Great Teacher Onizuka follows the life of Onizuka, a 22 year old ex-gang member who decides he wants to be a teacher. Not to help out young minds or spread the joy of education -- he wants to be able to gawk at teenage girls. Through a series of fairly hilarious events, Onizuka manages to land a job at a prestigious academy, but there's a catch: he'll be teaching a class full of junior high delinquents. These students aren't up for accepting Onizuka as their new homeroom teacher and mentor, and with that, the story begins...Great Teacher Onizuka is fairly episodic and random, but only to an extent. Unlike series such as Azumanga Daioh which have episodes that remain unconnected all the way through, Onizuka does have a few plot-centric arcs. The first and most important deals with Onizuka straightening the students out, overcoming obstacles along the way. Other arcs are smaller and definitely not as intense or dramatic (with the exception of the last two episodes), and usually deal with lighthearted or trivial matters such as Fuyutsuki wanting larger breasts, chain letters, or budding relationships between the students.
The humor was an important part of the series, or at least, it was supposed to be. Though there was plot, one of the main points of GTO was that it's funny and random. Honestly, this is where I felt the series failed. Don't get me wrong, I like random and episodic series. I loved Jing, Azumanga, and a number of others. GTO, on the other hand, tries to be funny and just isn't most of the time, in my opinion. Granted, the beginning of the series did have a lot of genuine laugh out loud moments, but it definitely didn't carry through the rest of the series. The weird facial expressions (see the animation section below) were what made the humor funny most of the time, but even that gets old after awhile. In general, I could count the number of times I laughed out loud on both hands or less, and for a 43 episode series that's based heavily on an episodic nature, that isn't a good thing.
Had GTO consisted of nonstop plot like Juuni Kokki, I could understand its length. However, with mostly filler episodes that aren't outrageously hilarious, did the series really need to be 43 episodes? I found myself becoming incredibly bored around the 26 episode mark, and it only got worse, not better. In general, I feel like shows that are based on random comedy should be short and fantastic for every episode, or it needs to be great on the plot, with random elements thrown in. It felt like GTO was trying really hard to be a random comedy show, but also threw plot elements in, which messed up the balance. As far as shows that have a good ratio of humor, Cromartie definitely has the highest ratio, Azumanga a close second, and a few others following. GTO, however, had an extremely low percentage of funny episodes in my book, maybe 20% or less. And again, for a series this long, that just sucks.
The other problem is the unfulfilling ending which doesn't tie up many loose ends. There are certain things in the series which are skirted around for the entire length of the show, and they aren't even resolved at the end. Also, there are several instances of relationships that seem like they should have started, but are left up in the air. For a series that is based mostly on not having a plot, I wish they could have tied up the few plot points that DID exist.
Faults aside, there are a few things I DID enjoy. For example, the character development was superb and wonderfully scripted for almost all of the characters in the story. Also, the overall plot arc definitely did have a rewarding ending, and was positive each time something was resolved. You walk away from GTO feeling like you grew along with the characters, and came to appreciate Onizuka and his wacky yet effective teaching style. Definitely, GTO manages to suck you in as far as empathy for the characters.
Another thing to note that you might enjoy (but I didn't) is the large amount of ecchi. I'm not a big fan of ecchi, but those who are will enjoy GTO. Most of it revolves perverts in some way, and/or staring at junior high girls. Regardless, most people seem to think the ecchi in GTO is funny, so you might too.
In general, I felt the lack of comedy for most of the episodes combined with the excessive length really made me not enjoy watching this all the way through. Had most of the episodes been hilarious or anything like the first chunk of them, I would have enjoyed watching all 43. Instead, I was terribly bored and it just went downhill from there, thus the lower score.
Visually, GTO is nothing to smile at. The animation looks older and crude, with not a lot of detail. Colors are drab, not vibrant, and uninspiring. No CG was used except in two scenes that I can remember: one of a car driving, and one near the very end, showing food cooking over a tiny hibachi grill. These scenes looked quite out of place given the quality of the rest of the animation.
