Episode 3 Review: Gomen ne Seishun! (2014)
There’s always one thing bothering me when it comes to Japanese dramas. Truth be told, they possess their own aesthetic, but, there’s always one “but” that ruins the overall magic. In this occasion it’s not the dramas’ fault, the problem is ergonomic. The Japanese audience can cherish their dramas right on time while they’re airing, something logical and utterly understandable. The problem occurs for the non-Japanese audience. Episodes don’t always come out for the rest of the world right on time, they do come out eventually so it’s really not the core of the problem. The main tormenting aspect has to be the subtitles and in that point i have to thank all these beautiful people working on English subtitles for the rest of us anyplace in the world to treasure our beloved Japanese dramas, even if it’s a few days, weeks or even months later. This problem occurred to me with Gomen ne Seishun! to an extent, i had watched the first two episodes, yet from that moment and on the episodes and the subtitles were a bit tough to be found. Now things flow way better and the time has come for me to unfold my thoughts on one of my most enjoyable Japanese dramas this year! I watched both the third, the fourth and the fifth episode, but i will work solely on them even though i did a co-review on the first two episodes.
Sorry youth, back on topic to the main subject! We’ve already witnessed the birth of the two co-ed classes on both Sanjo and Tonkou schools. It works as an experiment for both of them to find out how it works and in case it works well a full co-ed will be on the horizon. A hell of a coincidence takes place at the bar many of our drama’s figures pass by. After all these years, Heisuke finally gets to meet Satoshi once again, but they’re not on their own, Risa appears as well! She had scheduled a meeting with Heisuke to talk about the joint cultural festival. Steadily and as information concerning Yuko and Satoshi comes to the surface Heisuke becomes nervous. His fast talking and slightly incoherent thoughts betray him.
As he walks her out to an extent, we get to know a few things about Risa’s past when she still was a student. It wasn’t easy for her due to Yuko-oriented rumors and at that time she was well known as… the black tiger! A fierce slapstick scene follows in which she beats up some of her schoolmates that tried to stand in her! One thing is for sure, personally, i would never like to face her! The scene is definitely hilarious and neurotic and some of Risa’s facial expressions are utterly priceless! Hikari is such a wonderful actress, i definitely love her angry self! Needless to say that her nerdy Catholic student self is brilliant, seemingly tranquil, yet when the occasion asks for it she becomes a true punish machine all of a sudden! Last but not least, the pervert Xavier who pretends to be a cleric in order to approach girls from the Catholic school makes his first appearance, but manages to escape!
After Heisuke and Risa part ways he has his first real chance to talk with Satoshi about the past. Although not a great talker, Satoshi wants to apologize about the past. We get to know what he’s been up to all these years, traveling from place to place around the country to work and about his accident that had an impact on his leg. He explains, at least he’s trying, the story between Yuko and him from his own perspective. He’s got the face and attitude of a player, so we can’t totally know if everything he confesses to Heisuke is utterly true, but he’s giving it a shot and he doesn’t feel overall dishonest, it’s more than welcome after all these years. A revival of past events is omnipresent on the horizon and some explanations feel a bit awkward towards Heisuke, but he gets the point!
Heisuke wants to confess that he’s the culprit of the fire at the chapel, but he’s missing the one opportunity right after the other! Let’s be honest, it’s not the easiest thing to bring to the surface after all these years since so many got into trouble. It was unfair for Satoshi, Yuko and her family, but let’s think a bit Heisuke’s situation for a while. I’m not saying that he’s innocent, yet the impact of taking responsibility for his unintentional and immature action would possibly ruin his life. It’s something that haunts him night and day and he won’t be holding it inside forever. He always finds comfort on the maternal figure of the Buddhist Goddess statue, it feels as if confessing the pits of his soul to his deceased mother and we all know that a mother’s always understanding. One could also say that the Goddess statue works as a relieving figure in order for Heisuke to talk openly with his conscience, but since our Goddess partakes in various thoughtful or humorous scenes and works as the announcer of events and/or insightful information we can just accept her as the drama’s spokesperson with its supernatural aura, a third person that watches from afar on a deus ex machina position from time to time. It’s always funny when she punishes or just frightens Heisuke’s pervert monk father for his dirty thoughts!
