Being one of five guys in a school with over 1000 girls can only lead to good things.... right?
As a new school year rolls around, prestigious all-girls school Hachimatsu Private Academy changes its policy and admits male students for the first time ever. When the first day of school rolls around, new student Kiyoshi Fujino discovers that only him and four other guys have made the cut. Excited at the prospect of being the only competition in a school with over a thousand girls, the guys soon discover that things won’t be nearly as easy as they seem, especially with the “Shadow Student Council” dedicated to maintaining the purity of the school cracking down on any illicit contact between the genders.
Prison School is really one of a kind and it’s difficult to describe exactly who this is for. If you like absurd humour and can deal with some over the top raunchiness, you’ll probably love this series.
You’d be forgiven for reading the premise of Prison School and dismissing it as an uninspired set-up for an ecchi series, but Prison School manages to be so much more thanks to how well it manages to capitalize on its premise. Absurd is the word I would use to describe Prison School and make no mistake: Prison School is absurd in the most delightful way, subverting my expectations at every turn by taking each situation its characters encounter and going even more over the top. It’s impossible not to laugh at the utter seriousness in both dialogue and presentation that creator Akira Hiramoto imbues into otherwise ridiculous sexual situations, and I loved just how crazy all of it was. Hiramoto clearly has a great sense of direction in what this series is supposed to achieve, and I love how confident this series was in creating such a distinctive and enjoyable tone.
Enough can’t be said of how well Prison School’s art style conveys the absurdity of everything that goes on in this series. This is a great looking series and is drawn in a realistic style, with shadowing and paneling meant to give the series an extremely serious and dramatic feel despite how outlandish each event is. I didn’t think it was possible to make defecating in a classroom such a dramatic event, but Hiramoto manages to take situations like that and present them with such overwhelming drama that I couldn’t help but just laugh at how crazy it all was. This is all underscored by Hiramoto’s excellent use of facial reaction shots, which are hilarious and perfectly convey the emotions of its characters. All of these elements come together to make the art of Prison School fantastic because of how Hiramoto’s stylistic choices make the art pleasing to look at while adding to the comedy by conveying the absurdity of this series perfectly.
Another stand out element of Prison School was the memorable characters, and I really enjoyed the entire cast of characters presented in this volume. Part of the charm of Prison School is that it never feels like it is purposefully trying to be funny, with the humour created incidentally by just watching these characters bounce off each other. The five guys are a hilarious group, each with their own weird little quirks that make them memorable in ways I wouldn’t have expected. In particular, Geckt was my favourite character because of how wonderfully strange he is, speaking using old-English terms but coming through in huge ways for his comrades. Overall I loved the cast and I can’t wait to see what situations they’ll all have to deal with in future volumes.
Undeniably, Prison School is going to be a series that will drive many away from it due to the sheer amount of sexuality present in the story. While I don’t usually prefer to read overly sexualized series, I personally didn’t find it offensive because of the way the over the top sexuality is portrayed in just as ridiculous manner as the rest of the plot. However, I did wish at times that vice president Meiko Shiraki wasn’t portrayed in such an overly sexualized way, even by the standards established in this series. This is clearly not the type of book you’re going to want to read in public, and if you’re not comfortable constant sexuality in your manga the odds may be stacked against you enjoying this series.
Prison School is unlike anything you’ve read before, combining a deathly serious and dramatic tone with completely ridiculous situations to create a fantastically absurd comedy series. This is definitely the type of series that you really need to read to understand what makes it so special as the unique meld of art, characters and tone to create such fantastic comedy really can’t be conveying by just words. Provided you can deal with some pretty blatant sexualization, I’d easily recommend trying Prison School to most readers as an experience alone, not to mention how well it delivers on its crazy premise and great comedy.
Prison School Vol. 1 will be published by Yen Press on July 21st, 2015 and is an omnibus version of volumes 1 and 2 of the Japanese release. Authored by Akira Hiramoto, the series began in 2011 is still ongoing in Kodansha’s Young Magazine. Volume 2 consisting of volumes 3 and 4 of the Japanese release will be published in English on November 17th 2015. An anime adaption produced by J.C. Staff is currently running for the summer season of 2015 for one cour.
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*Copy provided for Taykobon by publisher.
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