'Very attractive, but no brain' are the words Hana (Misako Renbutsu) uses to describe Sakura Yoruno (Arisa Mizuki), her new, 30 something year old, language teacher, who we first see racing down Japanese streets on a bicycle wearing a wedding dress. Having had no previous experience in the field, it isn't until the concluding episode we discover Sakura's past, and the desire that led the former owner of a snack bar to take the opportunity presented to her by vice-principal Makato (Ken Mitsuishi) to teach.
Inspiring, sweet, compassionate, yet naive, Ms. Mizuki brings to life, quite possibly, the single most bubbly character to ever grace our television, while wearing clothes teachers stereotypically wouldn't be seen in, her attire, at one point, likened to something only Lady Ga Ga would wear. Frequently persisting in her ideals, without acknowledging the potential consequences, differences or issues her students are internally exhibiting, her motivational drive is what contributes to her student's decisions to rise to the challenges they encounter, each episode fixating upon a particular individual and their dream. The morals and ideals attributed from these are accentuated by the show's music, the theme from Niura Daichi, Anchor, immersing the viewer into the world, while the melodramatic piano version of this track adds a layer of emotional intensity to the already dramatic scenes.
The addendum, that if a single student drops out of the class, Sakura too will lose her position, is continuously inspiring her to incentivize her students to remain committed. Runa (Aya Omasa), a fellow teacher, Sadao (Toshihiro Yashiba), the principal's aid, and Yanagishima (Takeo Nakahara), the schools' principal, are largely unexplored in their roles, as is the unanimous desire they possess to see Sakura fail. Primarily perceived as the show's antagonists due to their continuous efforts to prohibit Sakura from succeeding, their motivations, linked directly towards the school's image and reputation, require additional development to be taken seriously. Moreover, the curriculum the students are supposed to be learning is adjunctively unfocused, and by the end it is uncertain, with the exception of life lessons, what the students acquired. However, these aspects do not inhibit the viewer's experience.
Varying in age, despite differences in history, upbringing and professionalism, the students come to discover that each of them, and their teacher, have a wealth of experiences in common, with a number of the characters exhibiting awkwardness towards socialization, the show visualizing how loners and introverts, who appear peculiar on the surface, are very much worth knowing, the always spontaneous Sakura being a bridge to these characters. Hana (Ms. Renbutsu), who is the most socially awkward of all, leads the audience as the guiding narrator, her character's portrayal being less realistic as it is humorously exaggerated, to great effect, especially in episode 8.
Characters, including Kaede (Yua Shinkawa), a woman blessed, yet at the same time cursed by exquisite features, Masayo (Yuka Ebara) an up and coming wrestler, and Kosuke (Takashi Sasano), an aging, successful gentlemen, deserve further depth to further flesh out their characters. At the same time, students who receive a broader focus, including two of the show's most interesting, Osawa (Koji Yamamoto), a well dressed gentleman with a violent past, and Yamada (Issei Takahashi), a man with an appreciation for the theatrical, add substance to the classroom, while other students are presented with the opportunity to shine in specific episodes.
One involving Senba (Ren Osugi), a father, desperately trying to rekindle a relationship with his son, is especially powerful, as is another involving Takakura (Junkichi Orimoto), an elderly gentleman, the episode depicting how the younger generations often treat the old as a shameful nuisance. The involvement of an unidentified individual during the series, who plagues the school with messages of loathing concerning Sakura's class, places a shadow over the often enjoyable atmosphere, leaving the audience in suspense about what may happen. However, one of the most emotional episodes of all might be number 6, in which unappreciated housewife Munemura (Keiko Horiuchi), who's neglected by her husband, begins to develop feelings for another man. Although the episodes continuously carry over into the next, it is unfortunate that some of the most intriguing, or heartbreaking story-lines, rarely ever impact the show again, which leaves the audience clinging onto questions that inevitably go unanswered.
The program, which focuses on contemporary issues, including confidence, socialization, acceptance, professionalism, sacrifice, family, respect, bullying and suicide, articulates how, even those who smile on the surface, may have abusive fathers, or be a product of an affair, allowing the audience to intellectually consider how everyone, internally, is fighting a hard battle. By the end of the series, the group of students are seen more as a family than a collection of strangers, with Sakura admitting to one of her students 'year 4 class 1 is your home', and over the course of these ten episodes, where we laugh, gasp and cry along with the characters, it truly is.
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