless dear little Miura personally asked me to watch it, nah-uh. No way. I more than paid my dues with the first two seasons.

And now also with the darn movie.

I figured to myself, how much more harm can they possibly do in 118min?

Quite a bit actually.

Photobucket

Gokusen: The Movie opens at the scene of Narita International Airport where a trio of hijackers is holding up a flight. But these three dudes, decked out head-to-toe in camouflage military gear & armed with enough firepower to crack those lens off from a certain piggy-tailed sensei‘s face, have clearly chosen to attack the wrong flight. Sucks to be you guys because this is…… *drumroll*…………. Yankumi‘s flight!!!!!!! (btw, one is Asian, one is Caucasion & one is African-American- the significance & reasoning behind this I can’t even be bothered deciphering >_>)

So of course, she ends up convincing the hijackers to surrender (we don’t get to see the negotiation process but you’d assume there were a million & one of her over-used phrases thrown around coupled with some butt-kicking action, you know, just the norm.) Now seriously guys, you had the chance to make this final Yamaguchi experience a short & sweet encounter for us all but you folded like a bunch of bleached-haired, ripped-school-blazered Johnny-boys *shakes head* Meanwhile, everything is being televised live on national TV. Oh Yankumi, you’ve done it again *claps hands & regurgitates* Excuse me, there are how many lives on this plane that you exposed to even more danger by challenging these three armed men? I know the plot isn’t supposed to be realistic but the least we can try to do is maintain a degree of respectability for the main protagonist. Maybe if she hadn’t looked so deer-in-the-headlight oblivious as she stepped off the plane into the sea of police authorities & media cameras I would’ve been a bit more forgiving. But alas, she gave us the classic “I am the clueless & naive Yankumi!” sudden bright-eyed look *rolls eyes a million times* This schizophrenic thing about her has never worked for me.

Photobucket

The film then moves away from this somewhat grand cinematic opening & back into the Gokusen drama formula that we have all become accustomed to over the past 7 years (that’s right, it’s been 7 years since Nakama Yukie first enacted the role of the tough-fighting, loving-spirited, clutzy but coordinated-when-it-counts female sensei everyone has grown to affectionately call Yankumi… well, count me out on the affection part. To be fair though, I like the actress, it’s the character I have a problem with.) It’s a new year at Akado High School (class 3-D from S3 have apparently just recently graduated) but that doesn’t mean fresh new innocent children. Oh no. As long as Yamaguchi sensei exists, there will always be a band of delinquents for her to warm the hearts of. It’s just a matter of trying to pinpoint the class leader as quick as you can- get him on your side & the rest is all gravy. And in this case, the main man boy is Reita Takasugi (played by Tamamori Yuta of Johnny Jr‘s fame >_>… & in my opinion, off-topic, totally looks like a mini Calvin Chen [from Taiwanese boyband Fahrenheit ^_^]) But this time, she’s not alone. She will have the aid of an assistant teacher. It’s Odagiri Ryu (played by Kamenashi Kazuya) from S2. Much to his former teacher’s pride, he is back by his darling Yankumi‘s side, with a clean-cut hairdo (still not black though ;O) & suiting attire. And it’s all ironed (the hair included lol.) He is there, mature, inspired & ready to stand by Yamaguchi sensei‘s teachings in changing these students for the better.

I honestly couldn’t care less in the first half of the movie with the whole evolution-of-the-new-students scenario because nothing new was brought to the table. Not even one new single joke or one new single catchphrase. And in the part where Reita goes to face the motorcycle gang, Black Skull, alone– I couldn’t help but LOL at this scrawny little kid (albeit kinda cute… there. I said it. But there are definitely no unchaste feelings there. I promise. Calvin however… xDDDDD) Reita-kun, even if those man-dudes played you fair & square in a one-on-one situation, nobody in their right mind would’ve backed you, boy!

