Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Prison School (2015)


Prison School is based upon the manga series and has 12 episodes plus an OVA that was released with the limited edition of a volume of the manga.  The anime tells the story of five boys:  Kiyoshi, Gakuto, Shingo, Joe and Andre, as they join the Hachimitsu Academy which was traditionally an all-girls boarding school.  The five are the first male students to be admitted as part of a recent change to become a mixed school.  That's a ratio of 1000 girls to 5 boys.  As you'd expect, unfortunately the first week goes awry when they (naturally) break the rules and are forced to go into the school's prison.


Being thrown into prison begins their woes and is also the start of the funniest parts of the anime.  They have to "serve" a sentence of one month or be expelled.  They pick the former and if they break any further rules, their sentence may be lengthened.  Each episode doesn't fast forward time that much, since a few episodes in and it's still the first week.  Kiyoshi is fixated with trying to facilitate an escape and the length that he goes to are intense.  Prison School has a hilarious first episode which will most likely win you over already.  The series loves to make what would normally be mundane events melodramatic and as a result, it creates great tension and keeps it interesting.


Their supervisors are three girls who form the Underground Student Council.  They are vicious and are not hesitant to use lethal physical force, often with accompanying blood from the wounds.  The funniest thing is that the boys seem to enjoy the cruelty that is dealt to them.  Some of the things that the Underground School Council does is downright cruel and brutal.  The thing is, if the roles were reversed, there would be an outroar at treatment of females like that...


Despite some of the most stupidest of events if you were to tell something out of context (such as recording noises to fake a stomach bug in the toilet), the way that these scenes are approached actually gives way to how big a sacrifice the characters are making, invoking a sense of honor and gratitude.  You look forward to what the anime will bring next.  The boys use their cleverness to take advantage of misunderstandings, and how they adapt to surprises thrown their way goes a long way in keeping the viewers engaged.  It is tense in that you are sure that they will get caught but you don't want them to.


The five boys end up developing a really strong bond from their predicament and it is a satisfying feeling going on this journey along with them.  They each make mistakes that lead to even worse scenarios but it is through this that the characters grow.  These range from full blown arguments and bullying, to forgiveness.  You can see the ugly side of some of the characters.  Naturally, the Underground School Council is out to get the boys, thinking up of devious plans such that the viewer will feel helpless since there's nothing you can do but watch the boys step into the traps.  The characters, but especially Kiyoshi, gets into the most ridiculous of situations and just when you thought they couldn't top it, it defies that expectation.


Despite relying quite a bit on crude humor, it's funnier and cleverer than your typical crude humor.  At least it's done in ways that you don't expect (but the various ways of censoring is funny in and of itself).  The characters also have skewed priorities leading to emotional sacrifices since you know how much it means to them.  Prison School has heavy doses of fanservice.  The female characters are often placed in compromising angles but of course, it is all censored via lens flare or outright white rays of sunshine (unless you're watching the DVD or Blu-Ray versions, in which case, it is uncensored).  There are surprising twists midway through the series and while you know Kiyoshi is in the wrong at times, you still empathize with him.


The 12 episodes end too quickly with the excellent and suspenseful final episode.  There's a teaser after the credits where you are hopeful for a second season but alas, still no such luck.  The OVA does satisfy some of that itch with showing the lives of the boys now that they are released from prison.  Since there's nothing to lose and nothing at stake, it doesn't quite carry the same tense atmosphere as the main episodes but the humor remains.  Overall, Prison School is a fantastic series with excellent dialogue.  Although it can be interpreted as creepy and perverted if you're not used to this kind of style, the way the plot unfolds is engaging and the series ends up being quite addictive.

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