By Operation Rainfall Contributor / September 28th, 2015
Review Disclaimer: This review will contain spoilers for season one of Prison School. For a non-spoiler introduction please read our Mid-Season Review.
|Original Run||July 10, 2015 – September 25, 2015|
Prison School does not tell your typical anime story. I’ve got to be honest and say that I’ve never seen an anime like this before and I probably wont go looking for any if they are out there. There’s something special about Prison School and though it might be tough to review because of it’s content I’m prepared to give it a shot.
Prison School tells the story of five boys who are the only males at an all girl academy. The main protagonist, Kiyoshi Fujino, get’s dragged by the other boys into attempting to spy on girls while they bathe. After getting caught, the boys are sentenced to a prison that has been erected by the underground student council: Mari Kurihara, Meiko Shiraki, and Hana Midorikawa. Their punishment doesn’t stop there though, the boys must conduct manual labor jobs all while being abused verbally and mentally by the underground student council.
This vague premise doesn’t actually describe the story this anime is trying to tell very well. I saw Prison School not as a ecchi fetish mess, but as a story of friendship and team work. These boys had never met before they were in this school, but over each arc their friendship evolves to the point where they can read each others minds. There was a time where they made separate groups, but by the end they all figured out that with the power of team work they could accomplish anything.
There was a couple romances in Prison School. Firstly, Chiyo and Kiyoshi’s relationship never felt real to me. They didn’t spend very much time talking and after their train wreck of a date they spent even less time liking each other. It felt like the writers just needed someone to give Kiyoshi motivation. This made me resent Kiyoshi in a few ways. Chiyo’s feelings about Kiyoshi were built on the lie that he liked sumo wrestling. I was hoping that on their date he would tell her the truth that he didn’t really like it and that he still hoped she liked him, but he never did. However, Kiyoshi does care about Chiyo’s feelings from the way he acted during the scenes of the final episode, but their relationship still feels like it lacks substance. On the other hand, Shingo Wakamoto and Anzu Yokoyama’s felt totally genuine by the end of the season. She had an ulterior motive at first, but after she got to know Shingo she told him the truth and helped the boys with their plan. This type of connection is far stronger than what Kiyoshi has with Chiyo.
Prison School takes masochism and sadism to another level. The scenes this anime shows are brutally disturbing. Frames of sweat, blood, bruises, more sweat, and golden showers interrupt almost every scene. The anime likes pull the viewer in as close as possible with these scenes too, filling your screen with a sweaty crotch or a quick kick to a bloody face. Through all of this, I couldn’t stop watching or laughing. Maybe that just says something about my character, but this anime’s art style was clever and brilliant, making it so that even when things were being jammed in a character’s butt, I couldn’t look away. The music presented in Prison School was nothing special, but the sound effects of abuse where a nice touch.
The final scene between Kiyoshi and Hana surprised me, since it was most definitely a rape scene. Kiyoshi doesn’t want Hana on top of him and he doesn’t want her to take his first kiss, but she forces it and even though he has an erection he still isn’t “asking for it”. This may fall under an anime trope where the guy is always pushing away the girl, but this scene with Hana shows her trying to sexually force Kiyoshi into submission. So whether that was intentional or not, I feel that it was a very powerful scene and almost difficult to watch. That’s also to say that the scene of Meiko Shiraki sitting on Anzu’s face whilst interrogating her was just as difficult to watch.
Prison School took me by surprise, I did not expect an anime like this to air and more importantly I did not expect to like it as much as I did. I appreciated the humor and the over the top ways of executing an over the top story. Though Kiyoshi’s motivation doesn’t seem real to me, I hope that him and Chiyo end up together because she seems to really like him. The disturbing direction this anime decided to go in was backed by a very real hatred of men from the underground student council and in the end it all played out. The cliffhanger at the end also led viewers to believe that a second season will be announced, but no news on that as of the posting of this review. Prison School will not be liked by all anime fans, but I felt it was a great addition to the Summer line up and would recommend it to masochist, sadist, and fans of the Fox TV series Prison Break. The anime ended with the boys getting released from their prison school and also left the viewer to answer one question: do you prefer boobs or…butts?