GTO Vol. #05 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, November 23, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Bringing the first half of Great Teacher Onizuka to a close, the fifth volume changes gears for a moment in that it doesn't really have a continuing story in it. Rather, we get a few episodes that, while not necessarily filler, don't really push the overall story forward. How does it fare? Read on.
Note: This volume is the first volume that features only four normal-length episodes. As TOKYOPOP stated before, the release will span 10 discs, and as there are 43 episodes, the fivers are over with.
Menus: Same as before. Hooray for consistency. Again, the skip button is locked out on the "Reign" preview, so hit "Menu" ASAP.
Extras: The insert is the exact image as on the cover, with only one page of liner notes this time (honestly, I never really felt anything in the episodes was so exotic that it needed explaining). On the disc itself there are the typical eyecatches, previews, and outtakes (no more "Onizuka gone WILD?"). For some reason they've included the textless OP and ED again, as well (not really a complaint). The second part of an interview with Tohru Fujisawa is also here.
Packaging: Another more colorful cover this time around, the color theme is a royal purple, with Onizuka baring his arm tattoo and the city in the background. Nothing spectacular, but still not bad. The reverse has the typical one-line plot summaries.
Video: No problems here. Looks as good as it has on previous volumes.
Audio: The voice acting of the main characters continues to improve, but... the accents and affectations of all the minor characters seem to be intensified, making it more than a little annoying. Maybe it was always like that, and it's just starting to get to me now, but I wish they would cut back and just have the characters talk like normal people. (Note to directors: Accents are never necessary. You can achieve the desired characterizations simply with good casting.)
The first episode deals with a secret admirer of Murai's. Fuyumi Kujirakawa is a basketball player who developed a crush on Murai when he saved her from some bullies several years ago. She writes a letter to him expressing her feelings, but instead of confessing her feelings, she pretends to be a go-between for another girl that Murai has the hots for, Akane Fujita. The thing is, by Japanese standards, Kujirakawa is freakishly tall (5' 10"? Short by my standards), and so has a major self-esteem complex.. In any case, the whole love triangle bit is played out as expected, but with a slight difference in how it all comes out - a touching ending that makes GTO's take on the story unique and special. It's a shame that nothing more is mentioned on the matter in any of the following episodes.
The next two episodes start with the Fuyutsuki's female students bullying her because of the attention she receives from the male students in the class. After having enough, Fuyutsuki takes off to a faraway bed & breakfast where she used to work. The thing is the student she used to correspond with has suddenly developed a strong mistrust of teachers as well. Meanwhile, Onizuka is freaking out, and drags Murai, Kikuchi, and Tomoko along with her as he searches for her. They find her, and eventually the root of the problems for Fuyutsuki and her old friend are revealed. The plot device this time is the impending destruction of the local school and the last minute rescue of both the girl and the piano.
The final episode on the disc got quite a few laughs. Someone (it's later revealed who, and it made the whole thing even funnier) has been sending chain letters to Onizuka, who, not believing in bad luck, burns the lot of them. His luck, however takes a turn for the worse, and after almost every conceivable misfortune befalls him, he ends up in the hospital thinking he has cancer. Believing himself to be doomed, he starts living it up, and even nearly scores some pity sex (I won't say with who), but fortunately (or unfortunately) the truth is revealed before, um... yeah.
This batch of episodes as a whole didn't enthrall me as much as the previous ones. While the first episode was touching, and the last one was pretty funny, there's no direction to these stories, so it feels slightly irrelevant. Still, the quality when compared to other series is nothing to complain about. I'd gladly take these four episodes of GTO over whole series of lesser titles. I'm sure I've already said repeatedly how fun these characters are, and how easy it is to identify with them, but now that we're at the halfway point, I'm sure anyone who's been keeping up with the series is already aware of this. So let me switch frames of reference here and say that, compared with the other discs I've seen, I enjoyed this one less. Take that for what it's worth. Whether it was the "filler"-like nature of the episodes or the encroachment of the accents on my patience, I wasn't thrilled the way other volumes left me. But - let me be clear - it's still good...
Bottom Line: You been watching all along? Then pick it up. You haven't? Then go back to volume one and start.
Microsoft X-Box, 27" Sony WEGA FS12, Sony MHC-M630AV Sound System, Samsung DVD-Rom drive
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
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