Comic Book Spotlight of the Day: GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka vol. 1 – April 2002 (Tokyo Pop)

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TITLE: GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka

RELEASE: April 2002 (U.S. Release)

COMPANY: Tokyo Pop

Story & Art by Tohru Fujisawa

In 1998, Tohru Fujisawa won the 1998 Kodansha Manga Award winning manga series “Great Teacher Onizuka” (also known as “GTO”), which would go on to have a sequel (titled “GTO – Shonan 14 Days”) and two live action drama series and an anime series. But before he got to that position, everything started off with the manga series “Shonan Junai Gumi” (which translates to “The Pure Love Gang from Shonan”), which featured the teenage character Eikichi Onizuka.

The 31 volume manga prequel series was released in the US from March 1990 through December 1996 and then Fujisawa would followup the following year with “Great Teacher Onizuka” featuring Eikichi Onizuka having graduated from college at the age of 22 and while looking for a job, decides to become a teacher.

“GTO” would last for 25 volumes from 1997 through 2002 and would sell over 37 million copies worldwide.

And now, the manga series will be released in North America courtesy of Tokyo Pop.

Eikichi Onizuka is now 22-years-old and having graduated from Eurasia College (a low ranking college), he is determined in finding a job that would pay him 8 million yen a year.

Unfortunately, of all 35 he had interviewed for, he has been turned down for all of them.

While his best-friend Ryuji has done well in finding a good paying job in Tokyo, one day he sees a flirtatious teenager named Erica who jokes around if Eikichi has been staring at her panties. Eventually, the two go out for lunch and Eiji can’t help buy lie that he is a TV drama writer and drives a Porsche.

Of course, he doesn’t expect to see her again until she sends him a page to meet with her. Eventually, Eikichi ends up taking some guy’s Porsche and picking her up and taking her out for karaoke at a love hotel, to find out that she has been dumped by her boyfriend, an old teacher and she’s trying to forget him.

And just when Eikichi and Erika start to get closer, Erica receives a page from her old teacher boyfriend and sees him waiting outside. She literally jumps out the window to join him and what Eikichi sees is a old, stocky and balding teacher who is getting lucky with his female students.

And Eikichi decides that he wants to become a teacher.

He gets a new haircut to make him look more like a teacher than a gangster and joins teacher in training program at a school where he would be teaching for three weeks.

But instead of getting a class of beautiful girls, he gets a classroom with trouble making teens.

But when these teens mistake Eikichi Onizuka as some regular teacher they can torment and scare off, they’ll know quickly that Eikichi is not like any teacher they have ever met!

My first introduction to the “GTO” series was back in 1998 with the live action drama starring Takashi Sorimachi and starring Nanako Matsushima.

During this time, “GTO” was a hot manga series and hot drama but it wasn’t until the anime series was released in 1999-2000, that is when we got to see “GTO” become very popular in America.

Having read “Shonan Junai Gumi”, one thing you will learn is that the prequel was much more mature with plenty of sexual themes.

“GTO” still manages to incorporate the fan service of girls panties but where the prequel focused on Eikichi and Ryuji trying to get laid, “GTO” is much different as his goal is to be a great teacher and do what he can to maintain the job, so he can earn a decent living.

And despite being tempted by teenage girls who flirt with him, will Eikichi keep his cool and remember that he is a teenager?

Having read the first volume of “GTO”, you can’t help but appreciate this manga because it is unique, there’s nothing like it and the characters and predicaments that Eikichi gets himself into are absolute crazy and troublesome. There are some shady teens that he have to teach and their actions would make any teacher get into major trouble, but in the case of Eikichi, these teens learn quickly that he is the last person they should be messing with!

So far, I’m quite thrilled with the first volume and I can’t wait for volume 2.

If you are looking for a manga that is hilarious but also edgy and mature, “GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka)” is recommended!


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