Great Teacher Onizuka, officially abbreviated as GTO, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Tooru Fujisawa. It was originally serialized in Weekly Shōnen Magazine from January 1997 to February 2002. The story focuses on 22-year-old ex-bōsōzoku member Eikichi Onizuka, who becomes a teacher at a private middle school, Holy Forest Academy, in Tokyo, Japan. It is a continuation of Tooru Fujisawa’s earlier manga series Shonan Junai Gumi and Bad Company, both of which focus on the life of Onizuka before becoming a teacher.
Due to the popularity of the manga, several adaptations of GTO were established. These adaptations include a twelve-episode Japanese television drama running from July to September 1998; a live-action film directed by Masayuki Suzuki and released in December 1999; and a 43-episode anime television series aired in Japan by Fuji Television and Animax from June 1999 to September 2000. Both the anime and manga have been licensed in North America by Tokyopop. A second live action series aired in Japan during 2012, and two more in 2014. It won the 1998 Kodansha Manga Award for shōnen category.
A 43-episode anime adaption was produced by Studio Pierrot and was broadcast from June 30, 1999 to September 24, 2000. It was directed by Noriyuki Abe and Horiyuki Ishido. Yoshiyuki Suga provided scripts, having also written scripts for the Live Action adaption.
Tokyopop licensed the series for release in North America and released it across 10 DVDs between March 22, 2002 and September 16, 2003 and for American TV broadcast on Showtime’s SHONext channel in 2004 and Comcast’s Anime Selects on Demand network in 2006. The series was re-released in a 7-disc box set by Eastern Star Studios on September 24, 2013. Crunchyroll began streaming the series in January 2015.
A 12-episode live-action Japanese television drama adaption directed by Masayuki Suzuki was broadcast from July 7, 1998 to September 22, 1998. The series starred Takashi Sorimachi as Onizuka and had an average audience share of 28.5% with the final episode recording a rate of 35.7%. The final episode was the 8th most watched broadcast in the Kantō region during 1998. Several changes were made for the live action adaption. For example, Fuyutsuki (Nanako Matsushima) is an eager teacher who supports Onizuka in the manga, whereas in the live action adaptation she initially dislikes Onizuka and wants to leave teaching to become an Air Hostess. A television special was broadcast on June 29, 1999. This was followed by a theatrical movie in January 2000. The film was successful at the box office grossing ¥1,320,000,000 becoming the 10th highest-grossing film of the year. The movie was released in North America by Tokyo Shock on July 26, 2005.
During 2012 it was announced that a new live action series would be broadcast in Japan. Produced by KTV and Media Mix Japan, the series ran from July 3, 2012 until September 11, 2012. Originally Jin Akanishi was to play the role of Onizuka, however he was forced to withdraw by his management. Instead Akira of Japanese band Exile was selected to play Onizuka. An Autumn special was broadcast on October 2, 2012, followed by a New years special on January 2, 2013 and a Spring special on April 2, 2013.
On March 22, 2014 a 4-part mini series aired in Taiwan, before being broadcast in Japan at a later date. The mini series places Onizuka in a Taiwanese school as part of a training program and is a joint Japan/Taiwan co production that contains both Japanese and Mandarin Chinese dialogue. The series has been announced for English subtitled release via the Crunchyroll streaming service. A new series set in Japan aired from July to September 2014.
- Eikichi Onizuka
A 22-year-old, blonde-haired biker, and former bōsōzoku, Eikichi Onizuka is the protagonist of GTO. He graduated from a bottom-rung university by cheating and, as such, cannot get a decent job. His primary way of spending time is peeping up girls’ skirts at a local mall. He is very athletic and has a second dan black belt in karate.
Onizuka decides to become a teacher. His initial training is in the Musashino Public High School, where he meets Nanako Mizuki. His experience taming the rowdy gangs in his assigned class hardens his convictions that teaching is the way to go, and when he learns of Mizuki’s problems, he also decides to abstain from sexual experience with schoolgirls, opting to solve their personal issues for them, instead.
Unfortunately, he forgets to take the public teachers’ civil service exam; as a result, no public high school will accept him, but he is still eligible for private school teaching. He manages to get a job at the Holy Forest Academy, despite the objections of Vice-Principal Hiroshi Uchiyamada, whom he continues to aggravate well into his tenure. One of the conditions of having the job at Holy Forest is that he must sleep at the school – in the storage room at the top floor, with roof access – and it is here that Onizuka officially starts his career in teaching, when he stops Noboru Yoshikawa from committing suicide.
Onizuka is put in charge of class 3–4, a class so bad it has driven past teachers insane and one to death. Not only does he survive their brutal, bullying tactics, but he also befriends his students, and the backbone to the story of GTO consists of his unique experiences in turning his students around and learning lessons of his own.
Onizuka is capable of great feats of strength, such as arm-wrestling over 100 men of exponential strength, (sometimes 3 at once) in a row and winning. He is also an experienced martial artist, as Onizuka is capable of fending off multiple opponents, even if they are well-armed. However, it was revealed around chapter 190 that because of all the physical damage he sustained since he started teaching, it resulted in a clotted blood vessel in his brain, and that a jolt to his head could either turn him into a vegetable, paralyze him, or kill him.
In spite of his impressive fighting skills, Onizuka is often roughed up by his students, and others, whenever he behaves badly. It could be speculated that deep down, Onizuka knows when he’s acting immature, and allows others to keep him in line. An example of this is when he forces his students to dig for buried treasure during the Okinawa trip. Urumi Kanzaki kicks Onizuka into a hole, and later forces him to wear S&M garb and has him crawl around on all fours, with Urumi riding on his back. Another example is when Vice-Principal Uchiyamada has Onizuka over for dinner and hits him on the head with a wooden bench after finding out that he was acting lecherous with his daughter at a karaoke bar.
His mode of transportation is a Kawasaki Z750RS Z2 motorcycle, and is also the protagonist in the GTO prequel, Shonan Junai Gumi.
It is shown throughout the series that Onizuka is also very lucky, as he always manages to squeeze out of tight situations. An example of this is when he must raise 8 million yen to live up to a promise he made to the 3rd year students. He received what he believed to be a winning lottery ticket, but it turned out to be false. However, he was given a raffle ticket which he kept but didn’t expect for it to help his predicament, but ended up winning a Mercedes-Benz E-Class car worth the 8 million yen. He gave away the Mercedes in an act of kindness, and while it seemed unlikely for him to get the car back, it was returned to him in the last minute.