Gachi-ban [ガチバン] : Overview

Anyone who reads this blog will know that I’m a fangirl of the Gachi-ban series, well more accurate the Gachi-ban MAX series, which came about in 2010 – FOUR YEARS AGO. And since watching that movie, starring Kubota Masataka, I have collected 14 titles from the series, which now has 21 titles in total. See below for the chronological order of the movies (2008-2014). Also check out these pages for a synopsis of each movie. And Kubota Masataka | Arai Atsushi | Sano Kazuma pages for more information and screenshot galleries of Gachi-ban.

So what is Gachi-ban?

The initial idea behind the film, Gachi-ban (2008) was a Yankee (Yanki) spoof that capitalized on the Crows Zero fame around the time. Its focus more on the OTT obscurities of the genre, and relied on toilet humour more-so than combat fighting. However, the series since has transformed and followed a different direction in entirely. With the focus of the more recent films, those after Gachi-ban MAX, on characterisation and hardcore action scenes, with still comedic one-liners and some toilet humour laughs. The  films are often liked favourably for their powerful action scenes and realistic fight sequences.  Kubota even winning an Japanese Action award for his efforts, an award normally won by Tokusatsu suit and stunt actors/actresses.

Anyone new to the series would be better to start with the Gachi-ban MAX series, but then again it’s all about what you’re looking for in a movie. These are essentially low-budget  ‘trash movies’ – so expect low-calibre in regards to any cinema magic. Of course, that’s not to say the actors are bad. In fact Kubota Masataka is a multi-award winning Japanese actor, But come on, we all know that if you watch this series you’re not caring about the acting, it’s all about the fighting and in many (if not all)  fan-girls eyes the ikemen – the bad boys that look sexy with a little blood.

So lets meet these bad boys?

Gachi-Ban (3)
Left to Right: Monji (Sano Kazuma), Hayato (Kubota Masataka), Reo (Arai Atsushi)

First is Mori Monji (played by Sano Kazuma). While Kubota is the poster boy for the revamped Gachi-ban MAX series, Monji is arguably the poster boy for the original series, more so then Takumi (Shunsuke) – who the first the second film revolved around.

Name: Mori Monji (played by Sano Kazuma)
First appearance:
  Gachi-ban II (2008)
Occupation:  Third year student, gang leader of Black Dog, ex-jurvy
Relationships: Black Dog gang/ Bancho  (leader), Hayato (frenemy), Reo (rival), younger brother, uncle

Character : Personality

As a character, Monji’s first appearance was in the second film of the series Gachi-ban II (2008) as the new kid on the block that later becomes the successor and leader of “Black Dog” / Bancho. Monji is a strong fighter, arguably the best among everyone at the Kinugasa, and easily ascends to the throne as the ‘top of the school’ once Takumi graduates. From there he quickly becomes a respected leader and feared name among other gangs.  But the thing about Monji, that separates him from Hayato, or Reo, is he is played as a comedic character. For Monji its all about having a good fun with friends, keeping somewhat peace between gangs but fighting back when he or his gang is dishonored – oh and also national domination. He’s a team player. Bancho for one, Bancho for all.  Also he doesn’t seem to care that he should have graduated from school two years ago and wears with pride his high school uniform.

Fight style

Monji’s fight style is more refined and calculated. He prefers to punch and hit hard like a boxer, his short stature easy for him move around at a quick speed and light on his feet.

Relationship : Hayato

The relationship between Monji and Hayato is like frenemy. The two first meet in solitary confinement, although don’t know what the other looks like, in the same correctional facility. Hayato is new, and his name unknown. While Monji is feared and regarded the strongest in the yard. So when Monji is finally released, he quickly learns that Hayato has disrupted the status quo, challenging his title, and himself to a fight Any other day, Monji would have fought but instead his mind is preoccupied. He is about to be a daddy. After hearing that Hayato then befriends Monji and the pair scheme to break out of the facility together. Things go awry but in the end the two become mates. And as mates have a decisive battle to see who really is the strongest. It’s the start of a beautiful friendship – which leads to another showdown, Hayato saving Monji arse (literally), and Monji returning the favour by tutoring Hayato. And most recently the pair teamed up again to defend the honour of their school.

+One

Each protagonist also has a +one (normally a friend). Monji’s +one is  a former “Bancho” gang member, who took him in after his release from the Kanto Correctional Facility. Although he also hangs around next-generation Bancho members Matsuda (Suzuki Mirai) and Amano (Kamitsuru Toru).

