Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Queen's Classroom or JuuOu no Kyoushitsu Review

So over the Holidays a friend recommended that I take a look at this not-so-new TV series that came out in Japan. The link in the title links to the first episode of it at YouTube, the quality is not great, the sound is a bit stuttered, but you should be able to follow the show and hopefully, it'll rope you in as it did me.

The basic premise of it is simple, a 6th grade classroom gets a new homeroom teacher, and she is basically a tyrant. She decides to take the fun out of schooling, and makes the entire class a meritocracy. The show chronicles how the class reacts to it, and the subsequent consequences suffered by both the teacher, and the class itself.

At the heart of the show, is a very raw and basic social commentary about the state of schooling as it is in many 1st world countries, and the failures of the conventional schooling methodology. A lot of the commentary is incredibly valid and succinct, and surprisingly is perhaps even more valid about the state of schooling in the US than it really does in Japan. Japan has its problems to be sure, but it is still nowhere as poor as the schooling seems to be becoming in the US.

Certainly the show has caused controversies of its own and you can see this as sponsors dwindle on an episode by episode basis. Fortunately, the show in and of itself is very short, only 11 episodes, with two specials that are really optional. Each episode runs about 45 minutes and going through the entire show takes less than 10 hours.

All in all, I highly recommend you watch the first episode and judge if the show is for you. It broaches on topics that I believe every parent of children should be concerned about, and never stoops to condescension or derision to get its point across. When the show aired in Japan, it was broadcasted on a Saturday night so that both parents and children could watch it at the same time.

You can find more that has been said about this show here and if you follow the commentary, can find higher quality downloads of the entire series for your perusal.

Very recommended, one of the most thoughtful and entertaining TV shows I've watched in the last 10 years. =) Given that I don't watch much TV that probably doesn't say much!
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