University graduate Yamaguchi Kumiko's first teaching assignment is at Shirokin High School, an all-boys school renowned for being full of delinquents
. She is put in charge of the worst class in the school — class 2-D. Fortunately, teaching and helping delinquents has always been her dream, and as she is heiress to a Yakuza
group, she is more than equipped enough to handle any trouble a bunch of snot-nosed kids can cause.
Schools aren't tolerant of gangs and people of dangerous backgrounds, so Kumiko's relationship to her yakuza family must remain a secret. Unfortunately for her, there is one extremely smart and disgruntled Bishōnen
in her class full of idiots, Sawada Shin. He sees through her very poor cover-up and realizes that she is an Action Girl
. His demands for a fight are mocked by Kumiko, after which Shin's respect and passing interest only grows.
Throughout the rest of the series, Kumiko wins over her originally mistrustful students and improves their lives for the better. Shin quickly learns of her Yakuza background, ends up on friendly terms with her family, and is neck-deep in gang-related troubles over and over again. Kumiko remains oblivious to his feelings towards her while she focuses her own attentions on yakuza lawyer Shinohara, even though many others in the series have noticed Shin's feelings and are actively trying to help him.
Gokusen is fairly similar to Great Teacher Onizuka
in premise — become trustworthy to the delinquents and teach them lessons through "tough love
". However, Kumiko is properly educated and her secret background plays a large part in the series — for example, her students think she is in debt to yakuza because of one of her poor cover-up excuses, and she brings in a rather conspicuously shady fellow when she suddenly needs to tutor her students in boxing.
The manga was serialized in YOU, a josei
magazine, and while it does have many shonen
elements it is noticeably geared more towards females and fanservice is kept to a minimum though there are some notable exceptions. The anime adaptation has been licensed for release in North America and can be found in retail outlets with larger anime sections. The multiple seasons of the live-action television drama, however, remains locked behind the language barrier.
Now has a character sheet
which is under construction.
The Manga provides examples of:
- Accidental Pervert: The principal is a good man. He just doesn't mind his female teachers seeing him without his pants on.
- Adaptational Villainy: The vice-principal in the anime. In the manga, he was, at most, bumbling and inconsiderate of the students and teachers, and even sticks up for Kumiko at one point near the end, but in the anime he takes the role of Miura by trying to get the school shut down.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Shin is able to get a bunch of girls into his culture festival group's room just by rudely ordering them to follow him.
- Almost Kiss: Happens twice, between Kumiko and Shin. The first time, Kumiko punched him because she thought he was making fun of her. The second time, she told him to wait because she had to shoo away some students who came to spy on them.
- Ambiguously Human: Yvegny.
- Animal Motifs: The kumis all have names associated with animals, but special mention goes to the Nekomata for having a boss who actually looks and acts like a cat.
- Arranged Marriage: Kumiko gets set up for one. She challenges her would-be fiancÚ to a duel for her hand. You can guess what happens.
- Art Evolution: If you saw a panel from the first volume next to a panel from the last one, you might think they were from two different artists. In the beginning, scenes were very minimal, and some pages contained only panels with text boxes in them, but they, as well as faces and poses, become progressively more detailed. Some readers are turned off by the fact that everyone is a Gonk at the beginning, but the art significantly improves even by the second volume.
- Art Shift: When Kumiko fawns over Shinohara, she sometimes looks straight out of Sailor Moon.
- Awesome Mc Cool Name: Kyou's nickname for Shin, "Young Master Red Lion." Shin thinks it's lame, but his countless yakuza admirers think otherwise.
- Badass Teacher: Kumiko; Fujiyama is also very protective in her own way, though she's no Action Girl like Kumiko.
- Bad Bad Acting: Kumiko and her Yakuza family couldn't act their way out of a wet paper bag, the only reason she can fool most of her students is that they range from simple to the borderline retarded.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Nobody escapes a fight without at least a nosebleed or a swollen cheek.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Kumiko and Shin's banter could count as this... if Kumiko had any idea as to why Shin worried about her so much.
