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"But you need to be prepared... Our school is considered very prestigious, but internally, many problems are mounting... such as delinquency, bullying, problems with the opposite sex, and violence... even toward teachers. It is getting worse each year, and I can hardly handle it myself. Onizuka-kun, what I want from you is exactly what you showed us the other day: the German suplex."
— Chairlady Sakurai
Eikichi Onizuka: Twenty-two years old, current virgin, black belt martial artist, former delinquent, seeking direction. What better job for such a man than teaching? Easy hours, and the potential of after-school study sessions with beautiful high school girls... At least, so go Onizuka's daydreams. The truth is, as a new hire at Holy Forest Academy (surprisingly, not a Two-Teacher School), he's been put in charge of a class who believe it is their sole mission to run any teacher they're given right out of town. note The last two teachers that they had attempted to commit suicide, and a third disappeared from the face of the Earth, just to give you an idea of how serious these kids are.The manga dramedy Great Teacher Onizuka is the story of this (semi-indestructible) man and his continuing attempts to keep from being fired while straightening out the class which has been placed in his care. The series is humorous, if occasionally over-the-top (as the continual destruction of Vice Principal Uchiyamada's beloved Toyota Cresta will attest). Onizuka consistently gets into worse and worse scrapes, and just as consistently extricates himself with his own unique flair.Often marketed as simply "GTO." Newcomers unfamiliar with the series should be aware it has (largely) nothing to do with the American muscle, Italian exotic, or Japanese import and sports cars.A Live-Action version has also been made, toning down the abuse Onizuka takes (for obvious reasons) and distilling a number of storylines, leading to the real-life romances of the actors playing Onizuka and Azusa Fuyutsuki respectively.An Interquel manga entitled GTO - Shonan 14 Days chronicles the adventures of Onizuka as he hides back in his hometown of Shonan, because he accidentally let it slip on national television that he almost buried a student of his alive. Luckily for us this means we got to see him in action once again.There is another series called Kamen Teacher, involving teachers in masks whipping delinquent classes into shape. It's heavily implied to be the result of Headmaster Sakurai's secret plan, set into motion near the end of GTO.Then GTO Paradise Lost started. The story starts a few months after the end of the events told in GTO, making it the first real sequel to GTOGTO is the sequel to Shonan Jun'ai Gumi, which ran for 31 volumes (longer than GTO, mind you) and featured the high school adventures of a much more badass Onizuka and his best friend Ryuuji Danma. Originally serialized by Tokyopop as GTO: The Early Years, Shonan Junai Gumi (due to the fact that the Second Installment Wins) which was in danger of being Left Hanging when the company went belly up before being picked up by Vertical (who are also relasing 14 Days In Shonan). Between Shonan Junai Gumi and GTO a single volume manga was released under the title Bad Company, chronicling the tale of how Ryuji and Eikichi first met. GTO Paradise Lost is the real true sequel to GTO. Thus Onizuka has appeared as the main character of a total of five titles.
Adaptation Distillation: The Live Action version trims the cast down to a small handful, which is also further segregated depending on the episode and makes some remarkably accurate guesses on what some of the students' (then unrevealed) teacher-bullying motives are.
The finale of the live action version was at the time the highest rated drama in Japanese history.
According to TOW, it still holds the record for most watched episode of TV of all time.
An Aesop: Teachers are human beings, too. They have feelings that are no different than yours, and they deserve your respect. They really do care about you, and are willing to help you if you just let them. Of course, there are bad teachers, but they're the exception, not the rule.
Students should be given proper guidance, not used as tools for some dark agenda or treated as enemies.
Butt Monkey: Several, but vice-principal Uchiyamada gets especially cruel treatment. His wife has grown cold and seems to be having an extramarital romance, his daughter sees him as a gift dispenser, his own dog bullies him (and unfortunately shares the first name, appearannce, and lecherous nature with the man who's giving Uchiyamada hell outside of home), his dreams of his brand new pearl white Cresta bringing his family back together are repeatedly wrecked... The Cresta also is repeatedly wrecked. In escalating degrees of destruction.
