List Item: Watch the 100 best anime TV series
Progress: 43/100Title: Great Teacher Onizuka
Episodes Aired: 43
When I was reading the original manga of Great Teacher Onizuka I was left a bit cold by the overall premise of a former delinquent falling into a teaching job and teaching life lessons the best way he knew how. I did, however, have an idea that this might be something I would enjoy more when seeing it on the small screen with the voice and movements that were intended by the author. On the whole, I was right – at least for my sensibilities.
In making an anime version of Great Teacher Onizuka they have to slightly tone down some of the more sexual under and overtones of the manga. This is still undeniably crude in both content and, due to this being 20 years old, animation style – but it doesn’t feel too overdone compared to the manga. One storyline in particular goes from an attempted rape in the manga to an attempted kidnapping in the anime – the menace still remains, but it’s a horse of an entirely different colour.
The gags too feel fresher in the animated version. For example, there is an episode involving cursed chain letters where I was actually giggling as I watched, where the same story in the manga just completely washed over me. A lot of that is down to Onizuka’s voice actor (who appears to have been in everything at some point) who was able to give the boisterous yet vulnerable vocalisations needed to make Onizuka a lovable character.
Towards the end of the 43 episode run I did start to get a little bit restless though. A lot of the initial conflict of Onizuka winning over his students was gone, leaving a bunch of hi-jinks episodes until a really well done two-part finale. This is a series that works best when it remembers where its heart is, and when this is incorporated into the laughs – then Great Teacher Onizuka is a great watch.
List Item: Read half of the 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die
Progress: 36/501Title: Great Teacher Onizuka
Creator: Tooru Fujisawa
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.