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GTO : Great Teacher Onizuka - Anime Series (Abe Noriyuki 2003)


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GTO : Great Teacher Onizuka

Genre: Very Funny Ruffian Turned Teacher Fiascoes!

review in one breath

"GTO" stands for "Great Teacher Ozinuka", referring to a rough and tumble yet amazingly sincere teacher of Japanese junior high students. Though drawn in traditional cell animation, this series' (amazingly) polished degree of humor, societal commentary and wholesome humanitarianism make this a "must see" event. Here is another excellent example of creative and meaningful Japanese anime.


intro

HOLY COW! I like this!

This is a review of the Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO) anime series which became a smash hit broadcast on Fuji Television in 1999. The popularity of this anime version spawned a live-action television series and a theatrical release movie, all under the same title.

The characters and premise are based on the very long-running manga "GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka" by Fujisawa Tooru. The appeal of Fujisawa's creation is really two-fold. One the one hand, he attempts to address some of the angst felt by students in an admittedly overbearing national school system. On the other, the insightful humor and truly hilarious scenarios make this a very popular escape for adult audiences as well. The themes and issues explored are relatively mature and their resolutions continuously prove rather impressive.

In many ways this is reminiscent of the Salaryman Kintaro anime series. Not only did both these manga series spawn a animated TV series and a live-action theatrical release, but they also share a common approach to their story-telling. Both lead characters are faced with some of the most difficult scenarios facing real people, with Kintaro representing adult working society while Onizuka tackles the problems of students and faculty within the school system. And in both, such a strong humanitarian and meaningful message is evoked that audiences simply walk away thoroughly impressed.

Differences between the two include the fact that the GTO anime series consists of more than twice as many episodes, and that unlike the rather mature Kintaro, the juvenile antics of Onizuka are precisely what make his the "Great Teacher" in the eyes of his students.

The entire GTO anime series is now available on Region 1 subtitled DVDs. The series consists of ten DVD volumes, each with a running time of about 120 minutes. (The DVDs vary slightly.) The separate volumes can be purchased separately (on Amazon, for example) or in two box sets (5 volumes in each). -OR- you can rent these separately for a much more economical fee! Although I sincerely doubt your local video rental shop will have all 10 volumes (or even the first four), be of good cheer! NetFlix has the entire collection, most of which you could watch during their free 30 day period! (Assuming, of course you forgo sleep and all social interaction.)

story

After seven years at a low level community college, the former gang leader Onizuka diligently strives to become a junior high school teacher. Although he definitely lacks the social polish and academic intellect often touted by those in his position, his HIGHLY unique approach to handling students and faculty alike soon make him a truly outstanding character, beloved and trusted by some, and despised and ridiculed by others.

verdict

Definitely check this out if you can. Even one DVD volume might get you hooked. The episodes are all sequential in terms of character relationships and alliances, and so you may just find yourself caught up in a very entertaining and hilarious tale.

Version reviewed: Region 1 Subtitled DVD available at all mainstream venues

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
Thorough exploration of student angst and social ills. Good old fashioned fisticuffs and head-bashing. Surprisingly risque at moments! This is definitely a sure bet for an entertaining evening in front of the boob tube.

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