Last week, on July 24, 2012 Vertical, Inc. released the fourth volume in Toru Fujisawa’s manga series “GTO: 14 Days in Shonan” and we took the opportunity to review this comedy/drama.
“Great Teacher Onizuka” (GTO) follows the adventures of one of the craziest teachers/ex-gang member you will ever meet, Eikichi Onizuka. Originally becoming a teacher after seeing the power that some have over their female students Onizuka finds he is unable to take advantage of his students and instead uses his unorthodox teaching style to help reach some of the most problematic students in the school.
Some spoilers ahead.
“GTO: 14 Days in Shonan” follows Onizuka as he heads back home to Shonan after he appears on TV and admits to almost burying a student alive, resulting in a manhunt for the teacher forcing him to lay low over summer vacation. Upon his arrival Onizuka is offered a place to stay, the White Swan Youth Home, by one of the two women who works and lives at the home. The White Swan Youth Home is the perfect place for Onizuka as well, as it is filled with troubled kids from broken homes in need of his expert abilities.
Volume three of the manga sees Onizuka helping to keep one of the kids, Seiya, from killing his mother’s boyfriend, after getting him chased by a gang and eventually forcing Seiya to make him a promise that he won’t use guns. Things seem to be going well after that as the kids begin to enjoy themselves and start to forgive some of the adults that have hurt them.
The peace doesn’t last long though, as Onizuka is stabbed by a yakuza member at a local festival and two former White Swan kids give the current residents a warning to not break their promise. This forces Seiya to once again take up a weapon and go after his mother’s boyfriend or risk facing the wrath of the sisters. As Seiya goes on his quest though Onizuka and the rest of the White Swan staff fight their way through mobs of yakuza in order to keep Seiya from doing something he may end up regretting.
“GTO” is one of the most interesting series that I’ve read so far, it is one of the few series that can transition from over-the-top comedy, like Onizuka having the front of his pants cut off and then going on a run through the town with his junk hanging out, to serious drama without coming off as awkward, and that is saying something.
Visually the manga has a nice look, it has plenty of detail and the characters all have unique looks and style that fit with their personalities well. One of the most important elements of the series’ comedy is Onizuka’s reactions to the insane situations he finds himself in. He shifts from the serious tough guy face to screaming his head off or blushing with a nosebleed and Fujisawa does an exceptional job capturing that. The translations have good flow and read well with large text that is clear and easy to read.
The manga features a great looking full-color image of Onizuka on a rooftop looking much cooler than he really is. Included at the end of the volume is the fourth part of “Follow Onizuka” where vice-principal Hiroshi Uchiyamada continues his search for Onizuka in Shonan, but he continues to find himself in more trouble after waking up in the home of a familiar but not friendly face.
All-in-all “GTO: 14 Days in Shonan” is an entertaining series that offers great comedy as well as plenty of drama. Onizuka makes for one of the most interesting protagonists in manga history, though he is a pervert and a dangerous former gang member he has a true passion and talent for helping troubled kids and the story really gets that across well.
“GTO: 14 Days in Shonan” provides a new experience for fans and gives readers the opportunity to see Onizuka deal with a whole new group of kids, each with serious problems, in a new environment and relying on some of his old friends for help. Volume four of the manga made for one of the most interesting volumes so far as the story seems to be taking a new turn and it appears that thing will be entertaining in the coming volumes as Onizuka will be dealing with much more difficult problems.
If you’re looking for a great comedy manga filled with plenty of action and an interesting story then “GTO: 14 Days in Shonan” is definitely worth picking up.
GTO: 14 Days in Shonan
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Written By: Toru Fujisawa
Illustrated By: Toru Fujisawa
Number of Pages: 200
Age Rating: 17+
Release Date: July 24, 2012
(A review copy of “GTO: 14 Days in Shonan” Vol. 4 was provided by Vertical, Inc.)