Title: As Luck Would Have It Author: shukishi
Original Source: Gokusen (J-Drama) Character(s): Yankumi & Shin
Rating: T Genre(s): Romance / Humor
Chapter(s): 5 Status: Hiatus / Discontinued
Author’s Synopsis: It’s been five years since Sawada Shin left for Africa and now he’s back with every intention to make Yamaguchi Kumiko his. Shin feels the need to change his ex-student/teacher relationship…Wait a min-Shin! Where are you putting your hands on Kumiko?!
Welcome Readers, we’ve made it through another week and to close out the week I decided to revisit a story for this review. This is a fan fic for the J-Drama version of The Gokusen that I had read a while back. I thought that maybe revisiting the story with fresh eyes I could find some redeeming qualities I missed the first time around. I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.
I am a huge fan of The Gokusen; I loved the manga (still one of my favorites), I enjoyed the anime for its wackiness (even the dub), and I love the J-Drama even though it’s following a completely different story. One of the things that I love in all iterations is the romance between Shin and Yankumi because (especially in the manga) it never played out as a typical romance; Yankumi is always in denial and dense that the romance is an uphill battle for Shin. The J-Drama didn’t end where the manga had – Shin confessing and Yankumi punching him for such foolishness – but it at least had hinted that Shin was in the running for Yankumi’s heart until he disappeared to Africa.
I understand why the J-Drama took that route but at the same time, I want to see Shin return and pursue Yankumi again. So fan fics that have that plot for its basis tend to draw me in. Unfortunately, not all can be gems.
This particular story is about Shin returning from Africa and ready to win over Yankumi. Unfortunately, the path to romance with Yankumi is blocked by a new rival and Yankumi’s own obliviousness.
It’s enough to bring fans like myself into the story but the execution can quickly turn fans away from the story. The story is loaded with flaws and missed opportunities; tense and POV (point of view) changes, narrative/story-telling potholes, and out-of-character (OOC) issues. Issues that make this story hard to read and enjoy.
I’ve harped on this type of issue in the past, the interchanging of tenses and POV in stories. Just don’t do it. Stick with one tense and one POV type. This story can’t decide if it wants to be written in the past tense or in the present tense. Rather than me just talking about the tense issues, I’ll just give Readers a taste of what the story offers.
“Who?” Was what Shin asks and even without being face to face, Kuma knows that Shine was not pleased and would be scowling. Poor Yankumi, making a man like Shin loving her to such an extent in which he’ll be willing to do anything for her, except letting other men capture her attention. She’ll never know what hit her; Kuma fully knows that Shin would do anything to make Yankumi fall for him.” (Chapter 1, Paragraph 5).
This is how the whole story is written. Then to compound the issue is the POV shifts. I’m not saying that it switches from 1st to 3rd and so on – Thankfully! – but it does switch between which character the POV follows. Initially it starts with Shin but then the sentences switch to reflect Kuma’s feelings, actions, and understanding; this happens before Kuma actually appears in the story! When the switch in POV happens, Kuma is a voice over the phone talking to Shin who has recently arrived in Japan. Why is the story suddenly being told from this voice’s understanding?
Next, the storytelling is typical; short scenes that are normally straight to the point and then done. In another context this would be fine but how this story handles those scenes leaves a lot to be desired. For instance, there is a scene where Shin and Yankumi have dinner at his apartment – in the story that part didn’t make sense – and it abruptly ends with Shin saying that he has a crush on a girl in Japan. Really? Why end the scene there? If the next scene picked up with Yankumi planning to help Shin out with wooing this mystery girl or planning to find out the girl through Shin’s friends, then that ending would’ve made sense. However, the next scene is Shin waking up the next morning.
Which reminds me – this bothered me as I was reading, why doesn’t Shin have a job or try to obtain a job? The only thing that he does in the story is meet up with Yankumi and go to the Kuroda residence. The story seems to have forgotten that Shin did more than just crush after Yankumi and that apartments are not free. When he was in high school, his parents paid for his flat but now that he’s an adult (23) and returning from Africa, he would be expected to seek employment. Hell, Yankumi would expect him to seek employment; she didn’t teach slackers!
This ties in with my final compliant, the OOC-ness featured in this story. Some of the characters are spot on or pretty close to their original carnations; Yankumi, Kyo, and Kuroda. Then there’s Shin, our lead character, who acts nothing like his J-Drama or manga self. Shin is always a bit of a smartass and likes to project the appearance of a slacker, but he’s not a slacker and he’s willing to stand up for what he believes is right. The Shin in this story is more like a puppy-dog; he shows up where Yankumi is just to hang out, he tries to get in good with her family (although that seemed unnecessary), and he’s almost territorial against his rival. It all feels unnatural.
I know this story is based on the J-Drama but this is one area where I wish the story would’ve taken a few cues from the manga specials for The Gokusen; in the specials, Shin is shown to have his own life with college, friends, and a part-time job, but he takes the time to set up “dates” with Yankumi (dates to him, not to her), takes candid – unattractive – photos of her, and openly tells her how he feels without mincing words.
This story could have infused some of those characteristics to its Shin and made him palatable. He could’ve had a job or interview lined up, Kuma could’ve been getting his apartment ready when he landed, he could’ve bought tickets to a movie that only Yankumi would’ve wanted to see, etc. Things like that would’ve developed him a lot more and made him less of a one-tracked stalker.
I’ve ripped on this story a lot, but I will give it the small credit I feel it deserves. The silver lining of this story is in Chapter 5 when Shin and his rival, school doctor Natsume, finally meet and have an exchange of dialogue. It’s the only realistic interaction between any two characters and it’s the only time when Shin is in character. Chapter 5 is the best delivered chapters in the story despite the tense swapping.
Still, one chapter doesn’t make the case for the story as a whole. Thus I recommend that Readers don’t bother with this story. The concept is nice but the execution is not great. Each chapter presents a challenge just to make it through the writing. Plus, from the author’s notes it sounds like the story doesn’t get updated often (if at all) so there’s not much point in getting invested in a story that may never reach an ending.