You know how each generation has some sort of comedy series or film or something that to those people it just transcends comedy and is something more to them? Movies like Kicking And Screaming or Rushmore maybe? Yeah so GTO is kind of like that for me.
I should probably talk about the GTO trilogy, yes, trilogy.
GTO and it's prequels are all done by Toru Fujisawa, and this is his magnum opus. The art style is fairly realistic, and a trademark of his would also be the fucking intense and exageratted face expressions of Onizuka.
The saga of Eikichi Onizuka begins with the manga Shounan Junai Gumi (Pure Love Gang From Shounan, (it's very important that you spell it Shounan, as in Shounan Bay, not Shounen as in Shounen Jump, since if it were shounen it would be targeted at fujoshi with that title).
SJG was the story of two high school delinquents (a very popular theme in the 80s and 90s manga), Eikichi Onizuka and Ryuji Danma, dropping out of high school in search of money and pussy. That's like the plot. And they get in to fights and shit.
SJG was pretty much the Japanese version of Beavis and Butthead, but made a bit more serious and with slightly more intelligent and likable protagonists.
I never actually read SJG to the end, but I can tell you what I do know happened.
It's been a few years since the end of SJG, Ryuji now has a steady job and a girlfriend and has settled down. Onizuka spends his time now sitting in shopping malls under escalators, smoking and looking up skirts of school girls going up.
Onizuka doesn't know what he wants to do with his life now, since he's now 22 and shouldn't be doing the stupid shit he did when he was 16.
After rescuing a schoolgirl from delinquents but then seeing the schoolgirl run to her lover, a balding middle-aged teacher, Onizuka, in his infinite wisdom decides that he should become a teacher to woo in high school girls and also get payed.
But eventually the morality aspect catches up to Onizuka and he realizes he shouldn't take advantage of impressionable schoolgirls, but he still decides to be a teacher.
Onizuka applies to Holy Forest Academy as a social studies teacher. The first time it doesn't go well since an ex-biker with dyed blond hair and almost nothing in his resume fails to impress Vice Principal Uchiyamada who dismisses Onizuka. As Onizuka is leaving Holy Forest, two expelled students come in with baseball bats and want to beat up Uchiyamada. Uchiyamada yells at Onizuka, who is a karate expert, to beat up the delinquents and then the job is his, while he repeatedly calls the delinquents trash, something Onizuka experienced a lot and something he absolutely hates. Onizuka suplexes Uchiyamada against the floor and then tells the delinquents that they don't have to dirty their hands, then they leave.
So Onizuka abandons his dream of being a teacher and becomes a truck driver. But then he recieves a call which says that the principal of Holy Forest would like to see Onizuka in person for some reason. As soon as Onizuka hears this, he drives cross-country in his lorry to be there on time.
The principal thinks that the fact that Onizuka's untraditonal-ness and the fact that he doesn't classify people as trash unlike, say, Uchiyamada.
And so, Onizuka is tasked to deal with the infamous class 3-4, which have been terrorizing their homeroom teachers, leaving the last poor soul to do that as an morbidly obese, bullimic member of a cult who's prayer chants are, strangely, the names of Mobile Suit Gundam characters and mobile suits.
Onizuka then helps solve the personal problems of the individual students, one by one somehow convincing them to be good. This leads to Onizuka preventing several suicides, crashing through a 20th floor window of a skyscraper to beat up rapists, arm wrestling 100 people in a row and all kinds of other insane escapades.
So let us go over the seperate versions of GTO.
GTO was adapted as a television drama. The television drama starred noone I know and meh, but I did watch an episode or two out of curiosity.
So they really altered Onizuka as a character, which kind of alienated fans. The drama version of Onizuka is just coolness stereotypes of late 90s early 2000s Japan instead of a perverted buffoon. Did they misinterpret the character? No. It's a TV drama made for women, obviously women will lust after the cool guy, but if he was a perverted, stupid dyejob then they wouldn't.
