Onizuka is a reformed biker gang leader who has his sights set on an honorable new ambition: to become the world's greatest teacher... for the purpose of meeting sexy high school girls. Okay, so he's mostly reformed.
However, strict administrators and a class of ruthless delinquents stand between Onizuka and his goal and they will use any means, however illegal or low, to drive the new teacher away. Perfect, because Onizuka's methods won't be found in any teaching manual; he cares about the difference between legal and illegal activities about as much as he cares for the age difference between himself and a high school girl.
So get ready for math that doesn't add up, language you'd be slapped for using, and biology that would make a grown man blush... unless of course, you're the Great Teacher Onizuka.
I was a little skeptical at first about this anime. I usually avoid the comedy/slice-of-life genre, but this anime came highly recommended by an old friend and boy am I glad I listened to him. GTO has to be one of the most well made anime package of its time.
The story is somewhat cliche: troublesome high school students with peculiar skills or traits trying to rid a teacher who's trying hard to to teach them a lesson in life. However, there are some very clever surprises and plot devices to keep the viewer poised for more. My only complaint is the rather hashed season finale (Ep. 42 and 43), but that was to be expected since those are the only two episodes that didn't diligently follow the manga.
The animation is adequate for its time, but that isn't the reason why you should watch this.
Both the opening and ending soundtrack for the series is great. Although, neither are as good as the GTO Live Action theme, "Poison".
The reason why you should watch this is simple: Onizuka Ekikichi, 22 years, virgin. This anime is all about character, rather a character. Truly GTO is ineffable in that sense. Watch the first episode and tell me if you're not immediately enamored by Onizuka and his ridiculous ways.
While there is a certain moral message to the anime, watch it for the sheer fun value. It will make you laugh, that's for certain, perhaps it might even make you cry. The live action series, I'm not ashamed to say did make my eyes wet.
The live action series (12 episodes) is quite good as well but there are certain things one can have liberty with in an anime that is not possible in live action.
Overall, I highly recommend GTO. Not just the anime but the entire franchise, manga, live action TV series and the movie.
Eikichi Onizuka. 22 years old. Even as Japan keeps turning out more new anime, there’s still perfectly good series out there from the past, and that’s especially true for people who might have been introduced to anime just recently. It’s hard to believe that GTO will be 10 years old this June, but age has nothing to do with a good anime. So I’ve devoted the last few days of my life to this series.
The premise is simple, if not a bit cracked out, and the first episode serves to illustrate. Onizuka is a former Yakuza who always had a dream of becoming a teacher, and the best one of all time at that. Of course, he ends up drawing quite possibly the most ill-tempered class out of the whole lot, and that’s putting it lightly. This begins a 42 episode long trek to slowly win all students of his class over, and along the way figure out their problems. And in the end, it culminates with the student who has easily suffered the most trauma and the revelation of the event that shook the class to its core.
You know Onizuka’s always going to win in the end, and if you have to ask why, then you still don’t quite understand the premise. What’s important is the journey, how is he going to prevail, and where is he going to screw up along the way. It seems easy but quickly becomes complicated when you realize that the class is actively plotting against his efforts. They’re quite brilliant for a bunch of teenagers. The vice-principal also has a very low opinion of the former gang member and spends a lot of his time antagonizing the situation. On top of that, Onizuka is no pristine member of society; in fact, he’s a wonderfully flawed character. He drinks, he smokes, he’s vulgar, he’s a womanizer, and he acts completely over the top, running on instinct. Despite this you will love him, trust me.
The cast of characters supporting the show are just as important; they are numerous and just as easily flawed. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have trouble remembering most of their names by the end of the series, even the ones that are around from step one. Yet, each of these characters gets to carry the plot ball at some point for their spot in the limelight, and most of them will even have their own crowning moment of awesome. By the end, they’ve all grown significantly under their teacher’s tutelage. It’s the sign of a good series when you can juggle all these characters around and manage to leave none of them in the lurch.
A lot of the series appeal is the ridiculous situations that are generated and Onizuka’s ability to come up with equally ridiculous solutions, and soak up comical levels of punishment. It still delivers elsewhere. This show has the ability to move you, and if you don’t feel anything by the end of episode 11’s dramatic soliloquy, quite frankly you must be dead inside. The great teacher also specializes in life lessons, and if you haven’t managed to learn anything by the time the series reaches its conclusion, then I honestly wonder if we were watching the same show. This naturally lends itself to exploring how the school system is failing to prepare its students for the real world, instead focusing on test scores at the expense of all else. Really the only time this show loses its impact at all are when it veers off the overarching story for a one shot episode, and even those don’t feel terribly out of place and serve as auxiliary character development.