Buxom Is Better: Onizuka generally loves female beauty but big boobs is his favourite.
Call Forward: In GTO Shonan 14 Days, Onizuka's nose tends to bleed a lot. It's because of his aneurysm!
Also in the sequel, he got in trouble for his story in burying a girl in the forest. Said girl was Urumi back when she was toying with him!
Lampshaded/subverted at the end of the series, when Uchiyamada himself drives the car closer so the student and Onizuka dangling off a curtain would survive if they fell, at the cost of his car. Doubly so because he had parked it away from the roof exactly to prevent this from happening again, and had in fact put an inflatable kiddy pool on the roof to protect it as extra protection measure. It didn't help; the car was still totalled.
Catch Phrase ("Onizuka Eikichi, 22 years old.") The German Suplex is also something of a non-verbal "catch-phrase".
Also, the Vice Principal's variations of the theme: "My- my Cresta!!"
Cerebus Retcon: Done gradually. During one of his later admissions to the hospital, the eponymous character gets what looks like a serious nosebleed until everyone comes to the conclusion that it was only because he was turned on by the nurses' uniforms and got a peek under their skirts after "pretending" to fall down. Later in the same chapter, a panel suggests that the nosebleed actually is as serious as it first appeared. In the final story arc, the audience learns that Onizuka has had chronic internal bleeding and cerebral aneurysms in the head for quite sometime, which shines a different light on some of the nosebleed gags throughout Great Teacher Onizuka as well as the various head injuries, comedic or serious, he has gained throughout the entire series.
Chekhov's Skill: Happens often, as one of Onizuka's gifts is to recognize the potential hidden in his students that either no other teacher has acknowledged or that the students themselves are not aware of. For example, Cloud Cuckoolander Tomoko turns out to be an awesome actress because she played with dolls to help ease her loneliness and made up all sorts of crazy stories about them.
Chaste Hero: Onizuka, unintentionally (at least when it comes to females he's actively pursuing) and to his immense chagrin.
Cool Loser: Onizuka used to be in a gang, rides a motorcycle, and beats people up. But he's also a 22-year old demented otaku virgin who can't hold down a job, and he's so broke he doesn't even know who's on the 10,000 yen bill.
A Date with Rosie Palms: Nanako finds a lot of objects in Onizuka's apartment that show he masturbates frequently, even using an instant noodle cup. Fuyutsuki and others even stumble on Onizuka masturbating while watching a porn movie, and he tries his best to tell this is Not What It Looks Like.
Daydream Surprise: When Onizuka is having a job interview with Uchiyamada and the latter is rejecting him with insults, we are shown our hero punching the vice-principal in the face and totally beating him up. He was just daydreaming this.
Uchiyamada also has a waking nightmare when Onizuka catches him being The Chikan; in the fantasy, he loses his job and reputation, stabbing Onizuka in a fit of murderous rage.
Uchiyamada's personal life gets examined, parts of which build up sympathy for the poor guy.
There are a number of intermezzos showing a first-person view of Onizuka as he's visiting his 'friend' Saejima. These pieces invariably show the crooked cop trying to pull Onizuka into pyramid schemes, black market dealings, smuggling and a lot worse, all the while pretending it's all perfectly legal.
Escalating War: Ultra-bitch Miyabi goes further in her plans each time to topple Onizuka.
Even Bullies Have Standards: Anko strongly disapproved of Miyabi's attempts to get rid of Onizuka not because she supported the teacher, but because she manipulated her friends and the entire class to do so.
Every Car Is a Pinto: Uchiyamada's car eventually explodes just by having Onizuka and Miyabi fall on its roof.
Fallen Hero: Arguably Uchiyamada. Flashbacks show that he had the same idealism as Onizuka had when he first started teaching. Only when he became older did he lose all that zest for teaching making him the...
Fan Disservice: Onizuka spends an awful lot of time with his ass exposed.
Fast Roping: When Onizuka decides to have a game of paintball with his, students two of them elect to arrive in this manner.
