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Gokusen 2 - Episode 02

Plot: Yankumi begins the day with a greeting for her deceased parents and a flashback for the rest of us, musing on how not scared she is of her class of little kids. I admit, it is hard to take them seriously. Hairbands just aren't that scary.

Neither is Kuma, when he encounters Yankumi on her way to work. I don't know how he ever managed to intimidate anyone in high school. Threatened to run them over with his bike, possibly. Yankumi continues on her merry way, getting all nostalgic over "Burberry-sama" on the steps where she met him on that fateful day. The clueless Baba-sensei thinks she's referring to him and has merely gotten his name wrong. Why are all men in this series idiots? Except Yankumi's grandfather, that is. I guess that's why he's the third-generation head of the Oedo family.

Once in the classroom, matters seem to have improved somewhat. 3-D are now actually answering to their names when Yankumi takes attendance...all except Ryu, who's not there. Hayato looks overjoyed at the prospect of Ryu not showing up - probably remembering yesterday, when he got half-stripped and completely soaked in front of all his friends and the teachers.

But Ryu does turn up - late, which, Yankumi warns him, will count as an absence if he does it another two times. Given that the guy's not supposed to be attending school anyway, surely they should give him a gold star if he gets an absence? Take greets him, but Ryu's too busy looking sullen and 'I don't care about anything, I'm just here because I've got nothing better to do' to respond. He takes a seat in the front, about as far from Hayato as he can get. Not that this matters because the first thing he does when he reaches his desk is turn back to look at Hayato, who's staring at him with one of those 'of all the classrooms in all the schools, why did you have to walk into mine?' looks. Ryu responds with a stony glare.

Yankumi picks up on the tension between them, possibly clued in by the creepy music. Hayato continues to stare at Ryu's back; Ryu pointedly ignores him.

The guys of 3-D are easily entertained. Give them a ball to roll across the floor and they'll be happy for hours. They play table tennis, they throw darts - oh yes, these are hardcore delinquents. Tsucchi and co. are trying to figure out why Ryu's suddenly started coming to school. Take accidentally betrays that he's cracked by saying there are rumours that Yankumi persuaded him to do it. Everyone immediately picks up on his use of the nickname. Hayato brushes Take aside, throws his dart and presumably doesn't hit what he aims for because he makes what I think is supposed to be a sound of disappointment, but is actually a "Oh yes, Ryu, right there!" kind of sound. I kid you not. I had no idea playing with homemade dartboards could be so sexy.

Hyuuga makes a very good point - even if Yankumi had persuaded Ryu, would Ryu really listen to teachers? It's like saying, he might be a traitor but he's still one of us. Hayato thinks on this for a bit. Perhaps Take will get to take his turn now, seeing as how Hayato prevented him before!

Up on the roof, Ryu is perfecting his "bored" expression. I think the key to playing this role is to look equal parts uninterested and disgusted by everything. With those eyebrows, Kame is a master of this. Yankumi appears on the bench next to him, attempting to engage him in conversation. I have to say, I really like this bench. It's black and white, looks zebra-striped at one end and leopard-print at the other. Maybe Hyuuga designed it. Why there's one on the school roof, I have no idea, unless they're anticipating delinquents going up there for a nap or angsty exam students resting for a spell while they decide whether or not to throw themselves over the edge.

Yankumi doesn't endear herself to Ryu by trying to correct his Japanese, for starters, but he's not really paying attention, more interested in finding out why she's such a strong fighter. What he should be asking is why all the bad guys are such klutzes. Yankumi tries to cover by suggesting Ryu was imagining things after being beaten to a pulp, which is probably why she then gets insulted as he strolls off. I'm inclined to think Ryu wouldn't give a damn if she had the body of Elle McPherson - she'd still be lacking a Y chromosome.

But she won't hold it against him. No, Yankumi knows the key to controlling 3-D is to reunite Ryu and Hayato, so what does she do? Why, she draws up a plan - with pictures - to make them friends again. Friends...holding hands, with little hearts over their heads. She should go talk to the superintendent. Perhaps they could get together and create Ryu/Hayato doujinshi. To her credit, Yankumi has some nice ideas to make them bury the hatchet elsewhere than in each other's heads. Cooking together, for instance. (Hello, Cartoon KAT-TUN.) Shared suffering by cleaning out the toilets. Sadly, the other teachers poke holes in her masterplan, pointing out that it would be a bad idea to let them near kitchen knives and they'd probably smoke in the bathrooms. Not on camera, though - this isn't Rookies!

