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See disclaimer in first post. No screencaps this week (8 and 9 have them, though) as I didn't see anything I felt I absolutely had to cap, and I went mad enough snapping pretty Ryu shots for the previous episode!

Gokusen 2 - Episode 10 (final)

Plot: It's the last episode, and there are only four days left till graduation. Time for Kurogin Gakuen to get rid of those undesirables (3-D) and be reborn! Yankumi is advised to keep a close eye on her class in case they somehow screw things up in the meantime, so she decides to train them on how to behave during the graduation ceremony. This goes just as well as all their other role-play activities, as none of them seem to have learned the art of walking normally. They don't know the school anthem either - Hayato asks Ryu if he does, seeing as how he's the most likely guy in the class to actually remember such a thing - but he doesn't, and someone else doesn't even know there's one in the first place.

Not that Yankumi knows how it goes either, so they have to give up on that idea. Time to practise the section where they get their diplomas. Hayato, as the class representative (and wearing a gorgeous glittery skull shirt), slouches his way to the front of the classroom to grab the handful of diplomas and hand them out with all the maturity and finesse of a clown handing out party favours to small children. He's going to have to work on that.

Yankumi thinks they're kids too, as she complains to her grandfather she's not sure they can even sit still through the ceremony! Luckily, she gets distracted by another one of Minoru's inappropriate gifts, a dress which makes her feel like she belongs in The Sound of Music. Tetsu's is even worse, as she could be going up to accept an Oscar. She won't even open the gift from the other two. You'd think they'd know better by now than to get clothes for her.

As usual, the Cafe de Rovne is almost empty aside from Hayato and the gang, with some random guy sitting at the counter, the Three Musketeers on the other side of it, and Hayato and Ryu lounging in their usual chairs. They sit up in a hurry when the cop from episode 3 strolls in, and Hayato promptly declares their innocence. He's not sure what the cop's there for, but they didn't do it. Fortunately he's just looking for Kudo, who should be locked up for theft but escaped last night. The guys look appropriately horrified.

Somehow, the cop makes the jump from none of them knowing where Kudo is, to them potentially doing something stupid before graduation. I don't get it. Why would they team up with a guy who beat up Ryu, then locked him in an underground storage facility with Hayato and tried to frame the pair of them because they didn't want to be in his gang? I thought logic came in handy for solving crimes, but apparently you don't need it if you're a Gokusen 2 cop. They all get defensive when he doesn't believe them; he sarcastically makes his exit, shoving Take on his way out. Aww, shame on him, picking on the weakest of the bunch. Hayato and Ryu angst in different directions. As the cop drives off, we see Kudo lurking in the dark. What, is he a stalker now?

Kujo manages not to sparkle as he ambushes Yankumi on the way to work next morning. (Yes, that's Kujo, not Kudo. One sparkles, the other scowls.) He wants to see her later because he has something to tell her. This news upsets Baba but excites Shiratori, who has some news of her own - Kujo is being transferred to Hokkaido. Baba likes this news much better.

3-D are stunned into silence by Yankumi's unexpected good mood and daydreamy behaviour, though not so much they can't tell her off for it. No wonder Ryu became a teacher - he certainly got enough practice telling people what to do!

Tetsu's soul leaves his body when Yankumi breaks the news that she'll be late home today because she'll be with Kujo. Kuma wants an introduction. Tetsu and Minoru...want lives. Sorry, but they do.

There's only one restaurant in the area, from the looks of things, because Yankumi and Kujo meet there, secretly observed (hah!) by Baba and Shiratori in their cunning disguises - gauze masks and giant sunglasses. Kujo's nervous, but it turns out all he wanted to do was tell Yankumi about his transfer. Since he's not going to confess, Yankumi tries to take the initiative herself. She almost gets there, but her phone rings just at the crucial moment. (Baba and Shiratori's reactions are brilliant to watch during this scene.)

It's Take on the phone, and Yankumi dashes over to Cafe de Rovne because she thinks he was talking about a fight. Apparently it's that they stopped two drunks from fighting, not fought themselves, and they were given money as a reward. From all the food around them, I can guess what they spent it on. They called her for advice, don't ask me why, not thinking she'd run straight over. So much for the confession.

