Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 16 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: TOKYOPOP
- MSRP: 29.95
- Running time: 125
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: GTO
GTO Vol. #04
By Zubin Kumana
November 16, 2002
Release Date: September 24, 2002
After the third installment of GTO blitzed its way into my library a month after the previous volume, there was a bit of dry spell as I waited for the next hit from my GTO dealer. Fortunately the monthly release of the manga was enough to tide me over until this, the fourth volume of GTO, was released three months after Volume 3. For those who haven't taken advantage of the manga, the story picks up where it left off, so go back and take a refresher course, 'cause class is back in session... (sorry, I had to.)
Menus: Well I guess there's a pattern here. No chalk sound effects this time. They went back to the 1st OP. They have also implemented an auto-start feature, so if you don't decide what you want to do quickly, you will be forced to watch the show. I can think of worse fates - namely this -that the fast forward feature has been locked out for the preview of Reign, so be sure to get your fingers on those menu buttons as fast as you can (And SHAME ON TOKYOPOP FOR DOING SO).
Extras: The insert is the exact image as on the cover, plus three pages of liner notes. The liner notes for these five episodes are pretty comprehensive, leaving little if anything unexplained. On the disc itself there are the typical eyecatches, previews, more "Onizuka Gone Wild!", and the character galleries. However, on this volume, there is also the first part of an interview with Tohru Fujisawa, as well as the creditless versions of the new opening and closing. The interview is just over ten minutes long, takes place in a restaurant, and covers a wide variety of questions. Of particular interest to me were the questions about how the anime and manga were received in America, and the differences in the target audiences.
Packaging: The cover is a little different this time, and while the design itself isn't too bad, I don't like inconsistencies. Firstly, the background picture on the cover is in full color, rather than the black and white images previously supplied. Secondly, the sidebar has a green stripe on it with a color picture of Onizuka at the top, making it stand out apart from the grayscale tones of the previous three volumes. Hopefully they will be consistent with this new design.
Video: The video, while not as crisp and slick as titles such as Vandread and X, is still pretty damn good (Of course, that's more an issue with the original material).
Audio: The music is great, as usual. While the new OP and ED aren't as catchy as "Driver's High", they're still good. The acting continues to improve, even with the new characters introduced in this volume.
This volume picks up where the last one left off: Onizuka chasing down the thugs who kidnapped Hidemi. Of course, he's supposed to be taking a test while this is going on, so he gets pissed while everyone else gets worried that he won't show up. The car chase eventually leads to an empty apartment where the thugs start to strip Hidemi on tape. Onizuka infiltrates their gang by taking the cameraman's place... (well, okay, so he wanted to get a better look...) In the end, Onizuka saves Hidemi, but at great personal injury. He shows up to take the test... and passes with flying colors (YAY!). But he's dead. (OH, NO!) But wait! He's just passed out, he's going to be okay (YAY!) But the mob crime scene gets all over the news and Onizuka's name is slandered (BOO!). But the truth comes out that he saved the daughter of a council member (YAY!) Everything works out in the end, and Onizuka goes home to masturbate to porn he downloaded off the internet (YAY! ... ... uh... yeah.)
The next story arc deals with the introduction of Urumi, a student who was so smart she left school several years ago, making her several years older than her class mates. She returns to class at the suggestion of Miyabi, who thinks that her particular brand of mischief and mayhem will finally rid them of Onizuka. Things start off with Onizuka getting lonely (and drunk) and lusting after Ryuji's girlfriend. Onizuka wonders why he can't meet a nice girl when *poof* one magically materializes right before him. It isn't long before they're alone together, taking off their clothes and breaking out the dildoes and lube and kinky stuff when the girl, Urumi, runs outside of the Laundromat and tells the police that there's a pervert trying to molest her. Onizuka panics and flees.
Things get worse as Urumi starts to harass the other teaches, including Fuyutsuki. Onizuka gets angry and tries to spend some time with her to get to know her and why she behaves the way she does, but ends up killing her with his ass. He panics and tries to bury her body in the woods, but she wakes up (she wasn't dead) and, taking advantage of the situation, blackmails Onizuka. Calling him her "genie", she has him perform humiliating chores, engage in dangerous bike challenges, and take her out for expensive sushi. This last stunt involves Kikuchi, Murai and Co. After two large orders of fatty tuna are places, Onizuka orders five more, and goes completely overboard. His plan? You guessed it... everybody bolts out of the restaurant without paying.
On the way out, Onizuka gets run over by Tomoko's agent, who foots the bill for the sushi. Everyone ends up tagging along on a photo shoot, where they bump into an old teacher of Tomoko and Urumi. Urumi is downright cruel to this teacher, but it isn't revealed why until afterwards. Needless to say, the back-story provides considerable justification for Urumi's behaviour. Onizuka decides to deal with the situation by assembling his old biker gang and arriving at school to take her away. Onizuka then proceeds to pull a stunt that will truly scare Urumi, in the hopes that she can finally accept her fears (and, ultimately, herself).
This volume can be summed up as basically a wrap-up of the previous story and the introduction, exposition, and resolution of Urumi's story. While she is sure to play something of a role in future episodes, the next direction forward is unclear at the end of the disc, which, while not really a problem, is a first for the series (there's always been some kind of cliffhanger on the previous discs). Still, I can't get over how good this show is, and while I think I may feel slightly less enthusiastic overall about the show at this point, I still think it's one of the best shows coming out at this time. Other than Kare Kano, it's the only show that is just about normal people in everyday life, and the advantage GTO has is that it has characters that the older crowd can more easily identify with. This is good stuff.
Bottom Line: TOKYOPOP is sitting on a winner here. All they have to do is not screw up and they can just watch the cash flow in.
Microsoft X-Box, 27" Sony WEGA FS12, Sony MHC-M630AV Sound System, Samsung DVD-Rom drive