Otaku USA Magazine
GTO: 14 Days in Shonan vol. 1

Cracking open Vertical Inc.’s release of GTO: 14 Days in Shonan brought back a lot of manga memories, specifically of Tokyopop’s early-2000s publication of Toru Fujisawa’s Great Teacher Onizuka manga, to which this serves as a follow-up. Most importantly, it reminded me why I used to love GTO so much, despite the original hitting a somewhat lackluster dip as the 25-volume series got deeper into its run.

14 Days in Shonan immediately lands lead rabble-rousing teacher Eikichi Onizuka in hot water. After he goes on a TV show and blabs about almost burying a student alive during a segment about teachers and their otherwise innocent pranks, he finds himself fleeing the public eye and looking for a place to lay low for a couple weeks. That place is none other than his old stomping grounds, the surfers’ paradise of Shonan.

Naturally, it only takes a few footsteps into Shonan for Onizuka to get mixed up in the conflicts of others, but his powers don’t merely extend to causing a ruckus. Thanks to his noteworthy charms, he finds a place to stay with a young caregiver struggling to run a foster home full of troubled teens, and she could use Onizuka’s magic touch. There are other places he’d like to use his “magic touch,” especially with the promise of posting up in a dormitory with the pair of attractive ladies in charge, but he also genuinely wants to use his powers to turn these wayward youths in the right direction.

Nothing could prepare Onizuka for just how nasty some of these kids are, and all the sexual fantasies in the world can’t possibly make it worth putting up with Katsuragi, a girl determined to get rid of him as quickly as possible. Therein lies the chief conflict of 14 Days in Shonan, and the high stakes teaching situation is set up wonderfully. Dealing with Katsuragi’s plots and schemes—most of which end violently—offers the perfect stage for Onizuka to do what he does best. The pace is brisk, the comedy is spot-on GTO, and the facial expressions are as exaggerated and lovingly rendered as ever.

Those facial contortions are precisely where Toru Fujisawa’s greatest skills lie. He can twist and morph Onizuka’s face into ape-like grimaces, blank ghost gazes, and stone-cold tough guy staring contests, all on the same page. A lot of the comedy comes not from what’s going on around or happening to Onizuka, but how he reacts to it all.

GTO: 14 Days in Shonan runs in Kodansha’s Weekly Shonen Magazine, and it gets away with being a little raunchy and kind of violent without being totally over-the-top in either respect. Despite this taking place after GTO, newcomers will still be able to appreciate the story, and should have a pretty good grip on the character of Onizuka after the first chapter or two. Established fans will definitely get more out of it, but there’s enough fun here to “open the doors of all hearts,” as Onizuka himself would put it.

Publisher: Vertical Inc.

Story & Art: Toru Fujisawa

© 2012 Toru Fujisawa