GTO: The Early Years volume 7

June 17, 2008

Shonan Junai Gumi volume 7

by Tohru Fujisawa

The latest installment of Shonan Junai Gumi staring the two man team Oni-baku, known individually as Onizuka as Ryuji. Previously, Ryuji has fallen in love with the beach babe known as Nagisa. However, the poor virgin can’t get a girlfriend that easily. Nagisa has an alter ego known as Yasha, a tough biker girl with a price on Ryuji’s head! Yasha is the girlfriend of Akutsu, a scary man who just got out of juvie and plans on rejuvenating the infamous biker gang feared by all, the Midnight Angels. Can Ryuji save Nagisa from her other self?

This volume continues the trend of opening with a very light-hearted chapter. Classmate Kiyoma is thought to have psychic powers. Whenever girls stand by him, the wind mysteriously lifts their skirts! However, his secret is revealed and he is soon beaten up by local gang members. On with the continuing story, the cops are dealing with the rise of the Midnight Angel gang that has reached nearly 150 members. The gang war has started. Nagisa and Ryuji are hospitalized after a run in with Akutsu who torches the building they were fighting in. Now in a hospital bed, Nagisa fights the demon of her other self, Yasha. Akutsu reveals what he’s truly after, the coat owned by former Angel leader, Masaki. He believes this coat will give him official leadership over the gang but there’s a problem, the coat was passed on to Oni-baku and for good reason. After passing Ryuji in the hospital, Onizuka dons the coat and heads towards Akutsu. The new Midnight Angel members fall instantly as Onizuka leaves a trial of carnage in his path. He has come to teach Akutsu a lesson.

The series continues to be distributed in omnibus format and shrinkwrapped with a parental advisory sticker. Aside from some gang violence and blood, there’s really not a lot of questionable material within. Language is severely toned down for a series of this kind with many cheesy 80s slang (“What the fun?”). Art continues to be a problem with all the black, slick-haired gang members closely resembling Ryuji.

I feel as if I’m slowly losing interest in this series. No matter how many “tough-guys” the Oni-baku take care of, there will always be another. The Midnight Angel gang war was an interesting concept but as it turns out, the leader Akutsu is really just a jealous prick who can only hurt others by A.) torching them with gasoline or B.) stabbing them in the stomach while they’re talking sensibly to him. Recently, Tokyopop, the distributer, has experienced financial problems with many series being canceled or in some cases, online distribution only. GTO: The Early Years has been identified as at risk due to poor sales. The guys at Tokyopop are huge Tohru Fujisawa nerds so hopefully they have enough balls to finish off the second half of this series.

Grade: C+