During the next day the co-ed student committee for the joint cultural festival discusses about their main subject. Handa, the Tonkou student body president, takes charge of the discussion and in an overly enthusiastic explosion he exaggerates passionately himself! In the meantime, Heisuke and Risa receive Tonkou school president’s affirmative answer to proceed with the joint cultural festival!
Everything feels positive, but it’s not as easy as it seems to be. The Sanjo nun president is always over-protective towards her girls and she doesn’t want them to fall behind in their studies and grades! She will let the experimental co-ed class and the joint cultural festival proceed under a few conditions. Heisuke’s class must not be the last one in the ranking and Risa’s must be the first one. If one of these conditions isn’t accomplished both the co-ed and the festival expectations will cease existing. Risa’s not worrying at all, Heisuke’s position is tough though.
Heisuke takes a close look at the most representative students of his class, he’s got his girls and he shouldn’t be afraid of failure!
But he’s more than afraid once he’s being reminded of his boys’ grades!
In his time of need Tominaga appears, he’s the physical fitness school teacher of Sanjo. He’s very famous at the girls’ school for obvious reasons. He’s a an utterly funny and supportive figure and he preserves an overly heroic tone in the way he speaks! He feels more like a super hero in a world of students rather than a teacher! Over-reactive, hyper-energetic and with a heart of a teenager beating inside his chest he participates full of passion in the students’ basketball training. An accident will put him at ease though and although he thinks it’s nothing important, the next day he appears down to earth.
Heisuke’s class must not be the last one in grade ranking! He arranges supplementary lessons to help his students become better. Things don’t go as planned since the boys can’t follow the girls’ pace. One after the other they find excuses to leave the class and find shelter in the arms of Tonkou’s Madonna! Handa’s there too and while he’s surpassed Risa’s menacing teaching to a welcome extent… she breaks into the room and roars like a black tiger “get back to classroom, now!” I admit i nearly lost my life due to non-stop laughter hemorrhage in that scene and while i was on my way back Furui and Risa’s interaction appears by turning escalator school programs into… elevator ones!
Yet, they are determined to keep the co-ed flame alive for them and secure it as inheritance for the future Tonkou boys’ generations! An emergency plan turns to life! The boys for a week’s time before the exam will remain at the temple in order to study harder and prepare themselves to become at least second to last in terms of grade ranking. Heisuke’s brother, Ippei, will help them with maths and English, the pervert Buddhist priest will be in charge of the students’ spiritual state of mind and… Elenacho will cheer them up!
Elenacho seems to be the most important factor in the temple for the boys and whether they’re studying or not, the outcome is only one, nothing has gotten better in terms of knowledge! During one of the scenes Elenacho mentions Horikoshi High School from which many idols have graduated, this caused some problems to TBS TV Channel and they had to apologize openly for this choice.
Everyday they wake up early in the morning and inside the class they aren’t the most vivid and full of life students, sleep’s taking over! I would never like getting up early in the morning by the pervert priest and his weirdo son Ippei.
Although, when the time comes for physical training class all energy, as if by magic, gets restored! You have to love the girls’ reaction when they disagree on something with one “no” coming right after the other! All of the actresses are definitely into their student roles, each one to their figures’ characteristics, they are adorable! And Tominaga, despite being wounded he can’t leave the battlefield, he’s always there, heart and soul!
Handa practices his kendo techniques and Amari that is passing by stops to treasure the moment. Ebisawa and other classmates happen to pass by as well and she tries to hide her feelings, but it’s not something one can easily hide once they have blossomed deep inside. Handa was the only one trying to protect her from ambitious boys trying to confess their feelings to her! He was like Amari’s love-proof vest! But Amari’s not the only one having feelings for Handa. Murai’s the other love contestant! The overall scene with Heisuke, Madonna and Ooki is priceless!