Of course, according to Sawatari, this is completely unnecessary. I think that's his favourite word. He doesn't want any trouble with Ryu's father. In defending her actions, Yankumi is inspired to try sports as a bonding activity, leading to a maths lesson on the football pitch. There are a couple of guys batting each other girlishly behind her as she dribbles the ball; most of the students are in their own little groups, paying no attention whatsoever. Ryu's leaning against the goalpost like he's posing for a photoshoot, which could possibly be the case.

That gives Yankumi an idea. Amazingly enough, Kojima (who?) passes the ball when she asks him to, and she does one of those martial arts type kicks to score a goal that wouldn't be out of place in 'Wild Striker'. She's so proud of herself, it's very cute. Too bad everyone except Ryu was too busy watching the girls jog by on the other side of the fence. It's like 'Baywatch', only with less sand. Ryu did see the goal, though he didn't move to prevent it - as he informs Yankumi, they're on the same team. She's just scored an own goal. I'm impressed that he was paying enough attention to notice there were teams.

Up in the sinister superintendent's office, Sawatari is down on his knees, hoping his position will not be aversely affected by the unorthodox maths lesson and Ryu's presence at school. He's got a fantastically rubber face, that guy.

Down on the pitch again, Hayato and co. are bored - the girls must've gone past by now - and are cutting the rest of class. Hyuuga's cute little "give up" is adorable, if lacking in machismo. Ryu is also giving up, though walking alone, ignoring Take's significant look and call. Hayato, seething with - rage? jealousy? allergies? - warns him to leave Ryu alone. The message is clear: ignore Ryu, or be ignored yourself.

Yankumi spies Take looking all thoughtful and vulnerable again and leaps into action, prying for details of The Great Betrayal. Take obliges. At the end of the second term, Hayato and co. decided to have a fight with five guys from Ara High to settle an old score between their schools. It was a duel, so Yankumi's grandfather and henchmen decide at supper that night as she relates the tale. But before the fight, Ryu went and bowed down to the Ara High leader by himself, apologising, so the fight never took place. Tetsu, Minoru and co. think this is incredibly shameful, but as Yankumi points out, 3-D, no matter how much they might want to pretend otherwise, are not a gang. They're just high school students. These aren't life-and-death stakes.

Of course Ryu's actions infuriated Hayato - enough that Hayato took him to task over it in class and attacked him when Ryu wouldn't explain why he'd done it. Those desks must be made from concrete.

Yankumi's grandfather surprises them all by telling them there are things more important than honour - that he'd bow down himself if it meant preserving their lives, regardless of the blow to his honour. What a sweet gangster. How on Earth does he make any money?

Elsewhere, Take ambushes Ryu on the streets, knowing Ryu can't ignore him if he's by himself. Ryu's clearly been listening to Sawatari too long because he tells Take not to do anything unnecessary when Take suggests telling everyone what happened, so that things can return to normal. Take wants his friends back together (with little hearts over their heads?) so they can all graduate happily. He's like an innocent little kid. Ryu evidently thinks so too, because he advises Take to go home before he catches cold and pats him on the shoulder as he leaves. (If they don't want to catch cold, perhaps they could try...oh, I don't know. Wearing coats?)

With Take's status in the gang now being questionable, Tsucchi, Hyuuga and Hayato are left to roam the streets by themselves. The former two discuss Take's weird behaviour - and that of their new teacher - while Hayato, who appears to be wearing not only copious quantities of lipstick but blusher as well, is lost in thought. The boys spot a guy from another form being hassled by a trio from Ara High. They intervene; the hapless victim makes a dash for it.

Even Hyuuga looks taller than Hayato. Seriously, where did Jin's height go that year? Hayato looks a lot happier now he's got thugs to beat up. The Ara High guys know who he is and aren't impressed, on the grounds that Kurogin's leader, Ryu, already bowed down to them. Hayato attempts to a) disown Ryu and b) emphasise - with his fist - that he is Kurogin's leader, not Ryu. They could be arguing over this one for years.

