Throwback Thursday: GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka)

GTO is an anime that was recommended to me by a friend in middle school. I had just started getting into anime at this point. My friend would always show me these cool shows to watch. I loved every minute of GTO, and it stands tall as one of my all time favorite anime.

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GTO was originally a manga from the late 90’s, adapted into handful of TV drama series as of now and made its anime premiere in the summer of 1999. It tells the story of a former biker gang leader and captain of the karate club in college, Eikichi Onizuka. He has proud ambitions to become the greatest high school teacher there is but his actual motives are to meet sexy high school girls. Not quite a complete 180 in lifestyle but that’s the beauty of it.

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The first episode kicks off with that notion as Onizuka is spectating some high school girls going up the escalators from below. He gets confronted by some two-bit thugs that try to mug him. They don’t know who they’re messing with though and get taught a lesson about mugging someone properly. Onizuka takes off shortly after, as he is late for his career as a teacher-in-training. He comes to find out that he’s been assigned a class full of delinquents without a sexy high school girl in sight. What an unfortunate start to his career. Later he meets the saving grace of his class, Nanako Mizuki. She’s a pretty young girl that ultimately ends up tricking Onizuka, with the help of some classmates, into a scandalous act that would get any adult in serious trouble. They threatened to release photographs to the media if Onizuka didn’t pay a large sum of money. However, he shows these particular boys some deserved “tough love” with some help from his former biker gang. Heading to school the next day, he expects to be fired from his teaching position. Funnily enough, those boys told the rest of class who he was and they became respectful of Onizuka.

Are you still with me? The first episode is a double dose of content with 48 minutes of greatness so there’s still one more part that I believe will hook anyone into this. Let’s continue.

Now I neglected to mention that Nanako tricked Onizuka with a sob story about her parents and her issues at home. Onizuka had asked if it was all a lie to trick him but she dodged the question. Nanako pesters Onizuka after school and asks him for a ride on his motorcycle because she didn’t want to go home. Of course he declines but she persuades him deviously with her currently worn panties. Onizuka is a man with low resistance when it comes to these things. She tells Onizuka about all her worries and how her parents have changed ever since they got a new home. With that new house, Nanako’s parents sleep in separate rooms and talks about the cold thick wall that’s between them (physically and metaphorically). As she goes deeper into her problems, she acts impulsively and decides that dying would be better than going back into that house. She throws herself off the bike into the path of an oncoming truck. Luckily for her, Onizuka has master reflexes and catches her in time. Onizuka tells her to go home as he rides out into the darkness. Hard cut to Nanako’s house where she’s depressed in her room and her parents are already arguing. Soon enough Onizuka comes storming in, shirtless and in sandals, carrying a sledgehammer. He marches his way upstairs as Nanako’s father threatens to call the police. Onizuka then finds the wall that was troubling Nanako and proceeds to whale on it with his sledgehammer. Busting a huge hole through to the other side, he tells Nanako “I took care of the wall, now it’s up to you to handle everything else”.

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This is not your ordinary slice of life school drama. GTO really feeds into the character of Eikichi Onizuka. That’s how it should be, I mean the show is named after him. It follows his thought process and actions perfectly. How he interacts with each student and their problems are unique. It makes you feel like “wow, I wish knew someone or had a teacher like this during high school.” I highly recommend this anime to anyone who needs a good laugh. The art style is obviously very “old” since it’s almost been 20 years but it still looks great. One of the main points of that art is how they portray his “extreme” facial expressions. This is easily one of the funniest features of GTO and I’m sure it will have you laughing out loud every time. The series has a solid 43 episodes and is consistently enjoyable throughout.

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GTO was a breakthrough/gateway anime for me. Probably the first time I’ve watched a slice of life before I knew what that genre was. It’s definitely not an anime to show anyone under 16 years old though. Not just because of the suggested/actual sexual content and violence. On top of being a comedy, drama series GTO teaches you lessons in life, like any great teacher should. So if you’re a high school student going through some hard times maybe this could help you in some way. GTO is an excellent series and in my eyes a timeless one as well.

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