Also done by Onizuka to foil Urumi's plot to kidnap Aizawa and her cronies for ransom in order to fund Onizuka's promise of a field trip to Okinawa.
Ferris Wheel Date Moment: Urumi drags Onizuka out on a not!date, and tries to kiss Onizuka, but he's too honorable to go through with it and so knocks himself unconscious. Which is pretty impressive, considering he got into teaching solely so he could hook up with hot Joshikousei.
Fingertip Drug Analysis: Saejima tries to give Onizuka bags of what looks like cocaine, but Kikuchi pokes his finger in them and tasting it, finds out it is just flour.
Foster Kid: The Shonan 14 Days arc of Great Teacher Onizuka has Onizuka hiding and working inside the "White Swan" foster care center where it tries to whole-heartly raise several misbehaving but good-at-heart youths (especially some with experience with abusive parents) in a safe environment. A big later issue within the arc is the attempt of politicans and previously mentioned self-centered abusive parents trying to pull the children out of the foster care for their own selfish motivations.
Freudian Excuse: Every single bully/unsympathetic character is given a backstory explaining their behavior.
Teshigawara tries to justify his doings to Onizuka and Fuyutsuki by talking about his Freudian excuse. They both refute it and insist that he is just a loser who indulges in self-pity and that this is not a reason to act like a psycho.
Shibuya has the most literally Freudian Excuse of all — he was the victim of incestuous abuse from his mother.
Mr. Uchiyamada has his shares of this as well, and unlike Teshigawara, they're actually very effective and really makes you understand why he acts the ways he do.
Subverted when Onizuka confronts Mayu's gang and every member starts shouting why they hate all teachers. It is subverted because some of their reasons are very petty, and Onizuka calls them loser idiots that blame everyone else for their behaviour and their troubles, and states he also got expelled and got a ton of troubles with teachers and cops, but he got his act together.
Gag Series: Shonan Jun'ai Gumi started as this, then it progressivly genre shifted into a more serious drama/fighting genre with some comedy from time to time.
Game-Breaking Injury: Mainly in the final volume of the manga where Onizuka is targeted by a group of baseball bat wielding motorcycle riders who hit him in the head multiple times. What really makes this fight dramatic is that Onizuka is suffering from a brain condition in which if he suffers one more major blow to the head, he will die. The biker gang is well aware of this information.
Onizuka: Thought you'd give someone a scare? Yeah, most people are terrified of earthworms.
Girl of the Week: While it seemed that Fuyutsuki was Onizuka's girlfriend to be, the Interquel and Sequel set him up with another girl. Hell, the sequel shows that he doesn't get together with Fuyutsuki at all.
Going to the Store: When Anko goes out to meet Noboru, she tells her mother that she's going to the store. Her mother wonders "You took a shower to go to the store? And is that my perfume?"
Gonk: Onizuka in intense moments of surprise, exasperation, fear, hunger, or pretty much anything else. A lot of the male cast, in fact.
The main examples: other Fukada girl (nicknamed "Jaws"), the biology teacher (nicknamed "Chihuahua") and Takao (aka "Big Red").
Gratuitous English: Mr. Sakurai/Sakurada often says some English words in his speech, just inserting them randomly and for no reason. Even complete exclamations like "OH MY GOD!" But at least he seemed to be aware of what he was saying.
Groin Attack: Onizuka gets bitten by a snake in his "thing".
Anko and her clique used to practice some variations of this on Yoshikawa. Though Anko insists it wasn't her, but Mayuko, and she "just kinda... watched...".
Hadaka Apron: While cramming under Fuyutsuki's coaching, Onizuka fantasizes about her wearing one while cooking.
Hands-On Approach: Onizuka once tries this on Fuyutsuki to teach her how to play video games.
Hard Head: Onizuka's head is the body part he gets hit in the most, and it tends to have little effect. The damage has been accumulating over the years, though (see Game-Breaking Injury above).
The Heart: Tomo-chan plays this role between her two much smarter and way bitchier "friends" Miyabi and Urumi.
Hidden Depths: Tomo-chan is good at two things: 1) superb acting and 2) impeccable improv.
