Monday, July 26, 2004

Moving on up

Well, I have fortunately escaped the clutches of the Monkey King.  He is a crafty foe though, so I wouldn't be surprised if I have to edit another MK episode.  God I hope not.  At any rate, my current assignment is somewhat more enjoyable, as I am now working on a Japanese show called Gokusen.

Gokusen is about a school teacher who comes from a Yakuza family.  She uses the lessons from her underworld upbringing to scare her trouble students into behaving.  On some level it's pretty cheesy, just the standard "teacher overcomes obsticales, obtains trust of emotionally scarred and difficult students," but it offers enough comedic value to make it memorable.  The show is often compared to an earlier program, Great Teacher Onizuka, which featured an ex-motorcycle gangster who gets a job at a local high school and uses unconventional methods to solve problems.  Admittedly Gokusen is similar, but in my opinion it's superior to GTO.

Gokusen's musical score is an unqualified triumph, and the lighthearted tunes (J-pop free!) frame scenes perfectly.  Her struggle to keep her mob connections secret, and the ensuing complications that arise, particularly in her romantic pursuit of a police detective, are another element that pushes it past GTO.  For experienced Dorama viewers, Gokusen is a satisfying diversion.  If nothing really new, it is at least all the old things that got you into it in the first place.  For those new to Japanese dramas, Gokusen is an accessable beginning.  It's comedy relies on the bumblings of misfit students, mistaken identities, and a troubled romance.  It is available for download on animesuki, or you can wait for Japan-TV to release its version.  Either way, I recommend the show.

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