Graphic Content – Great Teacher Onizuka

List Item:  Read half of the 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die
36/501Title: Great Teacher Onizuka
Creator: Tooru Fujisawa
Years: 1997-2002
Country: Japan

After the earnestness of The Sojourn and David Copperfield it was a bit of a culture shock to enter the world of Great Teacher Onizuka. Honestly, I don’t know if there was any amount of preparation that could have lessened this.

Great Teacher Onizuka is a multi-award winning comic in its native Japan, with a critically acclaimed anime adaptation (which I will be watching for my anime list) and some fairly successful live-action versions. It is also one of the most sexist things I have ever read. The number of frames in this comic depicting characters looking up skirts, squeezing arses and in various states of undress made me feel genuinely embarrassed to be reading this on a commuter train.

And yet. There was some kernel of truth in this comic book. Yes the sexist behaviour is deplorable, but it is a recognised problem in Japan. This leads us to what has probably made Great Teacher Onizuka so successful – it acts as a satire of both actual Japan and Japan in fiction.

Delinquency, flawed school systems, adults yet to lose their virginity, the oversexualisation of Japanese schoolgirls. All are things that are rife for satire, it’s just that Great Teacher Onizuka does so in a very ham-fisted way. I know of the whole idea of the only one being able to mock the king is the jester, but this is beyond the pale.

Storywise. there isn’t too much to Great Teacher Onizuka. A delinquent wants to become a teacher so he can be around attractive young girls. Along the way he finds that he actually wants to be good at this and decides to be the teacher he wished he had had as a kid. Not a bad turn of events and you do have some legitimately weird and funny set pieces.

It’s just… I am guessing that I am not the audience for this. I also wonder if watching this as an anime in the comfort of my own home would be the better way to watch this. I guess I’ll get their eventually.


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