As a teacher I find myself interested in basically any form of media that portrays my line of work. Sadly most education related programs are not exactly flattering. Gokusen, an anime based on the manga by Kozueko Morimoto, is a very pleasant exception to the rule. Not only is the anime entertaining but the live-action TV series ran on Japanese television from 2002, on and off, until 2008, and a live-action movie did fairly well at the Japanese box office in 2009.
The story centers around a young first year teacher who is assigned to a misfit class of miscreants and malcontents. The young lady, Yamaguchi Kumiko, or Yankumi as she is known to her students, is also, unbeknownst to the public at large, the granddaughter and heir-apparent to the Oedo clan of Yakuza. Need less to say, if the Japanese education authorities found out that a Yakuza princess was teaching in public school, Yankumi-chan’s career would come to an abrupt end. A good bit of the conflict involves protecting Yankumi’s secret from the administrators of the school.
The other major sources of conflict within the plot are the various students in Yankumi-chan’s class. These pupils are reminiscent of the “sweat-hogs” from the American TV series Welcome Back Kotter. The leader of the misfit group is called Sawada Shin. He is a stereotypical smart kid playing the role of miscreant with a good heart. He recognizes something in Yankumi-chan almost immediately and determines that she is more than meets the eye. Eventually Shin-kun uncovers her secret but, as a faithful friend, he keeps it.
The remaining cast is rounded out by various students, Yakuza gangsters and administrators from the school. The stories are light and the pacing is quick. There is no nudity or inappropriate behavior, however, there are generally fist-fights involving Yankumi during each show. The language can also be a bit harsh as we are dealing with Yakuza gangsters for the most part. The color palate is bright and saturated, and animation style is above average The music is catchy and fitting. All in all I would highly recommend this anime to anyone, especially teachers or people who are just getting into the anime genera. It is a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.