Monday, June 9, 2008

Great Teacher Onizuka: The Anime and the Live Action

First of all I will start off with the anime series. No, this doesn't have giant fighting robots. It doesn't have talking animals so cute that it makes you squeal. It doesn't have many of the things that people have come to associate with anime (except for a decent dose of panty shots and such), but what it has, it has a lot of. I was still willing to take a chance with this one. I'm definately glad I did. I love feel good comedy. And I love anime. So when I watched combination of those two things so awesome, I was hooked. I also love tough characters with golden hearts, and Eikichi Onizuka is a perfect example of that sort of character. The anime is based off the manga series of the same name, which I haven't personally read yet. But look forward to getting the chance. So likely most of the stories in the anime were written by Tohru Fujisawa, the writer of the manga.

A former juvenile delinquent (and certified 22 year old virgin) who decides that he wants to be a teacher because it would be a great way to meet teenage girls. Fortunately, he unwittingly impresses the director of the prestigious Holy Forest Academy, and by a miracle he gets a job. Unfourtunately he is shoved in with a bunch of 14-15 year old kids who are sworn never to trust a teacher, and will stop at nothing to get them fired. Onizuka soon realizes that he can do a lot for these children... but he will have to survive them first.
Throughout the series he has to struggle to keep his job, and at the same time get through to the very same kids who are trying to destroy him. One by One, you get to see him change the lives of these children, and the anime shows that not everything in life is black and white. The children are real kids with real problems, some like the ones that go unspoken, but do happen. Like the boy who has a mother complex because his mother was 13 and alone when she had him. And the boy who gets beaten up by a group of girls. In short... it's a pretty screwed up group of kids. He also has a certain assistant principal who wants to get rid of him as well. It's very well written, and the characters are both likable and unlikeable at the same time. They have real depth.

Also in the series is the other new teacher at Onizuka's school, Azusa Fuyutsuki, who essentially serves as Onizuka's friend and possible love interest. The show is also extremely funny. It's not so much the overly zany humour that most comedy animes have, it's more of a clever and witty sort of humour. A humour that people can understand on a personal level. Every episode offers you something new, and the time will fly be. I was very upset when I reached the end of the series. Not many animated shows can be called inspiring, but this is definitely one of them.
The animation is pretty basic, nothing really to rave about there. No complaints from me though, there's nothing wrong with it. I will make note of the music used in the series. I really like it. That's what I will say about it. The opening theme is one of my favourite anime themes around.

So in closing, this is a fantastic anime, albeit a little different than you may expect. I would gladly recommend it to anyone. Although I will note that from what I've heard of the English dub, to be blunt, is not good. The voice of Onizuka didn't do an awful job, but for the most part the voice acting is not as well suited for the characters. They basically took the most basic aspect of the characters and gave them the most stereotyped voices I could imagine. For example, the character of Yoshito Kikuchi has been given a high class, snot nosed voice that just pains me, to be honest. Let me put it this way, In the Japanese version they sounded like a bunch of teenagers, in the dub they sounded like a bunch of voice actors. So my opinion would be to get the DVDs and watch them in the original language with subtitles, but to each their own. Keep in mind, my opinion on dubs is pretty biased, as I usually dislike them. Although for the most part, I am not against the voices, more against the fact that a lot of the dialog gets changed, and it doesn't always seem necessary.Now for the live action series. I was lucky enough to find a subtitle version of this. Since I was a huge fan of the anime I was more than happy to watch it. And I was happy to find that it was a very funny series. Takashi Sorimachi did a perfect job as Onizuka and the story lines were pretty good. Some of story lines were very different to the ones in the anime. Most of the characters from the anime remain the same, although some of them have been combined to save time, as there was only 12 episodes of this series. All the acting was pretty good and it was overall a pretty good series. It's a fun series with a lot of hilarious ideas that come together really well. This series has more of an emphasis on the relationship between Onizuka and Fuyutsuki than the anime did. Yes, I have no shame in admitting that I love romance, so I enjoyed this aspect of the series. So I would definately recommend watching this if you are able to. Good stuff.

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