Gakko (1994)

Genres - Drama  |   Run Time - 128 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |  
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Yoji Yamada, a veteran director who has become a national icon thanks to his beloved Tora-san (Otoko wa tsurai yo) series, spins this tale about a gruff, lovable junior high school teacher working in a night school in Tokyo's low-rent shitamachi district. Like Tora-san, Kuroi-sensei (Toshiyuki Nishida) may be crass, unfashionable, and a complete slob, but he has a heart of gold and a fervent devotion to his students. Though his principal wants him to transfer to another junior high in a much more high-end part of town, Kuroi resists; he's too committed to his students in the neighborhood. His pupils, having fallen through the cracks of the Japanese educational system and failed to get a junior high diploma, are all outsiders in one fashion or another. His students include Onomi (Eiko Shinya), a Korean woman who manages a small restaurant; Midori (Nae Yuki), a former junkie hoping to become a beautician; Eriko, a teen from a nice middle-class family who outright refuses to go to her nice middle-class school; Chan (Weng Huarong), a recent immigrant and son to a Japanese war orphan; and Ino-san (Kunie Tanaka), an illiterate day laborer with a brilliant memory for horse-racing statistics. The film opens with all of the students writing their graduation essays as Kuroi reminisces about the year. He recalls Onomi ebullient after writing her first letter in Japanese; Midori balled up by the school gate, in a panic as to whether to enter or not; Eriko breaking out of her shell on the volleyball court; and Ino-san memorizing Chinese characters like a mad man in order to impress Kuroi's comely colleague Tajima-sensei (Keiko Takeshita).



friendship, love, night-school, student, teacher