GTO Vol. #08 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: GTO

GTO Vol. #08

By Chris Beveridge     May 13, 2003
Release Date: May 13, 2003


GTO Vol. #08
© TOKYOPOP


What They Say
Contains:
Episode 32: The Law Of Probability
Onizuka goes for broke and gambles his future on one raffle ticket ... and, in true Onizukan fashion, proceeds, of course, to win a Mercedes E430 - the sale of which more than covers the money for the student trip Okinawa.

Episode 33: Search and Rescue
Miyabi must choose between her pride and a fate worse than death.

Episode 34: Good Cop / Bad Cop
A person from Onizuka's past stirs up controversy within the ranks of Japan's finest. Plus a little fleeing-the-Yakuza thrown in for good measure.

Episode 35: Wedding Bell Blues
Murai suspects a secret wedding when he spies his mother at a bridal boutique.

The Review!
Getting closer to the end of the series, things still manage to be highly entertaining here, though some of the more filler-ish episodes are a bit draining.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for this track is pretty nice, though the show is very much dialogue driven with some sound effects to add to it. Music sounds great; particularly the opening song, and we noted no dropouts or distortions throughout.

Video:
The transfer for this volume is pretty much what we’re expecting to see for the remainder of the series, and that’s pretty close to what the first couple of volumes were like. In addition to the continued better meshing of the digital animation look, the cross coloration issues continue to crop up only in some very tightly drawn areas. Aliasing is about the only real issue you’ll have at times, mostly just with camera sweeps.

Packaging:
The base coloring and borders this time around goes to a good looking yellow. This draws more attention to Onizuka’s hair, which works well in this pic with him again being the primary image you get with a couple of good bold colors. The back cover features a few more screenshots in full color as well as a brief summary of the show and of each of the episodes. Episode numbers and titles are listed as well as the volume number on the spine. The insert has one page worth of translation notes and tips as well as providing another look at the front cover on the top page.

Menu:
The menu system for the this volume is spot on with a green chalkboard layout that lists the selections on the left and has an image of Onizuka being drawn on the left while you hear background chatter from a cafeteria. The folks at Nightjar provide another slick and efficient menu here where things are just set up right. Access times are nice and fast and language selection lets you know exactly what you've got selected. Good stuff all around.

Extras:
The extras here are about on par for what I’d expect at this point. We get another round of dub outtakes and the textless opening and ending sequences, but not a textless version of the new ending that appears on this volume. The schools-in-session music video/promo makes another appearance as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When a series starts reaching this point, especially if there isn’t really a large overall plot, it can get really draining. Some of the life of it seems to have seeped away, the characters aren’t quite as fresh and, if it’s based off of a manga, they’re now doing original stories since they got too far ahead.

Thankfully, GTO for the most part manages to avoid most of this. The stories are still fun, the characters still quite enjoyable since they’re still changing and the energy hasn’t dropped all that much. It’s not quite as upfront and blunt as it was when I first saw the series, but it’s still making a solid enjoyable impression on me.

Onizuka’s luck is one of the things that manages to carry the series. It’s reached a point from early on where you just have to believe he’s got the most roundabout luck, and in its own strange way it works much like a Seinfeld episode. Bad stuff happens to him, then good stuff happens, but it all works to balance things out. This is very evident with the current storyline that completes across two episodes here, where we’re dealing with the ramifications of Miyabi’s latest plot to oust Onizuka. He’s now in the whole for 8 million yen and working a variety of jobs and doing everything possible. His mental state is fairly dead and he’s pretty much dragging from place to place.

So when he fishes out a ticket from his pocket for a random drawing, he lifelessly goes and uses it. Of course, he walks away with the grand prize, much to his own surprise. The grand prize? A Mercedes Benz worth well over 8 million yen. So after taking the car and getting done up in his best black and white duds, he spins the wheels into the school parking lot. His arrival gets lots of attention and almost kills the vice principal now that Onizuka has a car worth more than his.

Of course, all Onizuka has to do now to get in the clear is to sell it and be done with it. But Miyabi, the schoolgirl with the ultimate chip on her shoulder and just full of self-hate, starts up a variety of plans to make sure that he doesn’t succeed in his goal. Of course, you can guess how it all turns out in the end, since this is how most of the stories end in GTO, but it’s the journey that is the real treasure here and this multi-part episode was really enjoyable.

The two remaining episodes are a real mix. The first one brings in one of Onizuka’s friends, the ruffian turned police officer that’s more interested in his own welfare as well as Toroko. Two separate plots, one with the cop coming into possession of a lot of gold bars and the other being Toroko’s production company being roughed up by the yakuza, end up slamming into each other and providing a fairly unsatisfactory mix. The main problem with this episode is that it doesn’t bring any real follow-up at all from the previous multi-part story and feels like it’s wedged in there.

The last episode is quite fun though, with the focus on Murai and his every attractive mother Julia. Murai starts getting overly suspicious of his mother and her relationships when all signs start pointing to her getting remarried – and to an old coot kind of person as well. This episode plays out pretty simply since it’s all the usual case of misunderstandings, but when Murai’s mom and Onizuka get into things, there’s lots of amusing fanservice.

With this being the eighth volume, I’m both looking forward to there only being a couple more to go before it’s all done as well as being disappointed by it since it’s still quite enjoyable. Onizuka and company continue to be an enjoyable romp and this volume manages to please for the most part.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Outtakes,Textless Opening,Textless Ending,Music Video

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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