You know, Toru Fujisawa, I don’t like you very much right now. You’re making me go through this. You’re making me go through this again. After all this time we’ve spent together and after everything he and I have been through as a team, you’re making me say goodbye to Eikichi Onizuka AGAIN. You’re taking him away from me for a third time and I just can’t handle this kind of emotional trauma. Gone will be lazing the days away with good times and jokes, no longer will there be any panty peeping hijinks, and street brawls in Shonan are just off the table. Sure, I could try to go out and have fun by myself, hit on women and start some fights, but without Onziuka around, it just won’t be the same anymore. Not only him, but Fujisawa, you’re also once again taking away everyone else! Danma, Kikuchi, Shonomi, and the lovely Urumi Kanzaki too… What do you expect me to do now? It’s just not fair.
In other words, yes, GTO 14 Days In Shonan is coming to an end. The last volume of the third major GTO series will be hitting shelves this month, thus concluding the adventures of our great teachers. Will he one day take up his MX II and ride through the night again, or might he unexpectedly make a dramatic return to the classroom one day elephant trunks and all? I can only hope so. I’ve written about my love and history of GTO before, so I’m not going to repeat my entire history with Onizuka. He’s been in my life for a long time though, and I’m always sad to see my main man go. For the few of you out there who also took the long journey with Eikichi Onizuka up to this point, Vertical thanks you. I thank you.
Upon finishing the last volume of 14 Days I find myself left with a bittersweet yet profound feeling. Even uncomplicated idiot with no interests outside of video games and pornography like Eikichi Onizuka can be the most awe inspiring heroic person in the world. He’s a dude who couldn’t think his way out of a wet paper bag so he’ll just punch through it instead. This former dead beat biker gang member, with the occasional heart of gold, only sort of got his act together when becoming a teacher and yet he still manages to save dozens of kids who need help. He routinely puts his life on the line almost for the sake of others. While that sort of thing has certainly become a Shonen cliché, Onizuka isn’t Ichigo or Goku, and he’s certainly not trying to rescue Sasuke. While his antics and solutions can be over the top, plenty of the serious situations the various GTO series portray can and have happened. Sometimes, it’s nothing to laugh about. Even a deadbeat idiot can be a hero. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what it is.
GTO 14 Days In Shonan ends, I say goodbye to another favorite series, and time moves on. It happens. I do need to thank you for all the good times over the past decade though Eikichi. I couldn’t have done it without you.
P.S. I just realized The Flowers Of Evil is going to end someday… Oh no.
Finally going to start reading these beautiful books.
Now is a better time than ever to finish off GTO the Early Years.
And don’t forget GTO 14 Days in Shonan is also available (vol 1-7 now in stores!)
Hello Vertical Faithful!
Hope you all had a lovely new years, and that Santa put some of the manga you wanted under the tree this year! We at Vertical got a nice gift-box from Chi’s Sweet Home creator Konami Konata! However that time has passed. Now that humanity has some how progressed almost an entire week into 2013, it’s time to put away the bottles of champagne and those tacky yet undeniably adorable Christmas decorations.
We got through yet another apocalypse (although one must remember that third impact is imminent at any moment) so now it’s time to go back to work! While it was nice to have Christmas and New Years off, money and alcohol wasted I promise you, Vertical is back in the full swing of manga production! The latest volume of Shuzo Oshimi’s fan favorite The Flowers Of Evil hits stores next week so be on the look out for that! I promise you, it’s an intense one! We’re also prepping other releases that are coming out in the next few months, including further installments of Limit, GTO 14 Days In Shonan, Heroman, and one release I think a lot of people are pretty excited about, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. We certainly are.
We’re starting out 2013 strong and we’re going to push on that way all the way to 2014, which I assure you is just around the corner. Stick along for the ride!
On Interning At Vertical: It’s pretty surreal.
Vertical Intern reporting in, here to talk about the job. While there is a lot of typical interny type stuff to do here, for a fan, this job can be a little surreal sometimes. Maybe it’s just me. I’m still young, naïve, and am not completely accustomed to the norms of working within this industry, but a lot of times I just find myself being completely blown away by the situation I’m in. Sometimes, it’s in our weekly meetings discussing who we work with and the entire process of bringing a book over, sometimes it’s casual conversation with Ed who is just a fountain forever bursting with manga wisdom, but at times, it’s simply things that are rather mundane that really get me thinking ‘woah this is wild’.
For instance, a couple weeks ago, one day when the mail was delivered I happened to be the one who answered the door, and as I was sifting through the mail so I could bring the right envelopes to the right people, I noticed there was an envelope from Tezuka Productions. Now, logically, this makes sense. We sure have licensed and distributed a great many books by Tezuka, so obviously Vertical has a lot of correspondence with the company. Sure, but for some naïve little dolt like me, getting to hold mail from Osamu Tezuka’s own company is just mystifying. Sure, it’s not like I’m looking at hand-drawn manuscripts from the man itself, but I still feel, I don’t know, unworthy or something stupid sounding like that. It’s Tezuka Pro!