Later on that night, some of the teachers of Tonkou school relax at the usual bar. Daizaburo Sannomiya realizes it’s Friday and about time to have his radio broadcast and rushes at the radio station! His facial expressions are hilarious! At the same time, Risa appears, but there’s no appointment with Heisuke. She’s staring towards Satoshi, could it be that history repeats itself against Heisuke and she likes Satoshi? Or maybe she wants some answers about him and her sister? While she’s staying there, she finds out about the intensive learning the boys are going through at the temple.
Back at the temple, some of the students are studying whereas some others are taking a shower. Ebisawa is one of them, but when he makes it to the studying area of the temple he witnesses something unpleasant to his eye, Amari is more than friendly when she’s around Handa. Funny thing is, Murai resists taking a shower with Handa!
Ebisawa asks Heisuke is he can use the radio. He’s longing for the Sorry Youth program that hasn’t started yet, the main figure behind it, Daizaburo Hannomiya (Kabayaki Santarou when it comes to the radio program) is stuck in the traffic! Ebisawa finds out that this radio program was Heisuke’s favorite back in the days when he was a school student. They start talking about his relationship with Amari, but Elenacho’s scream has different plans! It’s her usual bizarre misunderstanding of being found at the same bed, bathtub or wherever with anyone at this temple!
Ebisawa is about to follow Heisuke but a voice he can perfectly recognize appears on the Sorry Youth broadcast. “Maria” starts confessing her feelings towards a classmate and that she no longer feels the same way about her boyfriend. Heisuke comes back, but Ebisawa’s nowhere to be found, but soon he understands the reasons he’s been missing for a while now. He went to find Amari, their eyes met in a heartbreaking scene that nothing more than an apology could be uttered, any other thought would lie shattered.
During the next morning, Heisuke has already understood that the boys by themselves would not achieve something that great in order to get better grades on the upcoming exams. He needs some serious help and the best option has to be the girls’ united power! Once Risa arrives at the temple to see if everything’s flowing well for the boys, a grandiose surprise awaits her! Not only everything’s getting better, but both the girls and the boys cooperate together! Of course they can’t learn everything just because the girls moved in, but everything’s going to get better with time because the girls have the power to force them to study and eventually it will be for the best! And let’s not forget Elenacho who’s providing them her special support! Time is not on their side, but the more they try the more they’ll achieve in the forthcoming exam, they have to fight for the co-ed school and the joint cultural festival to turn to life! Risa and Heisuke are actually very happy watching all of them studying together and they hope for the best.
The day of the exams has arrived. Everyone’s hoping for the best. When Heisuke tells his students to start writing, you can witness the teacher’s affection towards his class. The exam is tougher than they thought and the boys start crying one after the other. It’s saddening to find out that they tried so hard and the outcome won’t be the one they were trying to achieve. It’s almost devastating and the girls partake on their own way at their sorrow.
Risa’s class ranked first, sadly enough though, Heisuke’s class was the last one in terms of grade ranking. The dreams of co-ed and joint cultural festival reach a tear-filled end. The boys are crying, Heisuke tries hard not to, he tries to remain unaffected by the overburdened aura inside the class and utters his speech. He’s thankful for the journey so far. He’s grateful for his students, girls and boys. He desires to leave a last homework behind with a word that doesn’t exist, but he wants to find out what the female students would invent as its meaning. It’s about the Japanese character for the word “like” which consists of two other characters, the ones for “woman” and “child”. If it’s written as “girl”, it is read as “like” or “favor”. Heisuke presents the new character which stands for “boy” and consists of two other characters respectively who stand for “man” and “child.” That’s what Heisuke would like to find out, how the girls would perceive this word and how they’d read it. I loved Nakai’s answer, “idiot”, it came out so fast and all of a sudden, almost without thought and it made the scene quite funny under its overall saddening ambiance.
