At first glance, Dragon Zakura seems to be the typical drama about a gangster-turned-teacher who brings an unconventional style of teaching into the classroom and changes the lives of his students. But starting from the very first episode, it’s quite evident that Dragon Zakura is anything but ordinary.
Abe Hiroshi, who starred in Kekkon Dekinai Otoko, plays a failing lawyer named Sakuragi Kenji who is hired to liquidate a bankrupt high school for creditors. The high school is called Ryuuzan and is home to left-behind students who are hopeless for the future. Upon walking onto the campus, Kenji spies an opportunity to make a name for himself by turning the school around. He brashly promises that in exchange for keeping the school open, he’ll create a special class that will successfully train 5 Ryuuzan students to pass Tokyo University’s entrance exam in one year. Tokyo University is essentially the equivalent of Harvard University in the U.S. so all the teachers are against this impossible plan, but they are forced to give in to keep the school (and their jobs).
Sure, Kenji has an unusual teaching method and makes an impact on his students, but what’s different about Dragon Zakura compared to other similar teacher dramas like Gokusen and Great Teacher Onizuka is that Kenji isn’t actually a teacher. He is a lawyer who has undertaken this project to advance his own personal career goals. Rather than being a protective teacher who looks after the best interests of his students and will go out of his way to protect them, Kenji won’t hesitate to kick students out of the class if they aren’t willing to turn their lives around. As a former hooligan who has experienced the bitter reality of the real world, he often is quite harsh with his students as he disciplines them.
Yamashita Tomohisa left, Aragaki Yui right
Dragon Zakura focuses on a small group of students who I won’t all name. The main student is Yajima Yuusuke (played by Yamashita Tomohisa). The cute Aragaki Yui, who starred in My Boss My Hero, has a supporting role as Yuusuke’s jealous girlfriend.
Aragaki Yui left, Koike Teppei center, Yamashita Tomohisa right.
There we go, now she doesn’t look as pissed off. These two guys are members of Jpop groups; Koike Teppei is from WaT, while Yamashita Tomohisa is from NEWS and actually sang the drama’s ending theme song called “Colorful”. I imagine these pretty boys were responsible for attracting a sizable female audience. Also of interest is that the opening theme song is “Realize” by melody., who I’m a fan of. This song selection was odd though since I don’t see how it’s applicable at all to the drama.
While I enjoyed Dragon Zakura from the 1st episode, it was merely in “pretty good” status until the 5th episode. That’s when it rocketed up into the “awesome” category. Once I was engrossed by the story, I couldn’t help but be inspired. And just like how this isn’t your typical gangster-turned-teacher drama, the ending might not be as predictable as you expect. Dragon Zakura is well worth watching.
Aired Summer 2005
Genre: School, Drama & Comedy