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A.K.A: Majisuka High School
            Majisuka Academy
LANGUAGE: Japanese
EPISODES: Season 1 - 12
                   Season 2 - 12
                   Season 3 - 12
                   Season 4 - 10

Majisuka Gakuen is a Japanese television drama series broadcast on TV Tokyo starring J-Pop Idol group AKB48.

A second season Majisuka Gakuen 2 was aired the following year, the 3rd Season was aired on July 13, 2012.   The 4th Season was released on January 19, 2015.

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The original series of Majisuka Gakuen was an enormously successful action drama, not only in Japan but with a strong cult following across the globe.   The basic story centers around the all-girls school Majisuka Gakuen on the same day.

In this school violence and fighting are not just common among the Yanki students, but part of the daily routine.   Rumour has it that a new transfer student, said to be not only the best fighter in the prefecture, but who is also said to responsible for the death of another student at her old school, is about to arrive.

Noisy trouble maker Onizuka Daruma makes a big impression as soon as she enters the school, winning in her first fight single-handedly against 5 other girls... but another transfer student, Atsuko Maeda, has also arrived that same morning, almost unnoticed...

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out who the REAL king of the fighters is... and as the season progesses Atsuko works her way up the food-chain in a series of kick ass fights until she has to square off against Yuko Oshima, head of Rappapa, the most feared gang in the school!

But the fighting is not the main thrust of the series (though it is certainly worth watching for that alone) as there are strong sub-stories about loyalty, friendship and determination to win against all the odds, that make this show something more than the standard "cute chicks doing high kicks" fare!

As stated previously, the show was a runaway succes, not only in Japan but in Europe also, and it has developed a strong cult following elsewhere as well, so it was inevitable that a second season would quickly follow...

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Following directly on from the original series, and also starring Atsuko Maeda, Majisuka Gakuen 2 does not so much involve a power struggle among the various factions within the school - though this theme is a continuing undercurrent - with new individuals and additional groups vying for the top spot within the school, as it does with a blood fued with the rival school Yabakune Joshi Koukou.

Somewhat darker than the original series, Season 2 ramps up the tension, if not the action (there is no guaranteed fight scene every episode - but there is no shortage either) and continues with the sub-plots and themes of loyalty and friendship (though contrasted heavily this time with betrayal and enmity) that made the first season such a success.

Alleviating the darker storyline somewhat, is a little more humour, and for the most part it works well, thanks to the talents of Minami Minegishi - essentially a 'background extra' in the first Season - who gets a much bigger and quite important role this time round.   Her moments on screen are a stark contrast to those of Mayu Watanabe as Nezumi - the baddie you just love to hate!

The acting is better.... the fight scenes, though not as frequent, are better choreographed... and where Season 1 would bring a tear to your eye on occassion, Season 2 will them running down your cheeks... all-in-all, a much better product!

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The Season that (for a time at least) killed the franchise...

Again starring Atsuko Maeda, and set in the year 20XX in a privately run juvenile prison called Prison HOPE or better known as Majisuka Prison, Atsuko is doing time after her arrest at the end of Season Two.

The prison accommodates juvenile delinquents who have been abandoned by society, school, and even their families, and they are put into different groups.   Rather than trying to turn over a new leaf, the girls step into a battle ring everyday to compete for the top in a game of the survival of the fittest... Yep! The final result is as tacky as it sounds!

While the premise might work for a B-Grade 70's 'Pinky Violence' film, it was definitely not what Majisuka Gakuen had come to expect and the ratings showed this... it bombed... BADLY!   so badly, in fact, that all talk of a Fourth Season, which was rumoured to have had Atsuko Maeda return to Majisuka Gakuen as a teacher, were shelved before the third season's run had even finished!


Fast forward three years... and then back track a little... and let's try to re-create a 'formula'...

After a three year long hiatus, Majisuka Gakuen finally returned to the screen - and the format - in a form that fans recognized and had come to expect.   Set almost immediately after the events of Season Two, the new series locale is once again back at Majisuka Gakuen, and once again, a new transfer student, Sakura, has arrived...

She is aiming to be the top dog at her new school, but in order to do so she will have to fight against Majisuka Gakuen's current top dog, Salt, now leader of the Rappappa gang.

At the time of writing, only 9 out of the series of 10 episodes have screened in Japan - and I've only seen six with English subtitles... so I can't tell you how it will all pan out... but I can say that while the makers have tried to capture the essence of the best parts of Season One and Two, they have not always suceeded - mind you they have not always failed either!

While it may not be quite as good as the first two series, it IS infinitely superior to the dismal Season Three!   If you liked the first two Seasons, don't be put off by the Third.... see this too!   You'll be glad you did I think!


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