Short for Gokudo Sensei, meaning Mobster Teacher, Gokusen tells the story of 22-year-old Kumiko Yamaguchi, the heir to her maternal grandfather’s organized crime syndicate, the Oedo Gumi. After losing her parents in a car accident during her childhood, she was automatically adopted by her grandfather and his gang. While Kumiko still has her youth, she pursues her dream of becoming a teacher like her father with the blessing and support of her grandfather and her community. She finds a job at Shirokin Gakuen, an all-boys high school, and is assigned to class 2-4, a class full of delinquents who give her the nickname Yankumi, a Japanese-style abbreviation of her name. By relying on her tough upbringing, she does what she can to set her students straight, even if she has to resort to screaming with yakuza expressions or use her goons to help her out.
In addition to this hit manga, it inspired a hit drama series starring one of Japan’s biggest actresses and models, Yukie Nakama. With education playing a significant part in Japanese upbringing and with teaching being considered a respected profession there, it is only natural that there is manga dedicated to teachers with a large dose of spice. In addition to Gokusen, what are some other manga out there to check out that bring you back to school with that large dose of spice? Read our list to find out!
Similar Manga to Gokusen
6. Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu)
- Authors: Yuusei Matsui
- Genres: Action, Comedy, School, Shounen
- Volumes: 21
- Published: Jul 2, 2012- Apr 25, 2016
An octopus-like monster with terrifying powers threatens the Earth and he has already destroyed a good portion of the moon. The good news, mankind has a year to change his mind by offering his services as a teacher to class 3-E of Kunugigaoka Junior High School. The Japanese government puts a bounty of 10 billion yen on his head, but the students can’t kill him due to his powers. Since people have failed to kill him, the students call him Koro-sensei, a wordplay of Korosenai, meaning he can’t be killed. And it turns out he is up to par with the likes of some legendary educators such as Jaime Escalante and LouAnne Johnson.
Assassination Classroom is probably one of the most unorthodox titles anyone can read in regards to school-related manga. The teacher isn’t the heir to a mafia family or a former biker gang leader, but a super-powered monster (or is he?). Though he is skilled in the art of assassination, it turns out he can teach the kids of 3-E every subject imaginable and they warm up to him. Like Gokusen, it does have a unique sense of development with not only the lead teacher, but it is driven by the development of the relationships. Despite the unusual backgrounds Yankumi and Koro-sensei come from, not only do they have the skills to teach but also to also inspire and make an impact, which is the greatest contribution a teacher can make.
5. Hammer Session
- Authors: Namoshiro Tanahashi (story & art), Yamato Koganemaru (story), Hiroyuki Yatsu (story)
- Genres: Action, Ecchi, Comedy, School, Shounen
- Volumes: 11
- Published: Nov 15, 2006 – Dec 10, 2008
Yuu Yazawa is a first class con artist who incidentally gets a teaching position at Hikari Gakuen, a private junior high school, while he’s on the run. And like Yankumi and the rest of the teachers on this list, some administrators are hoping that he can use his skill set to set the unruly class 3-B on the right path, and not reveal his position to the authorities but will still come into conflict with his peers over his methods.
Thanks to his background as a con artist, he has knowledge of law, languages, psychology, and has top-notch vision and hearing. With his charisma and high IQ, he tends to use reverse psychology methods to make his point. While reverse psychology tends to be discouraged these days that some would blame on political correctness, Yazawa allows his students to make mistakes so they can learn from the consequences. Yazawa’s endeavor as a teacher proves to be very therapeutic for him as he makes an amazing impact and makes readers re-evaluate the old notion of the ends justifying the means.
- Authors: Masanori Morita
- Genres: Sports, Comedy, School, Slice of Life, Drama, Shounen
- Volumes: 24
- Published: Feb 3, 1998 – Aug 25, 2003
Rookies tells the story of Koichi Kawato, the newest teacher at Futakotamagawa High School and are assigned to coach the baseball team. The team is a shadow of its former glory and they are coming off a suspension after causing a fight the previous season. To make matters worse, Koichi knows little to nothing about baseball (though he is a karate expert)! Despite these obstacles, he is up for the task to take these kids to the national tournament for high school baseball, the Koushien.
Just like Yankumi, Koichi’s motivations for teaching are pure and honorable. What makes Rookies a great tale is that it’s ultimately a story of redemption. While the baseball team consists of punks, deep down inside, they all have the passion and talent to succeed. For Koichi, he is also trying to make it up to himself for hitting a student at his previous school and to never again resort to violence whenever he has a problem with a student. While Rookies has a lot of intensity, it has its share of laughs like Gokusen.
Much of the cast is very relatable and for older readers, it will make you reflect what it’s like to be that age. Koichi may not be as bombastic as Yankumi, but his will to never give up on the baseball team is going to make you feel thankful to the teachers who were very supportive to you during your school days.
Any Manga Like Gokusen?
3. Kamen Teacher
- Authors: Tohru Fujisawa
- Genres: Action, Ecchi, Comedy, School, Seinen
- Volumes: 4
- Published: Aug 24, 2006 – Nov 1, 2007
Kamen Teacher is a spoof and homage to the long-running iconic tokusatsu series, Kamen Rider. Instead of fighting evil organizations out to take over the world, the Kamen Teachers of Kyokuran High School, a school of delinquents, are a group of highly trained teachers that are allowed to use any means necessary! And those means include punching and kicking students like it’s the old times in Japan and South Korea.
