You all know GTO, Great Teacher Onizuka, right? No? Well you *should*! It’s a classic – and I mean that in the sense of “this book practically redefined a genre.” GTO is being published in English by Vertical right now, so you should at least try the first volume. It’s fun and melodramatic and over the top. The story, in a nutshell, is that an ex-punk decides that he’ll be the best high school teacher evar. He’s given a class of broken, tortured and dysfunctional students, but his street wisdom saves them – and helps him to realize his dream. It’s a series that highlights some real issues kids deal with, in a crazy, over-the-top, charming way.
Aigaaru: I-girl (あいがある) has a premise that is sort of vaguely similar to GTO, and in pretty much every possible way fails to execute it well. Kaga Maki is a 27 year old OL with a not-cute personality, and so is basically kicked to the bottom of the office hierarchy. When the cute, bubbly OLs get forgiven for their mistakes, she’s punished for hers – and theirs. So you’d think she’d be okay with it when one day her identical twin brother shows up asking her to take his place at his job for a week. Where Maki is prickly, Miki is clearly gregarious. Someone has asked him to go on a trip and he can’t say no, so please, Maki…?
The next thing Maki knows, her hair is cut and she’s wearing a man’s suit and there she is in homeroom at a girls’ high school…where she learns that the girls address her as “My Darling” and proclaim their love for her, well him. I know – this doesn’t sound like GTO at all, but give me a chance. As she meets each of the girls, she learns something about them and then she tries to help with the situation – that’s the GTO-esque angle. Only where Onizuka is dealing in abuse, bullying, drugs, self-loathing, Maki is dealing with a girl being too sexy for her shirt, and the students having crushes on her. Hard to take seriously – and way out of proportion with the OTT facefaults, sweatdrops and “zOMG!! “postures.
Maki runs into one of the girls, Hina, on the grounds and is shocked to find the girl kissing her. She’s already livid at her brother’s behavior, but to think he’s having an affair with a student?!? But then she spots Hina and another student, Subaru kissing and rushes to assure them that they make a great couple! Onna-doushi is terrific! Yay them! But we, the readers, know something is up between them and it might not lead to a happy ending. When the book ended, I felt kind of relieved.
This manga ran in Cookie magazine – I was not comfortable with the readers of Cookie learning about the word “Bitch” or about sexy underwear. Maki looks great in a suit, but her level of discomfort with herself as woman or man made it hard to like her. This could have been a fun gender-bendy GTO, but it just wasn’t.
Art – 8
Story – 5
Characters – 5
Yuri – 7
Service – Underwear and female crossdressing – 5
When I’m reading through a shipment of manga, the stuff I like least falls down to the bottom of the pile. I’ve had this manga through three piles, because I just kept putting it off. This came yesterday:
So it just had to go. (Sorry for the mess…my wife took the picture before I had a chance to straighten up. Even the pile is crooked. ^_^;)