GTO Vol. #05 (of 10) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, November 14, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, November 12, 2002



What They Say
One by one, the male students at Holyfield Academy begin falling for Onizuka’s love interest – the cute, young Japanese teacher, Ms. Fuyutsuki. Unfortunately, the female students aren’t nearly as enamored, and begin to plot against her. Ashamed, Ms. Fuyutsuki seeks refuge at her old school, only to be swept up in the actions of a film crew about to stage an explosion. Only GTO can save the day.

The Review!
It finally took the fifth volume to provide me with some episodes that, while very entertaining, just didn’t have the same energy as past ones. Of course, Onizuka’s a bit less prominent in these episodes, so that’s got a lot to do with it.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for this track is pretty nice, though the show is very much dialogue driven with some sound effects to add to it. Music sounds great; particularly the opening song, and we noted no dropouts or distortions throughout.

Video:
The transfer for this volume is pretty much what we’re expecting to see for the remainder of the series, and that’s pretty close to what the first couple of volumes were like. In addition to the continued better meshing of the digital animation look, the cross coloration issues continue to crop up only in some very tightly drawn areas. Aliasing is about the only real issue you’ll have at times, mostly just with camera sweeps.

Packaging:
Things go purple here with the borders moving into that color while we get a nice shot of Onizuka showing off a tattoo while set against the night life in the city. The back cover features a few more screenshots in full color as well as a brief summary of the show and of each of the episodes. Episode numbers and titles are listed as well as the volume number on the spine. The insert has one page worth of translation notes and tips as well as providing another look at the front cover on the top page.

Menu:
The menu system for the this volume is spot on with a green chalkboard layout that lists the selections on the left and has an image of Onizuka being drawn on the left while you hear background chatter from a cafeteria. The folks at Nightjar provide another slick and efficient menu here where things are just set up right. Access times are nice and fast and language selection lets you know exactly what you've got selected. Good stuff all around.

Extras:
Following up on the interview in the previous volume, we get another ten minutes of time with series creator Tohru Fujisawa. He continues to provide some interesting insights into the series and his general work ethic, making me more and more interested in seeing some of his other works. The new openings and endings that started on the last volume appear here as well and we’ve got the original eye-catches as an extra too. The outtakes section runs just about a minute and a half and has a few amusing pieces to it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
To some extent, I’m surprised it took twenty episodes before some of the shine of this series wore off a bit. As mentioned above, the way these episodes play out is definitely in style with the series so far, but they tend to let others shine a bit more, so there’s less Onizuka, which means there’s less of the pure manic energy throughout the disc. There’s also one less episode here, so that affects it as well.

We do get some really good episodes, as there are two book end standalone ones and a nice two-parter in the center. Each has their own strengths and work well to build up the rest of the cast. The opening episode is a very amusing one that deals one of the girls in a different class sending Murai of all people a love letter. She signs it mysteriously as “F”, which lets lots of rampant speculation go on, to the point where Murai settles on it being Akane Fujiti, voted last year as one of the top three cutest in the school. Naturally, it’s nowhere near her, but rather Fuyumi Kujirakawa, a girl he tried to help in school two years prior and has held some sort of affection for him since. This plays out pretty much like a typical romance based high school mix-up episode but with the added fun of Onizuka not wanting Murai to have a girlfriend before he does. There’s some good laugh out loud moments throughout this episode.

Also equally good was the final episode, where someone keeps sending people in the class chain mail letters. Murai’s the type to keep responding to them so as to avoid anything bad happening, but Onizuka takes a huge box of them and burns them in front of everyone, setting off a panic. Naturally, he ends up burning his rear end as well, which amazingly enough burns the kanji for “death” onto him. At this point, he’s sufficiently spooked, which is warranted because so freaking many things happen to him throughout this episode it’s just hilarious. He truly feels cursed as everything that could go wrong does.

The two part arc in the middle doesn’t necessarily drag down the series, but these are for the most part much slower and almost somber episodes. But they’re also very needed as they deal with Fuyutsuki. She’s starting to lose control of her class, with the boys making advances on her that she does rebuff, but the girls are feeling that she’s accepting and being more of a woman than a teacher. Things get really bad, and even the vice principal starts ragging on her. When in the teachers bathroom, some of the female students trap her in the stall and throw in water, she reaches a personal limit and ends up disappearing.

Onizuka and a few of his students end up breaking into her apartment to see what’s going on, only to find that she’s gone off to Hakuba. It turns out that this is where she used to work at a bed and breakfast previously and also worked as something of a teachers assistant to a younger class. In the time since then though, the happy memories are gone as the school has been abandoned and the children at different places. Some of them, notably the bed and breakfasts owners daughter, have a particular hate for teachers after what happened in that school and takes it out on Fuyutsuki.

Onizuka and his kids end up chasing after her, and spend a day or two away from the city and in Hakuba as this all gets explored and dealt with. It’s a slow moving piece for the most part, except for the part about the school being used as part of a movie set that will be blown up, which is about the liveliest it gets. It does provide some good background on Fuyutsuki and gives her the impetus to go forward with her own classes, and also hopefully gets her on a footing similar to Onizuka, so that if the two ever do actually pursue a relationship, she’ll be able to handle him as well.

Course, I think Onizuka would be completely whipped after his first girlfriend, so she may not have to do much to gain control over him.

Solid disc all around, not quite as exciting in total, but a solid entry into the series.

Features
Japanese Language,English Langnuage,English Subtitles,Video Interview with Creator,Textless Ending,Textless Opening,Eye-Catches,Outtakes

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: TOKYOPOP
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: GTO