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GTO: The Early Years – Shonan Junai Gumi vol. 1 by Tohru Fujisawa (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

June 13, 2006 by  



“GTO: The Early Years – Shonan Junai Gumi vol. 1” is a prequel to “Great Teacher Onizuka” that features a perverted, mature storyline that I found to be entertaining, humorous but also crazy and fun!  Recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 1991 Tohru Fujisawa. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: GTO: The Early Years – Shonan Junai Gumi Vol. 1 (湘南純愛組!)

STORY AND ART BY: Tohru Fujisawa (藤沢 とおる)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kodansha Ltd.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Tokyo Pop

RATED: M for Mature

Available on June 13, 2006

The prequel to GTO!

 

Before Ekichi Onizuka would become the “Greatest Teacher in the World,” he and Ryuji Danma were members of infamous biker gang, Oni Baku. When not out riding around and getting into trouble, this duo could be found in school, trying to pick up young women!

Before Tohru Fujisawa went on to create the 1998 Kodansha Manga Award winning manga series “Great Teacher Onizuka” (also known as “GTO”), which would go on to have a sequel and two live action drama series and an anime series, there was “Shonan Junai Gumi” (which translates to “The Pure Love Gang from Shonan”), the series which first feature the famous GTO character, Eikichi Onizuka.

The 31 volume manga series was released in the US from March 1990 through December 1996 and now the first volume will be released in the U.S. courtesy of Tokyo Pop as a deluxe edition (featuring the first two volumes).

The mature manga series focuses on two teenagers, Eikichi Onizuka and Ryuji Danma, a.k.a. the feared Oni-Baku Duo!  Two feared gangsters that ruled Kyokuto High School in Kanagawa’s Shonan district.

Because the two are virgins, both decide not to drop out but to change curriculum and start a new life away from being involved in a gang but focusing on getting girls and most importantly, getting laid.

For their first test, both Eikichi and Ryuji both decide to go to a summer resort where there will be many women in bikinis.

The two end up meeting two beautiful women, Mariko and Ayumi, who are college students, so the two high school teenagers pretend to be waiters who are working at the resort but are pre-med students.

And after a night of heavy drinking, both come very close to losing their virginity with the two women but instead, both end up getting sick and losing their big opportunity.

But as the two want another chance and another date, while it looks as if they will have another chance, they are accosted by a gang members who try to pick on them and steal Mariko and Ayumi from them and the mild-manner faux-med students revert back to the Oni-Baku Duo!

And their anger accidentally leads them to reveal they are actually high school students and eventually losing their chance of scoring with Mariko and Ayumi.

As the two go back to school to start their new classes, both Eikichi and Ryuji find out that both Mariko and Ayumi’s are both teachers at their schools and that they were lying about being college students.

And as Ryuji is still head over heels with Ayumi, he learns more about her and her past and finds out why she is sad during the holidays.

Meanwhile, Eikichi meets a girl named Aina that wants to be his girlfriend and have sex with him, but what happens when Aina turns out to be a revenge seeking young woman who has a sexually transmitted disease and wants to spread it to as many men she meets and has sex with?

And what happens when Eikichi wants to get his pompadour styled before he goes out on a date but a senile barber shaves off all his hair?

Will Eikichi and Ryuji find love and will they end up losing their virginity?  Find out in “GTO: The Early Years – Shonan Junai Gumi” Vol. 1!

My first introduction to the “GTO” series was back in 1998 with the live action drama starring Takashi Sorimachi and starring Nanako Matsushima.

During this time, “GTO” was a hot manga series and hot drama but it wasn’t until the anime series was released in 1999-2000, that is when we got to see “GTO” become very popular in America.

What’s interesting is that I have never hard of “Shonan Junai Gumi” until I heard that the prequel to “GTO” was coming out and found out that this series actually was released back in 1990 through 1995 and also had six OVA’s.

So, I was pretty excited to see how life was for Eikichi Onizuka before become a teacher and while it is no surprise to see him as a hot tempered gangster, the series primarily focuses on both he and his best friend Ryuji trying to lose their virginity.

The manga series focuses a lot of mature situations, nudity and sexual talk, so I can understand why it was not made into a live action or why it was not anywhere near “GTO”.  Suffice to say, this manga series is targeted to men, about the inexperienced horny dreams that these two virgins have.

From discussions of how to score with women, discussions of sexual positions they learn from porn or how lonely these guys are that they wack off to porn.  It’s a mature title that is filled with humor but also action as both men engaged in a lot of fights with other gangs.

But part of the enjoyment of this somewhat perverted manga is that from each chapter, while most properties that handle horndog teens tend to be more about the sex and fan service, Tohru Fujisawa creates a deep storyline that revolve around the two characters but also the characters around them.

Ryuji is in love with his teacher, Ayumi.  But she knows that although she and Ryuji do have a connection, she knows he is a student.  But also, she is trying to move on with her life after something tragic happened in her life.

For Eikichi, he just wants to get laid, but there are women he comes across that help change his life.  Aina is an interesting character because never in a manga, have I read a young woman with a sexual transmitted disease, so mad at the world that she wants to spread her disease to anyone or everyone she has sex with.  And she intends Eikichi to be the next victim but instead, Eikichi shows her a side of him that she falls in love with.

So far, I’m enjoying the first volume of this deluxe manga series.  At over 380 pages, that’s two volumes worth of manga and I love that Tokyo Pop has released it as two volumes as some companies would have released them as single volumes in the U.S.  But they chose to release the deluxe edition that was released in Japan, so I’m happy that Tokyo Pop did go that direction and is releasing for $13 (you can probably find it cheaper online).

While I can’t recommend this manga series for those who love “GTO”, I do recommend it for “GTO” fans who are all cool with mature storylines about sex or mature themes but also images featuring nudity.

Overall, “GTO: The Early Years – Shonan Junai Gumi vol. 1” is a prequel to “Great Teacher Onizuka” that features a perverted, mature storyline that I found to be entertaining, humorous but also crazy and fun!  Recommended!

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