Cover of the first volume of Dragon Zakura manga
|Written by||Mita Norifusa|
|Original run||2003 – 2007|
Dragon Zakura (Japanese: ドラゴン桜 Hepburn: Doragon Zakura) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Norifusa Mita. Serialized in Weekly Morning from 2003 to 2007, it was released into 21 tankōbon by Kodansha between October 22, 2003, and August 23, 2007. It was adapted into live action television series of the same name broadcast on TBS in 2005.
A sequel titled Angel Bank: Dragon Zakura Gaiden (エンゼルバンク-ドラゴン桜外伝- Enzerubanku -Doragon Zakura Gaiden-) was published in the same magazine between 2007 and 2010. It was compiled into 14 tankōbon released by Kodansha between January 23, 2008, and August 23, 2010.
This is a story about a private high school (Ryuzan) which lawyer Kenji Sakuragi, a former biker, is sent to close down. His business is on the rocks due to his biker background being made public in a scandal-magazine. Sakuragi gets the idea of turning the school around instead of closing it, thereby resurrecting his career. He goes for an outrageous goal: getting 5 students from this no-hope highschool into Tokyo University. What, THAT Tokyo Uni? Yes, THE Tokyo Uni! He persuades the director to back him, then gives a rousing speech to the entire school to announce the special class. "You're all losers and you'll stay losers for the rest of your lives! Because you're too lazy to use your brains and you haven't figured out that society is run by clever folks who make sure they always win and you always lose. If you don't like that prospect, study! I'll give you a goal: get into Tokyo University!" he shouts to a stunned, silent crowd.
When none of the existing teachers have the backbone to take on the responsibility for this class ("what if I fail?"), Sakuragi decides to run the class himself. To help him, he obtains the assistance of a motley crew of unorthodox teachers to teach math, language arts, social studies and English. Using a combination of tough love and scientific though unusual methods, he goads, bribes and cajoles 2 students into joining the class. He's assisted but also opposed by a couple of young English teachers, one of whom hates him and is always suspicious of his motives and methods, offering the author through Sakuragi to take some well-aimed jabs at timid, hide-bound and sentimental attitudes amongst Japanese educators: "education is a service industry"; "only results count - 5 students getting into Tokyo U, not sentimental hogwash like 'developing their individuality'"; "students don't need English for communication, they just need to pass the entrance exam"; "no-one learns English by studying grammar - you need to learn with your body, get out of your chairs and dance!" Will Sakuragi succeed? Or will the cynicism of just about everyone else win out? And just how come Sakuragi knows so much about how to get into Tokyo University, anyway?
The manga has sold over 6 million copies, and won the 2005 Kodansha Manga Award for general manga. It also won an Excellence Prize at the 2005 Japan Media Arts Festival, with the jury saying, "The theme is not new, the composition is somewhat orthodox and it is true that there was criticism of the drawing skill. However, the story is told with such great conviction and pathos that these weaknesses are easily overlooked. It is a very entertaining manga, which is probably the most important thing."
The manga has been adapted into a Japanese television drama series of the same name and also into a 2010 South Korean television drama series titled Master of Study. It will also be adapted into a Chinese internet television drama series.
- ドラゴン桜（1） (in Japanese). Norifusa Mita official site. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
- ドラゴン桜（21） (in Japanese). Norifusa Mita official site. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
- 金曜ドラマ「ドラゴン桜」 (in Japanese). TBS. Archived from the original on November 24, 2005. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
- エンゼルバンク ドラゴン桜外伝（1） (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
- エンゼルバンク ドラゴン桜外伝（14）. Kodansha (in Japanese). Retrieved August 2, 2014.
- Ohara, Atsushi (September 3, 2013). "'Dragon Zakura' comic to be remade in Indonesia to meet local needs". Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- Joel Hahn. "Kodansha Manga Awards". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on 2007-08-16. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
- "Excellence Prize: Dragon Zakura". Japan Media Arts Plaza, Agency for Cultural Affairs. Archived from the original on December 18, 2007. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
- "Chinese Company Plans Live-Action Dramas Based on Dragon Zakura, Other Manga". Anime News Network. December 1, 2015. Retrieved December 2, 2015.