Post Reply GTO 2014
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Posted 7/30/14 , edited 7/30/14
by Dingofist

Unlike many of the other shows either premiering or returning this season, Great Teacher Onizuka really doesn't need much in the way of introductions. If you’re even remotely a fan of anime or manga, there’s a good chance you've at least heard of this legendary series. On the off-chance you somehow haven’t seen or heard of the show, here’s the short version: former delinquent superhuman Eikichi Onizuka decides to become a teacher, and is placed in charge of the unruliest class his school has to offer. Hilarity and drama ensue as Onizuka uses his own distinct brand of education to reach out to his students and help them sort out their various issues both major and minor.



GTO 2014 picks up some time after the end of the 2012 GTO drama, which more closely followed the same general plot as the original manga. This season, Onizuka finds himself back in his ocean-side hometown of Shounan, where he is assigned to a new class as an assistant teacher. The first episode sort of just drops us, the audience, into this new scenario with little explanation, and I spent half of its run time wondering what became of Miss Fuyutsuki and her blossoming relationship with Onizuka after the end of the previous season.

Fuyutsuki is gone, but most of the core cast returns: Ryuji Danma (Yuu Shirota) and Toshiyuki Sae
jima (Yusuke Yamamoto) return as Onizuka’s former gang member friends, conveniently relocated to Shounan as well. Also along for the ride is Vice-Principal Uchiyamada (Ryosei Tayama) and the always idealistic school Director Yoshiko Sakurai, still portrayed by the delightful Hitomi Kuroki. Leading the newcomers is Minami Higa as Honami Fujikawa, a hard-drinking, sort of replacement for Fuyutsuki as the “normal teacher” to Onizuka’s more radical presence.

Of course, the most important member of the cast is Onizuka himself, portrayed yet again by pop-star Akira (of Exile), who has only gotten better in the two years since the last season ended. He looks a bit too old and rough for Onizuka at times, and seems entirely too thin for the part, but his performance certainly stands up in other areas. Akira brings a very warm presence to the role, and his cheery smile and sunny demeanor really bring a fresh spin on the character, helping to pull out some of the finer parts of Onizuka as a person.

Indeed, while one of GTO’s main draws has always been the sometimes violent, sometimes perverse misadventures of a borderline superhuman delinquent teach through the struggles of high school life, GTO 2014 (and its 2012 predecessor, to an extent) downplays the action and adventure, opting instead for slightly more realistic and relatable stories in its first few episodes. In fact, Onizuka doesn't even throw a punch until the last quarter of episode three, spending the majority of his time reaching out to students and helping them with problems like bulimia, body image, and even ADHD.



The action is still great when it does happen, but the real beauty of GTO 2014 comes through when Onizuka’s nigh-limitless belief in the goodness of his students is front and center, and again, it’s Akira’s warm performance as the titular great teacher that hammers this home. It’s a joy to watch this human dynamo arrive right when his young charges are at their lowest, spouting surprising wisdom at every turn and always pushing them to be better people, right before punching and kicking the bad guys back to where they came from.

Thus far, the stories have been varied and intriguing, tackling the aforementioned body image and ADHD issues as well as darker fare in a surprisingly scary episode about stalking and the internet. These issues feel more topical and relevant to the world of today than some of the more fantastical plotlines from the manga and 2012 drama, and a much-teased unplanned pregnancy storyline is no doubt going to burst onto the scene in the coming weeks.

Weaknesses? I guess there are a few. As with any show where the supporting cast is so large, of course a vast majority of them are going to be “one-and-done” characters with only peripheral roles in stories that don’t directly involve them, but it’s still a little disappointing to see characters like Ryuuji sidelined outside of a few scenes here and there, and the complete absence of Miss Fuyutsuki continues to baffle and sadden me. On a similar note, the character of Fujikawa feels a little one note and underdeveloped at the moment, so I really hope she’ll become more of a presence in later episodes. Other than that, the show is...well...pretty great.

GTO 2014 is more GTO in the end, and I think a lot of people will know simply based on that whether the show is for them or not. If you happen to be a prospective viewer sitting on the fence, you at least owe it to yourself to check out this latest version and see what the fuss has been all about for the past seventeen years. You’ll laugh and cry with these students and teachers on their numerous adventures, and if you take the time to really tune in and hear what Great Teacher Onizuka has to say, you might even learn something along the way.

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Posted 9/21/14
Great review of GTO 2014. You touched on some great points I had when I first viewed. I also noticed how the students and problems seemed a bit more realistic this time around as oppose to the over-the-top students of the of the 2012 season who came across more like James Bond-like supervillains rather than just bullies. While I personally enjoyed the insanity of the 2012 seasons a little bit more, I still enjoyed and appreciate the more recent 2014 season. Hope we get another season.
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Posted 10/15/16
I'm really struggling to get into GTO 2014. The students are just much harder to show any interest in, and the abrupt disappearance of Ms. Fuyutsuki is a letdown.
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