ごめんね青春! (Gomen Ne Seishun)

St. Mishima Girl’s High School (Sanjo) and Mishima High School (Tonkou) are only 100 meters apart but these institutions have glaring differences from religion to culture to curriculum. They also share a 14-year-old bitter history that produces the students’ and teachers’ unwelcoming attitude towards each other. Sanjo disapproves of Tonkou so much that those boys can’t literally take a step beyond their gate and their handbook specifically states that dating a boy from the said school will lead to suspension. But rules are made to be broken. Sanjo’s Amarin and Tonkou’s Ebisawa are secretly dating.

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These two hope that their schools will merge so that they could see each other in the open, exactly the same as what its former students, Yuko and Satoshi wished for 14 years ago. The couple was rumored to have intentionally set Sanjo’s chapel on fire to force a merger .

Current teacher,Tonkou alumnus, Hara Heisuke was involved in a love triangle with the legendary alleged arsonist couple. Satoshi and Hachiya Yuko were suspected as culprits when the authorities found them at the school rooftop on the night of the fire. Though there was a lack of evidence (and they really didn’t start that fire anyway!), they both just dropped out of school eventually.

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Nishikido Ryo plays Hara Heisuke. I’m not a big fan of Nishikido though he’s quite a looker since it’s a given,he’s a Johnny. But his acting is the kind that improves over time although he has the tendency to get upstaged quite easily. I wasn’t exactly impressed with his performance in 1 Litre of Tears and Last Friends but he was ok in Zenkai Girl. I think romcoms suit him. As Heisuke, he’s surprisingly charismatic and sincere albeit a tad dorky. This should erase his Last Friends’ abusive character in my memory. He nails the role of a teacher since there was an evidently strong student-teacher dynamics in his classroom scenes compared to his Kanjani-mate Maru and his students in Jigoku Sensei Nube.

Nagayama Kento plays Heisuke’s best bud, Satoshi. I haven’t seen him in anything before this dorama. Or maybe I have, I probably just wasn’t paying attention. It’s also due to the fact that he has an unbelievably talented older brother in the same industry. I was surprised to hear Kento’s voice. He sounded a lot like his brother, as if Eita was dubbing for him. Kento may still be underrated and overshadowed by Eita for now,he just needs to keep getting more challenging roles to show off his natural acting chops.

Haru and Mitsushima Hikari could totally pass off as sisters: almost twins,the kind who have the same hairstyle but have opposite personalities. One’s gentle,prim and proper while the other is overly energetic and religiously uptight. I saw Haru in a more mature character in Border and she’s a decent actress but not as good as Hikari.

After watching her in the crazy 4-hour Sion Sono film Love Exposure, the heartbreaking Soredemo Ikite Yuku and the family melodrama Wakamonotachi, Mizushima Hikari certainly become one of my favorite Japanese actresses.

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Donning a garb that could be mistaken as a nun’s, Hikari plays Hachiya Risa; Yuko’s younger sister and Sanjo’s intimidating, holier-than-thou head counselor and teacher.

In connection with the fire 14 years ago, the incurred debt has placed Sanjo in the red and to fix this financial crisis,the much anticipated merger is just about to happen. Heisuke suggested a trial co-ed class for six months. With students starting to see each other more closely,with Heisuke taming the fierce female students of Sanjo, Risa disciplining the Tonkou boys using her Black Tiger claws,and the revelation of Satoshi and Yuko’s whereabouts; I enjoyed the first 2 episodes more than I expected. I find the story to be personally relatable too since I am a teacher who used to attend an exclusive Catholic school for girls run by nuns. There are sensitive issues such as religion and sexism but the audience just to need to take the chill pill when watching. Things are obviously being exaggerated for comedic purposes. I hope the series would continue to be this good. Gomen ne Seishun is funny,witty and pop culture reference-heavy. It’s turning out to be another masterpiece from the awesome writer Kudo Kankuro.

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