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GTO Review

Genres: Comedy Drama Slice-of-Life All
Series' Year of Release: 1999
Number of Episodes: 43
Review Date: 7-10-2009
Review Language: Dub
Review DVD Region: R4 Available in Australia
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Review By: Bradley Beeck

Eikichi Onizuka is a 22 year old ex biker and delinquent. He’s never made it with a woman and he barely graduated university but he’s determined to be the Greatest Teacher in all of Japan. Using his physical strength, his crude attitude, and total disregard for the rules Onziuka sets out to solve his student’s problems. And have some fun along the way.

gto001GTO or Great Teacher Onizuka was/is a hugely popular multimedia series. The original manga boasts millions of sales and the live action TV series has been touted as the most watched program ever in Japan. The manga has even been recently revived with the series Shonan 14 Days. The concept’s popularity is well deserved, as is the case with this anime adaption which is one of the greatest shows anime has to offer.

gto022GTO is not so much about Onizuka himself, as it is about the students in his class. It’s about the messed up things his students get up to and the crazy ways in which he helps them. He’s like a super hero; an extreme personality who’s not afraid of anything and can fix anything. This is what makes the series so great. Onizuka’s free to dress up in stupid costumes and clown around, providing a lot of laughs with his crude attitude. While the students are trying to commit suicide or blackmail him out of school. It pulls off the combination of comedy and drama spectacularly. That’s not an easy thing to do but it works because it’s genuinely funny and the student’s dramas are deep.

gto011The show’s storylines are fantastic because they involve powerful emotional turmoil in a real world setting. They’re quite extreme and more than one student tries to kill themselves but they’re understandable, relatable even given the school setting. They also take place in an overall continuity giving them that added sense of realism. One by one Onizuka wins over the students, who in turn help him survive another day in his job. Given his outrages behaviour he frequently butts heads with the Vice Principle of the school, the series’ fall guy. A lot of the teachers at the school don’t really care about the students, which makes Onizuka stand out even more. Given his background as a biker, a delinquent, garbage, he never gives up on his students no matter what they do. This is what also makes him like a super hero - always strong in the face of adversity but not to the point of completely breaking believability. He also tries to make school fun for the students, another aspect anyone can relate to.

gto053Some of the students is an Onizuka’s class are: Yoshikawa, Murai, Kanzaki, and Kikuchi. Yoshikawa is a game obsessed boy who’s getting bulled by girls, Murai is delinquent with a mother complex, Kanzaki is a genesis with different coloured eyes, and Kikuchi is a computer whiz. After Onizuka helps each of them they start hanging out with him, and aid him with other student’s problems as well as his own. So the storylines continue into one another giving the series a slice of life feel. Of the character arcs Yoshikawa’s and Kanzaki’s are the best and Murai’s is the worst, it’s just dull in-comparison. The anime doesn’t cover all the manga’s storylines and the last character arc is rushed to a conclusion but the show does provide an ending for Onizuka at least.

gto002GTO looks very much like a series from the nineties. That’s not a bad thing for me because I love the tone of the colours and super detailed backgrounds and machines from that time. The character designs have also held up well. The music is excellent with some superb saxophone in GTO Theme. The OPs and EDs are fantastic and have some of the most stylish animation I’ve seen. The first OP Driver’s High by L’Arc ~en~ Ciel is almost entirely in black and white and is quite symbolic. The second OP is Hitori no Yoru by Porno Graffiti and tells its own mini story. The three ED songs are Last Piece by Kirari, Shizuku by Miwaku Okuda and the last is Cherished Memories by Hong Kong. Last Piece and Shizuku are awesome and fit the show perfectly and all the EDs are considerably less energetic than the OPs.

GTO is driven by the crazy antics of Onizuka and the awesome stories of his students. He’s crude, over the top, lewd and very funny. While his students are beset by deep seeded problems that lead to powerful emotional turmoil. Their problems are understandable and somewhat relatable and Onizuka never backs down no matter how much trouble they get into. The music is excellent and features some fantastic opening and closing songs. GTO is an amazing series; it’s both funny and dramatically gripping, and is one of the best shows ever to be animated.