Genre: Full-Blast Live Action Version of an Exemplar Anime Series
review in one breath
This is the live-action movie based on the wildly popular manga, TV anime series, and TV live-action series, all by the same name, based on the creative manga by artist Fujisawa Tooru. This series has SUCH great appeal both emotionally and intellectually that I simply feel compelled to mention it. I wholeheartedly recommend you experience the rebellious yet wholly good-natured character Onizuka.
Okay. First some background.
Manga artist Fujisawa Tooru is responsible for a very long-running and popular manga entitled "GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka". The premise of Fujisawa's storyline is that of a reformed bike-gang leader who earnestly desires to become at junior/senior high school teacher. What both his students and co-workers soon realize is that his uniquely "down-to-earth" and wholly unorthodox approach to people and their problems are precisely what is needed.
There is a highly recommendable anime series (available in Region 1 DVDs) of the same title which more than adequately demonstrates the comedic and intellectual capacity of the series. In addition to the long-running anime series, a live-action TV series was produced starring Sorimachi Takashi in the lead role of Onizuka Eikichi. Sorimachi is a well recognized face on many Japanese TV series, but has done very little work in theatrical film. This live-action theatrical version of GTO which we are here reviewing also cast Sorimachi as Onizuka, thus making this film one of only four on his resume.
This film pretty much picks up where the TV series left off and utilizes many of the same cast in doing so. The narrative is adequately stand-alone so that audiences unfamiliar with the Onizuka character won't feel they've been plopped into the middle of a larger story. However, I am glad that I took someone's advice to also watch the anime series since this really added alot to my overall impression of this film.
The problems and situations Onizuka finds himself predominantly revolve around his relationship to his students, their parents and his fellow teachers. They generally depict real-life difficulties with which the audience can connect, or at least understand. Japanese society, and particularly its educational system is governed by a rigidly defined hierachy of rules, customs and traditions. The entire GTO series repeatedly explores the negative impact this rigidity has upon students' lives and psychological well-being, as well as how adults in this environment must also carefully navigate themselves to avoid social embarassment or worse.
And it is here that the Onizuka character bursts into their midst, wholly oblivious to the "rules and requirements", armed only with his street-wise common sense. But rather than becoming merely a platform for anti-authoritarian sentiments, manga artist Fujisawa has done a remarkable job bringing to the fore very powerful humanitarian messages which focus on the well-being of individuals rather than some complaint about the "system". It is this aspect of Fujisawa's creation that has accounted for its continued popularity. People simply don't get tired of seeing and hearing these types of messages, and in fact they seem to want more.
This is a very funny and heartwarming story, and is one a rather large collection of Onizuka tales (both animated and live action). I recommend you also check out the anime series for further fun. This is wholly recommendable as a family film and contains no questionable elements. Its target audience is adolescents and adults.
Version reviewed: Region 1 Subtitled DVD available at all mainstream venues
|Not much culture despite being a part of a very popular series.||Some student fisticuffs brawling and one pro-wrestler move against the Chairman of the Board!||Not even a panty joke!||This is really a fun film and demonstrates why this entire series has been so popular.|