GTO: 14 Days in Shonan, Vol. 3

By Toru Fujisawa. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialized in the magazine Weekly Shonen Magazine. Released in North America by Vertical.

After an action-packed 2nd volume of GTO, it’s time to take a breather and get back to some lighter stuff before we gear up for the next broken teen who Onizuka has to save. And hey, didn’t Shiratori-san say that there was someone else who worked at the White Swan? Who was even prettier than her? Could this possibly be the overture to… some romance?

Well, no. This is Eikichi Onizuka, so whenever romance rears its ugly head, he turns into the immature idiot that he is. (Yes, he’s also a heartwarming badass, but hey, facets.) First he tries his hand at seducing Shiratori-san via some red wine, which is a little creepy but it becomes clear that he’s not really going to follow through on it unless she’s awake and willing… okay, no, it’s creepy no matter what. Then when she falls asleep, he falls back on peeping on the other caretaker in the house, who we haven’t met before… or so we think. Much to his surprise and ours, the other caretaker turns out to be his old not-girlfriend Shinomi Fujisaki, who is, as you might imagine, displeased at Onizuka ogling her nude.

It’s great seeing Shinomi back in the storyline, as she makes a good love-interest contrast to Azusa Fuyutsuki from the GTO series proper. Whereas Azusa tends to be ‘he’s sort of a weirdo, but I can see the good heart inside of him’, Shinomi is very much in the ‘I’ve always seen the good heart, but WHY IS HE SUCH A FREAK’ school of lovers. As you might expect, Onizuka walking back into her life after disappearing years ago confuses the hell out of her, and she responds via violence in the best tsundere way. (Onizuka, who is very similar to her, responds by changing the subject and being over the top goofy, which we’ve already seen tends to be his way of avoiding serious issues.) I don’t expect much to be resolved here – this takes place during GTO proper, which didn’t resolve any romances – but it’s sweet to see them reunite.

As for the rest of the manga, we’ve resolved the parental problems that Miki had, and now that we know that she was merely the easiest ‘villain’ to take down, we know it’s only going to get worse. So we get a flashback to another resident of the White Swan, Ikuko, and her abusive mother, who was so bad social services had to step in. This is probably one of the best written parts of the entire volume, as it really gets into the ambiguous feelings kids have when their loved ones abuse them – and the stoic acceptance that it’s their fault for not being “good enough”. I’m not sure we’ll see more of Ikuko’s life later on, but I do hope that she manages to come to terms with her upbringing.

Then there’s Seiya, who would appear to be the next ‘project’ for Onizuka to fix. And once again, we see how Onizuka works – forcing the kids to ‘go too far’ in order to show them that deep down they really don’t want to take the final steps towards darkness. All of these manga – GTO, Shonan Jun’ai Gumi, and this spinoff – stem from the same genre of Japanese manga, which are about teenagers and family, and how much they feel abandoned and helpless. If Onizuka can help these kids reconnect emotionally, on any level, he’s going to do it. And it would appear that the fourth volume will be another action-filled one.

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