However, Araki Gota, who teaches under the alias Hayato Juumonji, the second Kamen Rider from the original series, sees that violence isn’t the answer. As opposed to punching and kicking students, he is willing to communicate with them and their parents to understand why they are lashing out. While his peers don’t initially agree with him, in time, they start to see the results of his more realistic methods.
In real life, there are times when kids get out of hand and we just want to smack the hell out of them, but we all know that’s not the answer and not just for the sake of legality. Yankumi does exhibit such behavior towards her students by screaming at them with yakuza expressions, but she would never resort to the extremities portrayed in Kamen Teacher. With the recent controversies over spanking children as a form of discipline, this manga is an interesting compliment on that debate.
Spanking is one thing, but punching and kicking are another but it all comes down to the use of corporal punishment. While this form of discipline was the norm in Japan just about a generation ago, it has phased out but is still reported in numerous parts of the country, notably by older teachers. By reading Kamen Teacher, fans can get a unique critique of discipline.
2. Misaki Number One
- Authors: Masato Fujisaki
- Genres: Comedy, School, Seinen
- Volumes: 2
- Published: Sept. 30, 2008 – Feb 26, 2011
Misaki Tennouji is the number one hostess at the Club Southern Sea in Tokyo’s Roppongi entertainment district. If you have played Sega’s Yakuza games, then you pretty much have an idea of what hostesses are. If you haven’t, they are beautiful girls that customers pay a load of money to talk and dine with over the most expensive booze you could ever think of. In addition to being a successful hostess, Misaki happens to be a licensed high school teacher.
At the request of the club’s Mama-san, who is an acquaintance of a high school principal who happens to be a customer, she is given the task to teach class 2-Z of Mido High School. And like 2-4 of Gokusen, class 2-Z is home to the worst of the worst and with Misaki’s communication skills and charisma as a hostess, she has the best chance to straighten them up.
While she initially shows up to school wearing the elegant and revealing clothing of her night job, she does take her job seriously. Like Yankumi, she often has a conflict with her peers and superiors over how to discipline students, and they think she has no business working with minors due to her background. But thanks to the nature of being a hostess where she has to deal with typical businessmen who are full of themselves, she has the patience to work with her unruly students and guide them through their insecurities.
Though Misaki doesn’t resort to methods that are over the top as Yankumi’s, she guides the kids of 2-Z to the right path by exposing them to her world of what it’s like to be a grown-up for better or worse.
6. Great Teacher Onizuka
- Authors: Tohru Fujisawa
- Genres: Action, Ecchi, Comedy, School, Drama, Shounen
- Volumes: 25
- Published: Dec 11, 1996 – Jan 30, 2002
It is only natural that GTO, Great Teacher Onizuka, is at the top of this list. GTO happens to be a sequel to Fujisawa’s previous manga, Shounan Junai Gumi. GTO takes place six years after that respective manga and the former Onibaku Duo are trying to make a living in the big city of Tokyo. Ryuji has found modest success with his motorcycle shop, but Onizuka can’t find stable employment. After witnessing how a 16-year-old girl hooked up with her teacher, Onizuka decides to become one so he can get a high school girl as a lover. After some shenanigans at his interview for a teaching position at Seirin Gakuen, he starts to see the value of helping troubled kids so the school’s director gives him a job thinking he can fix the school’s most problematic class, 3-4.
Though Onizuka’s initial motivations for teaching are not as pure as Yankumi’s, as he develops into his role, he discovers the moral rewards of assisting misguided youths and helping them understand what life is all about even if his reverse psychological methods range from simply insane, to flat out illegal but effective. But when worse comes to worse, like Yakumi, Onizuka is a capable fighter and is willing to put himself in harm's way to save his students. Like Gokusen, GTO has a great amount of comedy and two successful live-action adaptations with one from 1998 and another from 2012.
While American media has done educated oriented TV shows from Welcome Back Kotter to Breaking Bad, Japanese manga takes it to a very unique direction by serving as a distinct critique and parody of the nation’s education system, but finds a way to be universally relatable to international readers despite some significant differences Japan and an international reader’s home nation.
Hoping for something more exciting in school, readers from not only Japan but from around the world can find that with Gokusen and all these other manga listed. By reading these manga, readers can feel that school can be exciting even though eccentric teachers like Yankumi don’t exist (or maybe they do?). For older readers, they can think back to when they were kids and reflect on both the good and the bad and what it would be like to have teachers like her.
In addition to finding comedy, these manga can make readers appreciate the nature of the teaching profession, especially in the US where they are underpaid to the point that a good portion is working second jobs to make ends meet.
Many critics bash teaching as not a real job because they get summer breaks when in fact, they work harder and longer than most people because they have to give attention to more than twenty kids at once and spend their own money on supplies. These manga also do an excellent job of portraying how difficult the teaching profession is to not just the Japanese, but for teachers all over the world because their job isn’t to just teach you what two plus two is or what an adjective is, but to help you discover yourself and make your dreams come true.