GTO: The Early Years, Vol. 14

By Toru Fujisawa. Released in Japan as “Shonan Jun’ai Gumi” by Kodansha, serialized in the magazine Weekly Shonen Magazine. Released in North America by Vertical.

One of the things I’ve always liked about the GTO franchise, be it Shonan Jun’ai Gumi or GTO or Shonan 14 Days, is its insistence on taking responsibility for your own actions while at the same time not letting that destroy your dreams. Onizuka choosing to become a teacher may have had a lecherous motivation at the start, but it’s been proven time and time again that his ability to motivate jaded young minds and make them see there are other ways is second to none. And it’s also seen here in the earlier title, as we meet Nao Kadena, a former young punk who drove around in fast cars and on fast bikes (because there was nothing else to do, of course) who is now returning as a teacher in order to motivate these kids to get better grades… by any means necessary.

Onizuka here is fairly admirable throughout. Even if he’s attracted to Nao and thinking with his genitals as usual, he still notes that there’s something off about her, and resolves to dig a bit deeper and find out (and if he happens to see her naked, well, bonus). It’s this desire to understand and help others that makes him such an attractive shonen hero, and helps us to understand why girls actually do fall for him.

Then we have the second half of the book, which opens with a scene which reminds you why, even if he has a lot of girls falling for him, he’s still a virgin. After being mocked by Ryuuji, who is off for a secret date with Nagisa (still locked up by her parents, I believe), Onizuka decides to lose his virginity once and for all. So he climbs 12 stories up to Shinomi’s apartment, breaks into her bedroom, removes her panties and prepares to rape her in her sleep. Now, I know this was meant to be played for comedy. I also get that Shinomi woke up, beat the shit out of him, and that everyone regards him as a complete idiot for these actions. But holy crap, Shonen Magazine! What kind of heroes are you rolling out here?

Of course, we can also guess he probably wouldn’t have been able to go through with it. When he meets up with a genuinely cute girl later at a karaoke bar, who seems to be almost too good to be true. Taking her to a love hotel, he confesses his desire, and she’s willing to sleep with him… but is clearly doing it because he wants to, not due to any feeling on her part. This stops Onizuka cold, and he walks out, noting that he wants his first time to have some sort of love behind it. (That sound you heard was my neck breaking from the whiplash from three chapters ago to this point.) This touches her, and so over the course of the next few days the two begin a genuine romance – much to Shinomi’s annoyance (yes, she still has a crush on him despite everything).

Of course, the final pages seem to indicate that this romance won’t last. I’m not actually sure if this will end in a comedic way or will be another ‘Onizuka saves a lost soul and teaches them to dream again’ sort of climax. We will see in Vol. 15, the final volume in the series. Till then, enjoy Onizuka, seen here at his best and worst.

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  1. So…is it wrong that I have GTO Early Years vol 1-13…and haven’t read any of them? I plan to get 14 and 15 and read it all then. I just wonder why I haven’t already read it (I’ve read a few chapters of volume 1)


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