Everyone at some point has likely wondered what they’ll do with their life. Perhaps thinking ‘if only I hadn’t been such a slacker’ in school I’d be somewhere today? Would studying harder get you where you want/wanted to be? I’d imagine the creators of God of Study, based on the J-Drama Dragon Zakura, would certainly agree since at its core that is the very premise of the show.
In the beginning, the audience is first presented with a high school on the verge of collapse. The students are rambunctious and inattentive, most of the teachers seem to just go through the motions, and the chief administrator is hoping to sell of the school. If you’re thinking it’s time for some Great Teacher Onizuka/Gokusen action, then you might as well be right because here comes Attorney Kang, a tough man with a tougher attitude, focused on saving the school. Initially, Kang is hired only to handle the transactions for a possible sale, but very early on in the business dealings Kang pulls his authority around and decides to create a special class. The sole purpose of this special class would be to get five Seniors into the most prestigious university in Korea, Chun-Ha University (fictional). Attorney Kang has roadblocks put in front of him by the administration and teachers even at the beginning, but throughout the show, no matter what obstacles may appear, Kang stays dedicated to the goal of Chun-Ha, and most importantly to the five students.
God of Study is actually the first K-Drama I’ve ever watched. However, I realized near immediately that the differences between J-Dramas and K-Dramas are quite slim. Understandably, a K-Drama based off of a J-Drama (in this case Dragon Zakura) will have more similarities than most, but it goes further than just story. For instance, God of Study only lasts 16 episodes, which is in the ballpark of the average show length of J-Dramas. Likewise, the message of the show is quite universal. Again I think back to Gokusen and G.T.O., both stories about teachers positively impacting their students. Replace Kang with Onizuka and you’ll have a fairly similar message. Kang however is not fighting misfits so much as he’s trying to fight the students own bad habits, especially laziness. While the scenario and activities in God of Study sadly are probably unrealistic, at least in our public school system in the US, I wish this show could be required viewing for teachers, principals, and especially students. The message of the show needs to be heard by many ears.
Aside from the fantastic message, my favorite part by far was the characters. There was plenty of character development for the main characters, with a bevy of side stories too that interwove some of the secondary characters. Thanks to the fine acting by each and every actor, and the real life situations these characters went through, I found myself being emotionally connected especially to the students. Particularly near the end of the school year, as goodbyes are said, I couldn’t help but feel like I was saying goodbye to them as well. While I only spent around 14 hours of my life watching these characters live their lives, it felt like I’d spent the year with them. That is story writing, directing, and acting all at its best. Through good times and bad, comic and sad, you just can’t help but feel for these characters, and probably see a bit of yourself in a number of them as well.
Ultimately God of Study is about so many things. Of course the show covers education and studying techniques, demonstrated further by the inclusion of study tips at the end of each episode. However, more than just studying, God of Study is a drama about people, people dealing with hardships, and peoples dreams and the struggles they must go through to achieve them. I highly recommend this show, and if you’re in high school or even college, then I’d go so far as to say that it’d be an injustice if you do not watch this show.
Score: 5 out of 5