The animation isn’t nearly as pristine as technology allows today. It’s still fun the watch, and the facial expressions in particular are well executed. There’s a lot of action going on in some sequences, and there isn’t any major animation break or loss of what’s going on. The music doesn’t have a tremendous amount of variety; it sets the mood for the situation and then goes merrily away, letting the characters speak for themselves. Steven Blum plays Onizuka to the hilt, and I like the rest of the characters voice work as well for the most part. There were a couple of minor characters I didn’t really care for, but a minor character in this series basically means they get about three lines and then fall off the face of the planet for a few years.
This series is full of greatness. If you haven’t watched it yet, then I don’t care how you do it, watch it. If you have, take a bit of your time to revisit your favorite episodes. It’ll be worth it for all of you.read more
Great Teacher Onizuka had some potential, but all of the humor is repetitive and juvenile, while unrealistic dramatic scenes dominate the plot more and more as the series drags on. It basically fails on both fronts. Plot points and devices are reused to the point where they become dull, and they get increasingly ridiculous as the series progresses. Not in a good way, of course. Holy melodrama, batman! This anime is chock full of bullshit backstories that are supposed to make us go “awwwwww, they’re not a bad guy/girl after all!” by the way. Yeah, it’s definitely as irritating and ineffective as it sounds.
Character development is unfortunately absent from the personality of our bland douche of a protagonist, and he is pretty much the same annoying dumbass for the whole duration of the plot. His way of solving issues with students is completely unrealistic, and while this is sometimes acknowledged and played for laughs, it takes itself seriously far too often. He’s pretty much just there for wish-fulfillment, plain and simple. As for his students, all developments in them come off as completely forced and contrived. Plus, almost all of them are blatant archetypes, who have some deep-seated reason to “bawww nvr trust a teacher again!” to boot. Why should we care about anything bad that threatens to happen when we already know that the Mary Sue genius cool handsome hacker boy can fix all problems that come up easily? Another telling issue with the characterization is that just about all men above the age of twenty are, for whatever reason, portrayed as disgusting perverts. This may be a reflection on Fujisawa himself, given the large amount of poorly-placed fanservice. All antagonists in this series start off completely one-dimensional and unrealistically evil, but they then get some sob-story tacked onto their character and their personality changes completely. That is simply not proper character development.
The art is easily the weakest aspect. Almost everybody has the same exact face; you know, that one face that Fujisawa Tohru recycles endlessly in everything he does. The only face he knows how to draw, basically. Great Teacher Onizuka largely depends on visual humor for its value as a comedy, but all of the "hilarious" facial expressions were used over and over again, when they were never really funny in the first place. At the same time, they contribute heavily to my inability to take Great Teacher Onizuka seriously. The rest of the visual humor is just somewhat lame and, man, I hope you like seeing Onizuka’s ass, because you’re going to be getting a lot of that. The animation is nothing special, and any flaws with it are completely overshadowed by the horrendous art.
All of the claims made by Great Teacher Onizuka’s rabid defenders about its “societal commentary” are completely untrue. Bullying is not dealt with much better, more interestingly, or realistically than in many other works I have seen. Furthermore, I failed to see what it actually criticized about the education system, other than the fact that not enough teachers are violent gangsters. This theme continues with just about everything else it supposedly comments on. It either just features these things in a cliché manner or does not really say much about them at all. There is no depth to Great Teacher Onizuka; it is just a simple drama and comedy. This would be fine did it do either of those things right, but, alas, it did not.
I have no idea as to why this anime is so highly regarded. It is just not very good, plain and simple. I get second-hand embarrassment when watching all of those sentimental scenes about teaching, and then I have to wonder why Great Teacher Onizuka didn’t just stick to comedy. Then I remember that it wasn’t funny and I think to myself “ah, that explains it.” GTO started out as a decent parody of all of those stupid shows with a super-teacher who helps his students work out all of their problems and wins their hearts in the process, but it eventually fell victim to self-indulgence and became a stupid story in the same vein. It contributed nothing new nor anything of real value to the genres of school life, comedy, or drama. It never made me laugh out loud, and it never evoked any kind of physical or emotional response. Not in a good way, at least. At its best, it’s okay. At its worst, it’s goddamn painful. read more
I finished this series a while back but i was bored so i decided to write this..
