Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Great Teacher Onizuka

Genre: Comedy
Parental Guidance Recommended
2000. Toru Fujisawa (creator). Noriyuki Abe (director.) Studio Pierrot and SPE Visual. Fuji TV.

Great Teacher Onizuka DVDs
Great Teacher Onizuka Books
Great Teacher Onizuka Music
GTO Toys and Accessories
GTO Posters Etc.
Everything GTO

Cover Description:
Tough on the outside, all heart on the inside, Onizuka turned to the life of a high school teacher for less excitement and action...or so he thought. GTO, A.K.A.: Great Teacher Onizuka, is the racy story of Onizuka, a former motorcycle gang member who becomes a teacher to make a difference and... to meet girls? Using his street smarts to deal with colleagues, students and troublemakers, Onizuka finds that he too has many lessons to learn!

(43 episodes)

NOTE: Some of the reviews were written sometime in 2003 and was recorded in the classic Otaku Fridge as ??.??.2003. Unfortunately the database would not accept non-numerical values, so this review is now dated January 01, 2003 by default.

WATCH IT. NOW. >>> by Xellos-sama (??.??.2003)

This has probably been THE most inspiring series I've seen in a VERY long time. The series honestly made me rethink my career path and consider taking up a life of teaching.

The basic premise of the series is quite a hook -- a former gang member takes up a life of teaching to hit on underage schoolgirls. Wahoo!!! A veritable goldmine of ecchi situations!!! Sound tempting enough yet?

...Well, like any other 'baka' that's watched the series, then you've already been fooled...

Don't get me wrong! The series is still chock-full of pervertedness (seeing the above premise, that pretty much IS a given), but it's not about the ecchi. It really isn't. GTO is about the determination of one man to become a teacher. It's about how one sensei can make a difference in the lives of his pupils. The series actually gives you hope in the human race as a whole. Sorry if i'm being a bit dramatic. The series deserves it.

Animation isn't exactly top-notch, as it retains the same roughly unpretty drawing style and character designs that the manga had. But like other top-notch anime with bad art COUGH* Initial D *COUGH, the characters grow on you and you learn to love them. ALL of them. I mean it.

Sounds are above cool. The opening track for the first season is "Driver's High" by L'Arc~En~Ciel. If you're familiar with this song, i shouldn't have to extoll it any more. The seiyuu (voice actors) are all top-class here, with some anime staples such as Mitsuishi Kotono (yay!), Hikaru Midorikawa, and Seki Tomozaku. (I couldn't really place the rest of the voices... gomen). The rest of the openings and endings grow on you as well.

As I said above, the characters ALL grow on you. You really do learn to love all of them. Each one of Onizuka's major students has excellent character development and gets his or her own place in the limelight. Everyone actually has believable reasons for being the way they are. Everyone is very, very real.

Overall, the series is nicely put together in a very strong package. Do what you can to watch it. You won't regret it.

Individual Rating: Art: 8; Story & Plot: 9; Characters: 9; Sounds: 9

Surprisingly addicting. >>> by firesenshi (04.19.2003)

At first I thought that I would never like this. I am not too forgiving on the ecchi genre (well almost). The idea that a crazy, really ecchi ex-gang member wanted to be a teacher just to get close to the lot of young high school girls in short skirts and knee-length socks is uhh... someone who I'd throw off the 32nd floor. Heh. Gomen. I have been relating the first part too much with real life.

But having read the hype on the manga everywhere -- as in, for a time, that was all I found -- press releases in anime print and internet magazines on the GTO manga. Crazy ecchi teacher storyline that suddenly became a cult favorite? Moreover, I saw the live action movie starring Takashi Sorimachi as Onizuka. And that just piqued my curiosity.

The story is about a 22-year old ex-motorcycle gang member, who after graduating from a substandard university, aspires to be a teacher. His dream: GTO - Great Teacher Onizuka. Now it starts off with everything ecchi as is the nature of our hero here. What do you expect from a guy whose hobby is to look up under escalators staring at school girls' panties, eh? (And damn... I think I was a victim of that in high school too. Go fig.) During the first part, I thought, is there all there is to it?

But in a series of overwhelmingly surprising events, things started going well. Life wasn't always easy for Onizuka-sensei. There were times he almost gave up being a teacher, his students gave him a hard time (and by hard time, one of them meant having a snake crawl under his pants), his fellow teachers wanted him out of the academy... AND YET, with his unusually high stat in luck coupled with his street smarts, funny antics, he managed to overcome all of these. And like one of the impossibly hard-headed brats in his homeroom class of 3D, Onizuka-sensei managed to win me over in just a couple of episodes. Even if he was still dang hentai in the end.

