Great Teacher Onizuka
Episodes: 43 episodes
Notes: There is also a 12 episode live action series and movie.
An ex-motorcycle gang member decides to become a teacher because he wants to marry a young high school student. When he finally gets a position, Onizuka Eikichi finds himself in charge of a middle school class of delinquents who hate teachers. How will he be able to reach them? With his fists of course!
The animation is about average and rather rough looking. The character designs are in a slightly more realistic anime style, but the characters often morph into grotesque caricatures for comic effect - more disturbingly annoying than funny. Characters are different enough to easily distinguish though there are a couple of girls that can be easily confused. The opening and ending themes were strong, but the background score was just adequate. The voice acting was very good and able to evoke a range of emotions.
22 year old Onizuka Eikichi was once a legendary leader of a powerful street gang in Japan. He decides to become a teacher with the idea of marrying a 16 year old student at the age of 40. Onizuka manages to get a full time teaching job at a private school where he's the homeroom teacher for a middle school class that has driven away his predecessors. He is not your typical teacher and tends to use his fists instead of his brains to solve problems. He seems to care only about girls, but with his charm, determination, understanding of the students, and crazy antics, he is able to break through to each student one by one.
The series is fairly episodic as Onizuka wins over another student after a couple of episodes, and can be enjoyed as such, but is best seen in order to see the gradual grudging transformation of the students, the class, and his fellow teachers. At first this seems to be a typical teacher-student show where Onizuka gradually befriends his students, but the way he deals with them, with a mixture of violence, perversion, luck, and heart is hilarious.
There's a large number of characters (students, teachers and school administrators), but the series gives each enough screen time to develop. There's a lot of heart to the series as each student's tragic past, or bitterness toward society, or family problem is addressed. Onizuka teaches his students to confront their problems head on, sometimes with a sledgehammer.
How much you will like this show depends on how much you like/tolerate ecchi humor and the rather annoying, but oddly likable, main character. The story is often repetitive, where Onizuka is targeted by a student, somehow survives it, finds the root of the student's antipathy, does something crazy to impress the student, then becomes his/her friend. But unlike similar shows, it doesn't go overboard on the mush, and dramatic scenes are undercut by dirty jokes, which is bad if you prefer drama, but fine if you prefer comedy.
Overall, it's fun to watch, some middle episodes feel redundant, and the very end is rather abrupt and you know there must be more to the manga.
Rated PG-13 for language, sexual implications and lots of perverted jokes and panty shots. Recommended more for men than women and couples who don't blush.