…I’ll preface this and say you can find all the GTOs on Crunchyroll. I will also go with the assumption you’ve read my review of GTO 2012 (Season 1 + the 3 Specials) before reading this.
GTO Taiwan is a short 4-Episode special shot in Taiwan. Eikichi Onizuka interns as an assistant teacher at a school in Taiwan. Not long after Onizuka, Ryuuji and to their surprise Saejima arrive in Taiwan, things get hectic. Not only does Onizuka have to contend with the obvious language barrier but he must also overcome the cultural barrier to help childhood friends.
In the full 11-Episode GTO 2014, Meishuu Academy and Onizuka’s alma mater Shounan High have merged to become Meishuu Shounan High School and it’s where the new series takes place. Onizuka is also an assistant teacher though Vice Principal Uchiyamida and Director Sakurai are back. Both GTO Taiwan and GTO 2014 have a different director from the first season. The differences are like night and day.
While yeah Onizuka helps his students out like before, unlike the first season Onizuka feels a bit more preachy compared to the first season. He also leans on Sakurai more than the first season. Another interesting thing is the two recurring sub-plots: Ayuna’s pregnancy and a certain incident from Onizuka’s past. Unlike GTO 2012 it’s a bit more obvious early on in each episode what’s gonna happen.
You know Onizuka’s past is relevant prior to Episode 10 due to the obvious hints dropped here and there. And then it’s revealed Onizuka’s best friend in high school was Honami’s older brother. Yikes! The storyline is actually from the Manga but the way it was set up felt way too forced. As other reviewers have said, it’s like they went out of their way to go the anticlimatic route.
The fight scenes felt forced and over the top compared to GTO 2012 to say the least. In Episode 10, Onizuka stabs himself but fights off almost a dozen guys a few moments later. Him collapsing from blood loss after the fight felt like an afterthought given how it was set up. Clearly it was done with a Western audience in mind (Crunchyroll). That said, it looked like they tried to go two routes with the subplot regarding Ayuna’s pregnancy. The first had Western Audiences in mind (Ayuna deciding to keep the baby and Kuzuki being irrational about wanting to raise it). The other clearly had a Japanese Audience in mind (Ayuna keeping the pregnancy a secret from everyone even after being outed and the school wanting to expel both her and Kuzuki).
Nevermind they clearly timeskipped her pregnancy for no reason: At the end of Episode 3 she’s 4 months along. Come the end of episode 10 (When Sakurai finds out) she’s 6 months along. She gives birth halfway through the finale though it is mentioned she should have another month to go. Even if you’re generous with the time Onizuka spends helping the others, only two and a half months pass between the first episode and the last. It would’ve been better if they just had the birth happen offscreen.
It sucks Sakurai was forced to resign over the scandal Ayuna and Kuzuki’s indescretions caused the school. She did drop a hint she was open to going that route in the previous episode though. Someone had to take responsability. She handled it like a boss–right after Onizuka delivered a German Suplex to the Teacher in Charge in front of the press!
Anywho, the series is done now. I’m surprised and annoyed there isn’t much GTO Fan Fiction on FF.net (132 entries total and all from years ago). I’m surprised given how highly regarded GTO is among Anime fans and annoyed more folks haven’t taken a shot at writing Fan Fics based on it. Can’t be helped I guess.
I give both GTO 2014 and GTO Taiwan 7/10. They just don’t have the polish the first season does. While yes it’s a different director, it’s the same cast and much of the same crew. It’s painfully obvious they tried too hard to do too much at the same time. Onizuka also feels very out of character compared to GTO 2012. He does way more stuff offscreen compared to the first season as well. Like the first season, they did leave the door open for the series to continue. I don’t see it happening unless it’s a reboot and that doesn’t happen in Japan outside Anime. UNLIKE the U.S., Japan prefers not to reinvent the wheel without a really good reason.
GTO overall stands as one of the most-see series hands-down. You can find the Anime and all the Dramas on Crunchyroll.