It may not quite hang with its bigger, badder, shoot-em-up, slash-em-to-pieces, giant robot anime bretheren, but when it's all said and done, Great Teacher Onizuka may end up being the most addictive anime series ever.
The plot is simple enough: Eikichi Onizuka, a former bike gang member, college karate champ, 22 years old and a bachelor, has taken it upon himself to be the world's greatest teacher. with little or no qualifications, he somehow gets accepted into a prestigious school, is assigned the worst class of delinquents ever, and proceeds to work on taming the adolescent beasts.
Simple plot, complex protagonist. Onizuka is the definition of "man-child," the battle with the man and the child within him always in conflict. This is key as the series plays up the ongoing battle between the students and adults, be it teachers, administrators, parents or politicians. Onizuka is into videogames, internet porn, costumes, launching bottle rockets and ogling schoolgirls. At the same time he has a better sensitivity toward the real causes of the students problems, be it parental conflict, bad past experiences with teachers, money or bullying. Then again, he likes to deal with his problems in the most unorthodox methods, i.e. beating up students.
This volume shows Onizuka first getting used to his methods as a student-teacher. A group of students pull a clever prank, and blackmail Onizuka for a million yen. With the help of some biker gangs and a midnight dipping/drowning at a nearby pond, Onizuka manages to "win over" the males of the group. He take a more subtle approach to Nanako, whose problems stem more from a declining parental relationship, which he creatively remedies.
With that phase over, Onizuka next has to tackle the task of getting into prestigious Holy Family Academy and Class 2-4, the angel-faced, snake-hearted delinquent crew he must deal with for the rest of the series.
The art is on a par with Dragonball Z, and watching this series in Japanese is *necessary*! Not only are their numerous word jokes (Nanako says "Yoo-poo" instead of "yoo-hoo" and Onizuka ridicules her), or that the English teacher struggles with and forces English, the story has pretty significant differences from the English to the Japanese version. The Japanese vocal cast is far superior, and the vocal intonations better match the facial expressions; the storyline and what they say are far more risque and naughtier than the English dub as well.
A great, addicting series, that has up to Vol. 9 (at this point) released in the US. There are only 43 episodes in the set, so it should be coming to a close. Very few extras other than stills and previews on this disc.
Also recommended are the 12-episode GTO Live Action Japanese Drama, a loose approximation of the anime and manga, and the live action movie that takes place after the series.
Not recommended if you can't afford to get the whole thing; no sane person can handle the cliffhangers at the end of each disc.