High Turnover Rate: Warning: being the teacher of one of the worst classes in the school may be hazardous to your health. Side effects include: madness, suicide attempts, cult-worship, eating disorders, brushes with death, public humiliation (which, considering this is Japan, is a Fate Worse Than Death) and broken arms.
Hollywood Healing: Onizuka is able to recover from life-threatening injuries easily, and this surprises the others who emit the hypothesis he could really be an alien or demon.
How Unscientific!: Onizuka is momentarily possessed by ghosts after he takes on the very stressful job of picking up the remains of those who committed suicide by jumping in front of trains. Miyabi and Fujiyoshi also meet the ghost of a child killed in a road accident, though they don't realize it after seeing a sign talking about his death.
Just A Flesh Wound: Teshigawara empties a gun in Onizuka's chest... he gets better. And not without kicking his ass first, and even jumping from a building to save him from suicide.
Not to mention going on a 14-day long adventure immediately afterwards, if the Shonan 14 Days spin-off is to be believed.
In which he gets stabbed and shot again.
Karma Houdini: The kids in Onizuka's class (Anko, Murai, Urumi, Miyabi, etc) get away with terrorizing and generally ruining the lives of several teachers before Onizuka shows up, but somehow it's all swept under the carpet like it never happened once Onizuka won them over.
Kitschy Local Commercial: Onizuka makes several low budget local commercials starring Tomoko, in order to give her a start in show business.
Knight in Sour Armor: Figuratively. Onizuka probably has as little a reason as anyone to put up with the students of his class, and by all rights probably should have quit teaching from the very start. The fact that he genuinely cares and believes that students should be able to have fun at school (and he's too stupid to quit) allows him to strive to make school a better place.
Made of Iron: Onizuka is so resilient the others wonder if he is not really an alien. Every episode he's either been stabbed, been shot, been run over, fallen out of windows, bashed over the head, and seems to be eternally above the law.
Mistaken for Gay: Invoked by one of the students by putting a convincing poster of Onizuka and vice principal on the school board. It took another photo that was suspicious on closer inspection to have this jossed.
Monster Mash: Played for comedy as Mayu's arm wrestling challenge escalates into this.
Noodle Incident: What happened to class 2-4 to make it full of problem students, though the incident does eventually come to light in the final chapters.
Also, what happened to Mayu to make him sickly.
"GTO - Shonan 14 Days" gets it's story from one of these. At the end of the "Teshigara" arc he wound up in the hospital for a gunshot wound, but escaped soon afterwords. He went missing for 14 days, and when he came back, there was a wanted poster floating around with a man that looked a lot like him.
Nosebleed: The North-American manga edition bothers to explain the Old Wife's Tale about sexual arousement giving nosebleeds.
Not So Different: It's mentioned in chapter 107 that Mr. Uchiyamada used to be a idealistic teacher who wanted to help his students with their problems, just like Onizuka, but after had helped too many ungrateful bastards to count, and becoming more self-aware of Japan's declining morals, he got tried of being the helper.
Oedipus Complex: Sho is very loyal to Miss Daimon, to the point of insanity when Daimon disavows her relationship with him.
Kunio to his mother Julia. This pertains to an interesting variation of the trope as he never knew his father but, because his father left his mother while she was still pregnant, Kunio is adamant on believing that all older men are skirtchasers and will do everything in his power to protect his mother. His stance is put to the test when Onizuka dates his mother. This logic ultimately backfires when Onizuka states that Kunio is simply running away from his problems while dragging along his mother. When Kunio's actions almost kill Julia by oncoming truck, she is saved by Onizuka, lowering his stance. Kunio's pride is reduced even lower when Onizuka says the date was a one-time deal.
Omniscient Morality License: Onizuka is a Class S holder of one! No matter what crazy, illegal, unethical, immoral thing he has in mind, it always turns out for the best for his students and all is always forgiven.
One Judge to Rule Them All: Warning Productions during the talent search Onizuka sets up for Tomoko, though she also does give the best, and most moving performance (ad-libbing completely off script and using action figures as props).
