Director: Tsutomu Mizushima, Series Composition/Scripts: Michiko Yokote, Original Creator: Akira Hiramoto, Character Designer: Junichiro Taniguchi, Music: Kotaro Nakagawa, Art Designer: Maki Morio,
Voice Actors: Hiroshi Kamiya (Kiyoshi), Kana Hanazawa (Hana), Daisuke Namikawa (Joe), Katsuyuki Konishi (Gakuto), Kazuyuki Okitsu (Andre), Kenichi Suzumura (Shingo), Sayaka Ohara (Mari), Shizuka Itou (Meiko), Chinami Hashimoto (Chiyo)
Studio: J.C. Staff
Airing Date: July 10th, 2015
On the outskirts of Tokyo is Hachimitsu Private Academy. It was once an elite all-girls’ boarding school but it has now been opened its doors to boys for the first time. Alas, only five boys enrol – the relatively normal Kiyoshi Fujino, the very intelligent motor-mouth Gakuto, the giant moon-faced Andre, blonde-haired Shingo, and Joe, a hoodie-wearing guy who coughs up blood and seems to have a mean case of TB (although it’s not).
These are our boys and they are all horny.
You might think being a teenage boy amidst a sea of teenage girls is paradise but Kiyoshi Fujino and friends find it hard to talk to the fairer sex.
They will also find that for every heaven there is a hell and some members of the female student body are very much against admitting boys in and having any contact with them.
These girls have formed an underground student council which forbids any contact with boys. Anyone found transgressing the rules will be punished severely. This explains why nearly every girl at the school refuses to have anything to do with the guys but there is an exception and her name is Chiyo.
Kiyoshi drops his eraser in class and it lands next to her desk. It is emblazoned with the image of a sumo wrestler. Chiyo loves sumo wrestling and the two crazy kids make plans for a date at a sumo match.
Kiyoshi may have lucked out but the other guys aren’t getting anywhere with the ladies and decide to peep on the female students in their locker-room. Of course, the five boys get caught breaking the rules by the secret council and are sent to the school prison…
Here they are forced to do hard labour for a month under the watchful and wrathful secret student council which consists of man-haters like President Mari (who has the power to control crows), Vice President Meiko (a girl with abnormally huge breasts) and Hana (a high-kicking karate kid).
The guys will truly discover the horror of the Prison School…
I could not stay away from this one. After writing about the summer 2015 season for an anime website and scouting a few chapters of the manga I had a feeling it would be the most controversial and debated shows airing. At the very least, people easily offended (seemingly most of the internet) would kick up a fuss and so I had to see what the anime was before other people drowned it out in a sea of moralising voices.
In the end I found that it wasn’t offensive. It was fun if you lowered your threshold of decency.
Two episodes in and I am tempted to see this as essentially a show about a bunch of sex-starved guys who get shoved into a stockade on the school playground by a bunch of S&M queens and they discover that, in the absence of any normal relationships with females their own age, they love the violent attention of the girls since this is the closest they get to female “contact,” essentially revealing their masochistic sides.
Not edifying material.
Not that it is supposed to be. The show is trash but it is not stupid. It wears its trashiness well and pumps it up for magnificent comedic effect with over-exaggerated an art style that grabs your attention and never lets it go.
Its chief pleasure is that it lives up to its dumb premise and go well beyond the boundaries of good taste when trying to get laughs. I think I came to admire it for that.
The anime comes from Akira Hiramoto’s Kodansha award-winning manga of the same name. It’s easy to see why the manga is popular since it takes its stupid premise and adds a huge mix of ecchi and colourful characters with obscene toilet humour/black comedy and just runs with it. Akira Hiramoto’s gags are excruciating to watch since characters both male and female are degraded but sometimes those gags, once sprung, reveal themselves to be really, really cleverly constructed even if gross.
The Prison School anime is made by some high class talent wth Tsutomu Mizushima directing and the manga adapted by Michiko Yokote. The two regularly work together on all sorts of shows, a lot of them comedy or slice of life like Genshiken and Shirobako. I trust them to get comedy like this right.
The first two episodes are peppered with a million cheap gags like over exaggerated facial expressions…
and masochistic guys getting beaten up by sadistic girls…
and it has a lot of near the knuckle stuff like the heads/tails punishment.
This is at the bottom end of the spectrum, easy comedy. The show shines when it manages to interweave its perversion into episode-long dilemmas and more standard prison story plots like breaking out (to go on a date) and playing everything off as serious only for things to end with a huge dose of bathos. When things get complicated and the events are dragged out to levels of absurdity the show never loses its cool and holds course for the denoument no matter how sick. A good example is the extended sequence of Hana wanting to see Kiyoshi take a leak as revenge for him accidentally seeing her do the same thing. It ends with the most GIFable moment from this season’s anime so far.
It shows itself to be unafraid of exploring and satirising how both sexes display and satiate their libido in an extreme manner. This stuff might be offensive and low-brow but the show nails the comedic tone by constantly having everything be over the top. It benefits from going all-out at break-neck speed since it allows a million gags to fly at the audience preventing them from thinking too hard about what the hell is going on.
The seiyuu are uniformly perfect. The guys nail the tone of sexual desperation by yelling out their frustration and desires and horror at what is going on.
The female response is also to ham up the roles but Kana Hanazawa steals the show as Hana by sliding between the high-pitched voice and bubbly personality to the deep, angry, grave threat version of the karate girl.
Another element that deserves praise is the music which hits all the right musical cues and fits the tone of the show when it is played seriously and sounds like something you might hear in some World War II prison break movie.
I’ve written far more than I intended to on this show but that’s because I found it fun and I don’t normally like ecchi. I can see the joke getting old but I think this is pitched 12 episodes which sounds just about right. This won’t be for everyone but I’m staying the course.
Fantastic set of images found on Ikilote Gallery
A review of Akira Hiramoto’s work: Me and the Devil Blues
Prison School OP suitably dramatic and funny:
Prison School ED
Other Tsutomu Mizushima anime I have written about:
Blood-C – First Impression