GTO is a manga series, originally published weekly in Shounen magazine, which revolves Eikichi Onizuka's quest to become the greatest teacher in the whole of Japan.
Onizuka, now 22 years old, has dropped out of high school, but still manages to graduate from Eurasia College. Initially, he's portrayed as a biker-punk, a wastrel hanging out with friends, looking up girls' skirts and a street bum. The story takes a delightful turn when he tries to bed a girl, but the girl's teacher intervenes, and Onizuka realizes the power and potential of being a teacher. This new realization has him striving to be a great teacher with his own unique style.
The rest of the story, in true manga style, is dedicated to his escapades and entirely accidental triumphs as a teacher.
Great Teacher Onizuka has been collected into 25 volumes by Shounen, and the English translation is available via publishers Tokyopop.
Art and Story
The entire premise underpinning each volume is that Onizuka is a person beyond redemption. Tohru Fujisawa does not try to make his central character out into some sort of hidden gold, misjudged by society, whoís going to be lauded as a great person in the next volume. Every sub-plot, time and again, features Eikichi as a brash and crude impersonator, who's trying to fib his way into being something which he's not, and all of it just so he can get laid.
The art supports this premise, with the lewd backgrounds in Onizuka's home and throughout the series. What Fujisawa does, is take Onizuka's character and run the story with the qualities he's already got, rather than trying to turn over a new leaf. So Onizuka is still remains a wastrel, but he's trying to be a great teacher, instead of a biker-punk. One would expect that in trying to be a teacher, Onizuka would collect some redeeming features, but that does not happen. Thus, the entire story is a much closer to reality than a fairy tale story. You are what you are. Itís just luck, hard work and circumstances that change your goals, ambitions and achievements.
Of course, there are a few touches where Fujisawa flirts with Onizukaís conscience, but these attempts are short-lived. For example, when he starts life as a teacher, Onizuka realizes he should not be flirting with young girls anymore. Instead, he turns his lecherous eye towards their mothers. Itís fine touches like these, along with the the fleshing out of the supporting cast, especially his depictions of the sorry bunch of students, that raise GTO to a classic.
Cashing in on the popularity of the manga volumes, a TV anime series with 43 episodes follows.