Good news everybody! The sequel we’ve all been waiting for is almost here… more Onizuka-sensei! (At least in manga form.)
I really enjoyed GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka). It was one of the last anime series that I still owned on VHS, and it still resonates today. It’s one of those shows that I’ve wanted to write about over the last seven years but haven’t (Utena, you’re next!). After seeing Kanon, Fullmetal Alchemist, Evangelion, and Hanaukyo Maid (which needs a remake for its remake, btw) get remakes, I’m wondering when will the deli line finally call out Onizuka-sensei’s number?
Now… some background. GTO is fantastic. There is no argument who is the best teacher in anime– Eikichi Onizuka just vastly outguns Becky-sensei, Sawa-chan, Komoe-sensei, and Pink Supervisor. He has no equal. He applied for the job because he wanted to lose his virginity to a cute high school girl. He gave the school administrator a suplex when he initially didn’t get the job– and that suplex eventually got him the job. He bribes students to digitally create nude images of his female coworkers.
What really sets him apart is his problem solving skills. In its core, GTO is a lot like Clannad where the main character is trying to redeem himself by helping others. While Tomoya is frolicking with hawt chix0rs like Kotomi-chan and Kyou, Onizuka gets a class of delinquents. They make the class from Gokusen and Asura Cryin seem like angels. They frame him for gay sex crimes. They blackmail hims for abuse. They boycott his classes. They slander him on national TV. They drug (and almost rape) his love interest. It’s no picnic. You know what Onizuka does? He fights back in his own unique way. He uses everything at his disposal in creative ways, and he makes Tomoya look like a chump for resorting to sports so much. Sledgehammers. Playing chicken in big rigs. A huge hooker sex orgy party starring his own female students (who, of course, didn’t know it was a huge hooker sex orgy party). Just fantastic. He’s one guy Kogarashi wouldn’t look down on, and someone Taki could have a beer with.
If you haven’t experienced the joy and wonders of Onizuka-sensei, I’m just going to shake my head and point you to Amazon to pick up the GNs or jdrama land to find the live action series. It’ll be the best 13 hours of your life next month, assuming Mio doesn’t flash her rice bowl again. Just, whatever you do, don’t watch the anime. It’s horrible. GTO is sadly one of the few series where the live action is the best of the three– it rectified a lot of the shortcomings of the manga, and it presented it in ways that didn’t make me wonder, “Did they spend $100 or $120 animating this episode?”
The biggest problem was just how Studio Pierrot skimped so badly in the animation. There would literally be minutes of “animation” that were just three or four stills panned around. At the time, I was also watching Tenchi in Tokyo, and Tenchi in Tokyo‘s animation just blew GTO away. And I don’t think Tenchi in Tokyo should be blowing anything away, except maybe Hatenkou Yugi. Basically, try to imagine Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya in Studio Deen’s or Gonzo’s hands right now… and then three times worse than that.
The second problem was that the manga went on for about five volumes too many. The manga is split into two parts featuring two schools, but the second school’s arc was definitely tacked on after the manga became popular. It was just bad and didn’t really offer a good conclusion (which the first arc did). It’s like the Christian Arc of Kenshin after the Kyoto Arc. The anime decided to spend its second season on this arc… and… well… you could really skip it. The live action compresses it into a side story special, and I felt it works better this way. In any case, GTO should have ended with Onizuka-sensei being the hero of the school, averting a major hostage crisis (that he started), banging the girl he kinda loves, and then walking away to be a trucker or something. Now that’s an ending.
So I want a GTO remake. Reboot the franchise like Star Trek and Fullmetal Alchemist. I want a halfway competent studio running the show (Production IG? Bones? Any interest?) with a real budget. I want L’Arc~en~Ciel to do another pantheon-class OP (Driver’s High). I want a clean 24 episode series that ends with a final scene that makes Onizuka-sensei larger than life. I want improvement, progress, and testosterone. It saddens me to see shows like Basara and Basquash get green-lighted with huge animation budgets but with a fraction of the awesomeness, story-telling, and entertainment value of GTO. What’s wrong with bringing GTO to a new generation of fans over the slop being served now?
And, if that’s not possible, I at least want the train wreck option. Give GTO to Sunrise and have them turn it into a giant mecha series. Or punt it to JC Staff and call it “Great Butler Onizuka.” Or have Shaft make Mesousa his new buddy. Or toss it to Kyoto Animation and have them somehow turn it into Lucky Star meets Clannad. Anything. Just make Onizuka-sensei relevant to this new generation of fans who never owned a VHS fansub.