The two co-ed classes no longer exist and both the boys and the girls with their teachers return back to their arch bases. On their way back, the two of them meet and Risa utters an utterly emotional and beautiful monologue, a very touching and heartrending speech. Her facial expressions and the fact that she’s trying as well to hold back her tears are utterly representative of the emotional charge of the moment, Hikari’s pouring herself into this monologue.
On their way back, Tonkou’s Madonna is waiting for her boys to console them.
Yet, on the next morning something unexpected happens! Heisuke’s surprised face says it all! The girls are taking charge of the situation and go back to Tonkou school to claim their seats! The girls’ determination is omnipresent and you have to love Aoi Morikawa as Amari, she’s such an austere and delicate young lady at the same time!
At the same time, the boys are more than happy and they follow the example the girls set in the first place! They rush at the same class the co-ed was taking place up to the previous day! Risa and the nun president enter the class and they can’t understand what’s going on! Heisuke can’t either, but Nakai, the student body president of Sanjo takes the lead. The girls have found the answer to the character Heisuke presented as his last homework at the co-ed class. The “man” and “child” character that stand for “boy” would be read as “acceptable” and the boys are acceptable in their class! The girls support Nakai and the overall atmosphere becomes hopeful and happy, even funny! Nakai’s seemingly cold personality is adorable, thoughtful and mature as she is, she’s worth her position as top student and student body president in gold. Young actress Yuina Kuroshima shines through her role! Heisuke is deeply touched by the overall outcome and the explanation of the answer, so is Risa that surrenders in the end and shows her warm smile, the nun president can’t help it but agree as well!
Xavier, the pervert that pretends to be a cleric makes his appearance once again, but the heroic Tominaga, even though he’s wounded, stops his sneak attack! The boys take charge of the situation and Xavier gets caught for good! Risa can’t stop smiling, of course the boys are acceptable!
At the end of the episode, we get to know the real motive behind the boys’ hard studying! It’s all because of the pervert priest’s promise. Heisuke’s father had promised that if their grade is bigger than 70, they’d touch Elenacho’s breasts for 1 second per point above 70! They’re devastated because the biggest grade didn’t surpass 69/100! Furui’s outburst is hilarious! That priest is such a troll!
Gomen ne Seishun! is one of the most humorous dramas i’ve come across this year. It may be utterly funny, but at the same time it can get equally emotionally charged, the scriptwriter has achieved this divine balance! All of the actors partaking in the drama are highly expressive and live up to the expectations of their roles, they breathe life into their characters in an unerring way! Ryo and Hikari are highly respectable as teacher figures, each to his/her method! The boys are just like boys should be! And the girls have an elegance but seriousness of their own! Both the Buddhist priest and Catholic nun are equally crazy for different reasons! Ippei who is Heisuke’s brother is such an odd figure! Elenacho as well, that’s why they are a couple! Madonna is such a lovely figure! Tominaga is a super hero in the shape of a teacher! Even the pervert Xavier has a fun of its own! Daizaburo as well as the man behind the radio broadcast microphone with his sophisticated or just incoherent lines! Satoshi as well, who will partake more on the following episodes! And everyone else i seem to forget! Everyone’s playing his important part in Gomen ne Seishun! and i shouldn’t forget the director, he compliments the figures of our actors and actresses in the most representative way through closeups, angles and perspectives that never fail to enclose the intensity of the moment, whether it’s comical or emotional!
So as to conclude, Yuina Kuroshima (Nakai) and Aoi Morikawa (Amari) on Gomen ne Seishun! alongside Ai Hashimoto (Wakamono Tachi – All About My Sinblings, Confessions) and Jun Yoshinaga (Still the Water) are some of the new blood of Japanese actresses i’m highly looking forward to see how they will evolve in their future films/dramas. They’re all talented and they have great potential that will shine a whole lot more in the, hopefully near, future!