Written by: Gabriel Castillo
Published on: December 2, 2021 at 17:00 PHT (GMT+8)
Great Teacher Onizuka, or GTO, might be calling you for a re-watch (or even a first watch). This 43-episode TV anime adaptation made its first run from 1999 to 2000... Just about 22 years ago! Given the state of things now, a little extra life advice won't hurt. And sometimes the best teacher can come in the form of a blonde ex-gangster. Let’s take a quick look back into a series that could potentially fill in your holiday break binge.
Series Synopsis (AniRadio rewrite)
22-year-old ex-biker gang leader and 100% certified virgin Eikichi Onizuka switches up his way of life and enters the complicated world of teaching high school students. Here, his dreams of having a young wife for the future are possible! On top of his dreams of finally having a girlfriend, Onizuka strives to be the greatest teacher in the world.
Onizuka’s skills are challenged as he teaches a troublesome class filled with delinquents in Holy Forest Academy. But the juvenile delinquents are no match for the ultimate delinquent! Despite his tough attitude, Onizuka aims to help his students get through tough situations through his unconventional teaching style. Thanks to him, the students of Class 3-4 see life differently!
The premise is quite simple, but what made the anime so fun to watch?
First, Ex-gang Members = A Good Time
Stories about ex-gang members leaving their past lives behind to start a new, less gang-centric life are oddly interesting. Maybe because it’s so fun to see the drastic shift in lifestyle, especially when they struggle to keep their past selves in check!
Onizuka definitely has the gangster flair with his blond hair, earring, build, and overall demeanor. It’s hilarious and inspiring to see such a wild spirit refocus his energy into a new, less volatile dream. And he may seem like another lazy pervert at first, but his personality shines as the story goes on.
Second, the Show Tackles Deeper Themes
GTO is definitely a comedy — and it shines in this aspect — but there are some occasions when the series delves into heavier themes such as self-harm, extreme bullying, and sexual harassment. These are difficult but important topics, especially in the lives of young students, and the show does a decent job of laying it out. If you’re uncomfortable with direct discussions of such matters, then be ready to skip a few scenes!
In addition to the more serious themes, GTO also highlights characters with giga troubled pasts and how they overcome previous pains. For example, some of the students had problems growing up, some families were abandoned, and others are currently going through familial woes. Despite all their issues, the lovable Onizuka doesn’t give up on them!
Lastly, Lessons Go Beyond the Classroom
Onizuka’s teaching style is quite unorthodox thanks to his background and he actually dislikes the usual way of educating students. Throughout the series he comes out with surprisingly insightful takes on how to go about life. The lessons aren't always perfect, but you can tell that his students appreciate them. Onizuka seems nonchalant and laid back at times but he cares about raising the young minds he’s in charge of.
Times have changed but some of Onizuka’s lessons can definitely still apply. If you’re an aspiring teacher or if you want some life advice, maybe this could be a good watch for you (minus all the dangerous and illegal activities that come with being an ex-gang member of course)!