GTO Vol. #03 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, June 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, June 18, 2002
Ah, another eagerly anticipated installment of GTO. This is the series to beat in 2002: it has everything you need while having none of the usual accoutrements in today's anime - mecha, hot springs, cat-girls, or swordplay. Instead, it provides a rich comedy-drama that is refreshing food for the both the mind and the soul.
The usuals, per regulations:
Menus: Same as before, they returned the chalks sound effects rather than putting the OP in the background. I don't mind, it adds a little more ambiance to the setting.
Extras: The insert - oh boy. Maybe I'm just a vain, self-absorbed bastard, but it seems that TOKYOPOP actually quoted my review for GTO Volume one ("The best new release of 2002... - AnimeOnDVD" - I said it here http://www.animeondvd.com/reviews/alt_review.php?review=659
, and it isn't in any of the other reviews for GTO, so, logically...). That alone makes it the COOLEST INSERT EVER (It's nice to know that someone out there is reading, even if only for their own nefarious marketing schemes - quote away!). On top of that, you also get liner notes for the episodes on this disc. Other than that, you get a textless OP & ED, another installment of Onizuka - GONE WILD!, all the eyecatches from these 5 episodes, an art gallery, and the standard DVD credits. There are also trailers for Reign, RBHS, Vampire Princess Miyu, Initial D, and, oddly enough (but still welcome), the 100% Manga line.
While I wish the eyecatches had been inserted into the actual episodes, at least they are given here (However, it seems that they actually DID insert the mid-episode eyecatch in episode 14 - weird).
Packaging: The cover for this volume seems to have been through several revisions. Originally, there was a shot of Tomoko in all her F-cup glory. That was later revamped to provide an even better view. Then, the final version was shown - not only did it not feature Tomoko, but the show used was from an episode from Volume 2. I suppose the shot of Tomoko would have been too much for some worrisome mothers. Oh well. What matter is on the inside, I guess. Other than that, it fits nicely with the scheme of the other two volumes, with the exception of being almost the same color as volume one.
Video: Grreaat-ah! No complaints here!
Audio: The music is great, as usual. The voice acting is good, and getting better, as the actors seem to be getting more comfortable with their roles.
Content: GTO kicks ass. Where else can you get a comedy/drama that mixes together big-breasted students, beauty pageants, stalkers, foot fetishists, school politics, entrance exams, and fish-eyes? Ok, where else can you find one that does it so well?
The storylines in GTO are set in a semicontinuous fashion - there is a definite progression, but every two or three episodes has a particular focus.
The first two deal with everyone's favorite (for two obvious reasons) Tomoko, who has been dumped by her friends for failing to get Onizuka fired in the last episode. Miyabi (the girl who obviously has never heard of hair conditioner) doesn't want to speak to her again, and in fact has instigated some particularly cruel attacks on Tomoko. Onizuka gets fed up and determines to find out the cause of Tomoko's troubles. He shows up at the playground, where Tomoko is playing with some dolls, and joins her little game. Earning her trust, he then proceeds to the next logical thing, which is setting her outside an adults only club in a playboy bunny-like suit (Naturally). He then has two friends, who work in the (ahem) "industry", get her into a car and make her up for a beauty pageant. Meanwhile, Onizuka takes the whole class on a fieldtrip to the very same. It turns out that Miyabi has been entered in the pageant, and vainly asserts (repeatedly) that she doesn't care about winning, that she's just there to cut class. As they get ready for the contest, Tomoko makes several attempts to talk to Miyabi to try and patch things up, but Miyabi insults here at every opportunity. When they get out on stage, Tomoko manages to make a fool of herself at every opportunity.
Meanwhile, Onizuka has Murai run errands for him, setting something up - but what, we don't know yet. The final competition, acting out a short scene, is enough to make Tomoko want to quit the pageant. However, she sticks with it after Onizuka visits her and tells her to just say what's in her heart, as if she were talking to Miyabi. Miyabi goes out and gives a good performance. Tomoko goes out and trips, landing flat on her face, as the audience laughs. Onizuka calls out to her, and tosses her Murai's cell phone. The end result is touching in a way few shows are, and while, like in the real world, things aren't patched up (at least not immediately), the emotions are real, and the actions believable (got to give props to the VA's - bang-up job!). The show ends with some panties thrown in for good measure (and wedgied boxers - consider yourselves warned).
The next episode starts a new arc, with the math teacher, Teshigawara, secretly lusting after Fuyutsuki. A graduate of Tokyo U, he hates Onizuka for being a crass, community college punk who has no right to teach, let alone get involved with Fuyutsuki. He offers to give Fuyutsuki a laptop computer to help her with her teaching, and sets up his apartment (covering up his sick decoration) for her arrival. But when Onizuka shows up instead, and starts messing around, he becomes so enraged he hurts himself pretty bad.
He then hatches a plan with the help of the mother of the student he is tutoring, Hidemi. The mother, Ms. Ota, gets her Organization Against Victimization of Students to come to the school and audit Onizuka's class, but when they arrive, Onizuka is wearing an elephant suit, and sprays Ms. Ota in the face, causing her to faint. Onizuka's job now in danger, he goes out and gets drunk, causing Fuyutsuki to quit dinner plans with Teshigawara in order to look after him. Eventually, a compromise is worked out, wherein Onizuka must pass the annual test the Junior High students must take - and get the highest score in the nation. Onizuka then runs in to Hidemi Ota, who offers to get her mother off his back if he'll only lick her feet (in a weird power trip/sexual fetish kinda way). Onizuka spanks her instead (in a non-sexual way), causing her to become infuriated.
The last episode deals Onizuka's attempts to study for the test, which he systematically fails while practicing. Fuyutsuki offers to let him spend the week at her place, causing some misunderstandings at first, but eventually resulting in marathon study sessions, complete with "brain food" feasts. As Onizuka seems likely to fail, Murai comes up with a scheme to steal the tests to help him out, but Miyabi overhears, and rats them out. Last minute quick thinking by Kikuchi saves them, but Onizuka demands the students take no more risks. Onizuka studies as hard as he can, resorting to bloodletting to keep himself awake, but as he is about to take the test, something happens, resulting in a cliffhanger that won't be resolved until the next volume. Damn it.
How is this series so good? How is it that the characters are so easily identifiable? We all may have known students like these in class, but here we get to see all sides of the characters. The good and the bad come out in Kikuchi, Murai, and Miyabi, and while they are transformed by their experiences with Onizuka, they are still so damnably human. Even the antagonists can be sympathized with (well, okay, the Teshigawara/Hidemi relationship is pretty freaky). Onizuka himself walks the thin grey line between altruistic pedagogy and lecherous perversion. But damn it if he doesn't do it with style. I love this show.
Bottom Line: TOKYOPOP can't release this stuff fast enough. If they don't ration it out properly, they could have a riot on their hands! Tip: Try not to kill anybody as you rush to the store to pick it up.
Microsoft X-Box, 27" Sony WEGA FS12, Sony MHC-M630AV Sound System, Samsung DVD-Rom drive
Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B
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