Introduction As a newly inducted member of the anime fandom it can be hard to adjust to the unique nature of the medium. As hard as it may be for some of us to remember there was a time when subtitles OPs and EDs and even animation itself may have been strange new territory. If youre here reading this it means you took the dive and are probably enjoying yourself because of it. But are you brave enough to try something brand new in a more serious lifealtering capacity than entertainment? Could you step outside your comfort zone and embrace a totally new career family or even way of life? GTO is a show that I discovered and decided to watch in its entirety after seeing a clip from the first episode on YouTube. I have no idea why it was recommended to me but I was so transfixed by what I had seen that I knew I had to know where the story went from there. What followed was a different show in art in genre in age than anything I had seen before. But Im glad I took the dive. Synopsis The first we see of Eikichi Onizuka bachelor 22 years old is him staring at the panties of a high school girl at the mall. The next thing we see him do is apply for a teaching position. After retiring as a legendary biker gang leader he claims he is seeking to meet hot young girls as a high school teacher. However we learn early on that his true motivation is much more sincere. According to Onizuka the education system of Japan is a failure. Teachers have forgotten that the true goal of their sacred profession is to guide students in education and in life. Even the most prestigious schools are riddled with perversion bullying and all sorts of malpractice. Onizuka although academically one of the worst performing citizens in the country feels it is his calling to correct the system that wronged him and so many others in his generation. After acquiring his teaching license Onizuka gains a position at the reputable Holy Forest Academy to the disgust of almost all of the existing elitist faculty. In an effort to put him in an unwinnable situation he is assigned to be the homeroom teacher of the infamous Class 34 which has driven several past teachers to depression and inflicted trauma bad enough to keep them out of the teaching industry forever. Onizuka though rises to the challenge and shows Class 34 that he is nothing like any teacher who has come before. Using methods both legal and illegal socially acceptable and unspeakable he begins to win over the students one by one. Some may prove more difficult than others and the wounds of the class run deep. But if he fails now the students may retain their hatred for teachers for the rest of their lives. Strengths There are many things GTO does well but only one it does better than perhaps any other anime of its time. The soundtrack to GTO is unlike anything youve heard before. Wailing saxophones punctuate the night air every time Onizuka is delivering a lesson in moral justice and the same sax winds down to a soft cry accompanied by somber strings for more serious emotional beats. The instrumentation here is executed perfectly and is inseparable from the series and its main character. The plot like many shounen of its time is episodic and sequential. However no episode ever feels formulaic. The series follows a natural progression of Onizuka winning over the members of Class 34 one at a time with every few episodes being a selfcontained story about his relationship with a particular student. At the end of these subplots the student is added to Onizukas crew of mischievous henchmen but none of them ever become irrelevant. Despite having a wide cast each character after their introduction continues to appear regularly through the end of the series. The titular character is what carries GTO from good to great. Onizuka deftly switches between a drunkard with a perverted sense of humor and an ironwilled beacon of justice and morality. His wild array of facial expressions are animated with great detail ending bits of situational comedy with an artistic flourish. There are many laughoutloud moments to be found in GTO often times multiple per episode. These are interwoven deftly with scenes of gutwrenching suspense tearyeyed confessions and incredibly satisfying deliveries of just reward and punishment for just about every character. Weaknesses If you havent figured it out already I enjoyed GTO quite a bit. It is not without its faults but they are admittedly few. The most glaring issue is probably the artwork. Even while airing the animation was nothing special and twenty years later it appears obviously dated. Aside from funny faces to end a good joke the characters and backgrounds are often plain and sometimes reused. Additionally although I found them to be enjoyable there are a halfdozen filler episodes within GTO. These episodes usually appearing in pairs seem to be leading somewhere with a new character or addition to the plot but after the end of the arc it becomes clear that it has no real impact on the ongoing development of the show. These side adventures are great additions for fans who want more but if you arent as into the series they can be skipped with little consequence. Conclusion GTO is a show like I mentioned in the introduction about taking the dive. It may not be as packed with action or as beautifully animated as half the anime that released this season but it definitely has a lot more heart. Fortunately for those with a tight schedule the first episode which is a special doublefeature perfectly encapsulates the entire rest of the show. Give the premier a watch and you will know if the rest of it is worth your time. If I had to describe this show to an anime fan with only a few words I would say it is an improved version of Assassination Classroom. Both feature a delinquent class with an episodic structure where an influential teacher brings them together to realize the finer points of life. The difference however is in the characters. Where Assassination Classroom had forgettable archetypes that got shelved after their debut GTO has memorable characters that return consistently to drive the new arrivals forward. Of course the truly phenomenal part of the series is its main character and soundtrack. The scene of Onizuka on the roof of the school cigarette in hand gazing out towards the sea after his latest lifechanging adventure while saxophones blaze through the night air is not one I will soon forget. Best Girl Tomoko Nomura 220
90 /100
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