Gokusen by Kozueko Morimoto

There are few manga I have enjoyed more than this series. Funny, rich, romantic – it has all the ingredients that make for a really great story. But the emphasis is on humor – there are so many laugh out loud moments throughout. This series spawned an anime and three live action tv seasons – it is greatly beloved and one of the best in the josei (intended for women, not girls) genre. Unfortunately, it is not available in English.

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Story: Kumiko Yamaguchi is the grand-daughter of a Yakuza leader. But she doesn’t want to follow in his footsteps; instead, her dream is to be a high school teacher! When she enrolls as a homeroom teacher at a private all boys school with a very bad reputation, she will have to use all her street-smarts to keep the kids in line. Especially the exceptionally difficult Sawada – son of the police commissioner and her nemesis.

Much of the humor revolves around Yankumi (her nickname) trying to hide her yakuza heritage – from language slip ups (e.g., calling the police ‘coppers’) to keeping her students from learning that she is the heir to her grandfather’s empire. Eventually, she’ll have the most unorthodox romance imaginable with Sawada (though not until the story is over and he’s older, of course!) and Sawada’s down-to-Earth pithy observations with Yankumi’s head-in-the-clouds idealism are the heart of this fun manga.

It’s one I highly recommend and sincerely wish had been licensed in English.

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