- Between My Legs: Used in the fourth chapter, when Kumiko angrily confronts Shin on the roof.
- Berserk Button: Kumiko and her fellow teachers don't like it when someone takes a crack at their students.
- Tsuruta doesn't like to fight people weaker than him, but insult his appearance and all bets are off.
- Kumiko's other berserk button is anything having to do with law enforcement that isn't called "Shinohara."
- Best Her to Bed Her: Kumiko pulls this trope to get out of an attempted arranged marriage. However her tactics only make the prospective groom fall more in love with her and determined to win the fight and her hand.
- Big Fancy House: Shin's residence.
- Bishounen: Oddly few, considering this is a josei manga. Shin and Shinohara are the straightest examples.
- Also Inuzuka, when he's being being confident. When he isn't...
- Black Comedy
- Blood Brothers: The Kurodas are very dutiful to each other.
- Book Dumb: Most of the students had no choice but to attend Shirokin for this reason.
- Bowdlerise: The arc in the manga about people from the Nekomata kumi selling drugs to high schoolers was completely changed for the anime; instead of drugs, students were compelled to buy badges shaped like Maneki Neko that guaranteed them protection from a radical group that went around beating up Shirokin students. Other than that, the story proceeded in pretty much the same way. Strangely, this was the only thing changed for the anime; guns, alcohol, and blood were still shown.
- Catch Phrase: "I'm that kid's goddamn homeroom teacher." Doubles as a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Whenever a character says something tactlessly, expect them to be subjected to a slapstick beating... that is rather over-the-top... with blood spraying everywhere.
- Corrupt Church: The Laughing Church is a variation. It's basically a belief that laughing heartily from the pit of your stomach some summon happiness. It was originally just a simple idea made up by one guy, but once it started getting more followers, it became corrupted, stealing money and forcefully baptizing non-believers. The students of Shiroken are just barely rescued from their baptism by Kumiko.
- Crush Blush: Kumiko, whenever she's around Shinohara.
- Deadpan Snarker: Shin, often.
- As Kyo is leaving prison after his three-year sentence, he tells the guards, "Thanks for having me, fellas."
- Didn't See That Coming: The Chairman of the school wanted Kumiko gone. When he learns her true heritage, he contacts the head of the Alumni association and the head of the Parents' group for the school. Turns out the alumni met her when she dressed as a guy to make sure whatever tests he was putting her students through for a job application, they were safe, and so he respected her for that. And the parent called in is the boss of a friend of Kumiko's family and she helped his son become less of a jerkass, and so is thankful to her. Though they didn't know the whole truth about her situation until the Chairman told them, they believe the Chairman is on their side and they all sign a pledge to not speak a word of this to anyone. Ever.
- Distressed Dude: When Shin's not saving Kumiko, Kumiko's saving Shin. Shinohara also gets into distress, being a Non-Action Guy. Then there was the memorable time that Kumiko tried to save Shinohara, got captured, got rescued by Shin, who then got captured, prompting Kumiko to go round up reinforcements, leaving Shin and Shinohara in distress together.
- The Ditz: Several, of the profoundly stupid variety: Kuma, Tsuruta, Carlos, the guy who shoots Shinohara in an early chapter and shows up again in a later chapter to guard a captured Kumiko, to name a few.
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Early in the manga, Tetsu and Minoru see Kumiko mooning over Shinohara-sensei. Wanting to help, they offer to hold him down so she can rape him, but Kumiko just smacks them.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: The tanukibara kumichou dies completely out of the blue. Since his death was the start of an arc about who would replace him and how the choice would affect the other kumi, you would think his death would have been a lot more dramatic.
- Ephebophile: Fujiyama, though she might be joking about it.
- Miura. Played for extreme creepiness.
