The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

GTO the Movie

Title: GTO the Movie aka GTO aka GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Director: Suzuki Masayuki
Format: Movie; 108 minutes.
Dates: Aug 1999

Synopsis: While doing a substitute teacher gig in Hokkaido, Onizuka Eikichi is tracked down by Kitajima Kaoru, a journalist looking for a big scoop. Kitajima believes Onizuka to be a serial robber on the run and continuously hounds him for an interview. That may not be Onizuka’s greatest problem, because one of his new students, Raku, has no friends and is constantly picked on. If those aren’t enough problems for one man to handle, he can’t muster the courage to ask out the girl of his dreams. It looks like Onizuka has his hands full.

The Highlights
Comedy: As hilarious as the rest of the GTO franchise; Sorimachi Takashi is a laugh-riot as Onizuka.
Plot: Typical GTO scenario.
Plausibility: Unbelievable stunts are mostly absent.
Serious Moments: Believable; heart-felt.

Onizuka is one of those rare characters who need no introduction. Larger than life, funnier than an army of clowns, wise as a guru on a mountain top, strong enough to take on entire biker gangs on his own, and with facial expressions that defy anatomy, Onizuka never ceases to be a joy to watch. It would take a truly special actor to portray Onizuka in live action and Sorimachi Takashi is that person. Delivering an outstanding performance as the title character, and flawlessly incorporating the massive list of things that make Onizuka who he is into his acting, Sorimachi Takashi does not disappoint.

It is too bad that Suzuki Masayuki did not keep the same high standard with the plot that he had with his acting choices. The plot isn’t bad; it just does absolutely nothing to break from the conventions of the franchise. Old jokes and plot devices are rehashed and even entire scenes from the anime/manga are copied to the annoyance of GTO fans. Onizuka kidnapping his students and “botching” attempts to prevent their suicides is still good for laughs, but it would have been nice to see GTO the Movie try out some new ideas instead of recasting the manga.

Thankfully, the unrealistic stunts that Onizuka pulls are mostly absent from GTO the Movie. Seeing Onizuka do what is impossible for human beings to accomplish ruined a few otherwise heartfelt and believable scenes in the manga, and this only happens one time in GTO the Movie. Like the manga, GTO the Movie knows when to take itself seriously and when to crack jokes, making it a fun rollercoaster ride of emotions.

GTO the Movie is a great introduction for those unfamiliar with the GTO franchise. Long time fans may find GTO the Movie somewhat repetitive and unoriginal, but only the most jaded cynics among them would not enjoy watching it. When it comes to combining comedy and drama, few do it better than GTO.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Kuma

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