Gus started a very cool new feature, Authentically Awesome Anime, just last month with one of his current obsessions, Gurren Lagann. While I’ve talked about Dragonball Z quite enough, and gone toe-to-toe with Gus regarding Avatar, I don’t want to paint this picture of myself as a complete anime fool. Therefore, it’s about time I showed my worth and talked about an anime that isn’t as well known as the rest but certainly should be: Great Teacher Onizuka, or GTO for short. Ever heard of it? Well you’re about to, on today’s Authentically Awesome Anime!
So what exactly does “Great Teacher Onizuka” even mean? The show follows 22-year-old Eikichi Onizuka, an ex-bosozuko member (he was in a biker gang), who wishes to become a teacher. But not just any teacher. The Greatest Teacher Ever. Without any real training, he scores a job at a private high school called Holy Forest Academy and quickly begins delivering life lessons as readily as actual curriculum.
To best begin telling the story of Onizuka, I should tell the story of Other Chris and his infamous trickery. Trickery most foul. Years ago when Other Chris had just entered my life, he was living on my couch as a sort of apartment pet. We both kept late hours, usually leading to many shared late-night adventures and viewings and such. We had previously finished Death Note (a Triple A article for another time), but he kept insisting that I’d love this strange show called GTO. Eventually he wore me down and convinced me to watch one episode, just one, before I went to bed. The time was about 2 a.m. but by the episode’s conclusion it was 3:30 a.m. since he “forgot” to tell me that the first episode was an hour and a half. Trickery!
The point of this was that Other Chris was careful to show me a version subtitled from the original Japanese that he just happened to have on his laptop “somehow.” I can safely say, there is no better way to watch GTO. No, I’m absolutely not an elitist regarding anime (I think DBZ sucks in Japanese), but GTO fits best in the Japanese, probably because that’s how I first heard it.
Were I to describe the style of the show, I would inevitably have to point you toward Egoraptor and his Awesome flash videos, specifically Awesome Center Redux. The two entities find common ground in the way they both favor extreme close-ups for humor, zooming in to show a detailed and exaggerated face to emphasize a moment in time. It makes both Other Chris and I burst into uncontrollable laughter each and every time.
Still, how entertaining could a show about an ex-biker becoming a teacher really be? Simply, very entertaining. The creator, Tohru Fujisawa, took the simple trope of The Pervert and applied it perfectly to a situation where he absolutely cannot get away with anything due to losing his job and also getting thrown into prison since all his students are underage. Goes without saying, this show isn’t for children, as most anime usually actually isn’t (at least not American children, bunch of sheltered pansies that we are).
Anyway, while Onizuka stumbles into employment with this private school, a number of individuals hate him and want him destroyed, sometimes physically and sometimes just professionally (or both). One in particular is the principal of the school, a man completely in love with his car, a car that Onizuka destroys on a regular basis, such as when he falls into it while catching a student attempting suicide.
Really, no matter the situation, Onizuka manages to do truly fantastical things and withstand a lot more punishment than would be believable in the real world. His actions, too, are completely outlandish and ridiculous, borderline insane in places. And yet he always manages to be likeable. Even though he’s chasing tail, you’re cheering him on. He’s incredibly endearing, despite his madness. With every new plotline you find yourself wondering how he’ll manage to get himself out of yet another trap a student has placed in his way, or better yet, how he’ll eventually save a student that desperately needs his guidance.
At 43 episodes, Great Teacher Onizuka is on the relatively long side of things (nowhere near as long as DBZ, Narauto, or One Piece), but give it a chance and there’s a high chance you’ll be pleased with the results. Onizuka is one of those characters you can’t help but admire and want to see succeed somehow, purely based on the mystery of his character’s actions. If you’ve never heard of GTO, give it a watch. You may just find yourself falling in love with the Greatest Teacher Ever like I did not so long ago.
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