Today is the 3rd day that I’m listening only to Poison by Sorimachi Takashi AKA the theme to GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka) Live Action Series. Okay, okay, I listened to his other song last night (in YouTube), but only to know how his voice sounds like when he’s singing something else. I haven’t listened to any other artist since. And so, I think something is seriously wrong with me.
I don’t know what it is. Admittedly, GTO is not the best drama I’ve seen. Sorimachi Takashi is not the best artist I’ve known. Poison is not the best song I’ve heard. But for some reason (maybe the combination of all three) I’m so obsessed with all of it, and everything related to it. Like Matsushima Nanako. She’s the lead actress in GTO, and is Sorimachi Takashi’s wife, so I’m researching about her as well (even considering watching Ringu again, just to see her! (And you know how scared I am of Ringu.)). And the rest of the cast, Kubozuka Yosuke, and Oguri Shun, although I’ve known about them for a long time, it’s only now that I’m really curious about what’s happening to them. (It’s easy in the case of Oguri Shun, hello, Hana Kimi. But Kubozuke Yosuke doesn’t have as much exposure.)
Anyway, this is probably going to be my review of the drama series. I just finished watching it last night including the special episode), but I still haven’t seen the movie yet (I’m saving that for later). Reading the reviews of GTO, I can understand why most people give it a 10/10 score, or say it “The BEST DRAMA EVAR!!!” For most people (at least those on the internet, and aren’t Japanese), this is the first J-drama they’ve seen. So naturally, they’ll fall in love with it, just like how I fell in love with Hana Yori Dango (because that’s the first J-drama I’ve watched). It’s got the right elements to make a good show after all– quirky characters, interesting situations, unorthodox ways of solving problems, and a love story between two people unlikely to get together in real life (in this case, the goody-two-shoes girl and the bad-boy). But other than that, I think the reason that this is one of the greatest series ever (I read somewhere that when the last episode was aired in Japan, it was the most watched show on TV ever in Japan’s history), is because they hit everything, every aspect, perfect.
The co-teachers, for one, are all very interesting both individually, and as a collective. Onizuka had a line that went “So there’s bullying among the teachers, too.” I think it’s just so clever that they chose to show the different sides of the faculty as well, rather than having everyone gang up on just Onizuka, because they showed everyone’s individual reasons for not liking him, it makes their ploys to get him fired all the more believable. The only one I don’t understand really is the director. I mean yeah, she’s unorthodox and that’s why she hired Onizuka, but I kind of wished that she treated the other teachers fairly. It’s maybe because of her favoritism that the others really hated Onizuka. In this aspect, I like what they did better in Dragon Zakura, wherein the director was so sad about her husband’s death that she made weird decisions that no one could understand. That was more believable to me.
The characters of the students are great as well. They only focused on a few of them, but let’s face it, you can’t solve each and every problem of each and every one of your students, you’ll have to prioritize those whose problems are bigger than the rest of the class, right? So for me, it was okay how Onizuka was only really close to some students, and the rest of the class just followed. Isn’t that how it is with big groups anyway?
I think that their angst was just right for their age, and their bullying, and how their feelings manifest, was all very interesting, and touching. Even their attitude towards teachers (or grown-ups in general) that developed when their friend died, is something that makes the story work. If there’s a good enough reason for it, you can justify anyone’s actions, right? Like Ashiya disguising herself as a boy, and flying halfway across the world to go to an all-boys school, can be justified by her passion and her belief that her idol shouldn’t quit sports.
The ones whose reasons I didn’t understand actually, were Fuyutsuki-sensei (Matsushima Nanako), although this could be attributed by her being confused as to how she feels for Onizuka. Maybe she did fall in love with him on sight when she first saw him at the school entrance, but didn’t know then what she felt, and that’s why she kept helping him throughout the series, despite not having a need to. I’ve always believed anyway that you’ll know that someone likes you when they do things for you that they don’t need to, i.e. Fuyutsuki-sensei prepping Onizuka for his exam, talking to the rest of the faculty to defend Onizuka’s actions, etc.
And Onizuka. His reasons for becoming a teacher was never fully explored, but because he’s already such a bold character, who’s made it clear by all his actions that he doesn’t care what anyone thinks, then he gets away with things like that. And he did say something that seemed like a reason for wanting to become a teacher: He used to be a bully in high school, and hardly attended class. Now that he’s older (and presumably wiser), he regrets not having enjoyed his school days, and so he wants to be a teacher, so he can spend more time in school. I don’t know about you, but I actually think that this reason is good enough.
My absolute favorite moments were: (Skip this part if you don’t like spoilers.)
> Onizuka and Fuyutsuki moments: Talking on the phone, chasing each other around campus, eating dinner together, Onizuka saving her from the stalker-teacher, Onizuka carrying her around… Their romance is so high school. I love it. And I give them plus points for having been able to equate a condom with romance. That’s something no other show has done. My most favorite part (apart from the cute phone call) of the two of them is the airport scene. Wah, this I guess blows my cover as a jaded cynic and lets everyone see how much of a hopeless romantic I am: I just love those big “airport” scenes. Seriously. Onizuka standing at the tarmac, shouting at the plane for Fuyutsuki to come down, and Fuyutsuki running into his open arms… Waaahh!! Would’ve been way cooler if it were sunset, but that’s already a bit much. So the way it played in the drama was just right. XD
> Onizuka tearing down the wall of his student’s house: This being the first big dramatic scene, it does a good job of establishing Onizuka’s character.
> All the Kikuchi (Kubozuka Yosuke) scenes: He’s my favorite of the students! I loved it when he played the tape to prove that Miyabi was bullying Noburo. I even liked it when he got beat up by street thugs. Haha. I’m no sadist, but he totally deserved it, being so arrogant and self-righteous. And I’m glad he didn’t turn into a disappointing character, even until the Special episode, where he becomes the boyfriend of their classmate who became an idol (Tomoko). I think that pairing was brilliant.
> The school festival: I was actually waiting for this scene, because there’s always a school festival in high school dramas, right? I guess it’s really a big part of the high school experience, and I am so glad they saved this part for last. It was all just way way… brilliant. (Yes, I’ve run out of positive adjectives.)
And for my absolute favorite scene, I decided to post a screenshot:
Nah, I’m kidding of course. This isn’t my absolute favorite scene. But it’s just so kakkoi, I had to post it. Well, it’s my favorite in the opening credits. And that part where his back is to the camera, and he’s walking towards the school, too. That’s also a great scene. I totally loved the Opening Credits of this series. What the heck, right?! Who falls in love with the “opening credits”!?!? But… but… Sorimachi Takahshi is just so *swoons* 8) … There are no words.
So, even if I’m saying that my “unbiased” opinion is that this isn’t the best J-drama ever, I’m still giving it 10/10 because the level of enjoyment (not to mention obsession) is that high. Maybe even higher. I’ve been listening to its theme song for 3 days straight, haven’t I?