In contrast we then have the lone-wolf Hayato (played by Kubota Masataka). As I said before, Monji was old Gachi-ban; Hayato is new Gachi-ban and the protagonist of the Gachi-ban MAX series, which started in 2010.

Name: Kuronaga Hayato (Played by Kubota Masataka)
First appearance:
  Gachi-ban MAX (2010)
Occupation:  High school drop out, bodyguard, Host, bouncer, office worker, part-timer, ex-jurvy
Relationships: Suzunosuke (kohai/friend), Monji (frenemy), Reo (enemy/bodyguard), Sara (friend)

Character : Personality

As a character, Hayato can be summed up as psychotic individual upholding a code of honour that doesn’t exist anymore (or never did to begin with). After dropping out of his last year in high school Hayato moved to Shibuya, with really no plan. He soon, however, finds himself mixed up with Yazuka. The thing about Hayato is that he doesn’t like being told what to do – and look at him the wrong way and he’ll more than likely bash your skull in. He isn’t exactly smart, but he has a very strong moral compass and lives by his own code of honour – it’s normally his odds with other people actions that anger Hayato. For instance his disobedience to be subordinate to tyrannical wanna-be Yazuka’s members means he is a target, or his disrespect for bike gangs, or his stand against mistreatment of woman – it’s these strong moral standards that Hayato fights for – and later his friends. For Hayato its all about the pride of being a Yankee and justice for those done wrong.

Fight Style

Hayato fighting style is like a wild animal. He throws around punches and kicks, often in state of rage and likes to headbutt his opponent.

Relationship : Reo

Unlike the friendship between Monji and Hayato which is frenemy, the relationship between Hayato and Reo isn’t as polite. In fact the two hate each other. Ironically though Hayato was first hired to protect Reo, who he rather kill to be honest. He is hired as the models bodyguard, but soon begins to resent everything about Reo. While at the same time Reo becomes threatened by Hayato and plots his demise.  And it doesn’t look like anytime soon (if ever) that hostility will disappear.

+One

Hayato’s +one is Yoshio (played by Suzunosuke), his senpai from school who was formally the ‘top’. The pair reunited the first day Hayato was in Shibuya, Yoshio getting him a job only to put Hayato in danger of Yazuka. Hayato returned the favour by saving Yoshio from the Yazuka and the pair have since shared housing, and worked together (briefly as Hosts). The pair often fight like an old-married couple, disagreeing on a number of things, but Hayato will always rescue Yoshio from danger.

And then we come to Reo (played by Arai Atsushi) complete opposite to Monji and Hayato, a basket-case and product of a broken home. Reo first appeared in the film Gachi-ban WORST MAX (2011), and since has starred in his own films as the most recent protagonist of the series.

Name: Kurenai Reo/Leo (Played by D2’s Arai Atsushi)
First appearance:
  Gachi-ban WORST MAX (2010)
Occupation:  night-school student, former fashion model, debt collector
Relationships: Kawasaki (aniki), Hayato (enemy/employee), Monji (rival), son

Character: Personality

As a character, Reo is the most brutal and bratty, probably something to do with his age and previous profession. He is the youngest among the protagonists and was formally  a charismatic model that moon lighted as a merciless debt collector. He has a dark and very sinister side, as well as being obnoxious in character. But he also has the most ‘sad’ back story, in terms of his justification about his actions, which are an obvious cry for help in ‘trying to escape his own personal hell’.  He has, however, begun to change somewhat. You can see it in the latest film Chronicle, which stars all three, as result of his meltdowns with both Hayato and Monji. For Reo, he fights for personal gain. It all about him (unless it’s about Kawasaki) and really its about his pride as a narcissistic individual. Everyone should know his name, Reo.

Fight style

Reo’s fight style is developing. He nonetheless has solid basic hits and kicks.

+One

Reo’s +one is Kawasaki (played by Sato Hisanori), his underling and honestly only friend. Kawasaki nonetheless has also betrayed Reo in the past, costing the man almost his life and indeed his modelling career. Kawasaki is also incredibly violent, even more so than Reo because he uses a baton as his primary weapon and has little remorse for anyone.

Recurring Characters

In this section, recurring characters are anyone that is seen in more than one movie and has significant time allocated to thier character within a movie, or across the series.