After they're done stuffing their faces, the boys head out, still talking about graduation. They run into Kudo and gang, who all appear to have dipped their heads in different vats of dye, and are not at all impressed by talk about graduation. Good thing for the (in)Famous Five there's a police officer passing by on his bike, so Kudo can't do more than grab Hayato, mess up his hair, make a threat about graduation and run away before he gets sent back to jail.

The sleazy detective pays the teachers of Kurogin Gakuen a visit next morning to warn them Kudo is on the loose, and might contact 3-D because he's got a grudge against them. He might also have an accomplice in 3-D - don't ask me why this guy's got a bee in his bonnet about it. Cue a lot of talking trash about 3-D and the superintendent being so condescending I want to smack him. And when he murmurs to Sawatari that it might actually be more useful to him if Kudo does cause trouble with 3-D, well, that's when I'd like to see him strung up.

When Yankumi reaches 3-D's classroom she finds some of the students were beaten up by Kudo last night. Hayato and co. show up just in time to learn that Kudo's definitely gunning for them, which outrages the class as a whole. Yankumi reminds them not to fight, because graduation is the day after tomorrow and they can't afford to jeopardise it, either by getting arrested - or getting hospitalised.

She gets a surprise visitor at home - Sawatari, who looks most uncomfortable being stared at by henchmen. He's actually there to do a good deed, though. Occasionally he remembers how to do this. He warns her that the superintendent knows of her background and is looking for any chance to fire her.

Elsewhere, 3-D have taken over Cafe de Rovne. The '70s guy (sorry, I know I knew his name once!) comes rushing in with Kudo-inflicted injuries and the news that Akiyama and Sakuraba were taken by the gang. (I admit, the first thing that sprang to mind was a Liar Game/Eyeshield 21 crossover, but while Sakuraba might get himself kidnapped, I can't see Akiyama letting it happen.) Kudo's got hostages, and he wants Hayato and the others to come to him.

Hayato is not a happy bunny. He starts to walk out but Ryu pushes him back. Hayato knows immediately that Ryu is talking about their promise with Yankumi, which Ryu explains to the others. I like that for Hayato to protest that they can't just abandon their friends, he feels he has to lean much closer to Ryu to do it. I also like that everyone, including Hayato, is leaving the decision up to Ryu. Okay, violent mother-hen mode on!

Well, sort of. The five of them don't want the rest of the class getting involved, and insist they won't fight - they'll *talk* Kudo out of it. Perhaps they could offer him some tips on his hair, because it looks atrocious. They run off to the specified location and wouldn't you know it, Kuma just happens to be riding past to see them so he can tell Yankumi. He might as well give up the ramen business and become a professional snitch. It might pay better.

Oh dear, I don't know where they are this time, but there are cars piled up at the back and two prone 3-D members on the floor, surrounded by Kudo and his ever-growing gang of thugs. Hayato takes the lead and asks for the return of his classmates, resulting in him getting kicked to the floor. Boy, he goes down easy. Period pain hits harder than that.

Ryu's up to bat, telling Kudo they have no intention of fighting him. Kudo finds this fascinating. They all take a turn approaching him and getting floored for their trouble. He can't understand why they, failures like him, are allowed to graduate. Maybe it's because none of them have done time in jail? On a side note, just as Hayato goes to help Ryu up, Kizuna starts playing. I don't think it's a coincidence.

Enraged by the idea of students actually listening to teachers and protecting a promise made to one of these infernal creatures, Kudo and co. set to work. The boys are all on the floor when the rest of 3-D show up. Despite Hayato and the others urging them not to fight, they attack Kudo's gang to save their friends - not particularly well, mind you, since they're still losing the fight. Ryu even tries asking Kudo directly to put a stop to it, but you can imagine what Kudo makes of that idea.

It's turning into a bloodbath, but even so, Hayato manages to prop himself up on one elbow to watch Ryu crawl across the floor and latch onto Kudo's ankle and plead with him to put a stop to the fight. Kudo's in a position to do Ryu some serious damage, and Hayato can't move fast enough to stop it. If he hadn't said Ryu's name, perhaps they wouldn't have noticed him crawling to the rescue. As it is, Hayato gets pulled back by his hair (ouch!) and Kudo looks completely dumbfounded, like he can't believe anyone would actually try to save Ryu. Guess he's not shipping them anymore, then.