What happens when you take a situation comedy, a schoolyard farce, and a stiff shot of hard-hitting commentary on modern youth and the issues facing the Japanese educational system, mix them together in one anime series, and shake vigorously? You get something wonderful, and that something is called GTO. The series tempers itself with a grounding in reality and addresses serious social issues, but by mixing raunchy humor with a bit of an edge, Onizuka's lovable-loser-with-attitude persona, and a collection of wild situations that any prime-time comedy would be proud to sport, GTO distinguishes itself as a creative, enjoyable, and very funny show.
At first, I wasn't quite sure what to make of GTO; the sexual themes come on pretty strong, and between Onizuka's skirt-chasing and torturing his students, this didn't look to be a series in very good taste. Actually, I was missing the point: GTO is less a schoolyard drama and more like a modern-day fairy tale about a very human knight in all-too tarnished armor, fighting against conformity and the "right" way to do things. Once I stopped taking it too seriously, I started having an absolutely grand time.
The characters are what make almost every good anime comedy work and GTO is no exception, featuring an unusually broad range of minor players. With everything from anime-standard biker-gang members to much more normal folks like Onizuka's used car dealer friend and an assortment of dysfunctional parental relationships, the characters run the gamut from broad stereotypes and hilarious anime favorites to surprisingly realistic everyday folk. What stands out in particular, though, are the kids that Onizuka has to deal with--far from the stereotypical blushing anime schoolgirls, the majority of these normal-seeming kids are world-wise and have a vicious streak that can be downright scary, particularly since their tactics are rarely as simple as mere violence. Aside from being a sadly accurate reflection of modern Japan, it does make for an interesting change of pace, as does Onizuka's less than conventional methods of dealing with them.
This eclectic collection allows for plenty of humorous situations while also providing the serious ones that give the series its emotional heart. At the center of all of them, however, is none other than the Great Teacher himself, and Onizuka Eikichi is, more than anything, what makes GTO as much fun as it is.
Onizuka at first may look like a simple skirt chaser, but there's oh-so-much-more to him than your average skirt-chasing creep, even though the TV version has less character development than in the comics. On one hand, his main interest in teaching seems to be the (female) students (and fellow teachers, for that matter), and he's certainly got a wandering eye, summed up in a hilarious scene early on where he surveys a schoolyard filled entirely with high school girls--the pan was captioned with "There are boys, but he only sees the girls." On the other, he's a hard-driving Karate champ badass with plenty of biker gang leader attitude to back it up. In between, he's an emotionally fragile loser with no life, less social skills, a good heart, and an honest desire to give kids a better educational experience than he had.
If you put it all together, you get a dirty-minded punk who's not too bright, but can't help being a good guy from time to time, and more importantly he's one heckuva funny guy to watch. The most memorable (and funny) moments in the series revolve around Onizuka's unending capacity to absolutely freak out--aside from a variety of near breakdowns we're treated to sudden interjections of Onizuka's flights of fancy, usually offset immediately afterwards by harsh reality. He also seems to get that his interest in the students isn't exactly a good thing (but amusingly hard to resist), and his violent outbursts and "unorthodox" (read: "Suplex!") methods aren't something he's necessarily proud of later--he just gets carried away from time to time, and violence is the only way he knows how to solve things. Fortunately for him, his unique style is just what some of the kids he meets up with need, and his determination, street-earned wisdom, and bottomless idiocy are enough to make it work.
Although things settle into more situation-comedy territory once the series is well underway, the early plot of GTO looks like a classic--a teacher who really isn't comes into the "tough class" and busts some heads, whipping the students into shape and earning their respect in the process. But unlike the action movies that make the rounds on late-night cable, GTO brings together wacky anime-style sensibilities, an edgy sense of humor, and enough meaningful drama and social commentary to keep things plenty interesting in one confidently directed episode after another. The more dramatic scenes are sometimes a little on the stereotypical side, but were still well handled and at times surprisingly powerful, and more importantly the series never seems to take itself too seriously--it's all one big romp in the end. Perhaps most impressive of all was how comfortably the series flowed; the episodes effortlessly weave between drama and outright slapstick, and each has a lively pace that keeps you wanting more but never feels the least bit hurried.