Next morning, Yankumi's still mooning over "Burberry-sama" on the steps, cradling the handkerchief. Her students greet her cheerfully; there's even a cute English "Good morning!" pose on the steps, all of which makes her so happy she doesn't notice that they're all sticking things to her back. Seriously, how much of a daze is this woman in? The signs are only spotted by Kubo-sensei, the mysterious "Burberry-sama". Yankumi cuts him off every time he tries to tell her, introducing herself, playing up her femininity and fishing for information on her newfound love. The femininity goes out the window when she sees what her students have been up to.

So much for Yankumi's love life. She vows to sacrifice it for the sake of her students, because there are much more critical things going on right now, such as the brawl last night in which Kurogin students were rumoured to be involved. Or course they were, and they won, as they gleefully tell Yankumi. The win was down to Hayato, it seems. Perhaps he offered the Ara High guys some haircare and beauty tips. But they also admit the brawl started because they intervened in the bullying of a fellow student, which at least scores them points with Yankumi.

She's happy to excuse the fight, since there was a good reason, but warns them that if they fight, they might get expelled. Hayato points out that they can't fight if they're worried about expulsion...unlike some coward over there. Ryu immediately turns round, though no names were mentioned. Just how much eyeliner is he wearing, anyway? Between them, Hayato and Ryu are wearing enough make-up that the school is practically co-ed. Cue more sultry stares, broken only by Hayato saying smugly that a man is useless if he isn't strong. (So I guess you're useless in comparison to Will Smith, then, oh Mr. Japanese Hancock?)

Yankumi finds this hilarious, though not for the same reason as the rest of the class. Being strong and fighting have nothing to do with each other, because even little kids can fight. This doesn't go down well with Hayato, who throws his book directly at Yankumi when she asks the class to take out their books. The rest of 3-D look either horrified (the guys who knew they were on camera) or blank (the guys who forgot they were being filmed). Ryu's got that "Hmph, what a moron..." expression again. Cool as a cucumber, Yankumi doesn't even blink when the book hits the board behind her and falls to the floor. She hands it back, with a warning not to treat things so roughly.

That's it, Hayato has had enough. He's got a desperate need to prove he's not some little kid, so he challenges Yankumi to a fight - though her initial thought is that he's asking her for a date. If she wins, he'll do whatever she says. (Sawatari, eavesdropping outside the door, is appalled.) If he wins, she's not to boss them around anymore. Hayato's not sure how school's supposed to work, is he? He walks out, leaving the class in an uproar. All except Ryu, who looks vaguely interested in something for the first time this series.

After school, the duel is on. All of 3-D have shown up to watch, though in Ryu's case, it's from a distance. There's betting (sort of), snacks and intense staring. Funnily enough, as Hayato removes his jacket and tosses it behind him, the music changes to the sort of thing you'd expect from an old black and white movie when the femme fatale makes a move on the stoic male lead, while her partner in crime creeps up behind with a gun. Yankumi doesn't pull off the move with quite the same panache - but then, she's not had the Johnny's course in 'Stripping to Please the Fangirls' - and it's far too cold for her without her coat on. Just as she dons her coat again, a cop on a bicycle shows up and yells. Yankumi's first instinct on seeing the police is to run, so they all scarper, Hayato dressing as he runs.

Don't ask me where the rest of the class ended up, given that they were all running in the same direction, but Hayato and Yankumi end up together. He's keen to get the fight started, quoting the same reasons as Ryu for hating teachers - they only look out for themselves and run away when things get bad for them. (That they've all just run from the police probably doesn't help Yankumi's case.) She might be a teacher, but he still wants a duel, whether she does or not.

What's a duel without a witness? Ryu literally leaps into sight - he must've been bounding down the path, or stepped on a springboard or something, because he does actually bounce as he enters the scene. Perhaps someone forgot to tell him it's a serious moment. He actually looks puzzled to see Yankumi and Hayato, which again makes me wonder where he was running to. Didn't he follow? Where did the rest of 3-D land up?

