Maybe it’s because I had really, really low expectations for Gomen ne Seishun!, but it’s become my favorite drama this season. It’s not perfect as there’s really no clear-cut narrative so it feels like it’s meandering sometimes, especially the middle episodes, but something about Gomen ne Seishun! has me completely hooked.
I know I sound like a broken record whenever I talk about Mitsushima Hikari and how awesome she is when it comes to bringing a role to life, but she is stealing every scene she’s in as Hachiya Risa. She’s a hoot to watch, whether she’s bullying the students into submission or pushing Heisuke around.
I figured she’d fall for Heisuke first if there was any romance to be seen and after a heart-stopping kabe-don, she becomes determined to marry him. Never mind the fact that she doesn’t love him and thinks he has no good qualities; they’re fated to be so she’s going to marry him. That naivete mixed with Risa’s tough attitude is what makes her such a delight to watch. One moment she’s swooning over the fact that Heisuke’s her destined mate and gazing at her oblivious husband-to-be and the next she’s tearing into him for not taking proper care of the students. There is that issue of Heisuke being the one responsible for destroying her family, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Hachiya-sensei’s the best.
Naturally if you throw together an all girls school and an all boys school, there will be raging hormones and Gomen ne Seishun! wastes no time in pairing off the students. The love lines can get a little messy as the couples are always breaking up or getting together, but the relationships aren’t taken too seriously so it remains fun to watch.
Furui and Birk unexpectedly make a pretty good couple, as they’re the only ones still together.
More than the romantic entanglements however, I love watching the camraderie build between the formerly antagonistic sexes. There are great moments like when the boy keep a pervert from terrorizing the girls and the girls helping the boys study for exams (though they fail anyway).
The show really shines though when it focuses on a particular character. I pegged Mishima school president Nakai Takako early on as my favorite student with her stoic attitude and her cute, unrequited crush on Heisuke only made me love her more, so when she’s forced to transfer schools because of her father’s job, I was sad to see her go. Though Nakai tries to hide her departure and devotes herself to preparing the school festival, the secret eventually comes out and she gets a proper send off that actually had me tearing up.
Heisuke’s been in the center of all this chaos, trying to guide his students and avoid Risa’s wrath (love?). He’s usually forced into situations out of his control and a little too idealistic, but he’s so earnest that you can’t help but like him.
Heisuke’s past has taken a back seat to the school antics, which makes me a little worried about getting a satisfactory resolution. It’s moving along, albeit rather slowly. Everyone seems to be trying to make amends for their past mistakes, but Heisuke still can’t come forward about his crime. Satoshi returns and begins working for Yuko’s dad to make up for wronging his daughter while Dad realizes he was in the wrong for not realizing how much Yuko was suffering.
Heisuke’s been thwarted at every turn whenever he tries to confess, but considering he’s been keeping such a secret for fourteen years, there’s definitely something more than the fact that it’s never the right moment keeping him from admitting his crime. As Heisuke tells his older brother, confessing is only done to relieve the guilty party. Perhaps Heisuke thinks it’s his punishment to never reveal his secret and be wracked with guilt forever. The uglier truth could be that Heisuke is still bitter towards Satoshi and wants him to suffer; despite his seemingly pushover nature, Heisuke doesn’t hesitate to give Satoshi the cold shoulder when he tries to be chummy with him again.
I’m sure the truth behind the chapel fire won’t come out until the last possible moment (we’re up to episode seven now), but Gomen ne Seishun! is about more than Heisuke’s road to redemption; it’s a heartfelt ode to youth and that’s what keeps me coming back.