I’m also always sending copies of our books back to their original authors, as this is a thing that is stipulated in our contracts. It’s wild to think, for instance, that Ai Yazawa or Toru Fujisawa might be thumbing through a book I packed up and sent out to their agencies. It has taken a little getting used to, not being a silly fanboy I mean. Just ask anyone in the office, I now reek of professionalism… pfft, yeah right. We have weekly meetings where everyone in the company comes together and discusses what they’re up to, and I still find it hard to appear anxiously excited and act completely giddy about upcoming new releases.
I remember when production had said they were done with the proofs and inputs for Flowers Of Evil Volume 4, I turned to one of the interns and just whispered “Ugh, I want to read that SO bad.” When we got office copies of GTO 14 Days In Shonan volume 6, I was literally freaking out at my desk when I got to the last page of that book. I don’t even want to speak about my reactions to what is undoubtedly the finest work of literature ever published; the Queen’s Blade art book. I’ve been known to totally fanboy out on the occasion, I can’t help it. We’ve all been there I think. All I can do is simply hope that Ed won’t judge me too harshly for my excitement.
Eikichi Onizuka is a classic Anime and Manga character. In Japan, his live action TV show remains one of the most popular of all time. Being the main character of four different manga over the past twenty years certainly has helped, but ultimately this is because the great teacher himself has been, and is still, a formidable inspiration. From his silly antics, beating up and getting beaten up, and inspirational speeches and gestures, Onizuka has become a modern manga great who has entertained many and has given hope to even more. If you’ve never read any of the GTO series, I highly implore you do, though I bet most of you are at least familiar with it. Like some of you, I have a long history with one Eikichi Onizuka, one that definitely pre-dates our releases of GTO: The Early Years and GTO: 14 Days In Shonan, and I want to talk about it.
My first experience with the great teacher that is Onizuka was way back in 2004. What a time 2004 was if you were a manga fan living in either the U.S. or Canada. It was the beginning of the manga boom, where more and more manga was starting to be released stateside, where the art-form and story-form was gaining popularity, where we would start to see big manga sections in Barnes & Nobles and the now and unfortunately defunct Borders. I was only twelve at the time and I was finally delving into the world of manga past what Shonen Jump was offering. Having read much of the stuff by Clamp, Love Hina, and Kodocha (which still holds up quite well), like others during the time, I had fallen in love with manga and I wanted more. I forget how exactly, though it was most likely through the advertisements found in old Tokyopop books that made up the majority of manga-shelves at the time, but I stumbled upon the existence of GTO and decided to purchase it. Yet, no sooner did I purchase it and tried reading the first few chapters did I decide that I hated the work and literally left the book it in the mall where I had bought it. Literally, I left it behind a potted plant on a ledge and hoped for the best. It was just too much for little twelve year old me.
A few years later, at a point where the original GTO was starting to get hard to find, Tokyopop began releasing the title that we are now just about to finish, GTO: The Early Years. I was older (and I’d like to think I was at least a little smarter too) at this point and I had wanted to give the series another shot. In short, I loved it. I found the characters entertaining, the story lines engaging, the fights fun, and the whole badass/yanki attitude of the entire thing very enjoyable. Most of all, I was upset at my 12 year old self for not enjoying the original GTO, because it was now very hard for anyone to find all 25 volumes of the series. If you’ve been following the manga industry since the mid 2000s, you know that a couple years before their demise (semi-demise? I’m not really sure.) Tokyopop stopped publishing all of their comics that they licensed from Kodansha. It would be years before we ever saw the conclusion to Samurai Deeper Kyo and Ravemaster, and other titles like Getbackers disappeared from America completely. GTO: The Early Years was one such manga.
If you’re reading this post, you should know that Vertical finally picked up this title and released it, but in the interim in between tokyopop’s release and ours, I was able to get my hands on all of the original GTO. A few years ago, a friend of mine posted a status asking if anyone wanted to buy the manga from him for a discounted price, and I snapped it up. Boy, was that the right choice. I fell in love with that manga. I fell in love with what the manga was doing, the classmates, and most importantly, Onizuka himself. His excursions of trying to court women had continued, and honestly were as funny as ever, but his stakes were even higher; Instead of just defending his friends, he’s trying to give his classmates someone to look up to and count on. No matter how tough the situation or how much physical danger he may find himself in, if you’ve read the series, (or it’s prequel or sequel) you know that he succeeds. Smiles and tears the entire ride. Truth be told, I had a picture of the last page of the manga as my phone background for a good year.
When Vertical announced that they were picking up the rest of The Early Years and 14 Days Of Shonan, I was ecstatic. This was way before I ever joined this company as an intern, and is actually probably one of the reasons I really started to fall in love with this company. Getting to read 14 Days Of Shonan and seeing Eikichi continue doing what he does best makes me happy every time I pick up a volume. Getting to finishThe Early Years, watching Eikichi grow up (well, who knows if he ever really did) to become the greatest teacher that he is, has been wonderful. I’ve been reading manga for a long time, and the entire GTO franchise is one that has been with another, from the beginning, in one way or another. I love Onizuka, and if you don’t, you should tear open a space in your heart and let him settle in. You’ll be glad you did.
With GTO The Early Years 12 out this week, why not take experience Eikichi Onizuka in a different light… COSPLAY!
Hmm, maybe I should bleach my hair too. I’d have to shave, though.