Yankumi effectively lets Hayato beat himself up, rarely touching him except to throw him down (hey, would you mind being thrown down by Nakama Yukie?) and telling him just because he's strong in fights doesn't mean he's strong as a person. She drives the point home with a fist to his stomach. Hayato collapses in slow motion and winds up panting on the ground, which means he doesn't have the breath to argue when he gets lectured that all the strength he needs is enough to protect what's important to him. Ryu watches the whole thing in silence, no doubt remembering the last time he saw Hayato on his back and gasping for air. Ryu doesn't have many lines in these early episodes, so most of his acting is done by his eyes, which soften just a little. Hayato sulks on the ground for a bit. Are they completely invisible to each other?

Having a fight with a student isn't much fun, but Yankumi takes heart from the encouragement she receives at home over the situation. These guys are all too snugly and warmhearted to be gangsters.

Meanwhile, some of the stray 3-D students are out that night, speculating on how, they're sure, Hayato would've beaten the teacher, and have the misfortune to run across a gang of Ara High students wanting revenge for the other night. They've got a message they want conveyed to Hayato, and it involves a lot of bruises.

The next morning, the class is livid and demanding vengeance. Sawatari certainly can't keep them under control - he hides behind Yankumi. Even Ryu looks mildly curious. Hayato lurks outside the door, listening to the proceedings, which include a threat from Sawatari that they'll all be expelled if they go raid Ara High. Tsucchi rather stupidly says expulsion is fine with them. Sawatari doesn't care if they fight or not, but if they do, bye bye Kurogin.

Tsucchi has temporarily taken over as leader, declaring that they'll hit Ara High as soon as Hayato arrives. This riles up everyone, including Ryu, but in his case it's anger at how futile a raid would be. Naturally, this brings it all out into the light. Take can't sit by and listen to the others blame Ryu for prolonging the feud with Ara High; despite Ryu's insistence that he not take the blame, he explains that back then, he was scared - both of the fight, and getting expelled, because his mother was so happy about the idea that he might actually graduate. He didn't want to let her down. So he spoke to Ryu about it, and Ryu volunteered to take care of it. Bless his little cotton socks, he's the only one with a lick of sense.

When Take yells out that Ryu bowed down to Ara High for his sake, that's enough for Hayato, who's been looking increasingly unhappy outside the door. While everyone inside the classroom whines about what they should do now, Hayato battles with himself. Should he lead his class in a riot that will end with them all being expelled? Or does he have the strength to handle the situation alone, to protect his friends from that terrible possibility? Kizuna's playing - you figure it out.

I actually find it very moving, watching Hayato walk out across the deserted courtyard, determined to protect his friends the only way he can. Yankumi notices he still hasn't turned up to class, Ryu immediately turns round when she mentions it, and Hayato's bag is found outside the classroom door by a student who's not even pretending to wear the school uniform. Ryu and Yankumi have one of those psychic moments where they both know Hayato's gone off to do something heroic but stupid, and take off - presumably through separate doors, because Yankumi leaves with Tsucchi, Hyuuga and Take in tow but Ryu's nowhere in sight, even though he gets there before her.

What is this, another one of those deserted buildings? Hayato vs. what must be an entire class from Ara High. They're a bit surprised he's alone, but are happy to make this the last battle. The Ara High uniform is really unflattering, but these guys make it even worse by wearing bright yellows, greens and reds beneath it. It's like someone grabbed a bunch of people from 24ji TV and told them to play at being thugs for forty-five minutes.

Hayato insists that he alone is enough to take care of all the Ara High guys. I have my doubts. Some of them are armed. Hayato starts off well but after they flip him over and get him down on the floor he runs into trouble. Just as their demented leader is about to punch him in the face, Ryu intervenes, grabbing the leader's hand and staring him down before he tells Hayato not to go off and do something like this. Aww. Worried, were we?

The fight begins anew! Ryu looks very cool, snapping sticks over his knee and generally making a whirlwind of himself until he and Hayato both wind up on the floor, overpowered by sheer numbers. If not for the fact that they're both getting horribly beaten, it would be cute - they actually try to crawl towards each other. I'm not sure if they're trying to protect each other's heads or what - too many limbs in the way - but it's sort of heartwarming.

