Live Like Great Teacher Onizuka

I just finished watching the live action drama version of “GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka”, and I was so moved that I think I can actually say Onizuka changed my life. Like a lot of anime fans, I also really liked the “Great Teacher Onizuka” manga and animated series as well, but there was something about the live action version that touched me in a way that the anime couldn’t. I was on the brink of tears at the climax of almost every episode. I found myself thinking about Onizuka while I wasn’t watching the series, contemplating ways that I can improve myself in his light, or wondering what he would say about my problems and situations.

Who is Onizuka Eikichi?

Onizuka is a biker gang delinquent turned high school teacher. He graduated from a 3rd rate college, he’s not particularly smart or good at studying, but he loves kids and he wants to change the world. What more could you want in a teacher?

What makes Onizuka Eikichi so great?

For starters, how many characters exist in American literature (television, movies or print) who are as inspiring, caring, fun-loving and tough all at the same time as Onizuka? As a character alone, Onizuka is incredibly loveable. He plays video games, he ditches school for “open air lessons”, he shoots fireworks off the roof of the school and he beats the crap out of adults who disrespect his students. He has a condom with the message “CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR FIRST TIME” written on the wrapper, and he’s saving it for his one and only love. He has real a real sense of morality. He’s a fighter when he needs to protect those who are weaker than him, he’s gentle when his people need him to comfort them, and he knows how to practice tough love when his people don’t know what’s best for themselves.

He cries too. Not when he’s sad or upset though, only when he’s happy or he’s going to miss someone who’s gone off chasing their dreams. A real Onizuka-Man doesn’t cry when he can’t get what he wants, he just fights harder until he does. He’ll cry when his student’s accomplish their dreams though, and he’ll cry when they express their studently love for him. And when he cries, he cries with the biggest smile on his face.

What does Onizuka do when someone challenges him? If the challenge is stupid he’ll take it seriously (who can stand still in front of an on-coming truck the longest perhaps?). But if the challenge is serious, he’ll take it like a joke.

“Onizuka-Sensei, if you don’t pass this test, you’ll be fired! What do you have to say about this?!”

“MY HORSE WON! THAT’S $100 IN MY POCKET! YES! I’m sorry, were you talking?”

Or,

“Onizuka-Sensei, if you can’t beat me at Street Fighter, I’ll never acknowledge you as my homeroom teacher!”

“Bring it on! I’m a 5th degree black belt!”

When one of his female students is about to be raped by a bunch of boys, Onizuka ruthlessly pummels them into the ground, and then searches for her lost necklace with her until morning despite a very important appointment first thing in the morning. When one of the boys in his class is being bullied, he hangs the bully over the roof of the school by her feet to teach her what fear feels like. When these kids are in tears and or bloody after his “extra-curricular lessons”, what does Onizuka do? He pats them on the head with a big smile and says “well, there you go, you won’t be doing that again will you?” and walks away.

Most important of all, though; is that Onizuka seriously believes in everyone. He knows that everyone around him has an inherent goodness, even if they’re behaving badly. It’s all temporary to him, he treats them like they’re really just good people who’ve lost their way a little bit and just need a good lesson to open their eyes. Onizuka looks at his students with tears in his eyes and a grin on his face and yells “You guys are all… GREAT!”

If he has a dream, he follows it relentlessly. If his students have dreams, he smacks them around (mentally or physically, whichever works better for the student in question) until they understand how to follow their dreams and DO IT. Life is about dreams to Onizuka. What’s the point of living if you can’t follow you dreams?

What’s Onizuka’s one and only motto in life:

“Whatever you do, be GREAT!”

Those are words we can all live by.

CONCLUSION: I know this drama is old school, but just watch it. It’s pretty much the most inspiring thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I don’t care that Onizuka is fictional, he’s a life changer. I give this series 10/10.

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