Twenty-two-year-old Eikichi Onizuka—ex-biker gang leader, conqueror of Shonan, and virgin—has a dream: to become the greatest high school teacher in all of Japan. This isn't because of a passion for teaching, but because he wants a loving teenage wife when he's old and gray. Still, for a perverted, greedy, and lazy delinquent, there is more to Onizuka than meets the eye. So when he lands a job as the homeroom teacher of the Class 3-4 at the prestigious Holy Forest Academy—despite suplexing the Vice Principal—all of his talents are put to the test, as this class is particularly infamous. Due to their utter contempt for all teachers, the class' students use psychological warfare to mentally break any new homeroom teacher they get, forcing them to quit and leave school. However, Onizuka isn't your average teacher, and he's ready for any challenge in his way. Bullying, suicide, and sexual harassment are just a few of the issues his students face daily. By tackling the roots of their problems, Onizuka supports them with his unpredictable and unconventional methods—even if it means jumping off a building to save a suicidal child. Thanks to his eccentric charm and fun-loving nature, Class 3-4 slowly learns just how enjoyable school can be when you're the pupils of the Great Teacher Onizuka. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
Great Teacher Onizuka had some potential, but all of the humor is repetitive and juvenile, while unrealistic dramatic scenes dominate the plot more and more as the series drags on. It basically fails on both fronts. Plot points and devices are reused to the point where they become dull, and they get increasingly ridiculous as the series progresses. Not in a good way, of course. Holy melodrama, batman! This anime is chock full of bullshit backstories that are supposed to make us go “awwwwww, they’re not a bad guy/girl after all!” by the way. Yeah, it’s definitely as irritating and ineffective as it sounds.
Character development is unfortunately absent from the personality of our bland douche of a protagonist, and he is pretty much the same annoying dumbass for the whole duration of the plot. His way of solving issues with students is completely unrealistic, and while this is sometimes acknowledged and played for laughs, it takes itself seriously far too often. He’s pretty much just there for wish-fulfillment, plain and simple. As for his students, all developments in them come off as completely forced and contrived. Plus, almost all of them are blatant archetypes, who have some deep-seated reason to “bawww nvr trust a teacher again!” to boot. Why should we care about anything bad that threatens to happen when we already know that the Mary Sue genius cool handsome hacker boy can fix all problems that come up easily? Another telling issue with the characterization is that just about all men above the age of twenty are, for whatever reason, portrayed as disgusting perverts. This may be a reflection on Fujisawa himself, given the large amount of poorly-placed fanservice. All antagonists in this series start off completely one-dimensional and unrealistically evil, but they then get some sob-story tacked onto their character and their personality changes completely. That is simply not proper character development.
The art is easily the weakest aspect. Almost everybody has the same exact face; you know, that one face that Fujisawa Tohru recycles endlessly in everything he does. The only face he knows how to draw, basically. Great Teacher Onizuka largely depends on visual humor for its value as a comedy, but all of the “hilarious” facial expressions were used over and over again, when they were never really funny in the first place. At the same time, they contribute heavily to my inability to take Great Teacher Onizuka seriously. The rest of the visual humor is just somewhat lame and, man, I hope you like seeing Onizuka’s ass, because you’re going to be getting a lot of that. The animation is nothing special, and any flaws with it are completely overshadowed by the horrendous art.
All of the claims made by Great Teacher Onizuka’s rabid defenders about its “societal commentary” are completely untrue. Bullying is not dealt with much better, more interestingly, or realistically than in many other works I have seen. Furthermore, I failed to see what it actually criticized about the education system, other than the fact that not enough teachers are violent gangsters. This theme continues with just about everything else it supposedly comments on. It either just features these things in a cliché manner or does not really say much about them at all. There is no depth to Great Teacher Onizuka; it is just a simple drama and comedy. This would be fine did it do either of those things right, but, alas, it did not.
I have no idea as to why this anime is so highly regarded. It is just not very good, plain and simple. I get second-hand embarrassment when watching all of those sentimental scenes about teaching, and then I have to wonder why Great Teacher Onizuka didn’t just stick to comedy. Then I remember that it wasn’t funny and I think to myself “ah, that explains it.” GTO started out as a decent parody of all of those stupid shows with a super-teacher who helps his students work out all of their problems and wins their hearts in the process, but it eventually fell victim to self-indulgence and became a stupid story in the same vein. It contributed nothing new nor anything of real value to the genres of school life, comedy, or drama. It never made me laugh out loud, and it never evoked any kind of physical or emotional response. Not in a good way, at least. At its best, it’s okay. At its worst, it’s goddamn painful.