- Even the Guys Want Him:
- Believe it or not, Kumiko's grandfather was described as this in his youth.
- Later in the manga, a few younger guys take a liking to Shin, but keep quiet about it.
- Everyone Can See It: Kumiko is flabbergasted when it turns out absolutely everyone knew about Shin's crush on her.
- Fan Disservice: All the older, unattractive men wearing fundoshi in volume 8, plus the rather abundant supply of Gonk Ho Yay throughout the manga...
- Foreshadowing: During the boxing arc in volume 5, Shin seems to be the only one to hold his own against his opponent (except Uchi, who turned into a zombie after getting knocked out). Could only two months of training really have made him capable of fighting someone with years of experience? It could be that he's had an interest in boxing since way back in volume 3...
- Funny Foreigner: Michael/Richard, who's ridiculously na´ve and spews foul language because he thinks it means something else.
- Gang of Hats: The Nekomata kumi in the anime all wear cat masks, but it's just the boss who's a weird cat freak in the manga.
- The Glasses Come Off: Whenever Kumiko switches from her demure teacher persona to her yakuza one. It shows in her speech, too: her "civilian" self speaks formally in a cutesy voice, but when she gets mad she suddenly starts growling in coarse, macho Japanese.
- Gonk: So many that you can actually tell which characters are genuinely attractive... after the Art Evolution.
- Gratuitous English: In one of the special chapters with Shin and Fuji, Shin pretends to be a dog and says his breed is, "English Police Adventure, Killer Prince."
- Hand or Object Underwear: In one of the final chapters, Noda, Ucchi, Minami, and Kuma get Kumiko to wear a frilly dress. She stubs her foot and quickly lifts her leg, causing Ucchi to quickly hold a pillow in front of her so no one can see under her skirt.
- Ucchi censors her again a little later, with his head inexplicably being in the shot and in just the right place to censor her as she delivers a flying kick.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Even though Kumiko only realized her feelings for Shin after he was very, very overt about his feelings for her.
- Ice-Cream Koan: The 2nd years' letter to the 3rd years.
To Tsuruta and the 3rd year foxes who are in the lion's ass...
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Shin and his friends can be seen as this, doing most everything together, helping each other out whenever they can, and still hanging out regularly even after they've graduated.
- All of the Kurodas count, being Blood Brothers and such, but this is especially the case for Tetsu and Minoru. You rarely see one without the other, being almost like real brothers since they were "adopted" by the Kurodas at the same time.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Kudou.
- Insult of Endearment: Kumiko's nickname, "Yankumi," was created by Kumiko's students to be disrespectful, but Kumiko thought it was cute, making them mad. Later, after the students finally respect and trust her, Yankumi becomes an Affectionate Nickname.
- Inter Generational Friendship: Shin and Kyou, though Kyou definitely enjoys it more than Shin; teasing Shin about Kumiko (and sometimes helping, like with the fundoshi) is a big way he shows his affection.
- Kissing Discretion Shot:
Ucchi: *jumps up, waving his arms* THIS ISN'T SOMETHING CHILDREN SHOULD SEE!
- Large Ham: All the Kurodas except Kumiko's grandfather.
- Love Triangle: Shin -> Kumiko -> Shinohara. Manga Canon points to Shin and Kumiko getting together.
- Luke, I Might Be Your Father: Kousuke was Kumiko's mother's ex-boyfriend. Kyo was the first person to notice Kousuke and Kumiko look somewhat alike, and when Kyo confronted him about it, the latter admitted it was possible.
- Manly Tears: Frequently indulged in by the men of Kuroda.
- Naughty Nurse Outfit: Shin gets dragged into a brothel by Kyo and gets assaulted by a girl in a nurse outfit. He seems thoroughly mortified, though that could be because the "nurse" was a Butterface.
- Neighbourhood Friendly Gangsters: The Kurodas engage in illegal activity but nothing appears to be all that immoral or cruel. To the point the neighborhood actually really like them and they do not collect protection money to extort them, they actually do protect them.