Speaking of Ryu/Hayato shippers, Yankumi arrives just in time to stop Ryu getting it in the neck (literally). There are many pained whispers of "Yankumi", the usual lecture about precious students, and Yankumi urging Kudo to turn himself in. Hair down, glasses off, Yankumi helps the thugs defeat themselves and delivers a speech at the same time. Goodbye, Kudo. You don't stand a chance against an angry homeroom teacher.

Sleazy detective turns up to haul Kudo back to jail, but not in time to save him from a final lecture from Yankumi on how he can restart his life, and how he should stop running away from things. While he thinks on this, 3-D are getting themselves in position for world's shakiest linedance and an exhausting apology. But it's okay. Yankumi's proud of them.

The fight makes the papers, and only Shiratori and Baba, the Yankumi cheerleaders, think positively of the situation - 3-D helped catch Kudo, so they should be rewarded. The superintendent thinks not. He believes they've hurt the school's honour and should all be expelled - the day before graduation. Yankumi offers to take responsibility for it and resign, if only they will let her students graduate. The superintendent likes this idea. One way or another, he only has to put up with 3-D until tomorrow. If Yankumi doesn't leave, he's stuck with her.

The students, of course, are not happy; Hayato and Ryu lead the protest. It's ironic that an instrumental version of 'No More Cry' is playing at this point, because everyone appears to be on the verge of tears. Everyone except the superintendent, who's laughing like a madman with Yankumi's letter of resignation on his desk.

Even the teachers who don't like Yankumi think this is ridiculous, that she can't even be at the graduation ceremony for her students. But she packs her bags with the usual good grace and gentle smiles as she leaves the staff room.

Kujo finds her afterwards and tells her he wants to become a teacher like her, one who puts their students first. She gets a goodbye handshake, which is not quite what she was hoping for. No wonder she's not seeing him covered in sparkles anymore. Her grandfather also has some words of encouragement, and shows us he's not much for flower arranging.

3-D take over Cafe de Rovne again to mourn their loss and wail about how unfair life is. A bunch of guys I don't know yell, while Hayato and Ryu practise silent sulking.

Graduation day! The only person who's really happy is the superintendent. They've got important guests coming to the ceremony and I think he's hoping to squeeze more money out of them. The smile vanishes from his face when 3-D arrive en masse to request that Yankumi's resignation be revoked. They insist they're okay with being expelled. Unexpectedly, it's Take who first gets right up in the superintendent's face to yell at him. He's like an aggressive kitten or something.

But mostly, Hayato and Ryu do the talking. If Yankumi's resignation isn't revoked, the entire class will boycott the ceremony. They'll wait in their classroom until a decision is reached. The superintendent flips out and insists on starting the ceremony as it is.

Sawatari does his second good deed of the episode and phones Yankumi to tell her about the situation. With her grandfather and his men cheering her on, Yankumi runs off to the graduation ceremony to talk some sense into her class. The empty seats in the gym are extremely obvious.

The superintendent gets the ceremony off to a great start by talking trash about 3-D, and how wonderful it will be to get rid of them all and start afresh. Yankumi arrives at the classroom to argue with her class; they all tell her what she's done for them and how grateful they are. Hayato looks close to tears. Yankumi counters by telling them they're wasting the money their parents spent on their education, and that if they don't graduate it will affect their lives more than they realise. It's worth her getting fired if they can graduate, she says.

Her passionate speech changes the minds of Hayato and Ryu - they can be proud of themselves if they do this. The rest of 3-D follow suit, of course, and off they run to the gym, arriving just as Sawatari is about to conclude the diploma-giving portion of the ceremony. Baba and Shiratori look incredibly gleeful at the end of their row. I love how they've become united in their support for Yankumi.

The superintendent's ready to have a fit, but Sawatari helpfully cuts him off as he's trying to yell at Yankumi, so the students can take their seats. Sawatari calls Hayato up to collect the diplomas for the 27 students of 3-D, and the superintendent's practically spitting nails as he congratulates Hayato and hands them over. Good boy, Hayato remembers his training, makes all the right moves. Applause all round.