Photobucket

I did appreciate the comic-y visuals however (e.g. when Yamaguchi had visions of herself heading the Oeda Group in her kimino, or when the kach!ng sheen flashes across the lens of Yamaguchi‘s specs on the plane, or also the part the new kids say “Ohayo!” to her for the first time, they show her face daydream amongst a field of blooming flowers.) I also liked the sound effects they’d implement to exaggerate, say, a head-turn or a blink or something. I really wish they had just taken this anime-esque quality over & beyond for the entire movie & really, really thrust the comedy factor in our faces. But the fun disappeared for a very long stretch in the second half of the film & the story got a little ambiguous in its direction for me- are you trying to be a drama, a thriller-action flickie or what? Wait, wasn’t this a comedy just a second ago?

Photobucket

The major plot that unfolds in the latter half of  the film involves Kazama Ren (played by Miura Haruma) from S3, who, after graduating from high school, has found himself a job as a courier (btw, I’m trying to imagine opening up my door to someone like him with a special delivery package… er, a parcel in his hands. It’s jail time baby -_-;) But money is tough (he has a sister to support too^^) & seduced by the thought of quick money, he impulsively accepts a dodgy sounding job not really knowing what it entails & ends up twisted into a drug dealing scheme. What follows is the usual Yankumi I-will-stand-by-you-no-matter-what action. Ren disappears, Yamaguchi searches & finds him then takes him back under her wings, she drops her entire life to find the true culprit, the students (both former & current) help because they see how devoted their ditzy sensei is to them, Voila (!) BAM (!), thankyou ma’am (!), case solved. Bad guys go home (or to prison rather.) Yamaguchi sensei & students are proven to be the pride of each other again. I would elaborate on details but quite frankly, it’s a waste of everyone’s time- if you’ve seen even just a single episode of any of the series, I assure you, you’ve seen it all before.

Photobucket

Can I say though, I hated the final Yankumi VS Politician! showdown… okay, so a teacher from primary school told me “hate” is a strong word. And to this day, it sticks in my head. Fine. Maybe I didn’t “hate” it per se, but it certainly made me… nauseous ><; I’m not sure if it was because I’d already decided I was going to hate not like it before it even rolled around, but as I was watching it, all I kept thinking to myself was, here we go, Yamaguchi sensei is making herself the centre of attention yet again. I don’t doubt her heart & her courage, but I think to bring someone down in front of all his supporters, all his colleagues & the entire freaking media… I don’t know, Yamaguchi‘s style is just too brash & too in-your-face for me. I prefer senseis (& people in general for that matter) who do things under the radar. Ones who help their beloveds without having the whole freaking world know about it.

Photobucket

Now for the Johnny boy of the hour, Mr Turtle Boy himself, Kamenashi Kazuya– I don’t actually get all the flak he copped for this project. I don’t feel like his screen-time in the movie really warranted the “This is all just one big stage to help boost Kame‘s career” conspiracy, I mean, to me, it was still Ze Yankumi Show more than anything else. And yeah Kamenashi Kazuya in Gokusen: The Movie wasn’t anything breathtakingly special in terms of acting performance, but then again, given what they were working with, who really was? The movie to me was never going to help boost anyone‘s career anyways; in fact, anyone involved in the film should seriously be counting their own blessings if they managed to walk away from this not having tainted their career, period^^;;;;;;

Photobucket

I sometimes wonder also, would Gokusen have ever worked had the students not been male? Would a bunch of adolescent catty girls been able to put up & come to like a Yankumi? Would the series have been as great of a success had they not used Johnny boy + ikemen power? I know the latter was what hung me in there. I guess I don’t blame them (in fact, somehow I’m thanking them) since my favourite thing by far in the movie was definitely the cameos. I silently squealed when Yamaguchi sensei bumped into Hyuuga Kosuke on the streets & learned that he was now a mechanic (Koide Keisuke is looking reeeaally good these days I must say. He definitely can service my car any any day >>; ) And oh yeah, Takeda Keita (played by Koike Teppei) was somewhere next to him as well. Also, at the politician dude’s national public conference, we had a robot sighting! I mean, sorry, that was Tsuchiya Hikaru (from S2, played by Hayamo Mokomichi,) who has become an assistant cameraman & was at the scene to help televise the event. Then near the end, we had some S1 love, when Minami Yoichi (played by Ishigaki Yuma!) & Noda Takeshi (played by Narimiya Hiroki… who was cooler-than-cool here. Like, rock gawd cool xD) swung by a dazed & confused (what’s new) but equally thrilled Yamaguchi sensei.

