Great Teacher Onizuka! GTO is *the* best Japanese drama. Yes, it’s cheesy, cliché at times and really pushing the boundaries of real-life, but it leaves you with a sublime feel-good factor. Did I mention you can also learn really cool yakuza-style casual Japanese too?
You’ve probably heard of it at some point. It does have something of a cult following, after all. Originally based on the manga by Tohru Fujisawa, it has since been made into an anime, drama series and live action movie! It’s pretty old, having come out in summer 1998, but let’s take a gander at the synopsis:
Sorimachi Takashi plays Onizuka Eikichi, a graduate of a third-rate University and the leader of a motorcycle gang, whose lifelong dream is to become a teacher. After being hired by a seemingly eccentric director, Onizuka begins his unconventional way of teaching a hopeless group of troublemakers. Although he meets much opposition from the students and teachers themselves, his passion for teaching, and more importantly, his students, eventually convinces everyone that Onizuka truly has the makings of a great teacher.
Above: Onizuka with class 2-4
Thrown into a class full of troublesome students who find glee in getting their teachers to have nervous breakdowns and winding up on the wrong side of the law, Onizuka is forced to deal with one bizarre, but fantastically plausible situation after another. Each episode ends deals with a different social problem, such as bullying, suicide, teenage dating and Japanese office politics, but manages to avoid the beaten track and give a sweet twist with each mini-story. All the while, Onizuka injects panache into situation.
My personal favourite scene (spoiler warning!) is Onizuka’s take on love, which I have translated below with help from the drama subtitles (I made a few changes):
Here’s the translation!
Your eyes are rotten!
You go into a man’s room without thinking,
You indulge in presents without considering,
And it’s because you play with men’s feelings like that
That your mind is clouded and you can’t see men any other way.
All you can do,
Is compare men to your friend’s boyfriends, seeing who earns the most
And relish in the ones who have the highest status.
If you enjoy that, then go ahead and carry on!
But love, love isn’t about status!
I don’t want you to be like that!
What’s with all this ‘keep’?
グレートだぁぁぁ！！！Love it ^^! You’ve gotta watch it to really appreciate it; the combination of the score backing the film, the mood of the scene and the great script. It gets me fired up every time! Not because Onizuka is preaching, but because he doesn’t hold back, to anyone. I love that honesty.
The Japanese is a little tricky (it certainly threw me the first time I heard it). The ‘keep’ thing at the end refers to an ongoing thing throughout the drama where one of the characters, Fuyutsuki, puts the men she dates into one of two categories: a keeper or non-keeper, referring to her viewing them as prospective future husbands. I won’t get into that sticky discussion here though ^^.
So, you are all advised to go and give GTO a try, whether drama is your thing or not! You can view many (if not all the episodes) on Youtube! Also, feel free to download the GTO theme song sung by Sorimachi Takashi himself – I know you’ll love it! ^^