One Steve Limit: This is subverted with Mr. Sakurai and Mrs. Sakurai, who are unrelated (in the manga only), and two female characters named Naoko, though one is just of those two girls hanging with Anko.
Two girls named Fukada are the focus of one chapter in which Kunio gets hooked up on a blind date with one of them.
Only a Flesh Wound: Our lead shrugs off being hit by a truck, jumps off a building onto a car (twice), receiving only a broken arm that he doesn't even notice until it's pointed out the next day (and does push-ups on it), and even then continues to play computer games like a god (while keeping track of his winning streak on his still-untreated and horrifically swollen arm). He's also survived a number of gunshot wounds that should have been fatal.
Though to be fair, that revenge was quite tame compared to what they did to him...
Pet the Dog: Tomoko serves as the "dog" for both Miyabi and Urumi (somewhat literally in Urumi's case, as Lampshaded by the observers), and Urumi herself gets one at the end of her arc when it's revealed that the picture she hid behind a massive firewall was a picture of young Miyabi, Tomoko, and Urumi as friends.
One noticeable example is Uchiyamada's Toyota appearing as a late-2000s Crown Royal in the opening pages of Shonan 14 Days. It inexplicably reverts to the original Cresta design in following appearances.
Refuge in Audacity: Most of what Onizuka does. The first example that springs to mind being in episode 1 when a gang is holding and threatening the students who tried to blackmail him. Not only does he get them out safely he does so after having a serious man-to-man chat with them about the relationship between teacher and student in between torturing them with two flashlights strapped to his forehead for no clear reason. All with the willing assistance of the gang in question. As a result of this he is praised for being the first teacher to reform that delinquent class. The entire class praises him for his hard work, voluntarily cleans the school each day and commends him to the school as someone who must graduate as a teacher.
In the manga, Onizuka snapped and called the gang out himself; he realises it was a mistake the next morning. Then he gets praised.
Running Gag: Principal Uchiyamada's beloved Toyota Cresta being damaged.
Onizuka referring to his Nakama from his high school days while saying how they'd always be there for each other... only to be turned down.
Satellite Love Interest: Fuyutsuki, to some readers. She gradually grows out of it over the course of the manga, however—her personality, backstory, motivations, and insecurities, are all explored, and none have to do with Onizuka.
Shout-Out: Tons, although a standout moment is when Onizuka draws Kenshiro's scars on his chest (plus some Cross-Popping Veins) and loudly says "I'm Kenshiro!" (and after saying "I'm here to save Yuria!" in which 'Yuria' (Kenshiro's Distressed Damsel of a lover) can also be spelled as 'Julia', the name of the mother of Kunio (who himself, is a shoutout to the Kunio-kun games), his student he's currently trying to save), then beats up some thugs with the Hokuto Hyakeretsu Ken. This is after he (with bowling balls on his hands) had drawn whiskers on his face and claimed to be Doraemon.
And in GTO - Shonan 14 Days, Onizuka paints a portrait of Haruhi Suzumiya on the hood of good ol' Uchiyamada's Toyota.
There several references to Go Nagai works, too: in one episode, he cosplayed like Devilman for no apparent reason in class. Shortly after he got one of her female students to dress like Cutey Honey. And in another episode he cut in half a human body anatomical model and dressed himself with one of the halves to dress himself, resembling a grisly Baron Ashura.
He also wears a yellow jumpsuit a la Bruce Lee at one point.
During the Summer Festival mini-story with Anko and Noboru, Anko wears a mask on the back of her head that is clearly supposed to be Pikachu.
In chapter 112, the student is carving a statue that is clearly Belldandy without her facial markings, right down to the Hair Antennae.
At one point, Onizuka gets bowling balls glued to his hands and whiskers drawn on his face (don't ask). So he goes around calling himself Doraemon.
The fighting game Murai is playing in one early chapter is a triple reference: it has blocky polygonal models like the first Virtua Fighter, the character Murai is playing as is clearly supposed to be Joe Yabuki (complete with reference to his death at the end), and his opponent is a bear named Kuma.
