GTO Taiwan

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Posted 4/29/14 , edited 4/30/14
by Rikun85

Great Teacher Onizuka is an anime that may not be the most mainstream series out there, but it is well known and loved by many within the anime community. The premise of the original is simple: a former gangster turned teacher is tasked to head the most delinquent classrooms in the entire school, all while trying to fight an administration that has since given up on his kids. Although initially he took to teaching simply to get laid, Onizuka discovers that his unorthodox brand of education is exactly what the current system needs and thus proceeds to change the lives of everyone around him. While the story of a teacher bringing up a hopeless class of students is nothing new, Onizuka's rough mannerisms and sheer determination to help his students made him into a memorable character who inspired two different live action adaptations.

GTO Taiwan takes place just shortly after the 2012 live action adaptation, where Onizuka travels to Taiwan as part of a joint Taiwanese/Japanese training program. Along with the typical culture shock between two countries and the archetypical conflict between him and the rest of the school, there's also a subplot of his best friend and traveling buddy Ryuji trying to find their lost passports after a crazy drunken night on the town. And while the typical hijinks such as accidental misunderstandings and Onizuka's libido are still present, it's clear that the Onizuka vs. school dynamic is much different than what we're used to.

For one, we see that Onizuka's typical boisterous introduction has no effect on an otherwise well-behaved class of students. We also see that instead of dealing with a rowdy class and an apathetic administration, he now has to deal with the son of the school's primary benefactor and how money controls the direction of the academy. The primary teacher Xie Le also has to act as Onizuka's translator due to the clear language barrier that stands between him and the rest of the cast.

Given that this is a 4-part miniseries, I can't help but feel that this could've worked much better as a movie since the overall plot only focused on a small group of interconnected characters. And while it was great they kept the dialogue bilingual to emphasize just how out-of-his-element Onizuka is, it would have been nice to see more about Taiwanese values than just the power of money (you'll understand after watching the series). Even with the characters present, the motivations and drives behind everyone involved are rather simplistic as opposed to the wildly diverse students in Onizuka's home class.

It's hard to say whether Onizuka-sensei managed to change Taiwan the same way he was able to change his hometown, but it's still a blast to see everyone's favorite delinquent teacher up to his old antics no matter where they take him. And given that there is more Onizuka coming in July 2014, there's going to be much to look forward to in the upcoming months.

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