Sawatari must be some kind of masochist because he invites Yankumi to make a speech. Doesn't he realise that her speeches make thugs fall to the ground in a vain hope they'll knock themselves out so they don't have to listen? You'd think he'd know better by now. I wonder how long this speech is? Can I skip it?

Short version. Yankumi apologises to the crowd, talks about how useless her students were in the beginning, and how wonderful they are now. I think Take was the first one to start crying, but it's not long before they're all at it. You'd think Hyuuga, out of all of them, would have a hanky. A monogrammed one with gold edging, perhaps. Some of these guys really need to dye their roots. One of them makes zombies look lifelike. Can you tell I'm tuning out Yankumi's speech?

When she's done, Hayato manfully wipes away one of his many tears, and leads the class as they stand and bow to the four corners, thanking everyone as they go for their three years at Kurogin (just before he breaks down altogether). Amazingly, Sawatari is the first one to clap, but everyone else quickly joins in...except the superintendent, who runs away. Who knew 3-D could make people feel so good?

Aww...after the ceremony, Yankumi and her students run towards the gates, watched from the staffroom window by many nostalgic teachers. Even Ryu is laughing as he runs. Yankumi's grandfather and the others - even Kuma, who I guess is now an honorary family member - are watching them outside, beaming proudly. It's time to say goodbye as the students take their diplomas and bid her farewell individually, even the guys who haven't spoken all series.

Eventually we're left with the (in)Famous Five. Hayato's still weepy. Ryu's happy, which means I'm happy. Yankumi waves them all away with joyful tears. Graduation is both a happy and sad event, isn't it?

One month later, Yankumi's wandering the beach when she stops to ask a stranger for directions - also someone on his way to Yambaru High School. Of course, it's Sawatari. He resigned because he didn't get along with the superintendent. Good for him! Let the feud begin! Of course, he predicts she'll be put in charge of another bunch of losers - definitely a D class - and she asks him why he's never higher than Head just wouldn't be Gokusen, otherwise!

Obligatory Akame commentary: The final episode was more about the class as a whole and Yankumi's relationship with them than any specific students, but we still get a few good moments. The most heartbreaking, of course, has to be when Kudo's about to give Ryu an injury he probably won't be waking up from, and Hayato desperately tries to intervene. He's battered and bruised himself, can't even get up to his hands and knees, but he'd crawl naked over hot coals if he could save Ryu by doing so. I mean, I'm sure he'd do the same for any of his other friends, but I like that they showed him doing it for Ryu. The two of them might as well be sharing a brain this episode, since what one starts, the other finishes, and they're leading the class around by the nose. Hayato may be the class representative, but it's Ryu they all try to appeal to when explaining why they should go after their captured friends. It's a good partnership, isn't it? Ryu thinks more when he's got people to worry about - if it's just himself, he'll get reckless and not care. Hayato needs someone to make him think before he rushes in, sometimes. How in the world did 3-D manage when the two of them weren't on speaking terms?

Best scene: For comedy value alone, I'm going to say the Yankumi/Kujo failed confession scene in the restaurant - not for those two, but for Baba and Shiratori's reactions. The two of them are very funny to watch, in their terrible disguises and with completely opposite takes on the whole confession issue. Second place goes to 3-D saying goodbye to Yankumi, everyone giving her some personal little message - some of them rather cheeky! Like the graduation, it's a happy moment, but bittersweet as well. Both teacher and students are leaving the school forever to start walking on a new path, one that will inevitably lead them further away from each other, but for that precious point in time, they're together as one.

Conclusion: Baba and Shiratori should never go into the spy business, Kudo could do with a couple of visits to a salon as well as anger management classes, Hayato's taste in shirts is leagues better than Hyuuga's and Take's, and even the most hard-hearted teacher can learn to find a delinquent cute - providing said delinquent is graduating and will never be seen again.

There's nothing new in this show, and not much to surprise an audience, but it does perfectly well with what it's got: likeable characters, gorgeous cast, pockets of action, and sweetness and humour in equal measure. It might not make you think too much, but maybe it'll make you cry, or laugh, or feel proud of the characters and want them to succeed. That's what it does for me.
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May 2017

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