Destiny Line – Ai no Matador –

Gachi Baka! [Japanese Drama 2006]

Posted on: July 29, 2008

Gachibaka!, a Japanese drama, had its airing from January 19 to March 23. The drama tells the story of Gondou Tetta (Takahashi Katsunori),  a former boxer who takes a job of a high-school teacher. He is assigned Class 3-E, the “loser class” who the administration has given up on. Despite the rest of the school seing the students of 3-E as hopeless, Gondou-sensei refuses to give up on them and continues to inspire each and every one of his students.

The first episode of the drama really sets up the series for growth as the students take an instant apathy to Gondou-Sensei. He tries to be encouraging and friendly although his students percieve him as someone the administration hired to babysit them. In addition, the administration is even more adverse to him teaching at the school. Rijichou (Inoue Waka) and the principal (Sawamura Ikki) are the two figures that spotlighted in the administration and are constantly on edge with Gondou. There are two stories in the first episode: Kageyama Yuko (Takabe Ai) and Gondou-Sensei are caught in a compromising position; Utsugi Minoru (Tegoshi Yuya), a sullen loner, begins ditching school and Gondou-Sensei sets out to find the reason behind his lack of absence. This episode also puts the emphasis on the Koushien Spring Baseball Competition, which the school hopes to win admittance to. Class 3-E is seen as a disgrace to the school and they would inhibit the school’s chances of getting acceptance into the competition and this worry is seen throughout the course of the series. It’s definitely a memorable first episode and Tegoshi really does a great job of portraying his character. The scene of him crying is heartbreaking and is really touching, really showing off Tegoshi’s acting abilities.

Inoue Kouta (Masuda Takahisa) and Morimoto Kana (Kurokawa Tomoka) are two other students that really stand out in the storyline. Kouta’s character really comes out on the second episode, when he is accused of stealing from a store. Gondou-Sensei’s sheer determination to prove him innocent is inspiring as he repeatedly counts the number of steps on the stairway to prove his innocence (attempting to match the number of steps that Kouta had said once questioned by the administration). Soon he gets into a fight with the drama’s leading “bad guy,” Sasaoka Kouji (Yoshinaga Yuki), Minoru goes to save him and soon Gondou-Sensei arrives to save both of them. Although down, Kouta can depend on his friends to cheer him up and they certainly provide a core group of support and fun. Massu’s spirit and energy really are reflected in Kouta, thus he is the perfect fit for the role. Kana serves as the object of Kouta’s affection although she has feelings for Minoru. Whether or not he has feelings for her is questioned throughout the series. She plays a very important part in the drama, even being at the center of a very dangerous situation.

Various other students make their presence known throughout the series as well. Maeshima Hanako (Ishiwata Rina) is Kana’s best friend and is extremely loyal to her. She feels that because of her size, she isn’t able to get a boyfriend and this proves to be false as she becomes the girlfriend of Mikimoto Kenji (Hazizume Ryo) later in the series (episode 4). Kouta’s group of friends also have their time in the spotlight with their respective episodes as well as being important in other episodes. Nakamura Masashi (Saito Keita)’s episode deals with his parents being so rich that he is able to avoid trouble unlike his friends. However he wants to be a normal kid and be able to be just like his friends. Soon in order to exact revenge, he makes a bomb to blow up the school. The ending for this episode is really funny and Tegoshi’s face in response to Gondou’s statement and Masashi’s “thank you” is heartwarming. Furada Hiroyuki (Ishida Takuya) has an interesting episode as he struggles to get the money together for university and is accused of stealing the money from the other students. Gondou’s dedication to seeing him through the whole ordeal is so sweet tat the viewer can’t help but love him. Mikimoto Kenji (Hashizume Ryo)

Episode seven is a key episode in the series as it reveals Kouji’s backstory on why he dislikes the school so much. Richijou (Inoue Waka) really sparkles in the episode as her compassion really emerges as she pacifies Kouji and really gets herself involved in a potentially life-threatening situation. Ever since the first episode, she hasn’t been too fond of Gondou but the audience can tell that there’s something inside her that is going to come through and warm up to Gondou-Sensei.

The last two episodes really close the series perfectly. Throughout the show, Kana has shown a hesitation and discomfort aronud Goudou. She is not only like this around him but all teachers and the reason why comes out in episode nine. She was sexually assulted by a teacher who she once admired and his return sends her into a flurry of fear and Gondou into rage, eventually attacking him. That one punch sends him out of his job and leaves him downtrotten. The final episode features Gondou getting back into the ring after the encouragement of his students (and training by Minoru, Kouta, Hiroyuki, Masashi and Miki) and in a sad turn of events, loses the match. As for the administration, Rijichou forms a new rebuilding plan for the school as the principal only cares about money. She wants to nurture her students and keep her staff together as the others follow her leadership. As for Kana, Minoru and Kouta, neither one of them ends up getting her. Minoru is off to America to be a trainer while Kouta is going to Africa, a life-long dream. They both say that they haven’t given up on her and that one day, they will meet again. The final scene is of Gondou loading boxes into a truck and Richijou comes to him and asks him to come work at her new establishment. He agrees and the future looks good for everyone.

Drama Ranking: A +

Gachi Baka! is a fantastic drama with each character sparkling in their own way. The determination to stand on his students’ side and defend them really makes Gondou-Sensei the perfect leading character and the viewer can’t help but fall in love with him from the first moment. Tesshi and Massu both shine here as their respective characters and instantly make the viewer love the two of them. The development of Richijou’s character also stands out and is heartwarming how she comes to really care about the class of 3-E. Every single episode is filled with intensity, enjoyment and love and it’s definitely the drama to watch.

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