By Toru Fujisawa. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialized in the magazine Weekly Shonen Magazine. Released in North America by Vertical.
It may come as a surprise to those reading GTO 14 Days, and noting its onging bevy of nudity and sexual situations (without any actual sex, of course), that it runs in Weekly Shonen Magazine, a title that supposedly has the same age 10-13 dynamic as its competitors Shonen Jump and Shonen Sunday. But Shonen Magazine skews much older than those two in reality, as readers of Akamatsu’s love comedies and the romantic hijinks of GE Good Ending could tell you. That said, talk to any 10-13 year old boy and I think you’ll find ‘boobies!’ is high on their list of priorities. And it’s not just the nudity: some of the pasts revealed in 14 Days are dark and definitely seem not for kids, but kids their age *do* deal with abuse and abandonment. Best not to sugarcoat it… or at least sugarcoat it with Onizuka’s brand of goofy humor.
It’s all about keeping a balance, and knowing when it’s OK to do action-adventure suspense stuff and when perversion is needed. Onizuka’s own life is balanced this way, as we’ve seen him use toilet humor and lechery as a mask to hide behind when he wants to avoid discussing serious situations. In the case of this volume, however, it’s Ayame and her shattered illusions that provide the humor. She’s gotten a biased sense of Onizuka through Fuyutsuki’s image of him, and was rather taken aback at Shinomi’s violent reaction last time. But here, seeing him ogling her in the bath, running around with his “tackle out”, and seemingly unable to take on assassins in a desperate emergency simply as they’re dressed like strippers, Ayame realizes that Onizuka really is just a horny guy after all.
Which is for the best, as now she can appreciate his better sides even more. It’s not as if knowing the ‘real’ Onizuka stopped Shinomi from falling in love with him, and seeing the brief instance in the hospital when she thinks he’s dead is rather touching, even if it quickly leads back to humor of the “how dare you make me reveal my emotions” variety. And his dogged persistence in helping these kids no matter what, getting them to see that they don’t have to turn out bad, and sheer nigh-invulnerability to physical attacks are also on display here, for those who love it when Onizuka gets badass.
Likewise, the situations these kids are in have to be deepened, or else their lives will be seen by the manga reader as a checklist. “Well, he’s solved Seiya’s problems, so who’s next?” But he hasn’t solved Seiya’s problems. He’s gotten him to think seriously about them, but there’s been pressure Onizuka doesn’t know about (not just twins, but evil twins!) and the end of this volume seems to have come full circle in that we see Seiya ready to confront his stepfather with violence. It’s also a good thing that we not only see a flashback showing the abuse that he suffered at his mom’s boyfriends hands, but also another showing his mother’s abandonment, and how it affected him just as hard. These are complex situations that Onizuka can’t just solve by punching people and giving inspirational speeches. Well, not ENTIRELY by that, at least.
Another cliffhanger for this volume, but I expect that nxt time we’ll move on to the twins Riko and Miko, who look to be even harder to get through to. (The twins are apparently popular in Japan – they got their own spinoff after 14 Days ended.) But for manga about inspirational, never say die teachers who nevertheless cannot resist looking at naked women, there’s no better than GTO.