GTO was not without flaws, though even the worst of them was only minor for me. My biggest problem was with the dub, but I'll cover that later. More generally, I was bothered by some of the art; the series is stylistically similar to adult male-targeted "businessman" manga (artists like Ikegami Ryoichi), which was most noticeable in Onizuka's frequently exaggerated facial expressions. I personally find that particular style of exaggeration unpleasant to look at more than funny, but in this case the situations were good enough that I was more than willing to forgive once I got used to it, and I wasn't even noticing after a half dozen episodes.
The only other fundamental complaint that comes to mind is with some of the rather dirty-minded subject material; those sensitive to that sort of thing, particularly as it relates to student-teacher relationships, might not be able to see past it. The first two-part episode in particular featured several scenes that seemed to pander to the male portion of the audience that thinks the same way as Onizuka does, but it didn't really bother me. In fact, that was probably the best way to establish his character (and to snag a TV audience), and as long as you don't take it seriously it should all be very funny (Akemi, to offer one female viewpoint, didn't find it offensive at all). In any case the rest of the series isn't all like that, though it doesn't lose its edge either, and it's all tempered by dealing with some real (and often related) social issues.
The artistic style is, as I mentioned, in the same general vein as a lot of other manga series aimed at older males. This means that the characters tend more toward realistic faces and proportions, although in this case the influence is mostly visible in the exaggerated facial expressions. Even so, there is still a wide variety of character looks, made even more impressive by the fact that they all look, more or less, Japanese. Even Onizuka's blonde hair is pointed out as being dyed, and is a distinctive part of his rebel character. The backgrounds tend to be rather bland, but if anything that puts more focus on the antics of the characters. The animation, at least, is smooth enough, and the character animation was extremely expressive, not to mention very funny.
The background music consists of a variety of amusing mood-enhancing tunes, and the intro and end themes were decent modern selections. The first season's intro animation, by the way, is the most artistically creative part of the production--an edgy, hard-edged, black and white montage of scenes capturing Onizuka's bad-boy persona.
Now for the one thing that made or broke GTO: The acting. Let's start with the Japanese, which is, in a word, perfect. The casting and acting in the variety of bit players is funny, but Takagi Wataru truly put the Great in GTO. Covering everything from mildly dramatic to ultra-stud to bad boy to blubbering idiot to near-breakdown hysterics, the quality with which every single facet of Onizuka's personality is portrayed was absolutely brilliant. I rarely heap praise that freely, but Takagi's performance alone was worth the price of admission. The subtitles, incidentally, were translated quite accurately, though the English is a bit stiff and does a poor job of capturing just how rough Onizuka's dialogue is.
The dub is an entirely different matter. Serious creative liberties were taken with the translation, which I was willing to forgive since the dialogue was fairly witty and had some modern flair, although much of it also seemed to be noticeably more gross. More importantly, though, David Lucas's take on Onizuka just wasn't great. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but his range wasn't particularly broad, so much of the humor in the series was based on his antics, and Onizuka's Japanese voice was so good, that anything less than a truly amazing performance would have felt like a major letdown. Slightly choppy directing may have also contributed to this.
I'm an established sub fan, so maybe I'm being too harsh on the dub, but what I found particularly interesting was how much less funny the English version was. Part of it was the acting, a little bit was due to choppy writing, a little more came from the fact that the background music and sound effects were quieter in relation to the dialogue, which drained some of the mood out of several scenes, but more than anything the English version just felt more... embarrassing. Maybe it's just in my head, but it seemed to me that the combination of less broad acting, less noticeable music, and somewhat more crude dialogue gave the whole production a less silly feel, which in turn made Onizuka's behavior less funny and more distasteful. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but at least I'm confident in saying that the Japanese version is much funnier than the dub.
All in all, GTO is not a wildly original series, but like some of the best modern anime it takes tried and true concepts, gives them a good, hard shake, and shoots in a stiff dose of fresh, funny attitude to create a thoroughly enjoyable show. It's definitely not appropriate for younger viewers, and it's going to appeal more to the older male fans, but if you give GTO a chance, almost anyone who enjoys some mature (and relatively intelligent) but silly fun with should have a grand time. Personally, I can't get enough.
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