It was not only Onizuka-sensei who made this entire anime work. You will follow the stories of students in Onizuka's class. There's the story of Yoshikawa, the wuss being bullied by girls (and if I were you, you'd watch out how this boy...grew up); Urumi, the gifted child prodigy who deliberately gave her teachers a hard time; Tomoko, also called Toroko for her unusual F-cup breasts... etc. etc. Add to that, the fray of teachers, most notably, Fuyutsuki Azusa-sensei, Onizuka's veritable... crush? (You go find that out.) See, it's not a boring class!

What's great about this is that as you follow the episodes, there are a lot of developments. The students really go through their own coming-of-age, surprisingly thanks to our Onizuka over here. Relationships develop. And definitely, first impressions will change. There are astonishing revelations to each and every character, that the character you thought you'd hate would redeem themselves in your eyes wonderfully in the end.

So like the review above says, "The characters grow on you." And boy do they. At the end, I found myself feeling sad that I only have 6 episodes to go on my 2-day marathon. But then, like I always say, I'm okay with anything ecchi as long as it's the ecchi I like.

Besides, the opening credits are actually good. There's even something reminiscent of Andy Warhol style and graffiti art on the opening credits that I haven't seen anything that creative since *gasp* Cowboy Bebop. (I mean seriously, most of the opening credits on anime are just cutscenes from the entire series over there. GTO's credits look like one good MTV.) Besides, Laruku's song and the ending song Shizuku were not bad at all. How about that?

Individual Rating: Art: 8; Story & Plot: 8; Characters: 9; Sounds: 10

Onizuka is my sensei! >>> by MarkPoa (10.24.2005)

Ah, high school life, my high school life...

I sometimes wished I had an anime-style high school life. True, I'll probably be the standard anime otaku/geek/nerd archetype, but what the hey... it would definitely be an interesting life.

At least, if you studied under the greatest teacher in all of Japan...

Great Teacher Onizuka chronicles the travails of a former biker gang leader who decides to become a high school teacher... with the hidden agenda of having a 16-year old wife when he reaches 40. Openly lecherous, flamboyant, headstrong, and... well, unorthodox to say the least, Onizuka faces the perils of middle school class 3D, featuring the most diverse group of teacher bullies in any animated world to date.

GTO's main strength is in its extremely likeable and sympathetic cast of characters. Though, it's possible that sometimes you might find yourself wondering if these are really middle-school Japanese kids... given their penchant for violent and disgusting acts. It certainly doesn't fit the mold of a typical Japanese teenager. But, then episodes would show that they're concerned with love, fitting in, money, friendship, image, family--concerns of any teenager--and you'll realize that these are pretty realistic teenagers here.

Onizuka himself is not a typical anime hero. He's perverted and violent (wait... come to think of it, he is a typical anime hero!)... but you can plainly see his determination and will to be a great teacher. Most of all, you'd feel good about his genuine care for students, demonstrated in numerous instances, such as saving a girl from kidnappers, giving up a Mercedes Benz to an old teacher, rescuing his student from bullies, rescuing a potential suicide (yes, he does a lot of rescuing), and more as the series progresses.

And corny as it may sounds... Onizuka does the right thing. He may not do it in an expected fashion... but you couldn't deny his results. The resolutions he comes up or the situations he finds himself into may be a bit contrived at times, but as Onizuka tries to overcome each problem he encounters--each more troublesome than the prior one--you'll find yourself rooting for him and wondering how the heck he's going to crawl his way out of each hole.

Art-wise, GTO's unique character designs take some getting used to. The characters are drawn in a semi-realistic fashion... which means that there is a tendency to have ugly "realistic" characters. Case in point: Onizuka's expressions. But, hey, they're funny!

Soundwise, GTO features some truly appropriate opening and ending themes. "Driver's High" is one particular favorite. The opening and ending themes capture the edgy feel of the series.

And of course... humor is another of GTO's strengths. Prepare to laugh. Hard. Sidesplittingly painful. And often.

One by one, Great Teacher Onizuka wins his students over. Watch episode after episode and I'm sure he'll win you over as well. Highly recommended.

Individual Rating: Art: 7; Story & Plot 8; Characters: 9; Sounds: 8

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