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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rebel With A GTO

Vincent sent me a link to a Japanese live-action television program called GTO - which is not about the old American muscle car of the 60s and 70s (the Gran Turismo Omologato - the omologato being a made up word, I think.)

Instead it is about Great Teacher Onizuka.

It was originally a Japanese shōnen manga written and illustrated by Fujisawa Tohru (surname first). It was originally serialized in Weekly Shōnen Magazine from May 1997 to April 2002. The story focuses on 22-year-old ex-bōsōzoku member Eikichi Onizuka, who becomes a teacher at a private middle school, Holy Forest Academy, in Tokyo, Japan.

The first TV series was 12-episodes running from July to September 1998; a live-action from 1999; and a three-episode anime (cartoon) television series from June 1999 to September 2000. There appears to have been another series in 2012 - it too a drama... but the one I love, is the new one from 2014... a comedy!

The other series all appear to be a drama... with heavy crap going on.

Onizuka Eikichi (surname first) is a bad boy student, who, when he grows up comes back to his old high school to teach. Hmm... it sounds like the plot to the old American TV series: Welcome Back Kotter.

Here's part 1 of the very first episode. If you are looking for more episodes, make sure it's from 2014.

My pal Vincent sent me a link to this 2014 show, but really, two days later the link no longer worked and all the full episodes appear to have been deleted from YouTube. Buggers.

Heck, Onizuka's name translates to  鬼 (oni) = devil and 塚(tsuka/zuka) = mound/tumulus - so you know he's trouble.

As far as bad boys go, he seems pretty wimpy, but that adds to his likeability. The point is, however, is that he is not your conventional teacher in Japan... and that makes him stick out like a nail that needs to be hammered down.

I know what that is like. Even as a foreigner in Japan, I wasn't your typical foreigner. Being of Indian descent (dot not the feather), and considering myself as Canadian as any Canadian out there, I didn't fit the stereotype of your typical white American foreign teacher - and that's fine. The Japanese and the rest of the gaijin community never held it against me as much as some people in Canada did. True dat.

But that's not a complaint. I'm just saying that to me, the Japanese seemed more accepting of me and of who I was then anyone else had at that point in time in my life. But, the same patience offered t myself and other foreigners does not extend to the Japanese themselves.

I should point out that I'm not one to play the race card or scream racism at every misstep. My friends never treated me as a gaijin, and for the most part, despite being a foreigner in a foreign land - Japan - I was treated pretty damn well.

As for GTO and myself... I never quite met a Japanese teacher like him in my three years. I think two of us teaching a class would have been fun, but complete anarchy.

Now, while I never decided to become a teacher until I was 39-years-old (couldn't get in to teacher's college), I was certainly still a virgin at 22 - much as GTO was purported to be in the earlier versions of the TV and manga series. At 25, in fact, I was a virgin until just after two weeks in Japan.

Why do you think I have such fond memories of the place?

 Japan was Disney Land for horny sorta adults.

I was never an ex-gang-member, unless you count the Five Terrors, my cadre of friends who tormented the white middle-class areas of Etobicoke, now a part of Toronto.We never had a gang name - that's how cool we were.

As nine-year-olds (some of us, and younger), we would wake up during the summer months and disappear from our homes by 9AM and come home by 6PM… after riding our bikes some 20-kilometers each way to downtown Toronto. No one knew where we were, but we'd go and do all the rebel stuff like shop-lifting or swiping chrome air caps from cars and putting them on our bikes. In between we'd read comic books, eat Lolas, drink Fresca and climb trees. You know… rebel stuff.

In Japan as a junior high school assistant English teacher (AET) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme living in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken between 1990-1993 I was a bit of an enigma.

I was a bit like GTO… a rebel with a cause. The cause being to get laid. Not with my students, of course, but with any female of legal drinking age.

What's the legal drinking age in Japan? Twenty?! As a 26-year-old, I did screw a 34 and 44-year-old, but aside from all the 20-somethings, I did spend an evening with an 18-year-old, but she worked as a ... I have no idea what her job was, but she was a high school graduate living in Tokyo. She might have been a hostess or a porn star.

For the record, I dumped her for a Japanese English teacher I met the very next day. That would be Noboko, or a spelling variation there of. 

Crap! Forget that drinking age thing! How about I was just trying to get laid with any female adult - but Japanese and or foreigner. I wasn't picky. I just wanted sex.

I'm much more picky nowadays… I have to respect you at least in the brains and looks department if I am even going to want to be your friend, let alone have sex with you. Yeah, I'm talking to you!

I have no idea who I'm talking to or even what I'm talking about. Why don't you grunt me your name?

Anyhow... enough of that, come back tomorrow and I'll describe myself as both rebel and a toe-the line dude.

In the mean time, go and watch GTO. I'm not going to Judge your humor.

Andrew Joseph

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