For a more in-depth look at the main lesson in Episode 1 of Season 1, go to my post Life Lessons from a J-Drama.
With three seasons running between 2002 and 2008, and a movie released in 2009, Gokusen features many familiar faces as just about every young male actor popular (including such names as Matsujun and Miura Haruma) at the time made an appearance in at least one season. The lovely Nakama Yukie acts as the tough and sentimental teacher, Yankumi, who faces new challenges each semester as she struggles to gain the trust and respect of the roughest class of delinquents in the school, Class 3-D, and vows to see them all to graduation. She carries a secret however, which is that she is the heiress to her grandfather’s yakuza clan, and if this secret were to be revealed (which it inevitably is in each season), she could very well lose her job guiding her precious students. This drama is filled with humor, attractive boys, fight scenes, emotion, and relevant life lessons, that as I re-watch the series with my dad and two middle school-aged siblings, I believe we all pick up something from this drama that helps us to grow as people.
Many lessons come from Yankumi’s grandfather, who never fails to give advice when she is struggling over a particular problem. Here, in no particular order, are the life lessons from the first season of Gokusen:
- Friends (and family too) may outwardly be rough with each other, but when a problem arises, they naturally come to the rescue.
- Parents often are trying their hardest for their kids, loving them with all their hearts. Even so, they are imperfect people, often failing to understand their children’s needs and desires.
- On the flip-side, children often fail to appreciate how hard their parents are working for them. Honor and respect comes from both sides, but it’s not necessarily a matter of “give and take”, because this leads to disappointment if any one side feels an imbalance in met expectations.
- It’s people who hurt other people, but it’s also people who save other people. We often must be the ones to put out a lending hand to give others a second chance.
- A real fight has a real cause—that is, to protect something or someone that is dear to you.
- It’s easy to let others help you up, but what’s important is being able to stand up on your own—this involves strength of both the body and the heart.
- Often, the more trouble there is, the happier people become. Sounds like a paradox, but as we struggle through life, we gain many valuable experiences and develop precious relationships.
- Blood doesn’t matter when it comes to family ties.
- Everyone has issues—you have the power over choosing to be positive or negative.
- Your future is in your hands. Don’t waste energy dwelling on what’s already been done, focus on what can be done.
BONUS: Gokusen drinking game! This drama definitely has a number of repetitive elements that make it great for drinking game material! This would work on any episode, any season. For anyone too young to drink, I’d recommend some sort of roulette game like with Doritos Roulette, or anything else of your choosing.^^
- Someone says “omaera” (Often translated as “you guys”, and also likely followed by a moving speech and or crying)
- Yankumi goes into kick-ass mode (takes off glasses and takes hair out from pigtails)– Drink twice if this happens in an abandoned warehouse.
- Grandpa gives advice (at least once almost every episode)
- Tetsu smacks Minoru
- Yankumi accidentally uses yakuza language
- Yankumi unexpectedly appears when her students are having a private conversation
- A fight breaks out
- Someone yells “Yankumi!”
Have fun! And thank you for reading.^^