Name: Yaegashi Takumi
First Appearance:  Gachi-ban (2008)
Last Appearance: Gachi-ban II (2008)

The one that started it all, Takumi. Takumi was the first and second protagonist of the series, Gachi-ban. He was known, in conjunction with his two best friends as one of the “Three Crows” feared to the be the strongest yankees in their school. But then the trio graduated and went their separate ways to high school. Takumi went to Kinugasa High School, where to become top of the school he had defeat Kojima, a third year student just back from a suspension. After his victory, Takumi later established the gang “Black Dog” and in his third year found a successor with Mori Monji. After graduation he handed over the position and was never seen again.

Name: Yoshida Yoshio
First Appearance:  Gachi-ban MAX (2010)
Last Appearance: Gachi-ban Z Proxy War (2013)

TN: Suzunosuke, who plays Yoshio actually acted in Crows Zero, the movie the series is parody and based-off.

Yoshio is Hayato’s senpai from the same high school, he was also formerly the ‘top’ at school and respected by Hayato. When Hayato moved to Shibuya, Yoshio was the first person he saw handing out tissues on the street. Yoshio is a former yankee, who rarely fights anymore, although did come out of retirement in Gachi-ban Z, and now tries to make an honest living with numerous jobs. He is almost the complete opposite of Hayato in personality being cool-headed and self-aware, whilst Hayato is hot-headed with a short fuse. The two often fight like an old married couple over things, but in the end have each others back. Hayato ready to step in the ring anytime to fight for Yoshio.

Name: Tatsumi Satake
First Appearance:  Gachi-ban SUPERMAX (2012)
Last Appearance: Gachi-ban EXPENDED (2013)

Satake (played by Endo Yuya) is a small-time yankee from a rural town which Hayato encounters when Yoshio and him escape Kabuchiko and get manual labour construction work. He is member of the “Pirahanas’ and almost instantly has hostility with Hayato, especially when Hayato befriends his girlfriend and the green-eyed monster appears. The two battle it out in the rain. We later then see Satake in Tokyo, moved up in the world of Yankees to become an underling dog of a local Yazuka. He captures Monji, who is running because of accidentally stabbing the son of the Yazuka boss, and brings his dead body in front of the gang. He is then told to guard and torture Monji, but instead helps him escape. We later learn that Monji needs the job (and its money) because he is now a father to a daughter which he had with Miyuki, his girlfriend.

Name: Kawasaki (Played by Sato Hisanori)
First Appearance:  Gachi-ban TRIBAL (2010)
Last Appearance: Gachi-ban SUPREMACY 2 (2013)

Kawaski is first introduced as the koahi in the same agency as Reo. initially he is Reo’s gopher, running around getting him things whilst he waits for Reo to teach him things about the modelling. Reo takes him for granted and refuses to teach him anything – well anything job related. Reo does try to teach Kawasaki how to collect money in a ruthless manner, which shocks Kawasaki initially. Then Kawasaki betrays Reo, for a first time, when he is discovered with Reo’s deadbeat dad. Reo attacks his father, almost killing the man, but Kawasaki steps in. The next day, though, all is forgiven and Reo even shows Kawasaki how to pose and the pair share a photo shoot together, pissing off Reo’s other ‘friends’. Kawasaki is then seen to have earned Reo’s respect and the duo go about as debt collectors, beating up people and forcing woman to pay with sex. Reo even intervenes in Kawasaki’s fight when the other needs help. Meanwhile, Reo’s life is crashing around him and when deadbeat dad reappears this time Kawasaki attacks the man and almost murders him, before Reo stops him. Again the next day all is forgiven, Then Reo looses his job, as does Kawasaki. So later that night, like normal, Kawasaki calls out Reo and betrays him a second time by blitz attacking him from behind with a baton. A bloody fight happens between the two friends and at the end both depart in different directions. Skip a few months and Kawasaki reappears in Reo’s life, walks up to the man, gives him a hug and his favourite snack. And the showdown seems like water under the bridge. The pair then start to attend nigh school together, whilst still being Yankees during the day and become inseparable as ‘partners in crime’.

Movies: in chronological order

For Gachi-ban (2008) to Gachi-ban (VI) check out this post. For any movie after 2010 check out this post.

In summary there are 21 titles in the series. Each tone of the movie set by the which actors appear in the movie; Monji centric movies are comedic; Hayato centric are action packed and movies in which Reo is the star tend to be a little darker and serious. This is reflection of each character individual personalities. As well as having “character-arc films” – as a means to either introduce characters or expand on and give character development –  the three protagonists also interact with one another in “battle films” where they are each others opponent.  These films tend to be similar; characters meet, characters clash, characters battle out to see who is the strongest. Then there’s the “team-up films” wherein, as it describes, two (or more) characters cooperate to defeat a shared opponent.

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