GTO – episodes 7 to 29

November 23, 2004 on 6:30 pm | In GTO | Comments Off on GTO – episodes 7 to 29

Great Teacher Onizuka takes some decidedly interesting turns through these episodes. There are a few story arcs, and there’s plenty of room for disturbances – and also quite a few abandonments of ideas.

The first important thing to note is that the majority of Onizuka’s class don’t mind him. In fact, once he gets the ones that matter onside, he doesn’t mind anymore either. With the exception of Mitsuishi Kotono’s insufferable genius character Kanzaki later on, Onizuka stops at winning over Murai, the blonde with a mother-complex.
Onizuka knows how to get along with his students because, as bed & breakfast owner Kizaki tells fellow teacher Fuyutsuki, he approaches them on their own level. This way of interaction is a large part of what makes the series so enjoyable, but sometimes Onizuka definitely overdoes it. There are so many times when he kind-of-but-not-really encourages people to give up living. Damn him and his reverse psychology!
This sometimes works cool, but other times works against him. With a forty strong class, Onizuka seems to have a rotating system of students who hang out with him. Murai is always about but his original friend, Yoshikawa, is largely relegated to the curb. It seems a little unfair.

There are events in episodes that don’t always make sense, chief among them being the time when police with nets chased down Uchiyamada in a gorilla suit. This was a good dramatic scene, but it simply lacked coherence. Uchiyamada is such a tragic character. All of his problems clearly spring from his home life, where he is so outmoded in his treatment of his family that they refuse to respect or obey him. I hope that Onizuka’s way will eventually reform the man, because he needs to become motivated in life and learn what it is to be a teacher. Uchiyamada must have had a reason to become an educator, but it appears that he has lost sight of just exactly what it was.

Among the best new characters is Kanzaki Urumi, the blonde genius with multicoloured eyes. She’s voiced by Mitsuishi Kotono, a performance that is sometimes a bit too sharp but others right on. She probably should have aimed at her softer voice for this character. The scenes of her past were amongst the highest drama that GTO has produced so far, and her reform was Onizuka’s most ambitious yet. This sort of character, being allowed to cut a bit loose, is the sort of inspirational stuff people like to see in anime. Better still is the way that Kanzaki stands up to the irredeemable bitches of the school.

They certainly are irredeemable, with Aizawa Miyabi (and her two sidekicks) featured prominently as the only students against Onizuka. In the episode where Onizuka believes he has cancer, pulled off well dramatically despite the knowledge that he obviously isn’t cancerous, she laughs at his impending death. This seems really, really petty and mean and it’s hard to believe that they could do that. You would have thought that from Onizuka’s idol making efforts with Tomoko that Miyabi would have learned – because that was another well produced scene – but Fujisawa was probably being a little pragmatic and realised that not everyone could change their character.

The worst part of all of these episodes is undoubtedly the stalker storyline. This features a pyschotic maths teacher who is obsessed with Fuyutsuki, and is made to lick the feet of the student he tutors. The scenes here are not laughable at all – although that’s dependent on who’s watching. Four episodes of disturbance is what this amounts to. While it’s funny that Onizuka attempts to steal the G3 that I had before this G4 I’m typing on, Teshigawara’s rampage is decidedly not. Terrible taste in the mouth, and it’s not helped by the fact that when Onizuka overcomes the challenges of this arc, no resolution is given to this maths teacher.

Artistically, there are moments when cheap digital animation is substituted for cels. These scenes are really quite ugly, and they crop up every few episodes. Five years ago, digital animation wasn’t exactly inspired, and this really hurts GTO‘s real work appeal. The second OP is entirely digital and it doesn’t look as cool as the first – Onizuka seeming slightly off model. This is unfortunate, as it’s a nice sentiment expressed.

Still, GTO is highly watchable. I just wish they’d make Engrish teacher Sakurada shut up.

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