GTO Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, May 11, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, March 19, 2002
I'd heard a lot about this title before it came out. Everybody said the show was and the live action was very good and especially popular in Japan. I didn't pay too much attention after hearing it was a show about an ex-gang member trying to become a teacher. The only reason I bought it is because of how much Chris seemed to enjoy it in his early review. I was pleasantly surprised.
I love the opening song. It's not really the most important part of the audio, but I felt it deserved credit. There wasn't much to really be impressed by, as far as audio goes, except for the opening and ending because most of the show lacks a soundtrack and sound effects.
There were no obvious errors in the transfer. The colors weren't as vibrant as other recent releases, but I'm sure that was the way it was intended, and not Tokyopop's fault. The animation is a pretty normal except for one small thing: the faces Onizuka makes. They're weird. They reminded me of Golden Boy, for those of you who have seen that. At first they were a little awkward, but by the end of the first episode I was laughing constantly from his faces. The one thing that really rubbed me the wrong way was when scenes changed, there was a little flicker at the bottom, but that went away when I watched on a different player.
I really liked the packaging. Granted, it's no Pioneer holofoil, but they did an excellent job. It's done in sepia tones and has two alternate pictures of Onizuka: one as a teacher and one as the gang member. In front of that is Onizuka riding a motorcycle and on top is an image of a piece of filmstrip. The back has another image of a piece of a filmstrip with various images of Onizuka, a description of the show, and a brief description of the episodes on the disc. The disc itself is orange and has the same picture of Onizuka as a biker/gang member from the cover.
The menus are perfect. They all have a school theme, and fit perfectly with the show. The opening menu is a chalkboard and the picture of Onizuka that is on the disc is being drawn in chalk with various school sounds in the background.
The other menus are things like paper and notebooks, a class schedule, and a bulletin board. On top of looking great, they're very fast, easy to understand, and navigate. Very very nice.
The extras on the disc were excellent. There was standard stuff like the Japanese opening, character designs, and DVD credits, but there were a few things that really set it apart. The first was the Onizuka-Gone Wild extra which was strange. Remember when I mentioned the strange faces he makes throughout the show? Well, they've made a gallery of these and you can play them to see the scenario surrounding each expression. The second extra that was different wasn't on the disc, but in the package. The first printing of the DVD comes with a temporary tattoo that says GTO. I don't actually plan on using it, but it was worth a laugh or two. The last extra that caught my eye will sound stupid. It was the previews. I watched the preview for Initial D probably ten times so far.
Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Onizuka is an ex-biker gang member who decides he wants to be a teacher. That's the entire premise of the DVD. It seems like a pretty dumb idea, but what a surprise it turned out to be.
The first episode is a double episode, which is a bonus. It covers his time as a student teacher. This is where he finds out how much of a pain in the butt these kids can be and we find out how much of a bad ass he really is, because he gets assigned to the worst class in the school. They decide to get him fired and end up getting incriminating pictures with him and one of the female students who is in on the plot now. This is the first of two plots with incriminating photos on the disc. As it turns out, Onizuka was the former head of a biker gang and was somewhat of a legend. This is when we really get to see Onizuka shine, because he beats the snot out of the kids, then tortures them! Needless to say they don't make any more trouble after that.
The rest of the disc is about trying to become a real teacher at Holy Forest private school. This in itself is a huge challenge because his methods aren't exactly normal, such as when he slams the assistant principle to the floor headfirst. When he finally gets the job he gets assigned to a class that is even worse than the class he had before. They've gotten every teacher they've ever had to quit. They blackmail him with pictures, only this time they're artificially created on the computer and they're a lot more incriminating. I'm betting the first picture probably had something to do with the 16 and up rating. Of course, Onizuka isn't the brightest when it comes realizing what's going on and comes to various conclusions, like that his spirit is leaving his body at night and doing these horrible things.
I was very surprised with this DVD, and after seeing this disc, I'm definitely going to get the rest of the series. The premise was a little odd, but they pulled it off beautifully. It kept me interested and laughing through all 125 minutes.
Magnavox 21" TV, Sony DVD-NS300 DVD Player, Sony STR-D865 Receiver, four Pioneer Speakers and sub-woofer
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: A+
Extras Rating: A+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2