- Noodle Incident: Between Kuma and Shin. "When I was ambushed by those middle-schoolers... And when we were on Mt. Hane, I took the bento..."
- The bento one was explained many volumes later.
- Norio Wakamoto: Voices Kuroda second-in-command Ooshima in the anime
- Obfuscating Stupidity:
- Kumiko's ditz-acting seems to work on almost everyone in the series, even though she always slips into "yakuza mode". She passes this off as being a big fan of yakuza movies and TV shows.
- The school principal is this as well because beneath his erratic, and occasionally perverted actions, he is revealed to be an intelligent man who cares for his students and wants what is best for them.
- Odd Friendship: Shin and Kuma are best friends.
- Oddly Small Organization: Kumiko's Yakuza Family. A new gang member noticed this and thought this meant they were easy pickings. The leader of said group knew that despite being small each member was pretty much a One-Man Army and the leader has the influential power to pretty much summon every yakuza member to his side at a moment's notice.
- One Steve Limit: Subverted. During the Okinawa trip, Uchi's gone missing after a fight with some local toughs, and while searching for him, Kumiko and Shin overhear some local bikers mention that Uchi's been kidnapped. Cue lots of running and fighting before it becomes clear that it's a different Uchi...
- Only Sane Man: Shin and Shinohara, though Ryuuchirou and Yankumi play the part sometimes. Sometimes.
- Overprotective Dad: the Kurodas kept scaring off our heroine's boyfriends when she was younger.
- Panty Shot: Happens a few times, though it's Played for Laughs rather than Fanservice. Kumiko's not used to wearing skirts with all the jumping and kicking she does.
- People Fall Off Chairs: Shin falls backward in his chair when he sees Kumiko in a wearing a schoolgirl uniform.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: The leader of the Nekomata-kumi. His underlings wonder why they even work for him, and when Kudou's plan to kidnap Kumiko falls through and Kuroda invades the Nekomata headquarters, the leader is the only one who didn't get to escape because he had knocked himself out with his backscratcher.
- Running Gag: One of Kumiko's students reminding her to start class, only to get beat up by another student for reminding her.
- Also, Kumiko being distracted enough for her students to draw on her face.
- Running Sequence: The opening for the anime features the entire cast running in a giant crowd.
- Sadist Teacher: This series is full of them: Shin's middle school teacher purposefully ostracized one student for no reason, Minoru's high school teacher forced him to go home because he was "polluting" the school atmosphere.... and let's not even get started on Miura.
- Scary Shiny Glasses: Miura-sensei before chatacter development.
- Kumiko when she gets mad.
- Secret Identity: Kumiko tries to keep her Yakuza background secret at work, although eventually everyone knows. It turns out that it was the reason the school director hired her, figuring she'd be tough enough for the job.
- She Will Come for Me: During the last arc of the series...
Shin: We'll get out somehow, won't we? After all, you told Yamaguchi, didn't you?
Student 1: But we said such mean things to her.
Student 2: Maybe Yankumi won't come to save us...
Student 3: You numbskull! She ain't that shallow!
Shin: That's true. She'll definitely come even if she's told not to...
- Shipper on Deck: After they find out about Shin's crush on Kumiko, Shin's friends become this. Fujiyama as well, though she's slightly less proactive.
- The Kuroda men support Kumiko's crush on Shinohara, except Kyo-san, who teases Shin about Kumiko every once in a while.
- Not to mention Fuji (whom only Shin can understand, for some reason), who can tell Shin has a crush on Kumiko the second he sees them talk to each other (possibly because he's a dog and can smell the change in pheromones). In the special chapters, Fuji bribes Shin with possessions or secrets of Kumiko to get him to go along with his shenanigans.
- Shirtless Scene: Volume 8, chapters 10 and 11. 34 pages of men in fundoshi.
