GTO Vol. #08 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, June 05, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, May 13, 2003
GTO Volume 8: Transformations, the latest disc in the series, brings about an end to the story arc begun on the previous disc, and tacks on two self-contained episodes, as GTO nears the end.
Menus: Same as they have been on the previous disc, which is to say that they are fast and easy to navigate. Interestingly enough, they have finally replaced the menu music with the current OP.
Extras: The insert is the exact image as on the cover, the reverse containing brief liner notes that sketch out some background details. On the disc, they have provided textless OP/ED (the old ED, not the new ED that's introduced on this disc), outtakes, and previews (they have also finally made Brigadoon a selectable preview, despite the fact that it has been front-loaded for several discs). The Initial D music video and GTO "School's in Session" music video are here as well.
Packaging: The cover color is yellow this time around, with a picture of Onizuka pointing and a nighttime highway in the background (a different picture featuring Tomoko and Onizuka had been circulated around before release).
Video: About as good as it gets for a 40+ episode series just before the final few episodes.
Audio: Same as previous volumes. No real workout for the speakers here, as it is mostly dialog.
The first two episodes on the disc are a continuation of the last few episodes on the previous disc. Onizuka, having promised to take the entire class to Okinawa as payback for embezzling the class field trip funds (which was not his doing), has been desperately trying to raise the money for the 8 million yen bill. He takes Ryuji's raffle ticket and, as his luck would have it, wins a brand new Mercedes-Benz. He spends a little time taking Kikuchi, Urumi, and Murai & Co out for a joyride before selling it to get the money. Furious over Onizuka's good luck, Miyabi hatches a plan to take the car out of the equation. Convincing a suicidal factory owner to jump in front of the car, the Benz is damaged, but more importantly, after listening to the factory owner's sob story, Onizuka loans him the car.
Urumi, having monitored Miyabi and her friends, prepares a way to punish them and get the money needed for Onizuka. Persuading one of the underclass men to invite Miyabi & Co to a party, she traps the trio and holds them for ransom, covering her own ass with the threat of Blackmail (again, this scenario has been drastically toned down from the manga version). After she lets Kikuchi and Murai in on her plan, however, the two leave and inform Onizuka, who happens to be working nearby. Onizuka helps Miyabi out in exchange for an apology. However, by helping them out, there is no longer any chance of earning the money. Onizuka decides to leave the school and take a job on a tuna boat for a year. But, at the last minute...
The next episode is a funny little one-parter that involves Onizuka's friend Saejima and Tomoko Nomura. Tomoko has run into a little trouble with the yakuza, who have been intimidating the company president. Saejima has been entrusted with a briefcase full of recovered yakuza gold. Onizuka gets involved, and trouble follows. There are several humorous moments here, mostly involving the relationship between Saejima and Onizuka, which rapidly fluctuates from friendly to adversarial. The show also doesn't waste a few opportunities for more Tomoko fanservice.
The last episode involves Murai and his (really hot) mother, who he suspects of secretly planning to get married to an old man. After finding all sorts of evidence, Murai confronts her at the wedding chapel, with Onizuka and company in tow. After wrecking the place with a baseball bat, he finds out (too late) that he was mistaken, but despite everything, the situation does manage to bring him closer to his mother.
And that's the end of this disc; another serving of everyday people leading normal (but interesting) lives. Where it's going from here isn't really clear at the moment, but wherever it ends up, it's sure to be an interesting ride. This show has nothing going for it but the characters, but with characters like these, that's more than enough. Even after a year of releases under its belt, of all the releases (new and continuing) coming out these days, this is still the one I look forward to the most. More, please.
Bottom Line: A solid buy. But then, you knew that already.
JVC XV-SA602 (RF), Sony Grand WEGA 60XBR800, Sony DA4ES Receiver, Klipsch Reference Series 3 Speaker System, Samsung DVD Rom Drive
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2