The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Great Teacher Onizuka

Title: Great Teacher Onizuka
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Company: Studio Pierrot
Format: 43 episodes
Dates: 30 Jun 1999 – 24 Sep 2000

Synopsis: When former gang leader, martial-arts expert and serial peeping tom Onizuka Eikichi lands a job teaching a seriously dysfunctional class at an exclusive private school, he thinks his dreams have come true. But this is no ordinary group of students: previous teachers have been driven to suicide by their antics. Luckily Onizuka is no ordinary teacher, as he sets about reforming them into model pupils using his own very unique brand of education.

The Highlights
Comedy: Extreme – and extremely funny.
Art and animation: Adequate.
Seiyuu: Accomplished.
Characters: Complex.
OP and ED: A real treat.

For any comedy drama to be successful, it must contain two important ingredients: great characters and great situations. GTO not only has arguably one of the best character inventions of anime history in Onizuka, but it then drops him into some truly hilarious situations which gradually strip his entire character bare as his new students set out to destroy him both physically and mentally.

The comedy is off-the-wall, over-the-top, and out-of-control. It is also extremely funny, and each of Onizuka’s maniacal, rubberised expressions and outraged screeches will have you laughing along with his demonic pupils. Chaplin-esque physical tomfoolery, fast-talking one-liners and extreme situational antics all feature in a show with an obvious yet clever sense of humour.

Paradoxically, it is not the most laugh-out-loud moments which have the most effect on the audience, for GTO also has its share of deep emotional drama, and every character has their own detailed story which explains their actions and personality. Some of these are not pretty, and there are moments when you can really sympathise with members of the cast who in a lesser series would merely be irritating plot devices.

The art-style is simple yet functional, and is highly reminscent of the original manga; glossy visuals would be as out-of-place here as Onizuka is. The animation quality remains fairly consistent, and there is almost always something happening to keep your attention where it should be – on the characters. On the other hand, GTO really pulls out all of the stops when it comes to voice-acting, with Takagi Wataru and Mitsuishi Kotono deserving special mention.

Many modern titles strike me as either melodramatic or contrived, and I have a hard time developing any kind of bond with the characters. GTO keeps its drama focused on the people, and does a great job mixing crazy comedy with endearing moments.

The Rating: 9

Reviewed by: Scoot

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