- Sitting on the Roof: A large amount of scenes take place on the roof of the school.
- Student Council President: Shirokin's is Kubo, who is also the only member of the student council. Aotama's is Uesugi, a Well-Intentioned Extremist who led the rest of the student council to become vigilantes who randomly beat up people who have committed petty crimes and then pin it on someone from Shirokin. And he wants to become a lawyer just so he can deliver punishment upon wrongdoers.
- Sudden Name Change: Exchange student Michael from Australia from volume 9 becomes Richard from Austria in volume 10. It could be that the person introducing him in volume 9 simply got where he was from wrong, seeing as everyone kept getting it wrong and asking him to buy them a koala, though there's no explanation given for the name change. The chapter where he returns is even called "Richard-kun Reappears."
- Teacher/Student Romance: Besides the Shin and Kumiko hijinks, Miura-sensei's obsession with Shin, and, arguably, Fujiyama-sensei, as she always jokes about which of the cute boys she would sleep with.
- Ten Minutes in the Closet: Shin's friends lock him and Kumiko together in a storage room to encourage intimacy.
- Theme Tune Cameo: In the anime, when Kumiko goes to see Shin at his father's house, he's laying on his bed listening to the theme tune through his earbuds.
- The Thing That Goes Doink: Never shown on-screen, but the distinctive sound is heard whenever the scene is the Ooeda compound.
- Training from Hell: Carlos' method of training first-time boxers is swinging a weight at their heads until they learn to dodge it. It actually works.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Kyou is surprisingly Genre Savvy about this. He and Wakamatsu are trying to prevent Kumiko from finding out about a woman who was crying on Shinohara's shoulder in public when she suddenly turns up at the house.
Yoshizumi: I'm Shinohara-sensei's... acquaintance from way back. A childhood friend.
Kyou: Childhood friend!! *whispers* This is bad, Wakamatsu! The childhood friend came!
- Unsound Effect: "SCARY FACE" for whenever Inuzuka gets scared and his face contorts grotesquely.
- Weak, but Skilled: Kubo. He comes out number one during the Abe Test mostly because he's an exceptionally good singer and is a "stallion."
- What the Hell, Hero?: Kumiko using Shin as bait to goad the Aotoma student council into committing another crime. It works; they attack a man in an alleyway and the leader made sure to call himself Sawada Shin. The man who was attacked went and abducted Shin from school and beat him within an inch of his life until someone came and recognized him as the Young Red Lion Master. Shin was rescued, and Kumiko realized how much she had "come to rely on him like an idiot."
- Will They or Won't They?: They Do: Shin and Kimiko get together in the last chapter of the series.
- Yakuza: Kumiko's family.
- Yubitsume: Mentioned a few times. Noticeably, both Tetsu and Carlos are missing half of their pinkies. There was also the time when Kumiko, as a young girl, attempted to cut her pinky off to atone for the fault of one of her grandfather's men. She thought it would grow back.
- Zany Scheme: Many are concocted by Kumiko, usually with Shin involved in some way. Need a way to improve Shirokin's reputation? Put some choice students through Training from Hell so they can become boxers and defeat the top boxing high school in the nation. Need to discredit a vigilante who attends a high-class high school? Have a dog poop in his path and hope he doesn't notice until he gets to school. Need to scare away a Sadist Teacher? Make him believe that the high school boy he was perving on has a terrible disease that makes him grow a catfish mustache. Some of them make sense in context... some of them don't.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: No two students are not bishonen.
- In one instance there is a student in the manga that is described as the ugliest in the class. In the Live Action he is referred to as a ladies man.
- Aesop Amnesia: It takes a little while for the students to become savvy to the fact that Yankumi's not going to look down on them or mistrust them out of hand.
- Badass Teacher: Of course, Yankumi.
- The movie also has Odagiri from season 2.
- Big Damn Heroes: Yankumi. Sometimes the True Companions attempt it, but they often get thumped for their trouble.