There was one saving grace to the animation: the facial expressions. During just one episode of GTO you realize something is up with the expressions -- they are crude, extremely exaggerated, and hilarious. Onizuka in particular has ape-like grimaces that look completely fake and ridiculous, which just helps add to the humor. You might hear someone lecturing Onizuka, with Onizuka standing there with this gaping grotesque expression. So, so funny. Near the end of the series these expressions weren't nearly as funny, however, presumably because they weren't used sparingly throughout the course of the show, causing them to get old.
The audio wasn't that great, mostly because there was barely any variety to be found.There were two tracks that were used on a regular basis, both of which fit the mood and scenes in question, but there weren't many other tracks besides that. For 43 episodes, I would have for there to have been at least 3-5 major tracks, but alas, there were only a few. The variety of songs sort of reminded me of watching Uninhabited Planet Survive: good music, lousy selection.
Voice acting was great, especially Onizuka's dramatic and angry voice. Some of the snobby school girls definitely had voice actors who could help portray their snobby nature, so that was a plus. Overall, decent music, but it could have used some variety.
Easily, the characters and character development were the strong point of GTO. Whereas some series have a multitude of characters who we only know on a shallow basis, GTO is filled with primary and secondary characters who all have a rich history and personality that we discover throughout the course of the series. Most of the primary characters had a few episodes throughout the show that helped develop them as a character, whether it was learning about their past, confronting a problem they have in the present, or in general, helping to discover why they act the way they do. Given the fact that there were 15 or so main characters, this was quite a feat, and was pulled off very well.
We were introduced to a great deal of the students, each of which had some sort of skeleton in the closet, and had a chance to grow and mature. We were shown multiple instances of situations where someone was being bullied, several budding relationships, and in general, we saw many of the students come to a realization that all teachers might not be so bad. The bullying arcs, I thought, were some of the most dramatic and emotional scenes in the series. Even though I was not bullied growing up (physically, at least), I felt such empathy for the characters and such hatred towards the bullies. Quite frankly, this defines a good series: you feel empathy towards the characters, and hate the bad guys. Quite a feat.
In addition to the students, we also got a glimpse into the life of Onizuka's female co-worker, Fuyutsuki, and discovered why she became a teacher. Another main character is the vice principal. He was the comic relief, with his Cresta that keeps getting demolished, his lolita-fetishes, and his futile desire to finally be recognized as a good father by his wife and daughter.
And then there's Onizuka. He's a no nonsense guy who wants his students to succeed, and uses crazy methods to get them to pay attention. We learn to love Onizuka and his strange ways, because we see how much he is able to affect each and every student. He was also the only character that I felt digressed over the course of the series, which was a shame. The best analogy I could use is how Homer Simpson's character de-evolved over the course of the Simpsons' history. In the first few seasons he's just a grumpy guy, but after many years he becomes this truly dumb bumbling idiot who is now the comic relief. Onizuka I felt was sort of the same. In the beginning he's somewhat dense, but in general is just full of tough love and deep down, cares for his students. By the end I felt he was being portrayed as totally clueless and idiotic, though still loving his students, etc. This is just a small thing that I felt wasn't necessary, and made his role less effective than it ultimately could have been.
In general, a wonderful set of characters who developed nicely. I must say I thought a few were annoying as hell, but that was the point given their personalities. I came to like Onizuka by the end, and so will you.
Great Teacher Onizuka wasn't a bad series by any means, but I also wasn't as impressed as it seems many people are. It was funny at very minor times, but ultimately seemed dull and unexciting for the rest of the time. The character development was great, that's for sure, but the rest seemed lukewarm. One of the only saving graces for the humor was the facial expressions, which eventually get old, much like the rest of the series after 43 full episodes. The animation was fairly average, the music was good but limited, and the humor was lacking. So, I don't know... if you have seen things like Cromartie or Azumanga which have a very high ratio of hilariousness, don't expect GTO to be anything up to par. It's funny at times, charming, and even sentimental, but it's not a 10 by any means. Decent, yes. Deserving of anything above a 7? Not in my opinion. It's good, but not that good.
With a history of leading a motorcycle gang and getting bad grades in school, why would 22 year old Onizuka ever want to become a teacher? Is it to educate young minds or spread the joy of education? Sure, if it involves being able to look up high school girls' skirts! Watch as this would-be educator uses his own life lessons and unconstituted methods as a means to control a delinquent class of students -- students who certainly aren't as happy to have him as a teacher as he is happy to be teaching...
My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.