So here we are – the final episode of the top drama of the 2012 Summer season. Well, not quite the last episode, since we’re going to get a GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka) special in early October, but this is the conclusion of the planned run. With a special scheduled so quickly after the season, there’s also a chance that there will be more to come.

Title Sequence 1Title Sequence 2Title Sequence 3

At the end of the previous episode, Onizuka (AKIRA) had been reinstated as a teacher, mainly because his new nemesis, headmaster Daimon Misuzu (Nishida Naomi), felt it best to keep her enemy close. At the same time, he found out that he had a cerebral aneurysm, and needed to take it easy for a while and get medical attention. Not much chance of that, though, is there?

Medical Issues 1Medical Issues 2Medical Issues 3Medical Issues 4

Back at headmaster headquarters, Daimon and her two minions – Kikuchi (Takada Sho) and Shibuya Sho (Nomura Shuhei – 野村周平) – continue in their plot to destroy Director Sakurai (Kuroki Hitomi) and the fabric of the school. Incidentally, we just recently saw Nomura-kun in the seventh episode of Kuro no Onna Kyoushi, which I reviewed here. I had a high opinion of his performance there, but couldn’t figure out his name. Hopefully, he’ll do a good job here, as well.

Headmaster HQ 1Headmaster HQ 2Headmaster HQ 3

The tension between Shibuya and Kikuchi is interesting, and I wonder what sort of conflict will come out of it.

ShibuyaKikuchi

With Big Brother watching . . .

Big Brother

. . . preparations for the cultural festival are underway. But will the hard-nosed Daimon really put up with the kids having fun?

Cultural Festival in a Week 1Cultural Festival in a Week 2Cultural Festival in a Week 3Cultural Festival in a Week 4

Of course not. She can’t completely do away with the tradition officially, but she can make it miserable by putting the students on the same point system that the teachers are on. Those points will decide who has the best chance to enter university, and they are based on academics and Daimon’s rigid standards for behavior – not how well you can put together a mosaic for the festival.

Point System Extended 1Point System Extended 2Point System Extended 3Point System Extended 4

The teachers are given an ultimatum, too – conform, or get out.

Conform or Be Fired 1Conform or Be Fired 2Conform or Be Fired 4Conform or Be Fired 5

Was Onizuka paying attention?

Silly Onizuka

The Director blasts through the doors of the headmaster center, angry at the introduction of intimidating surveillance squads. Incidentally, if those squads don’t already remind you of the brownshirts or the SS, you need to brush up on your history. Director Sakurai certainly recognizes the pattern, and accuses Daimon of instituting a dictatorship.

It's Bloody Dictatorship! 1It's Bloody Dictatorship! 2It's Bloody Dictatorship! 3

Fuyutsuki (Takimoto Miori) tries to act bright and cheery in the classroom, but the spirit of the students (this is not class 2-4, though) is broken, and they completely ignore talk about the cultural festival.

Fuyutsuki Tries Her Best 1Fuyutsuki Tries Her Best 2Fuyutsuki Tries Her Best 3Fuyutsuki Tries Her Best 4Fuyutsuki Tries Her Best 5

Class 2-4, though, resists, continuing to work on their mosaics . . .

Class 2-4 Continues 1Class 2-4 Continues 2Class 2-4 Continues 3

. . . much to Kikuchi’s annoyance.

Class 2-4 Continues 4

Perhaps even more annoying, Shibuya Sho joins class 2-4, complete with surveillance armband.

Shibuya Joins the Class 1Shibuya Joins the Class 2Shibuya Joins the Class 3

Onizuka doesn’t like this, but festival preparations continue.

UnenthusiasticPreparations Continue 1

And get messy:

Messy 1Messy 2Messy 3

Shibuya takes notes on the situation, but Kikuchi seems focused on him.

Shibuya SpiesKikuchi Spies

The next day, class 2-4 finds their work destroyed:

Sabotage 1Sabotage 2

In the office, Daimon concludes that simply instituting the point system, while effective on all the other classes, doesn’t seem to affect Onizuka’s class. So, she takes the radical step of getting rid of the cultural festival.

Canceling the Festival 1Canceling the Festival 2

This departure from traditional doesn’t sit well with the other teachers – even those who initially appreciated Daimon’s system.

Unsettled 1Unsettled 2Unsettled 3Unsettled 4

When Onizuka objects, Daimon points out that this was exactly the kind of education she received from Director Sakurai. I think Onizuka gets the picture now.

Getting the Picture

There’s no real mystery about who was responsible for destroying class 2-4’s work, by the way:

Gleeful Culprit 1Gleeful Culprit 2

Murai (Morimoto Shintaro) nearly makes the mistake of punching Shibuya, but Kikuchi stops him, telling him that he’ll be expelled if he does. That’s odd – whose side is Kikuchi on?

Face Off 1Face Off 2Face Off 5Face Off 4

In the process of explaining himself, Kikuchi reveals that the headmaster is not only Shibuya’s mother, but his own mother as well.

The Two Sons of Daimon 1

Shibuya wonders about Kikuchi’s allegiance, too. In the process, Shibuya gives the full details of their relationships to Daimon. Kikuchi is Daimon’s son by blood, but was estranged (until, presumably, recent events have united them in the common cause against Director Sakurai). Shibuya was adopted, and takes the fact that Daimon chose him over Kikuchi as a badge of pride, and threatens to kill Kikuchi if Kikuchi gets in Daimon’s way.

The Two Sons of Daimon 2The Two Sons of Daimon 3

Fun times. Onizuka sees all of it, then has a little conference with Sakurai.

Conference with the Director 1Conference with the Director 2

He says he has a plan to fix everything, and that she should leave it up to him. In the next scene, he starts putting things in motion.

Onizuka Has a Plan 1Onizuka Has a Plan 2Onizuka Has a Plan 3

Everything that follows is Onizuka’s strategy, so I’ll have to leave out the details – it’s all top-level spoiler.

What kind of strategy does Onizuka cook up? How will he deal with Kikuchi? Will he also “help” Daimon and Shibuya in the process, or will they be simply punished mercilessly? I’ll assume it’s a happy ending overall, but will Onizuka and the Director stay in their jobs? What about Onizuka’s health?

It’s a good thing the episode is slightly longer than usual – they’ve got a lot to cover. In the end, it would have been better if it had been even longer. As it was, parts of it were a bit rushed. That said, the plots were tied up quite neatly, and it was all exciting and action-packed.

The acting throughout this series was uniformly good – giving allowance for the fact that, since it was a comedy, everything was a bit over-the-top. AKIRA-san quickly dispelled all doubts I might have had in the first episode. Takimoto-san played a role that wasn’t very challenging, but I didn’t see any flaws in her performance. Kuroki-san also pulled off the subtle role of Director Sakurai with complete success.

As for the students, Kawaguchi-san was a delightful antagonist for most of the series, though her transformation into a good student wasn’t handled as well as I would have liked, and she was mostly sidelined for the rest of the series. Takada Sho-kun played his character consistently, and in this episode the depth in his voice helped in some of the scenes. Morimoto-kun continues to be a remarkable talent, considering his age. I hope to see a lot more of him in the future. The episodes featuring Honda-san’s character were extremely strong, largely because of the way she interacted with Onizuka, and I’m very interested to see how she does in “Piece” coming up in October. And now I have a new actor to watch out for – Nomura Shuhei-kun – and I hope he continues to play crazed bad guys, since he manages it so well.

Thanks to Eric Paroissien (paroissien.com) for the timely subtitles of the entire series, making it so easy for all of us to enjoy it.

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