Saturday, April 07, 2018

'Prison School' Is a Bonkers, Bawdy Anime Comedy

There are currently no new anime series that caught my interest (as of now, Nanatsu no Taizai season 2 is the only ongoing anime I’m following), so recently, I’ve been checking out old anime series that I missed.  For my latest watch, I tried something utterly odd and bonkers – Prison School.

It is about five friends – Kiyoshi Fujino, Takehito “Gakuto” Morokuzu, Shingo Wakamoto, Jouji “Joe” Nezu, and Reiji “Andre” Andou – who are the only male students in Hachimitsu Academy, which, until recently, is an elite boarding school exclusively for girls.  When the boys are caught committing an act of voyeurism, they find out to their shock that, per a draconian school rule, their punishment is to be incarcerated in the school prison and serve time as prisoners.  This is enforced by the ruthless Underground Student Council – president Mari Kurihara, vice-president Meiko Shiraki, and secretary Hana Midorikawa – who have been against of turning the school into a co-ed institution in the first place.
This anime, which has had 13 episodes (a 12-episode season and an OVA) so far, is not for everyone.  Not only is it full of mature, naughty content, it also can get off-putting.  It gets aggressively bawdy and graphic with its characterizations, fan service, and humor.

However, it does deliver some gut-busting comedy.  Much of it is probably due to absurd, juvenile, and indecent material, but the execution is just so well-done that it draws legitimate guffaws.  Unfortunately, it’s funniest during its first three or four episodes, and the laughs get lesser and weaker after that.  It’s either the gags slowly declines in quality or the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility just begins applying.

Though its enjoyment value is significantly derived from its humor than its narrative, the story can get interesting as well.  On the other hand, there are also several instances in which it gets bogged down from getting frustratingly shallow, repetitive, and gratuitously lewd.
Still, when (SPOILERS) the five protagonists ultimately prevail over their female tormentors, there’s a feeling of satisfaction for the story arc that unfolded.  Yet there’s also sympathy for the USC – despite all their despicable conniving and viciousness – because: a.) you get where they’re coming from, despite their twisted ways; b.) it’s not like the boys have been saints themselves; and c.) it seems that the Actual Student Council, making their debut at the epilogue of the first season, is going to be harsher on them.

In  the end, Prison School is an anime that lives and dies by being outlandish and raunchy.  And it mostly “lives.”  It is noticeably problematic, but it’s a lot of fun when at its best.  And with an intriguing dynamic shakeup by season one’s conclusion, there’s a good chance I will also check out the second season when it arrives.

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