Just when it seems all is lost, Yankumi, Tsucchi, Hyuuga and Take arrive. She refuses to let them join the fray - if they fight, Hayato's efforts (and Ryu's) will have gone to waste. Time for the usual routine. Glasses, hair, homeroom teacher, how pathetic the Ara High guys are, precious students etc. The Ara High guys have teacher trust issues too. Perhaps Yankumi should work there next. She volunteers to take them all on, winning easily and probably earning Kame's undying love for yelling that bats are used for playing baseball (and therefore not for fighting).

At least this lot manage to walk out under their own power, leaving Hayato and Ryu battered and bruised on the floor. Based on the interviews they gave, I'm inclined to think Jin and Kame fell asleep while filming this, because Hayato, in particular, looks like he's just starting to wake up. He and Ryu are taken out to what I tend to think of as "the grassy knoll", where they can recuperate in the sun. Hayato sounds like he's been hit in the throat. Maybe he'd had one too many cigarettes that day.

Yankumi, of course, tells them not to go and do rash things like that, but you can tell she's proud of them. Hayato insists he had no other choice - he's 3-D's leader. Ryu merely blinks at this; Tsucchi and co. get variations on the "oh brother" look which means they can see potential for an argument later and they don't want to be around when it happens. This is, Hayato says, his way of doing things. Ryu's face is the very picture of disbelief. Yankumi approves. Then she commits the cardinal sin of saying Hayato and Ryu are alike - which isn't that far off, actually. They just have different ways of doing things, including denying how much they have in common. Ryu actually goes one step further and insists he didn't do it for Take's sake - he did it for Take's mother's sake. Odagiri Ryu, champion of mothers everywhere. Sure. Hayato goes down the selfish route and claims he didn't want anyone to hold a grudge against him if it was his fault they got expelled. It's amazing how far they'll go to save face. Is it so wrong to admit you do things for your friends?

Tsucchi, Hyuuga and Take are clearly thrilled to have their old dynamic back - that they can make a joke without getting their heads bitten off. Ryu even smiles, aww. None of them are happy about Yankumi dragging them back to school. Based on the sky, it looks to be sunset, but it's got to be morning still unless that fight with the Ara High guys took all day! They reach the conclusion that Yankumi is weird...but interesting. They obviously didn't watch the first season, or they'd know there's not actually much interesting about her at all.

The hell with Yankumi, it's time for a little Ryu/Hayato interaction. They're such experts in not looking at each other. I guess it's embarrassing to apologise to another guy while looking straight at him from only a few inches away, so turning to the side is a must. Hayato murmurs a one-word apology; Ryu turns round, curious, and Hayato slowly does the same, looking totally miserable like he's afraid Ryu won't accept it. We can't see Ryu's face but Hayato starts to smile, so I think the response must've been good. Take's got such a knowing smile as he, Tsucchi and Hyuuga watch the drama unfold. Don't ask me what those little nudges were about but I don't think anyone's expecting Hayato and Ryu to go home alone.

Yankumi wants them to run towards the setting sun. Hmm. Did that really take all day? Have they been absent all this time? What happened to the maths classes Yankumi presumably had to teach? Hayato and Ryu protest over their injuries - no running for them. Good thing they've got friends to help them home!

Obligatory Akame commentary: *grins* Aren't they adorable? Those long, intense looks across the classroom, even when they're not on speaking terms. Ryu trying to protect Hayato from the Ara High guys, leading to the two of them huddling together on the floor and world's most awkward apology. Gokusen 2: where matching bruises are a sign of true love and you have to squeeze in kisses on the days you don't have a cut lip. Take, Tsucchi and Hyuuga aren't the only ones happy that their leaders are no longer feuding. Hayato and Ryu are at their best when they're together, even if the tension does bad things to my blood pressure.

Best Scene: Ryu + Hayato vs. Ara High jerks, no question. Ryu does this little click with his tongue before he chides Hayato for going off by himself, like a parent scolding a child for the nth time that day. Poor Ryu. Hayato must be such a handful.

Conclusion: Are we interested in the fact that Yankumi now knows the identity of her mystery crush? Not really. Are we interested in the Ryu/Hayato reunion which will unite the class and up the tension level to downright sizzling? Hell, yeah. That's what I got out of this episode, along with the surprising discoveries that Take has quite a smirk when he cares to use it, and Hayato can make playing darts sound x-rated.
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