GTO: Outcasts (Volume 3) Review
From the rear cover: Meet Eikichi Onizuka, a 22-year-old college karate champ and ex-biker. He's crude, foul mouthed, and has a hair-trigger temper. His goal: to be the Greatest High School Teacher in the World!
And so we are on to volume 3 of this 10 volume series with Onizuka now firmly established as an unconventional yet inspiring teacher amongst the majority of his students and a blundering idiot to the rest and the majority of the staff. The five episodes found here further the series and focus on two specific sub-plots that see two existing characters developed for future use and an all new character brought into the fray to pose a threat to both Onizuka and his love interest (though she is still refusing to acknowledge this) Fuyutsuki-sensei.
The last episode from Volume 2 saw Miyabi use Nomura Tomoko to land Onizuka in trouble but when Tomoko made a mistake Miyabi cast her out from the group she is essentially the head of. The first two episodes found on this disc build upon this Miyabi-Tomoko relationship and is very similar to that seen in the TV Drama as it offers great comedy combined with several touching scenes that like most of the Onizuka stories, will be familiar to you either directly or in-directly through your own life experiences. So yes there is a lesson in life here but unlike your typical Western teen show that does it with sick bags on standby GTO is blessed with quality scripting and that killer sense of humour firmly rooted throughout.
For the last three episodes of this disc we are introduced to the schools mathematics teacher Teshigawara-sensei. The story told here is slightly different and certainly more protracted than the TV Drama offering, though at this mid point in said plot strand it is hard to see just where it is going and how they will eventually resolve one of the less satisfactory offerings in the live action version (that for me used a far too simple resolution considering the gravity of subject matter). It was also interesting to see how (unless my memory is failing me) Teshiguwara is himself far more troubled in this anime version of the show thanks to the spoilt brat he tutors who through a combination of upbringing, her parents status and that general effect women can have on men knows how to control and torture them.
In between these sub-plots the often-hilarious antics of Onizuka and friends continue developing as we have come to expect from the show. Arch enemy Vice Principal Uchiyamada is continually terrorised by Onizuka and bears the grunt of many a practical joke while episode 13 in particular sees a classic stand off between the pair as they shout each other down from the tops of their voices when just mere inches away from one another. On the other hand Murai is becoming Onizukas protégé as his short tempered nature makes him very similar to Onizuka who in turn realises this and is always deliberately agitating him, which of course makes for great comedy as the pair always spark each other off. In terms of the ongoing hints of romance between Fuyutsuki and Onizuka, well these are played out more directly over the episodes found on this disc as Fuyutsuki begins to realise just how much she enjoys work now that Onizuka is there. This results in some telling scenes thanks to the wisdom of the school Chairlady though the best aspects of the relationship are brought out on the final episode on the disc when Onizuka takes Fuyutsuki's invite of staying at her place to mean the exact opposite of her intentions. The extreme faces of Onizuka come out in droves for this episode as we see him caressing her panties (from her underwear draw!), fantasising about 'Love Study' sessions and so much more.
Lesson 10: Outside Looking In - After the events of the previous episode Onizuka is now aware of the challenge he faces in the form of Miyabi, but of even more concern to him is the relationship between Miyabi and Tomoko. Referred to by her classmates as Toroko, or 'slow girl', Tomoko is someone who treasures her friendship with Miyabi from a young age, but is now learning that her 'simple' ways hurt Miyabai's cool image and is finding herself outcast from the group. Onizuka witnesses all of this while performing his best (and of course, hilarious) Shinobi impression and sets out to teach Tomoko an important lesson.
Lesson 11: To Be Idolized By A Nation - So just what is Onizuka's answer to Tomoko's lack of self-esteem, just how does he plan to convince her it is not right to be happy living in the shadows of those everyone tells her are better than she is? Well of course he throws her head first into an Idol contest where she will be competing with her own personal idol Miyabi! By doing this Tomoko is forced to face her fears in the public eye and to make her peace with Miyabi's cruel change of heart while Onizuka gets to take his class on a fieldtrip to a beauty pageant, much to vice principle Uchiyamada's disgust.
