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Reviewby Allen Divers, Feb 28th 2002
Great Teacher Onizuka
Everyone deserves a second chance. Its what is done with this chance that sets individuals apart. Meet Eikichi Onizuka, a literal terror on wheels, or at least he used to be as part of a motorcycle gang. Now Eikichi has one goal: to become Great Teacher Onizuka. Of course, the high school girls in the short skirts have nothing to do with this decision!
On the road to becoming GTO, Eikichi begins with student teaching. Of course, it's just his luck to end up with the worst homeroom in the school's history. Blackmailed, beaten and made a fool of, Eikichi fights back the only way he knows how! Later, Eikichi finds himself at an exclusive school. Luckily, they don't require a teaching certificate. The students here are a bit different as strange photos start popping up turning the other teachers against Eikichi. It's all in a day's work for Great Teacher Onizuka!
GTO – Vol 1 – Great Teacher Onizuka is 125 minutes of drama meets comedy. A bit of Welcome Back, Kotter with some badass action sprinkled in for good measure, GTO explores the world of Eikichi Onizuka, an ex-biker who's looking to become Great Teacher Onizuka. He of course has a healthy libido, so expect a standard mix of ecchi goodness. Beyond that, GTO is grounded well with a good back-story and overall strong writing.
The character designs and animation flow more towards a realistic form. Details are strong in the background and vehicle designs. The main cast of characters are all well designed and stand out from each other. A lot of the supporting characters feel a bit repetitive in terms of design, but don't take away from the main cast at all.
The soundtrack and English dub are well mixed with no problems in terms of sound level. The cast feels a bit shallow, with the similar sounding voices for many of the supporting characters. Taking a quick look at the cast list and the reason becomes clear. A lot of the main cast members are doing the voices for the supporting cast. Expect a lot of different characters to have similar sounding voices because of this. The main cast does sport David Lucas in the role of Eikichi Onizuka. David is used to a leading role, with previous shows, so fits quite nicely here.
The overall back-story is nothing new: bad kid goes good, wants to change the world. GTO handles this nicely by having the bad kid go good, but just under his new role he's still a bit naughty. Eikichi is a very dynamic character and the writing and action of GTO provides a wide range of emotion for him. Viewers are kept on their toes, as Eikichi goes from doing the expected then leaping right into the unexpected. The comic timing of this series follows suit often playing very subtle then jumping out at the viewer very blatantly.
The first four episodes featured on this first volume establish the character of Eikichi Onizuka and the environment he'll inhabit. Episode 1, a special 40-minute show, puts the character of Eikichi on the table. Viewers are introduced to the man, a bit of his past is shown and it becomes quite clear what the majority of his motivations are. The last 3 episodes on the tape establish Eikichi at school and helps flesh out the main cast. There's the nemesis, the vice-principal, the romantic interest, voiced by Wendee Lee in the English dub, and the students that are out to get him.
Overall, GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka does a great job of setting up the series and establishing its main protagonist. Equal parts comedy and drama, this series proves it has something for everyone. Despite the small voice cast for the English dub, the main characters grow with each episode. With 43 episodes released in Japan for this series, the journey to the end should be spectacular!
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : A
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B
+ Strong writing and interesting characters
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