The anime ran for 38 episodes between 1999 and 2000. It starred Wataru Takagi as Onizuka in what is quite possibly his most iconic role, but also made him in to a often-typecasted actor who usualy voices masculine delinquents who aren't quite cool in the cool sense, which is actually interesting, since his first starring role was Garrod Ran from Gundam X, a 14 year old kid with soft features that fujoshi want to molest.
The anime covered around the first 14 volumes of the manga, stopping slightly after the Okinawa trip. The anime series ends with Onizuka leaving Japan to instead teach american delinquents, in a very unmemorable ending.
The series openings were Driver's High by L'Arc-en-Ciel and Hitori No Yoru by Porno Graffiti, both bands also had opening songs in the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist series (altough Porno Grafitti's song was omitted from the US version).
The anime was faithful to the manga but they did sometimes avoid some of the really extreme things that happened in the manga, but this doesn't really interfiere that much. For instance, when Miyabi and crew of bitches were held hostage in a skyscraper, in the anime the ones holding them hostage are just yakuza, but in the manga they're sexperverts who want to rape them too.
But the manga is the best thing. The anime ended before some of the most extreme, pulse pounding and balls to the wall arcs in the manga.
I don't really want to spoil them that much, but they're actually the best arcs in the series. There's tense drama, some really well-planned action and all kinds of crazy twists.
But the thing about Onizuka is that while a lot of the situations are over the top and unlikely, it always remains realistic. While Onizuka does take beatings that would kill an average man, he never makes you say ''that's fucking impossible'' like pretty much anything in most shounen series does.
The character of Onizuka and the situations he gets in are what makes this manga. Onizuka is kind of a loser, he's not incredibly smart and his luck is what it is, but he can teach you valuable life lessons in a way that is not patronizing. Onizuka is willing to sacrifice life and limb for his students, even if they call him a loser and an idiot who has nothing to teach. But that's not to say he's not above getting real pissed at his students and using methods that might endanger them in some way to have them give up on being assholes.
Actually, Onizuka reminds me very much of Mamoru Takamura from Hajime No Ippo, in that both are perverted, very masculine buffoons who will do stupid shit for most of the time but at the right time they will give you priceless life advice. Also Wataru Takagi plays Masaru Aoki, gymmate of Takamura and Ippo.
I haven't even talked about any of the other characters, but should I really? I don't know.
Well there's vice principal Uchiyamada, who is a middle-aged, balding man who is caused tons of stress by Onizuka since Onizuka ends up wrecking a lot of things, including Uchiyamada's car, several times. Altough Uchiyamda is kind of a hated figure for most of the series, more nearing the end it is shown that he actually likes being a teacher and feels a certain amount of satisfaction from helping future generations. Uchiyamada is very dismissive of Onizuka and delinqents, calling them trash, but over the course of the series he eventually accepts Onizuka and stops being so judgemental.
Then there's Suguru Teshigawara, the psychopatical math teacher who is a stalker who is obsessed with Azusa Fuyutsuki (who is also Onizuka's love interest) and is losing his mind since over the course of his entire life he has been pressured to match the expectations of other people. He finally snaps in one of the last story arcs and there's some really intense scenes there.
Actually, there's a lot of great characters but to get in to details would result in spoilers, plus I might be forgetting some stuff since it's been a while since I read Onizuka.
The comedy in the series is great, altough most of the jokes stem from pervertedness. But then there's a running gag where Onizuka wrecks principal Uchiyamada's Toyota Cresta. There's also some pretty funny referential humor, altough I suppose you have to know Japanese pop culture then.
There was also a prequel manga called Bad Company which was a story about Onizuka and Ryuji Danma's middle school days, which might be the most violent piece of Onizuka media that I can think of.
Also right now there runs a manga called Onizuka 14 Shounan Days, which is an interquel about the 14 days Onizuka spends doing something that is unknown to the readers in the original manga after he dissappears from the hospital he was hospitalized at that point. I should probably read this.
So I suggest you definately read the manga, I think it is one of the best mangas I've ever read, and I've read a lot. You'll laugh, you'll cry and at the very end it will leave you with a positive outlook on life and motivation to do something that makes you happy with your life.
Sadly, the manga itself has been out of print since 2009. feels bad, man