Sun, 17 August 2008
Manga Review of GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka Volume 8 by Tohru Fujisawa. Translated and adapted by Dan Papia. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Older Teen 16+.
Tohru Fujisawa starts Volume 8 of GTO out pretty cleverly by doing a whole chapter from Onizuka's first person point of view. In fact, we never even hear him talk. All the dialogue comes from Saejima, one of his old motorcycle gang buddies that holds an even more surprising job than GTO. Saejima is a cop! But he's not above swiping seized drugs and hiring call girls. He's probably not the best guy to go to in times of moral crisis. But Onizuka is desperate. He's being driven crazy by Urumi Kanzaki, the legendary school terrorist that GTO almost buried alive last volume. She's basically made him her slave by threatening to tell the authorities about the incident. GTO is looking for a way out of the situation or to reach Urumi and turn her to the good side. Or to at least make her value her life. You see, Urumi lost her faith in not only teachers, but in humanity and life in general back in the 6th grade. GTO and some other students, including Urumi, run into Ms. Fujimori, her 5th and 6th grade teacher. Back then, Urumi was recognized as being gifted and talented with a genius level IQ, and she never caused any trouble. Ms. Fujimori did something pretty horrible to her due to her lack of maturity and teaching experience that has caused a wound inside Urumi that continues to fester to this day. It's up to GTO to heal her soul and, as he quite eloquently states, "open up her butthole", to let out all the crap that she's been holding inside of herself.
The cool thing about GTO besides all the great art, vulgarity, and humor, is the fact that it takes up some pretty powerful issues that continue to be argued about in education and probably always will be. This volume takes up the debate about whether teachers coming out of college with no experience are equipped to deal with gifted and talented students. Fujisawa appears to give a big NO as the answer to this question. Everyone can probably recall a classmate sometime during their school career that always seemed to have the answer to a teacher's question. You might have also encountered someone that seemed SMARTER than your teacher as well. Some of them would even argue with the teacher when they found something wrong with their reasoning or a fact they found erroneous. The fact is that a lot of really smart kids are BORED in a typical public school. In the best case, these kids should be placed in more advanced classes, or if they must stay in a regular class, the teacher has to give them more intellectually challenging activities. Ms. Fujimori found herself ill equipped to serve Urumi's needs and started to resent her because she began to fear that maybe Urumi was smarter than her because she came from a second rate college. A teacher should never belittle a student because of their own insecurities. Tohru Fujisawa continues to crank out volume after volume of comedy, drama, action, outstanding art, and great theses on what is wrong with the current state of government run, assembly line education models. Excellent series.
My Grade: A