GTO: 14 Days in Shonan vol. 3
Planes, perversion, and punks packin' heat
By Joseph Luster
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Oddly enough, the third volume of Toru Fujisawa's GTO: 14 Days in Shonan turned out to be a perfect Father's Day read, because it kicks off with the resolution of the storyline that finds former troublemaker Miki Katsuragi reconnecting with her dad. Everything's rosy at the start of this volume, and it sets up Onizuka's chief goal for the rest of the series. He's not just going to stop at Katsuragi; Onizuka wants to see all the kids of the White Swan group home smile just as brightly. He's going to make a difference in their lives using the little time he has left in Shonan, but we all know it's going to be a bumpy, ridiculous, and at least mildly perverse ride along the way.
Don't let all this "help the kids" talk let you think our hero is suddenly a complete angel. Good ol' Eikichi Onizuka is still about 70% clueless lech who is seriously concerned he'll remain a virgin forever at 22. It's actually kind of hard to believe he is a virgin—a rad, former street tough like him should have no problem pulling tail—but that's essential to the long-running series' humor. Thus, Onizuka still has more salacious goals in mind at White Swan, such as hooking up with the sweet and hard-working Ayame Shiratori. Just as he thinks his chance may come with a bit of help from the "drops of god" (I like to consider this a clever crossover between two Vertical Inc. releases), Ayame falls asleep, dashing his desperate virgin hopes once again.
However, a distraction pops up in the form of another White Swan worker he's yet to meet, and this one turns out to be a blast from the past. The rest of the volume explores one of Onizuka's previous relationships, while bringing about a new, very serious dilemma with one of White Swan's troubled residents. The best part of the volume, though, is the introduction of Hironosuke Fukumizu, the headmaster of the social welfare service corporation that runs group homes like the White Swan. He's a hardcore military otaku who adores the Japanese Zero fighter jet, and his ultimate goal is to launch a surprise attack on Ayame's "Pearl Harbor," if you know what he means, and I think you do.
Like vice principal Hiroshi Uchiyamada—butt of many a GTO gag over the years, including a handful of bonus chapters in this volume—Fukumizu runs afoul of Onizuka in the worst ways possible, and is determined to halt what he sees as unseemly advances toward his precious Ayame. He brings with him the majority of volume three's humor, but there aren't really any dead spots in this lively collection of chapters. Fujisawa and his staff have crafted a really fantastic looking book that's chock full of detailed illustrations, from backgrounds to the page-filling, infamously bold expressions of Onizuka himself. This one manages to end on a particularly brutal cliffhanger, so the wait for the next is going to be a rough one.
Even if your GTO familiarity is hovering just above zero, 14 Days in Shonan is worth picking up from the start. Onizuka is one of my favorite characters in manga; he manages to grow across multiple series, but his core personality remains intact, distilled here in potent doses. Shonan can dip into drama at any moment, but never wallows in it for too long without coming up for some expertly delivered laughs.
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Story & Art: Toru Fujisawa
© 2012 Toru Fujisawa