Has my eye for anime drastically improved recently? I keep lucking out with my choices for what anime to watch! This time around the anime that kept me gleefully entertained was Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO). Despite the high ratings this anime has, I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Older anime tend to make me apprehensive, because I really enjoy modern animation / sound – but GTO has opened my eyes to the true potential of older anime and how they can shine despite their age.
Yeah, I’ve seen Evangelion. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy it very much at all, it just seemed to drag on and I feel like it couldn’t keep me interested / excited (The End of Evangelion movie was pretty good though). So Evangelion didn’t manage to achieve what GTO did – make me want to dive into more older anime. Maybe not right away, but I feel like my apprehension towards older anime is less than it was just a few weeks ago. I’ve never actually seen Cowboy Bebop despite it’s popularity, maybe I’ll give it a shot sometime.
Before I go into spoilers, I just wanted to say that GTO is an excellent slice of life + high school + comedy anime with a great plot. I feel like it holds up really well. Sure, the animation won’t blow you away, and I feel like the voice acting is average compared to modern anime; but the content of GTO really pulls its weight. It’s entertaining, interesting / exciting, and very funny. What more could you ask for from an anime?
I’ve pretty much already laid out how I feel about Great Teacher Onizuka overall. I truly enjoyed the anime and what it had to offer. I definitely think it’s a memorable anime that stands out, and I can see why it has such a great rating on MAL. Below are some of my thoughts on the anime.
I Love The Simple Format
A lot of anime have simple formats, especially slice of life anime. But that doesn’t mean I can’t love GTO for this as well!
The format essentially works like this:
- Student(s) purposely try to cause trouble for Onizuka / get him fired.
- Trouble starts brewing.
- Onizuka manages to save the day.
- The trouble making students now like Onizuka and join his side.
- New student(s) try to cause trouble… and the cycle repeats.
Easy, simple, and it works. No point in over-complicating the plot design when the main focus is comedy I think. The anime moves one problem at a time, and didn’t leave me feeling overwhelmed at any point – which is probably best for comedy. The format really helped GTO to give that lighthearted feel that I enjoy in slice of life + comedy anime.
Onizuka Is Great
The anime lives up to it’s name, sort of. He may not be great at actually teaching the school curriculum, but he is great at teaching his students life lessons.
I love the plot of this anime, which centers around Onizuka. A reformed biker gang leader who wants to become a teacher solely to meet high school girls. It’s just such a great premise for an anime!
Onizuka is pretty complex, and yet he isn’t. At face value he is a unintelligent, perverted, lazy, and greedy. He truly has these qualities. And yet he is also selfless and caring of others to the point of self sacrifice. And while he may be unintelligent, he has this smart side to him where he can easily identify a problem and come up with a solution (although Onizuka’s solutions are VERY unconventional).
His character ultimately is built so that we can see some great comedy, but also experience those more serious moments that contribute to plot and character development.
I also like how the anime doesn’t throw Onizuka’s history at you. You start the anime with a general idea of his past, and that’s pretty much all you get. There are a couple scenes where Onizuka uses his authority as a former biker gang leader, but the focus really is on Onizuka as a teacher and his students. No crazy flashbacks or long plot developments involving his past.
One last point about Onizuka is that I’m a fan of his cosplay.
Sort of a funny point, but the animation in GTO doesn’t do a very good job at conveying the age of characters. Onizuka (22) looks very similar to some of his middle school students – the only real difference between them is height. The middle schoolers themselves look like many of the adults in the anime, only shorter – but when there are scenes with ONLY middle schoolers it’s pretty hard to tell that they are supposed to be around 14 years old.
I don’t think this really ruins the anime or has a huge negative effect. I think that it would have been nice for the ages of the characters to be more noticeable, but at the same time I got a few laughs from this so it’s really not that bad. More than anything it’s just an oddity that I noticed. I’m pretty sure Evangelion did a better job at clearly depicting different ages of the characters.
Speaking of middle schoolers, I liked Urumi Kanzaki’s character. Out of all the students that join Onizuka’s side and basically hang out with him, Kanzaki was my favourite. I feel like when a student joined Onizuka, they lost a part of their personality – the part that made them “dangerous” and willing to cause trouble. Kanzaki is the only one who I think felt like she kept that part of her.
Even after joining Onizuka, Kanzaki maintains this sort of “don’t mess with me” vibe. She still has that smirk that basically says “I’ve already won”, and she still has her attitude. Her character felt the most genuine out of the students because of this.
Kanzaki also felt the most like that turncoat character that we often see in anime – where a villain from early on in an anime eventually becomes an ally. Not a trope I expected to see in slice of life + comedy, but I enjoyed seeing it (I really like this trope).
Overall Kanzaki was a nice character to pair with Onizuka, because she still felt real in that she had her own opinions and attitude towards whatever was happening. She retained had that “petty villain” feel, where she still couldn’t be 100% trusted to do what was right.
I was surprised at how great the facial expressions were in GTO! Particularly Onizuka’s face, which managed to portray every emotion imaginable. It’s actually very impressive, and felt much different from many anime that just use a water drop or anger symbol on someone’s head to symbolize most of the emotion. Not much else to say about it, so here is an example of the range of expressions we get from Onizuka:
Couple Other Things
What was the deal with those weird alien people? First the wedding, then we see that one of the students is one of these creatures. I don’t even know man, there’s some freaky stuff going on there.
Also I wanted to include this picture of how funny the ganguro girls looked in GTO. They must have all accidentally fallen asleep in the tanning bed or something. I have a feeling they were drawn this way as a joke though to poke fun at ganguro girls in general.
And those are my thoughts on Great Teacher Onizuka. It’s really a special anime that I’m glad to have watched and will stay in my memory for quite some time!
Not sure what I will watch next, but I have some ideas.
Until next time! Thanks for reading 🙂