At one point Uchiyamada compares Onizuka to various kinds of real-life parasites and also to Migi (Lefty), the alien parasite from, well, Parasyte.
Silent Scapegoat: Class 2-4's former teacher, accused of taking humiliating pictures of a handcuffed and naked Miyabi, resigned rather than explain that he'd been framed by her, jealous that he was going to marry someone else.
Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Often a particularly jaded character (such like Urumi, Miyabi, Ms. Daimon...) will go in a rant about the rotting of the society, Adults Are Useless or abusive/perverted creeps, kids are delinquents, you can trust nobody or they shall abuse you or take advantage of you...
Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: Only for being confronted with the opposite trope and being told they are just blind cynics and that mindset is one of the roots of those troubles.
Onizuka went so far to tell Urumi her outlook is not logical. It is cowardly.
So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Tomoko's big boobs are considered beautiful by most males but unfortunately, they were also a source of bashing and jealousy. Urumi is a variation as her intellect used to make her feel alone and misunderstood.
Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Kunio thinks his mother's getting married, so he hurries to the place where it's being held and starts a rampage. She's just posing for a photo shoot.
In the live action adaptation, Onizuka drags Miyabi to interrupt the wedding of the teacher she has a crush on, even pounding on the windows a la The Graduate. She, however, Cannot Spit It Out until Onizuka motorbikes her off a bridge (there was a net underneath).
Stalker Shrine: Tesigawara has one... no enshrined discarded tea bottles though.
Onizuka: But I swear, I wouldn't have dreamed of digging around in your panty drawer or anything! *panties come out of his pocket* Oooh, what is this?!
Take That: When the three "Gundam Brothers" are using various Gundam series to analyze Urumi's personality,one of them says "the ones who watch that are kids" about G Gundam and another says that Zeta Gundam indicates "destructive impulses",a reference to the very high angst-quotient of that show. Additional humor is lent to this by the fact that one of the three is voiced by Amuro Ray himself.
Teens Are Monsters: One of the reasons Onizuka's often quite extreme form of punishments are even tolerable, outside of Rule of Funny, is the sheer unrepentant cruelty displayed by many of his students.
Also two pairs of Those Two Girls - Naoko and Mayuko for Anko, and Saeko and Chikako for Miyabi. They fit the trope even better than Murai's friends, since the guys sometimes do get to play more important role on their own, especially Fujiyoshi.
Those three girls who dabbe too much in witchcraft.
Tsundere: After the Okinawa incident and her character development, Anko became a Tsundere Type A. Before she was cruel and mean-spiritied, but she had no love interest.
Azusa Fuyutsuki is a Dere type.
Shinomi in Shonan 14 Days.
The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Subverted: it is hinted that Yoshiko Uchiyamada may be the butcher's daughter, not the vice-principal's. Which makes sense, since her mother is not too hot, either.
Or it's another of his paranoid delusions. And maybe her mom was a looker back in the day.
Undead Child: Fujiyoshi and Miyabi stumble onto one at a road crossing late at night. They don't realize it until they wonder why a kid would hang around so late alone and they see a signpost telling about a child being killed here in a road accident.
What the Hell, Hero?: Murai and Fuyutsuki call Onizuka out in two separate occasions when he forgets his morals in favor of his career.
Wide-Eyed Idealist: Minami Kikukawa is a training teacher who would love teaching in a private school because in a public school she would have got to deal with troubles such like bad students and administrative corruption. Fuyutsuki quickly warns her that she is Tempting Fate with that naive attitude. After meeting the class four students, she realizes things are not so simple.
Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Tokiwa doesn't even bother to get a bruise or two, being an innocent-looking little girl, while her victims are mostly male deliquents. Onizuka's stupidity helps a lot.
Onizuka (after looking at a bunch of guys covered with blood and the obvious culprit faking crying): Girl's tears win!
Whereas Miyabi's gambit backfires horribly, causing one student to be arrested for assaulting a teacher and said teacher quitting the school rather than explain his innocence.