GTO: Betrayal (Volume 5) Review
Though it has been quite some time since I last visited the series you would be hard pushed to forget the destructive nature of the previous volume which saw the school in which Onizuka teaches left with a devastating repairs bill while the young ex-biker rode off into the sunset with a beautiful blonde along for the ride. Those last four episodes which introduced the formidable Kanzaki Urumi into the shows varied cast were not only superbly written but also an intense yet brutally funny affair which gave us one of the series most engaging story arcs so far.
Following the antics of those episodes and the volumes preceding them Onizuka has, barring the long-time holdout and ticking time bomb Miyabi, effectively whipped Class 3-4 into shape. With that in mind this would appear to be the perfect time for the writers to relax a little and allow the series and its audience some time out to enjoy the characters we have been introduced to over the past twenty episodes.
And so with the episode count for this volume reduced to four that is exactly what happens as we are treated to some standalone episodes that see Murai enjoying the attention of a secret admirer and Onizuka the victim of a terrible curse. Neither particularly advance the overall story by much but are enjoyable none-the-less with the two main participants now completely at ease around each other, fulfilling that comedic double-act they have been working towards from the series humble beginnings with frequently hilarious results. In particular it is amusing to see Onizuka, the teacher, taking on the oafish big brother role with Murai often seen to outsmart him. Mostly however their antics merely end in violence as the physical comedy between the two is pumped up to the extreme with Onziuka taking a pounding from all manner of objects at the behest of Murai (all in good humour of course).
These so-called 'filler' episodes bookend a two-part story which brings Onizuka's love interest back to the forefront, with an aim to delve into Fuyutsuki's past and the reasons which lead her to becoming a teacher. This story makes for a welcome return to the fray for Fuyutsuki as this is a character we know quite well but whose deeper plot threads have been largely ignored, including her constant questioning over whether or not she made the right decision in life to become a teacher. Here we see the male students have begun to idolise her as the sexy teacher we all remember from our adolescence but this sex symbol status is far from her nature and Fuyutsuki is unable to embrace it. Instead her confidence is undermined while the female students rebel against what they see as a threat in quite a distasteful manner that causes Fuyutsuki to return to her roots, with Onizuka along for the ride.
Lesson 20: Love Letters - Murai finds himself with a secret admirer but his only clue to her identity is the initial "F". Onizuka, mildly threatened by the possibility that Murai will find himself a girlfriend first decides to help sniff out the mystery girl using all the tact of a sledgehammer while his further attempts at dating his student’s mother do little to help alleviate the comic duo's antagonistic qualities. An interesting point regarding this fun offering is how the girl in question is referred to as a 'giant' as a result of her height, but at 5'10" you can see why sometimes a more localised translation would benefit western audiences (as 5'10" is not all that uncommon to Western audiences even at 14-15 years of age).
Lesson 21: Revolution Everywhere - The first of the two-part story arc focusing on Fuyutsuki returning to her roots see the boys in her class warm to her fresh young look turning her into something of a sex symbol, much to the distaste of the female students who turn on her dealing out spiteful abuse and demanding she resign. Distraught and once again questioning her decision to teach she runs off to the countryside school she volunteered at during her college years to seek out her original inspiration. Thinking she has left for good Onizuka drags Murai, Urumi and selected others along for the ride (as he cannot afford it!) to bring her back...
Lesson 22: The Art of Demolition - Fuyutsuki's journey back to her roots digs up some new problems as the indiscretion of a local teacher and old friend of hers has caused a rift amongst the relationship Fuyutsuki once had with a student there. Solving this issue is the key to rediscovering her passion for teaching, something which Onizuka is never lacking and helps matters by doing what he does in the way only he can. If that means showing the students feelings always come first and to do this results in risking his life in a building rigged to explode then so be it!
Lesson 23: Superstition - Owing much to the success of Ringu and with many a reference to the hit film this episode takes the cursed chain letter phenomenon and dumps 233 of them in Onizuka's lap. When he burns them all manner of bad fortune heads in his direction and eventually leads Onizuka to believe his time is near, while Fuyutsuki is so concerned for his well being that her true feelings toward him rise to the surface for all to see.
The packaging here is in line with the previous volumes but features one of the better cover designs that utilises a bolder artistic style as seen on occasion in a couple of episodes in this volume. This is an interesting animation choice midway through the series and one that not only works well on screen to enhance key sequences but looks fantastic on the front cover of this volume. The insert features the same artwork and includes the 'Cultural Notes' section on the reverse, which details the local references seen in the series to give us a greater appreciation of the writing.
With one less episode to squeeze onto the dual-layer discs employed by Tokyopop this volume appears to benefit from that extra breathing space and offers some of the best looking episodes yet. Presented in the shows original 4:3 full screen aspect ratio the picture can be a tad soft but for the most part detail levels are good while the print sourced is clean with no glitches to report. Colours too are well defined with no signs of bleeding while the transfer keeps compression artefacts including line shimmering and edge enhancement to a minimum.
As with previous volumes we have both the original and far superior Japanese language track alongside an optional English dub presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo which results in a pleasing audio experience that delivers the goods on this dialogue driven show.
In terms of subtitles we have a literal translation of all dialogue and signs to accompany the Japanese language track that uses the standard yellow font as seen on most R1 releases while a signs only track is also present and intended for use with the English dub option.
Picking up directly where the previous volume left off is the second part of an interview with GTO creator Tohru Fujisawa. Running for just under ten minutes this interview, conducted in Japanese as a restaurant where the creator sits down for a meal with the interviewer, sees the discussion range from New York city life to the creation process of Manga. Though sometimes lacking in focus this is still the most interesting addition to the disc and promises more depth in subsequent instalments.
Other bonus material featured include the Textless Opening and Ending and Previews as seen on previous volumes. Some more GTO Eye Catches are also present for your scrutiny though without any description on the insert (as seen on Volume 2 and 3 but never again since) they are fairly boring static screens full of Japanese text. Rounding out the extras is a one-minute Outtakes reel showing the English dub cast goofing their lines.
The number of episodes included may have been reduced but the overall entertainment value is as high as ever, with the standalone episodes and short two-part story arc seen here proving ideal for repeat viewing.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 13:44:33