GTO the Early Years: Shonan Junai Gumi 1

Tohru Fujisawa, Author , trans. from the Japanese by Christopher North. Tokyopop $12.99 (344p) ISBN 978-1-59816-294-3

This prequel to the immensely popular GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka) actually came out first, but is lesser known. It's a high-school soap opera full of street fighting and unrequited love. The story hits the ground running when we find our two schoolboy heroes—good with their fists but unlucky in love—about to lose their virginity to two college cuties. Of course, they don't; where would the story have to go if they scored in the first few pages? And a good thing this unintentional celibacy turns out to be; those two gorgeous girls are, in fact, teachers at the boys' new high school. Whoops! From these racy beginnings, Eikichi Onizuka and Ryuji try to get even with their teachers, protect their reputations as tough guys and finally get lucky with the females. There's slapstick galore, from an accidentally shaved head disguised with an absurdly large pompadour wig to the more problematic near-rape of one of our heroes. There's also plenty of tear-jerking pathos. This manga offers lots of rowdy high-school fun, with a pleasant absence of shrinking girls and an abundance of good humor. (June)

Reviewed on: 07/10/2006
Release date: 06/01/2006
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