GTO Vol. #06 (of 10) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, January 17, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, January 14, 2003



What They Say
Vice Principal Uchiyamada had a quiet home life, until GTO showed up to tutor his daughter. Will he find a way to reconcile his rivalry with GTO, or will things get out of control? As if that wasn’t enough, the new school nurse just happens to be "The Queen of Hakosuka" a legendary biker whose popularity is matched only by her illegal side business!

The Review!
After the somewhat less than exciting fifth volume, things kick back into gear here and the Onizuka-ness is at its usual levels, keeping me very entertained.

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:
The base coloring and borders this time around goes to a nice blue shade, something a bit darker that works with the night racing on the cover that’s behind the suave image of Onizuka. 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:
The extras section continues to be fairly well stocked, though at last it’s missing one piece. The eye-catches are now gone and can be found back where they belong inside the actual program itself. So we’re left with the good stuff here, such as the third part of the interview with Fujisawa over a meal in Japan. The interview continues to provide some good insights into his creative process and how he viewed Onizuka as the character started taking over its own writing. We get a textless opening and ending sequence provided here as usual and a section on the outtakes. And if you’re really special, kids, you can throw your head to the music video of Initial D.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ah, there’s just so much goodness and laughter throughout this show. And I’m really finding myself enjoying the opening sequence more and more as I see it, though the first one is still the best one. But this one with its odd angles and more fluid animation is really catching my eye, as well as the lyrics.

Things kick off into really high gear with poor Uchiyamada getting himself into more and more trouble due to Onizuka. When the chairman asks Onizuka to paint one of the building walls, he gets most of the class to help and they end up painting on a huge cowgirl instead. Instant heart attack for Uchiyamada when he sees it. But it gets worse for him when Onizuka starts getting friendlier with Uchiyamada and ends up at his house, having dinner and helping his daughter with her homework. His last refuge from Onizuka is ruined and his medical needs growing. Ulcers abound.

But what could make it worse? Incriminating photos of him and Uchiyamada’s daughter in the naughty area of Shibuya late at night. The way all of this plays out is just hilarious, especially the way Uchiyamada ends up getting himself into even worse situations. But at least the Cresta wasn’t destroyed this time.

And what’s GTO without its sex appeal? That gets taken care of in spades in this volume as the school gets itself a new nurse in the form of Nao Kadena, a young women with breasts that defy her frame. And very nice short skirts. Very nice…

Nao’s entrance starts things off just right with her flirting with Onizuka, but she also teases the students just right, so when Onizuka goes to make his move, he’s in a situation where all the students are there feeling sick. Massive flashbacks to Urusei Yatsura when Sakura started up at Tomobiki. A tried and true gag that still works twenty years later. Nao’s an interesting addition to the cast as while she’s a decent school nurse, she apparently has a higher goal in mind as she begins bringing in all kinds of goods and starts selling them to the students.

Fuyutski finds this to be problematic since Kadena is also taking advantage of the boys since she needs them to carry all the boxes in, as well as how Kadena starts manipulating the teachers, even Uchiyamada. Just about all the time spent in the school provides laughs as she quickly carves out her territory. But once we get outside, we learn of some of her other jobs as well as having Onizuka’s friend eventually realize where he’s seen her before. Her past starts getting explored and Onizuka ends up doing his magic on her. Her story gets told nicely over two episodes, allowing it to not be rushed or feel like it’s being minimalized just to get on to the next thing.

For outright laughs, the last episode is perfect as it brings Tomoko back into the picture. Her manager has been working hard to get her parts, but finds himself pushed out of the latest project due to the writer. With Onizuka having brought Tomoko to the set, he finds himself wondering just how badly things are going. With a small contingent of the class with him, they find the master plan the manager has for Tomoko and end up laughing at just how unrealistic and how bad it is.

So Onizuka and the kids end up taking over as a managing team and they put Tomoko through the paces in the commercial field all over the country. Some of this stuff is just drop dead hilarious, especially when she promotes daikon as “hard and fresh” in a little girl voice. This is more of a slapdash episode with lots of little bits of humor building up towards its crescendo, as everyone can’t believe Onizuka could be any good at this. But everyone gets so involved in it that it’s just a really great episode.

For most of this disc, we were either smiling or outright laughing, something that’s definitely needed with the wide variety of shows we watch. GTO is a series I’ve been able to continually count on to feel good after watching. Great stuff, very recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Interview with Fujisawa,Textless Opening,Textless Ending,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: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: GTO