After taking some screencaps from ep 1 of GTO, I could not resist rewatching it again. I can just rewatch classic doramas again and again. However, this time with more of an eye towards looking out for why GTO worked so well. It is the archetype that so many doramas are based on yet no one can even duplicate the formula. Even Dragon Zakura which was good as not as perfect though Suzuki sensei is IMHO equally as good without being the same.
1) Onizuka is playful sukebe who accidentally does good.
In other words the anti hero. Onizuka is the best friend in harem anime, the 'loser' friend to the generic protagonist who is not afraid to voice the thoughts of the male audience. He pervs at anything in a short skirt and low cut top. Onizuka does things for selfish reasons such as entering Tomoko in the idol competition and then making money of her. Onizuka doesn't care that he needs to score 400 points in the exam or else he would get fired and has to be dragged kicking and screaming to study by Fuyutsuki sensei. His response to any problem is that somehow things will work out. He does what he wants without a thought about consequences to himself and that is what endears him to the students and is the cause of comedy when things just work out in the end.
He does however, have his own set of principles which could be kind of flimsy. He says he is saving his first time for Fuyutsuki but would he have done it in the enjyou kousai episode if the girl wasn't his student? Could he have done it with Kunio's mom? Onizuka is a force of nature and the ultimate wish fulfillment for guys.
2) GTO is a romantic sukebe comedy.
From the first episode, Onizuka is already perving on Fuyutsuki sensei, something sorely missing in the remake. He is the bad boy and she is the nice girl who is repulsed by his behaviour but attracted to him. Everytime Onizuka scores a point with Fuyutsuki, his sukebeness makes her angry and Fuyutsuki is so cute when pissed off. *ahem*
Anyway, Fuyutsuki is as important for the dorama as Onizuka. You look at all the GTO clones, the young female teacher is way more reactive with no discernable characteristic and has as much screentime as the students. Onizuka is not as funny without Fuyutsuki's reactions.
3) Supporting characters get a lot of screen time and backstory.
Specifically Fuyutsuki and Uchiyamada sensei and his family. With Fuyutsuki, we have her backstory of wanting to be an air stewardess and doing the teaching gig not by choice. You have her problems at work such as always been told to do menial jobs and serving tea because she is a woman which is a source of comedy when Onizuka calls her out on it. Even her personal problems get linked into stories such as Fuyutsuki identifying with Tomoko's dream to be an idol.
With Uchiyamada, he is the henpecked husband who dreams of slapping his wife and daughter thus earning their respect. School is the only place where he has power yet Onizuka is ruining everything for him. I wrote two posts here and here about how those superiors who are just against the protagonist and ignore the protagonist's success without reason piss me off.
Uchiyamada is not there just to provide opposition to Onizuka. In addition to being a constant source of comedy, he is a well developed character that the audience can have empathy for. Uchiyamada is not evil and doesn't shout at Onizuka all the time for no reason. He is someone who craves respect and power since he can't get it at home and Onizuka is wrecking the only place where he has control of in his life. His wife and daughter also get involved with Onizuka.
Let's not forget Fujitomi sensei, the old guy who is Onizuka's other ally. Compare that with the remake where they are wasting valuable screentime on Onizuka's buddies who should function merely as plot devices.
4) No abandoned factory action scenes.
I'm sure 99% of actions scenes in jdoramas take place in abandoned factories. Even the fight at the end of episode 10 where he rescues Miyabi, we don't see much and that is a good thing. Just Onizuka doing a couple of moves and the aftermath. If you can't do an action scene that doesn't look like a Tokusatsu show and doesn't defy logic, don't show the whole thing! Trust the audience can fill in the blanks. Actually the one full action scene in the original series is the Kunio's mom truck scene which looks pretty stupid cause the hole Onizuka's foot got 'stuck' in is very big and the truck was so far away when they started panicking. A small easily overlooked deficiency.
5) No trying too hard pretending to be tough guy posing like the picture below.
Onizuka shouldn't have to pretend to be tough because he is tough. Most of the time he acts goofy. Even Onizuka's policeman friend doesn't even overact like a your typical biker gang parody.
6) It doesn't feel like win a student over to your side per episode formula.
That's because it mixes it up very well. First two episodes are about Onizuka winning Nanako and Kikuchi. Episode 3 is the bullying episode so that's more like Onizuka's second victory against Miyabi if you consider Kikuchi the first. Episode 4 is about Tomoko and is more Onizuka helping her to find confidence in herself plus Miyabi basically throws her away. Ep 5 is saving Fuyutsuki from glasses teacher. On the surface the plot sounds like Onizuka has to win one student per episode until the whole class comes back but the structure of the story is very different and varied.
This is the one part the remake has yet to fuck up since Miyabi hasn't done anything yet. Miyabi is a great villain. You hate her for what she did to Oguri Shun. Like so many doramas, she finally turns but she turns not because Onizuka wins a long debate with her or because he save her. Miyabi turns because of her friends, specifically Tomoko who can only see the good in her.
What I find interesting is that so many doramas follow the formula yet they don't try to execute the formula in the same way. See Hammer Session and Gokusen. I'm not saying copying GTO exactly but asking themselves how do I make this entertaining and compelling when deciding to make all the teacher anti the main protagonist except for the young female teacher. The way I see it, GTO 2012 is less a remake of GTO and more similar to GTO clones like Hammer Session which just copy cliches without thinking about how to make them work well.