On a recent trip to San Francisco's Japan Town, my wife and I picked up a DVD set of a fun Japanese anime show we caught on tv a few years back called Gokusen. It only lasted 13 episodes in animated form (it looks like it came from comics and is a live action program in Japan) and is a complete blast of irrational insanity. Gokusen is about rookie school teacher Kumiko Yamaguchi as she teaches her first class at an all boys high school. It's the worst of high schools where all the punks go to after being kicked out of other schools. Yamaguchi seems like a lamb being lead to the slaughter...
Except she's the granddaugther of a Yakuza leader and was raised in mob fashion. Trained in martial arts, excessively strong and armed with an old fashioned warrior's sense of honor, Yamaguchi takes care of her homeroom class with the instincts of a crime boss while acting polite and demure to keep people from suspecting her true nature. She also speaks in rough Yakuza slang and has an intense fear of the Police because of her upbringing.
The show isn't deep, it's just fun watching this character juggle the different aspects of her life. More often than not, her life as the next-in-line to run the Oodeo Yakuza clan gets mixed up with her school life to cause conflict while she slips in and out of a sweet demeanor to bloodthirsty rogue in seconds. It's a mash up of conventional tones that's really funny to watch as she will be addressing students or teachers with a sunny disposition until a comment or action sets her off into a stern angry mobster mode.
This also affects her approach to problems, Yamaguchi will often try to do "the right thing" and attempt idealistic solutions to issues only to become frustrated and physically beat the hell out of people to get what she wants. The transition is as fast as a flick of a switch which is funny in itself. When delivering her finishing blow, she'll scream "Vengeance is Mine!" Try imagining your high school teacher doing that, it's pretty humorous.
A colorful set of characters surround Yamaguchi from her dense students, voluptuous fellow teacher Ms. Fujiyama who has a thing for young boys, and an intensely loyal mob family that are often brought to tears by their own sense of honor. Her tug of war relationship with mysterious top student / slacker Shin Sawada adds to the drama.
The main bonus of the DVD was that we were able to play it in Japanese with the sub titles, we seemed to get more of the story from the subtitles than the English dubbing. That, plus I enjoyed listening to my wife sing along with the opening and closing theme songs. I don't think I'm explaining this series well, so I'm going to have a link to an episode here. For a taste of Gokusen, below is episode 2 of the series from You Tube. It includes one of my favorite moments, when Shin Sawada challenges Yamaguchi to a fight and Yamaguchi lectures Shin on fighting as a result, just not in the afterschool special way that you would expect.