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...
StoryThe public high schooling system has become one of the most depressing institutions in the history of mankind, right down there with the Spanish Inquisition and the Nazi regime. Where else can you see bright young youths transformed into jaded, apathetic and thoughtless “adults?” When I finished high school, I graduated with a plethora of facts in my head, but little motivation to use them. My sole goals were to go to a third-rate, easy college in the middle of Kansas, and to work as little as possible for the rest of my life. School doesn’t just turn the students into disillusioned, skill-less automatons, either; teachers are equally victimized. Faced with a horde of uncaring adolescents with no motivation, the initially idealistic teachers soon realize that they can do nothing whatsoever to help their students, no matter how much they try. Underpaid and underappreciated, they soon begin to doubt the value of what they are doing. However, what if, hypothetically, a teacher came along who played by his own rules? What if he refused to stop caring about the students that he was teaching, and forcefully protected them from themselves? What if he focused on actual life lessons rather than meaningless facts that would never, ever be useful? What if he put his career, reputation and life on the line to do so? …he’d probably be fired instantly. But what if he wasn’t? What if, through sheer luck and a little bit of elbow grease, he was allowed to stay in school and convert a group of misguided, Machiavellian students into feeling, caring people with actual life goals? This, in a nutshell, is what Great Teacher Onizuka is about: the triumph of ideals over pessimism, of self-worth and humanitarianism over mindless conformity and heartlessness. The show is no more realistic than Chrono Crusade or Fullmetal Alchemist, but unlike either series it provides a fantasy world that hits much closer to home. Over the course of the series, I was enchanted by the idea that school didn’t HAVE to be a prison for the mind and the body. Not only that, but GTO is also uproariously funny. I generally hate ecchi comedy, but GTO’s brand of it is almost always absolutely hilarious. Combined with the witty, smartly portrayed characters and the often outrageous solutions to the problems at hand, Great Teacher Onizuka is easily one of my favorite shows of all time. One college diploma later, and I find myself seriously contemplating teaching as a career. I'm currently working as a teaching assistant for the statistics department at my school, and have found the work both challenging and rewarding. Could GTO have influenced my future decisions when I watched it more than six years ago? As much as I hate to say that an anime has changed my life, the evidence seems damning.AnimationI thoroughly enjoyed the facial expressions of Onizuka, but other than that the show falters in animation. Every once in a while, horrifically bad cgi will intrude, and in general the character designs are unappealing and somewhat ugly. Motion is stiff or simply non-existent. Fortunately, the animation doesnt do anything to hurt the amazing storyline or characters.SoundHilarious voice acting is coupled with a pretty good soundtrack. Not stellar by any means, but good nonetheless. The OST’s blaring trumpets work well with the overall mood of the show, and Onizuka’s loud, abrasive voice actor is a perfect fit.CharactersOnizuka, as mentioned earlier, is not only tremendously loveable, but downright inspirational. In addition to this, the students that he teaches are all well fleshed out. Though initially intensely dislikeable, the development over the course of the series is simply phenomenal. Watching each of these initially worthless individuals be converted to Onizuka’s way of thinking is a treat to behold.OverallIn my mind, this is one of the classics of modern anime, and will hopefully be enjoyed by future anime fans for years to come. If you haven't already seen it and are looking for an anime that is both hilarious and inspirational, I can't recommend GTO enough. PS: If you enjoyed this series as much as I did, you may also like the live action version. In my opinion, its almost as good as this one, and different enough to be entertaining for those who are already fans of the anime.
StoryGreat 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.AnimationVisually, 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.SoundThe 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.CharactersEasily, 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.OverallGreat 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.
