Sunday, 25 January 2015

Just finished: Gomen ne Seishun!

The writer of this series, Kudo Kankuro, has often used pretty dark subject matter for his stories, such as street gangs, yakuza, or people dying of cancer, and they generally had an originality to them that regular J-dramas lacked, such as Ikebukuro West Gate Park being shot like a pop video, or Tiger and Dragon’s two interweving storylines. Although his work was very watchable, they hid a strong centre of sentimentality, and never really dwelt on the consequences of life in these situations.

Recently, his stories have focused on more mainstream topics, sometimes even twee (take a bow, Amachan) which has been no bad thing. Now, instead of hard-hitting drama with a soft centre, Kudo Kankuro writes soft-centred dramas with an edge.

All of which is leading me up to saying that I really enjoyed this series. It made me laugh, and kept me interested and in the hands of any other writer it would have been far worse. Each main character had a proper storyline that ran through the series, and there was hardly a second of dead space while they were all given their moments in the spotlight.

This series was about the merger of two single-sex schools: one high-achieving Catholic girls' school, the other an under-achieving boys' school. As these two cultures clash, fights are fought, people fall in love in unexpected ways and the future of these students and teachers has to be decided. Throughout the series, our main character has to hide the truth that, fourteen years ago, he accidentally set fire to the girls' school chapel in a fit of jealousy.

You couldn’t exactly call this original, though, as Kudo Kankuro used a number of narrative devices that he’s used before (such as a supernatural entity supplying some commentary on events) but I’ll forgive him that since he usually adds enough new stuff to make up for it.

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