- Title: Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO)
- Genre: Slice of life, Comedy, School, Drama, Shounen
- Studios: Studio Pierrot
- Episodes: 43 – 25min (Completed)
- Date: 30 June 1999 — 17 September 2000
- Source: Manga
Onizuka was the leader of the biggest, most renowned biker gang. Feared and respected by many, he’s since changed his ways deciding to instead chase his passion to be surrounded by highschool girls, by being a teacher of course. Well, he probably didn’t change his ways all that much.
Unfortunately for him, things aren’t all smooth sailing. Given his background and his character, he’s constantly in a position where people doubt him and try to drive him away from becoming a teacher. But that doesn’t stop him from fulfilling his passion to become a teacher. As we see Onizuka pull out the most unorthodox methods to get his respect, expect lots of jokes and even occasional heart-warming moments.
We have the young teacher (22) with a delinquent history, proclaiming himself to be the greatest. Then we have troublesome students with a great knack for causing, well, trouble. Pair them together and what we have is the true formula for chemical X! Nah, even the powerpuff girls wouldn’t be able to handle their mischief. You wouldn’t expect the kind of mischief you see, especially from mere students. But of course, fret not, because Great Teacher Onizuka is here!
What I liked about the show was its ability to make the class, well, feel like an actual class. There are tons of school anime out there that simply ignore the 35 other students in the class. Not in Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO) though. The anime does a praiseworthy job of giving most of the 40 students in the class a distinct role. But more than just that wholesome feeling of inclusivity, GTO gives each character a good story to tell. They’re each fleshed out with a good background story, that pretty much govern how they are as a person. If a student’s character is rotten, there’s a pretty good reason why, and the anime does well to provide the proper explanation.
But beyond just how the characters were written, the story quite unexpectedly is rather inspirational. The teacher-student interaction will make you laugh and even possibly cry. The problems of the students and teachers could even resonate with you personally. Watching the ups and downs of the characters in the show and how Great Onizuka comes to the rescue with his charismatic unorthodox methods, I can’t help but wonder how I’d grow up to be like if I had a homeroom teacher like Onizuka.
I’m writing this review now, so I’ll probably have to compare the art and sound to the likes of our present period. But despite being an anime from the 1990s, the art is actually quite alright. I mean, its incomparable to the animation we see these days, but it complements the story just fine. More importantly, I didn’t notice any awkward animation that you’d see from the animation these days. Art aside, I think the sound used in GTO is pretty amazing. The first OP and ED soundtracks were such a hit, it hyped me up whenever it came on. It gave the anime a unique identity, and made it easily identifiable from just the soundtrack alone. Even the mid-scene music was nice enough to set the tone.
We all love a complete story, and while the anime is only half the content of the manga, it manages to tie almost all its loose ends, giving it a wholesome ending that felt complete (although arguably somewhat rushed). GTO is a cool yet hilarious anime about school life. We see both perspectives of the teacher and student, and the many problems that may plague them both. But ultimately, its a humorous show with slice of life elements, slowly going through each student or teacher’s story and see the development of the characters and their relationships.
Should I watch Great Teacher Onizuka?
GTO has many charms that can and should attract the mainstream anime audience. If the old art doesn’t put you off, the anime itself will offer a great story with plenty of fun and drama to keep it entertaining. I think fans of the school drama genre especially would really like this anime.
But if you’re looking for comedy that would make you laugh out loud (its still really funny though), perhaps romance that leads to something, or maybe you just can’t sit through 43 episodes of a show that doesn’t really escalate in intensity, then GTO might not be a show for you.