Photobucket

But this moment was when I fully squealed… —>>>

Photobucket

It’s Shun baby!!!!!!! (^^Although, as you may sense, I ain’t approving of the cute finger to her cheek, almost lip, thing~~)

Photobucket

Well, okay, it was really his character Haruhiko Uchiyama, but the crazy peroxide dreads were gone (or at least concealed) & the voice had definitely deepened. Heck, even the walk had been streamlined to ultimate suave kakkoi extreme! *bats eyelids* *drops to knees* *faints*……

After the cameos wound up, I did experience a lingering void. A feeling of being unsatisfied. I realised I needed a shot of Sawada Shin (& maybe even an Eeemrcanaised Hayato-kun -_-;) Not to say that I think Matsumoto Jun is a better actor than Kamenashi Kazuya (I actually believe Kame is the better overall actor) but Jun as Shin was the main attraction in my short-lived liking for Gokusen– that horrid streak of blonde hair, the semi mono-brow thing going on, the “Is there something going on between him & the class teacher?” vibe… Sawada Shin was & still is the ultimate Gokusen man-boy in my eyes. And his main men were probably the coolest of them all, too.

And with that realisation, the following thought came into my head- what if the plot had been centralised around the star students from S1 & S2 (& S3 of course)?? What if Yamaguchi‘s prominence had been scaled down completely, the story now focused on these students post-grad & we saw with our own eyes how their nutty gangster sensei had changed them & their futures for good? Sensei could’ve gotten into her own trouble for being such a bubblehead! Perhaps the students could then flex their biceps, team their efforts to physically save her this time instead & show us all they had become real men (& not just storming into the building at the climatic moment &, voice breaking & all, screaming out “Yankumi!!!!!!” to delay the baddies crushing her limbs, thus allowing the woman to stand back up & kick some more solo ass whilst the students just stand around, watching, chilling, looking cool.)

I know, I know, manga says it like this… but… what if?

Photobucket

[ Credit to dreamstime.com for the main “WANTED” poster graphic above. A few changes added by me to make it relevant to my post of course ;O Other pics capped by me, some of which I may have added my own annotations to *giant grin* ]





The Great Sensei Debate!

23 04 2010

“Who is the greatest sensei?”

That is the question.

Somehow I keep getting sucked into watching all these Japanese teacher-student manga-turned-live-action doramas. I guess you can blame a certain few ikemen & a certain few JE boys *clears throat* *palm-shades forehead*

And as distracted & distracting as some of these students can be, in the end it all boils down to the teacher. Their leader. Their inspiration. Their Mother-of-Crap-Why-Didn’t-You-Appear-Sooner saviour. Their, ONE & ONLY, Sensei.

Is there one true correct answer to the above question? Probably not. But we all probably have our favourite. I know I have mine.

So in chronological order of appearance on the live-action dorama scene, here is my, er, report, on four of probably the more well-known senseis (of course I had to grade them xDD)

————————————

Photobucket

——————

Photobucket

——————

Photobucket

——————

Photobucket

( notepaper background graphic: © Copyright 2007 Sharia Braxton )

————————————

Don’t agree? Well, cast your vote now:

————————————

Now quote this:-

“I want to be a teacher. The greatest teacher ever…”
– Onizuka Eikichi (GTO)

————————————

Word. And peace V(^_^)V