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"There, what's really needed most is to feel the breath of being loved from one person and be loved eternally. That's all it is."
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.
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