Great Teacher Onizaku by Erigion

Also Known As: GTO
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Format: 43 Episodes
Allegiance: Studio Pierrot
Director: Abe Noriyuki
Vintage: 1999-2000
Intelligence Agency Report by: Djudge
Enter Onizuka Eikichi: a twenty-two year old third-rate college graduate, karate team captain, notorious former motorcycle gang member, and a man on a quest to become Japan’s greatest teacher! Even though Onizuka first sees teaching as just another opportunity to pick up young girls, he later comes to exhibit the makings of a great mentor. Now, in order to put his money where his mouth is, Onizuka is given authority over the toughest class of delinquents in the prestigious, yet troubled, Seirin Academy. Can GTO rise to the occasion and reform his troublesome class?

Field Agent Report by: Erigion 
Overall 8.25

High expectations were placed upon the GTO anime series since it followed the extremely popular manga and one of the most watched live action shows in Japan. For the most part it reached those expectations. However, as with most things that have high expectations placed upon them, it ultimately fell short of them. The anime did what the manga did so well: it blended comedy and drama almost perfectly. Combine that with well developed characters and above average writing and it’s easy to see why people love GTO so much. However, an abrupt ending and average production values hold back what would have been a great series.

The best part of the series is easily the characters and their interactions. Onizuka’s personality easily lends itself to slapstick comedy and hilarious conversations with his students, other teachers, and friends. But while his simple and direct personality creates comedy, it also allows him to easily confront and solve the problems other people are having. Of course Onizuka does so without regard to customs, regulations, or even laws, which creates more hilarious situations. But a teacher is nothing without students, and boy does Onizuka have students, ranging from a genius with an IQ of 200 to a boy who gets beat up by girls. Each of them has a different personality and back story with no overlap, and each requiring a different extracurricular lesson from Onizuka.

For a show based so heavily on drama and comedy, good voice acting is an absolute must. Thankfully, GTO has great voice acting. Sadly, the voice acting is pretty much the only technical aspect that stands out in GTO. Most of the soundtrack is bland, however one song I must mention is the second ending “Shizuku” by Okuda Miwako which truly shines. The other major technical aspect, animation, also comes up short. Aside from my usual gripes about lip synching, there were too many stills and reused frames.

But what hurts GTO the most is its rushed ending. The entire ending is squeezed into two episodes with no build up towards the climax, nor any cooling off period. After spending 40 episodes getting to know the characters I felt cheated that they were leaving so quickly. Of course a rushed ending automatically brings other problems with it: loose ends are never tied up, side stories are never finished, and it just feels like the series is incomplete.

That being said, Great Teacher Onizuka is an above average series with a good mix of comedy and drama. Onizuka is a refreshing character in a genre filled with generic cookie cutters, his antics will amuse you, and his lessons might even teach you something. He truly is a Great Teacher.