ANIME EVOLUTION SERIES Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom: http://anidb.net/perl-bin/animedb.pl?uid=251338&show=userpage&do=blog&blogid=29009&page=0TEASER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=887C9HKY5yYSchool comedies became a trend after the success of Urusei Yatsura in the mid 80’s. Many others tried to repeat the success but none managed to get to the same heights, mostly because all that followed had less to offer. Less likable characters, less context, less things to ponder about. All that changed when GTO came to be and proved how even a school comedy can be educational and entertaining at the same time. This is the story of Onizuka, an ex-gang member who decides to become a teacher mostly to fulfil his deviant fetish of being constantly surrounded by cute schoolgirls. The plot sets it as if one can become a teacher if he can just cope with a problematic class for a while and Onizuka is more than willing to do anything it takes to succeed. Before you read further, please try not to rationalize what is going on in the anime. It is still a comedy and despite its various takes on social problems, very few are things are practical in real life. For you see, Onizuka keeps making all sorts of unorthodox acts, such as bullying bullies with his gang and hitting on his female students, or doing really messy experiments, like rockets made of plastic bottles. All that would never pass in a real-life school but in the case of Onizuka, all it takes is for his class to get along and cope with its various problems. As long as you don’t mind this element, then GTO will be a comedy that makes movies like Dangerous Minds to feel boring.The meat of the show is the crazy antiques of Onizuka as he tries to have fun and teach his students various life lessons. And by “teach” he doesn’t mean the textbooks. They are nothing but mostly useless theories that someone needs to learn by force just so he will get a good score. What Onizuka teaches is things that seem silly or not moral and political correct, but are otherwise far more productive and likable. He is a contrast to all the other teachers, who are nothing but uncaring workers, doing their joyless job just to get paid, full of hypocrisy at how good marks and hard study is all that matters in life. This is of course an appeal to the target audience, anyone going to junior high or high school who witnesses how boring and not-really-helpful the educational system is. But beyond that, this is a feeling that even adults can identify with, many years after they graduate and figure out how 99% of all the stuff they wasted years to learn are now completely useless and probably forgotten entirely. As unrealistic as the plot may be in this comedy, the messages it tells us are completely true. The anime is not sticking to just a zany teacher and a few boring co-workers. It is also focusing on various students and the problems they face in a cruel society that treats them as nothing but future workers and consumers. Each one of them has his own issues with his/her family, get bullied, turns to vandalism for fun, finds pleasure in mocking the teachers in any way possible, acts all nihilistic and violent. These are all problems most of us have experienced, personally or while looking at others, and thus the whole atmosphere of the show again feels far more real than any other anime with giant robots or teenagers with superpowers. The show is talking to you directly. As I said, the anime is not very realistic at how Onizuka deals with such problems. In real life he would have ended up fired and imprisoned for every weak for the rest of his life. The setting of the show is otherwise presenting how laws mean less than an appeal to emotions, and thus all the mischief he performs are constantly forgiven because they have a positive effect on his class. And by the end of the day we are all happy to see the students being happier and the nasty teachers or moral committee members getting all angry and incapable to punish him. It is a situation where you love the bold solution and not if it’s practical. Although it is true that sometimes all it takes to snap someone out of his misery is a simple slap or punch…Another good thing about this anime is that there is an on-going plot amongst all the craziness. Most comedies are storyless but GTO is a fine example of a show where progress takes place and it’s affecting future events. You clearly see how in the beginning all the students are cruel towards Onizuka and try their best to ridicule him but steadily his improbable behaviour is making them to like him as he seems to care more about having fun and telling them interesting stuff about real life rather than getting paid or being afraid of some committee to sue him for some moral mishap. His supporters increase as the story goes on and eventually he is the king of the hill in his school. There are still problems to deal with and in the finale it seems even his craziness can’t save him indefinitely; thus again proving that even being completely out-there is not panacea. Other than that, one should really go easy with the production values, as animation and artwork are rather poor, with simplistic drawings and too much jerky motions. Furthermore, the amount of fan service is watered down compared to the manga version, dropping your interest even further. Studio Pierrot is notorious for its quality drops and this is yet another case. The sound part is just fine, as the characters have fitting voices full of hilarious dialogues or teen angst and the music themes are beaty and likable. To close up, GTO is a cornerstone of good anime comedy. Not only it manages to be funny, but it also speaks directly to you AND packs a plot. A combination very rare to find in recent anime. And now for some excused scorings. ART SECTION: 6/10 General Artwork 1/2 (rather run-down) Character Figures 2/2 (generic-looking but memorable) Backgrounds 1/2 (basic) Animation 1/2 (basic) Visual Effects 1/2 (basic) SOUND SECTION: 7/10 Voice Acting 2/3 (silly but fitting with the feeling of the series) Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series) Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess) STORY SECTION: 6/10 Premise 2/2 (interesting) Pacing 1/2 (semi-episodic) Complexity 2/2 (rich context) Plausibility 0/2 (none) Conclusion 1/2 (simple) CHARACTER SECTION: 8/10 Presence 2/2 (bold) Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded) Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there) Development 2/2 (overblown but it’s there and it’s a lot) Catharsis 1/2 (kinda weak as the story ends a bit iffy) VALUE SECTION: 9/10 Historical Value 3/3 (all-known) Rewatchability 2/3 (high if you like its style) Memorability 4/4 (Onizuka alone worths full credit) ENJOYMENT SECTION: 9/10 The visuals could definitely be better but otherwise it is a very good show. VERDICT: 7.5/10
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