Lesson 12: The Formula For Treachery - Another storyline from the TV Drama comes into play as we see that Fuyutsuki has a second admirer at the school (the first being Onizuka) in the form of Mathematics teacher Teshigawara. Despite his gentle look and kind persona we are led to believe that something is amiss from the very start of the episode that is presented via a series of snapshots of Fuyutsuki. As it turns out Teshigawara is a 1st class graduate who despises those with lesser qualifications (Onizuka) and someone who is currently obsessed with Fuyutski who he stalks day and night with an aim to make her his and protect her from other men (Onizuka!).
Lesson 13: Only The Best Will Do - Bizarre costumes, classic extreme Onizuka as he faces off against Uchiyamada, kinky foot licking and spanking - this episode has it all! The second in this strand of Teshigawara focused episodes shows how his mind is still as deviant as ever making him take extreme measures to make Fuyutsuki his. Before he can even get close to her though Teshigawara has realised that he must remove Onizuka from the picture. To do this he acquires the help of a school study group and eventually puts Onizuka in a situation that will not only see him fired, but also humiliated if he fails the test they have set - the Togaku Junior High trial exam.
Lesson 14:Between A Rock And A Hard Place - With only a week to go before the big test Fuyutsuki decides to help Onizuka and invites him to stay at her place for a week so she can teach him all he needs to pass the exam. Of course education is the last thing on Onizuka's mind, which makes for an episode literally dripping with double entendres, Onizuka's animated fantasies (Love Study is a classic!) and enough scenes to fill the 'Gone Wild' extra feature section alone. Teshigawara on the other hand takes a back seat for this episode though he is still involved, as is the girl he tutors who after offering Onizuka a way out of this mess finds herself in a situation that brings this volume to a close with a cliff-hanger.
With a design now firmly settled upon Volume 3 of GTO offers no surprises in the packaging department or in terms of Menu design, all of which is reminiscent of previous volumes in the series and that means a pleasing design and menu interface. Continuing from where Volume 2 left off Tokyopop have included further Cultural Notes for each of the episodes on the insert. I highly recommend you make a point of reading these through before each episode as they will help you to understand the less obvious humour present throughout the show in the form of varied Japanese cultural references and different meanings to Japanese words. Also present on the Insert are explanations to the 'Eye Catches' as found in the Extra Features section of the disc.
Again not much has changed since the previous volumes as we see the show presented in its original 1.33:1 (4:3) full screen aspect ratio and utilising a generally spotless print. Detail and colours are well rendered with some of the more inventive and artistic moments looking quite superb. The only area of some bother is that of the compression which, after 3 volumes of close watching is starting to show its weaknesses more often with unstable lines, edge enhancement and some ghosting all visible on occasion. While these faults hardly affect your enjoyment of the show it would be preferable to see some improvements in future volumes as the dual layered discs in use can easily provide the show with the space it requires for the very best in video quality.
The original Japanese language audio is presented here in DD2.0 Stereo and sounds exactly as you would expect a stereo track too, perfectly good though hardly any challenge for your sound system. An English Dub option is also present in DD2.0 Stereo and offers the same viewing experience in technical terms, and while its not bad for a dub I always opt for the original language track myself.
Accompanying the Japanese audio are a set of optional English subtitles presented using an easy to read yellow font with a thin black outline. The translation appears to be very good and as you might expect from a Region 1 offering there are no signs of spelling or grammatical errors to be found. A second subtitle track is available that only translates the written Japanese found within the show and is intended for use with the English Dub option.
The Textless Opening, Textless Ending, and Previews have already featured on previous discs in the GTO series so are only here for completists while the next instalment of Gone Wild (a selection of 'classic Onizuka' moments from these 5 episodes) is nothing to write home about. In fact the only slightly interesting new material are 4 screens of original artwork and a further 8 'Eye Catches' that are little more than still picture TV adverts that occasionally include a voice-over to promote the show. Although both sections are worth a quick look through they are unlikely to offer much in the way of repeat viewing after the 5-minutes you spend on them the first time.
GTO continues to entertain as it combines solid drama with a near constant stream of often hilarious gags and shows no signs of letting up at this relatively early stage in its 43 episode run. The DVD is a solid effort though it lacks that special something, but as it offers good value for money at five episodes per disc it becomes a recommended purchase all round.
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