- Odagiri from the second season comes closest to returning the favour by stopping someone from taking a whack to Yankumi's back with a metal pipe in the movie.
- Bishie Sparkle: In the second series, Kujo-sensei from the girls' school across the road.
- Catch Phrase: The head teacher frequently demands to know whether Yankumi is "doing something unnecessary". Yankumi calls her students daiji na seito, which means my precious students.
- Colourful Theme Naming: The high school of the first series is named Shirokin or "white gold" as in the manga, but the second series' school is Kurogin "black silver" and the third's school is Akadou or "red bronze".
- Cool Old Guy: Kuroda Ryuuichiro.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: An inevitable and expected outcome whenever Yankumi takes off her glasses and pigtails. You can also expect this to frequently happen to the student protagonists, prompting Yankumi to come to their rescue.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Whoever in class 3-D is responsible for the impressive graffiti could probably make a decent living off of his/their art skills.
- Epic Fail: In the Live Action series, her over-enthusiasm often scares away the non-delinquent classes she teaches.
- The Glasses Come Off: Kumiko always unties her pigtails and removes her glasses before a fight.
- Hot-Blooded: Yankumi.
- It's a Small World After All: Taken to illogical extremes in the movie, where Yankumi meets a former student every five minutes or so.
- Also in the movie, of all the places trainee teacher Odagiri could have gone actually assigned to, he ends up at Akadou where Yankumi is! Subverted in the end as the Principal reveals he had asked to be assigned to Akadou, knowing he would meet Yankumi there again. Which means the earlier scene where he is surprised to see Yankumi, Baba and the Principal is actually an act!
- Lighter and Softer: Yankumi, her family, and her students have all had their edges filed off. In fact, the whole yakuza element seems to have been swept under the rug entirely. On the other hand...
- Once an Episode: Or near to it. Yankumi's students get beaten up by guys who are nastier than they are, then those guys get beaten up by someone who is nastier than they are: Yankumi. Also, Yankumi consults with her grandfather for advice on what to do over copious amounts of sake.
- Only Sane Man: There's one in every season but Odagiri Ryu from Gokusen 2 is the standout example. He also picks up this role in the movie.
- Recurring Riff: A distinctive piece plays when Yankumi performs her signature hair-band-and-glasses-removal preparation to start beating on some thugs.
- Sorting Algorithm of Badass: Yankumi can face down her crop of high school badasses because, as inclined as they are to fighting and getting in trouble, she was raised by the yakuza and delinquents are just small fry compared to her folks back home. Most of the threats Yankumi faces are somewhere in between her own rank on the scale and that of her students.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Yankumi pulls off a Stealth Hi at least once an episode. Shin and the others occasionally get in on the act.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Each season begins with Yankumi going in to teach at class 3-D of a new school, which is filled with bishounen delinquents who she inevitably wins over, helping them with their troubles over the course of the season, culminating in their graduation. Each season also features new love interest for Yankumi, with the old ones disappearing without a trace except Baba in seasons 2 and 3. Seasons 2 and 3 also have Yankumi being fired from a different teaching job for teaching her students yakuza phrases, before going to that season's class 3-D. Each class also seems to feature one student who acts as the Only Sane Man, has father issues and an implied crush on Yankumi (Shin in Season 1, Ryu in Season 2, and Yamato in Season 3).
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Second-season's Takeda challenges a college-level boxer to a fight over a girl and gets the tar kicked out of him. Yankumi and her friends don't intervene, even though Takeda is getting wiped out and thrown down on sharp, pointy rocks.
- True Companions: In the second season, Yabuki, Odagiri, Tsuchiya, and Takeda are rarely seen without each other, and when they are it usually means something bad is going down.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Strangely, Yankumi.
- The Yakuza Who Don't Do Anything: Yankumi's yakuza family are never involved in organised crime. In fact, their only source of income appears to be from a small roadside food stall.