The life of the lead character has been a series of embarrassing events beyond his control. Yet his fate is sealed when he falls in love with one of his students, with a passion that seems to intensify in the face of social mores. This drama explores the complex emotions that lead to forbidden paths of infatuation.
Cast & Credits
I'm a huge and everlasting fan of prolific screenwriter Nojima Shinji and can't say enough how great and influential a writer he has been for Japanese TV in the 90s. While his initial claim to fame came in the way of writing somewhat conventional love stories and human-life "Trendy Dramas" such as "Hitotsu Yane No Shita" "Ai To Iu Nano Moto Ni" ,"Kimi ga Uso wo Tsuita", it was his later "darker" and more sublime dramas which really showcased how talented and brilliant a writer he was. Many people said that Nojima Shinji has a gift in writing words. His dramas might win and lose interests, but most of the times they’re worth to quote.
Kou Kou Kyoushi is one such drama, a very dark one and in fact it's considered a cult classic in the annals of Japanese TV Dramas. The story was unconventional to say the least, not only in the scope of its plot but also in the way that it was presented.
The drama revolved around the taboo romantic relationship between the meek and shy academic Hamaura Takao (played by amazing and of the most famous Asian stars Sanada Hiroyuki) and his hopelessly optimistic and cheery 17 year-old homeroom student Ninomiya Mayu (played by the incredibly cute Sakurai Sachiko). As the series progressed and Takao and Mayu's romance intensified and grew more deeper, the audience soon discovers that Mayu's carefree disposition is but a mask to hide a truely depressing history and an even darker personal secret. We feel the intense darkness as death is mentioned along the way. Despite that however, the soundtrack and the main characters’ heart are pure and innocent. The director himself mentioned in a commentary that Nojima Shinji was the one who decided to choose an innocent Mayu. Not that there aren’t Gals and other type of girls in 1993 society, but Nojima Shinji decided to create an innocent characters for his story. Whole characters development was fantastic, every one of them had their own story, secret, their own deepness and the actors were really great in portraying those characters.
The issues covered in Kou Kou Kyoushi are controversial (a rape by a teacher, an abortion, homosexuality, another relationship between a young teacher & student, incest, etc.) but these accurate depictions did much to bring such topics into public discussion in Japan during the 1990s. The situations portrayed here are quite realistic--Japanese teachers have a higher responsibility for their students than in many other countries, and unfortunately some have intentionally or unintentionally abused this trust.
It is said that Nojima structured "Kou Kou Kyoshi" almost like a classic Greek Tragedy. With its lurid themes of teacher-student romance, suicide, rape, incest and bullying, "Kou Kou Kyoushi" was heralded as a bold and controversial drama and generated huge viewership ratings at the time of its debut. In subsequent years it has become quite a cult drama series and it's shock ending is truly one of the most memorable in Japanese drama history.
Even after 22 years it has been made, even I have seen so many dark and really difficult dramas to digest, this one will for sure stay in my mind for a very very long time and despite all those controversial and depressed issues in it, I've enjoyed and was fascinated by depth of love of the two main leads and their pure, innocent hearts in all that hopelessness and abyss of heartless and harsh society.
Even though it's one of my favorites I'm not going to act like there is nothing wrong with this show. The first thing I thought was odd with this show was how obsessed Mayu was with the teacher when she only knew the man for less than 24 hours! She was saying things like "I'll protect you", stalking him, etc when she barely knew him! Speaking of Mayu, I personally thought that she was too good for that teacher! Sure they make a cute couple, but there were times I just wanted to slap the teacher for the things he would say or do to Mayu.
Another issue I had with this show was how the students could bully their teacher, throw acid at people, etc and face ZERO consequences but if condoms were found in their school bag they got expelled, and the way the girls act towards their male teachers was cringe worthy! There are more things I wanna say, but I don't wanna post spoilers~
Now what really made this show good, was how there were moments that melted my heart and had me in tears. The actors did a really good job, especially the people who acted as Mayu and the gym teacher. The romance in this show was pretty sweet and much better than most romantic dramas I ever seen, you could actually feel how genuine the feelings between the teacher and the girl is. I also loved how moments in this show had me really thinking about all sorts of things, and always had me wondering "What will happen next?" This is one of those shows worth watching at least once.