TOKYO – Get ready for the return of Great Teacher Onizuka.
Japanese actor Takashi Sorimachi, who played reformed biker gangster-turned-teacher Eikichi Onizuka in the live-action television adaptation GTO (1998), is reprising his role in an upcoming TV special.
Fuji Television announced last Friday that it will launch GTO Revival in the first half of 2024 in conjunction with its 65th anniversary.
The 1998 series, which was adapted from the Japanese manga series of the same name, starred Sorimachi as a teacher dealing with a class of students facing various issues in unique and creative ways.
Like the original series, Onizuka will be assigned to a school with problematic students in the TV special.
Sorimachi, 49, said in a press release that he had turned down several offers to play the role of Onizuka again, but decided to accept this time as he thought it would be meaningful.
“It has been 25 years since the last broadcast, and now that I’ve raised two children myself, I wonder what kind of Onizuka I will play,” he said.
“I was interested in what kind of interactions Onizuka will have with students in the current era as they face problems and worries that are unique to present times.”
GTO, which recorded a high viewership rating of 35.7 per cent for its final episode, also starred Japanese actress Nanako Matsushima as Azusa Fuyutsuki, a teacher in the school who fell in love with Onizuka.
Romance blossomed off-screen too. Sorimachi married Matsushima, now 49, in 2001. The couple have two daughters aged 15 and 19.
GTO also starred Shun Oguri, now 40, and Yosuke Kubozuka, now 44, as students in the series.
There was a second live-action series in 2012, with Akira of Japanese band Exile playing the role of Onizuka.