Monthly Archives: September 2017

Prison School review

WARNING: This review features content that is Not Safe For Work. Though the text of the article is as PG as possible, it is impossible to discuss this series without mentioning and showing some of the more risque elements it employs. Enjoy the review!

In my last review, I talked a little about education and its role in society. But what is education without discipline? Have to keep the troublemakers in line, after all.

And what better way to dole out discipline than with an actual prison inside a school?

Such is the premise of Prison School, aka the most NSFW anime I’ve ever watched.

Kiyoshi Fujino is an average guy who just so happens to be one of the first male students of the renowned Hachimitsu Academy, which has recently become co-ed. To his surprise, he finds himself as one of only five boys attending the academy, outnumbered by over a thousand girls.

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I know, crazy right?

Naturally, the boys quickly become good friends and get stuck into their studies.

Their studies of biology.

Of female biology.

They immediately peep on the girls in the shower.

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Surprisingly, this turns out to be a terrible idea, and they are caught red-handed. The school’s Underground Student Council offers them an ultimatum: spend one month in the school’s underground prison or be expelled.

Thus begins their life of hard labour, punishments and torment at the hands of the sadistic USC, who endeavour to make their lives a living hell.

Prison School is one of the strangest animes I have ever seen. Though it utilizes a relatively realistic art style, the tone of the series is so over-the-top and overtly sexual it gives Kill la Kill a run for its money.

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Speed lines! Corporal punishment!

This topsy-turvy tone doesn’t always work, particularly when the characters interact semi-seriously. The main characters are mostly played straight, to contrast with the sheer insanity carrying on.

Kiyoshi is your standard protagonist – not too distinct or bland and definitely the most normal of the gang, though he does have an interesting thing going on with his kind-of-sort-of-girlfriend Chiyo.

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Shingo is Kiyoshi’s friend from his old school but kind of becomes a lying, conniving jerk with barely any plot relevance for half the series. He at least gets something to do later on when he’s interacting with his love interest Anzu.

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Gakuto is the funniest member of the group and easily the most endearing bar Kiyoshi, but his entire schtick is “I’m a Romance of the Three Kingdoms nerd”, and that wears a little thin early on. Still, he has more to do furthering the plot than anyone else, so he’s okay in my books.

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それ以上の生活のポイントは何ですか?

Joe is a guy in a hood who coughs. He likes ants. I couldn’t even fine a good image of him. Next.

And then we have Andre. He’s a big fat masochist with a tiny face and has a bloody annoying voice in the English dub (and this is Sonny Strait, the guy who played Korosensei in Assassination Classroom, a fantastic performance!), but he’s likeable for the most part. However, like Joe and Shingo he pretty much has nothing to do for a long stretch in the middle of the series.

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Let’s face it, the real reason to watch is for their interactions with the USC, who are far more interesting. Let’s compare, shall we?

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L-R: Meiko, Mari and Hana

Mari, their leader, is the daughter of the school chairman and can control crows, for some reason.

Hana is the karate champ who runs into a lot of awkward situations with Kiyoshi. Their… complicated relationship is one of the funniest aspects of the series by far.

Finally, there’s Meiko, the mascot girl of the franchise, and a good indicator of what to expect from the series. She’s huge, ridiculously powerful, dresses like a dominatrix and, much like the series, is inflated to an absurd degree. Armed with a riding crop and judo skills, she gives the boys a run for their money, even though she’s deathly afraid of disappointing Mari.

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Which is probably why she spends so much time working out.

At this point I suppose I have to wonder – is it right to criticise a series for being utterly crass and ridiculous when that’s clearly the creator’s original intention?

Prison School is, after all, about as close to the bone as anime gets – closer than Queen’s Blade or Seikon no Qwaser to that line of being “too much”.

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Sure, those series have their share of questionable plot devices, but did any of them feature a subplot where one character is obsessed with peeing on another character? Did any of them feature pant-pooping? Did any of them have haemorrhoid jokes?

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[unrelated gif]

Still, I suppose you have to have some spice when the main plot is a mostly average prison break, the first arc or so of the manga. There’s not much else you can fit into 12 episodes, after all.

But this is one of the major problems – to me, the series ends right at the point things start to get really interesting. No spoilers, of course, but let’s just say I was looking forward to the OVA episode… which didn’t advance the interesting part at all. Sigh.

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Me, remembering Prison School doesn’t have a second season when My Wife Is The Student Council President does.

However, despite all the criticism I have for the series, I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy watching it. It’s one of the few series I watched multiple episodes of in a work day, which is as good a recommendation as any.

The art style, as previously mentioned, is really great in an unnervingly realistic kind of way. The fact everyone looks relatively real adds to the comedy when their faces become distorted by whatever emotion they happen to be feeling. It’s also worth noting that the attention to detail in matching the anime to the original manga is exemplary.

The English dub cast is incredibly strong (with one aforementioned exception) and the series is genuinely funny, in a perverse, uncomfortable kind of way. I defy anyone to not at least let loose a chuckle at Meiko’s character design. I mean look at it, it’s absurd.

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See you when you get to the next paragraph in 15 minutes.

All in all, while Prison School is a laugh to watch, it’s still a series I can’t thoroughly recommend. This is definitely not entry-level stuff, it’s far too weird and nonsensical for newbies. However, at the same time, veteran anime fans may also turn their noses up at it for being too vulgar to compete with, I dunno, Evangelion or whatever the prevailing anime snob series is these days.

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“That scene where everyone congratulates the main character one after another changed my life!”

But it has its niche, and it’s fun for what it is. I certainly want a second series focusing on the more interesting arc seen briefly at the end of this season. I guess the best I can do is give it a rating of…

TRY IT

If South Park, softcore pornography and anime had a baby, it would probably look like this. Extraordinarily crass and borderline offensive but undeniably funny, Prison School definitely has niche appeal but is hard to recommend for anyone turned away at face value.

Oh, and they also made a live-action series. I heard it’s a pretty faithful adaptation.

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Interviews With Monster Girls review

Education is important. As human beings, we are constantly learning new and amazing things about the world we live in that change the way we see our lives in the vast expanse of our universe.

In the midst of this discovery, we have to ask ourselves increasingly complicated questions.

Is this planet all we’ll ever know?

Is there life beyond our own out there?

Is there any truth to the legendary monsters of yore?

If there is, are they cute girls?

Such is the world of Interviews With Monster Girls, a rather charming anime released earlier this year.

Our hero, Tetsuo Takahashi, is a biology teacher at Shibasaki High School, where human students are living alongside recently discovered demi-humans (usually referred to as demis).

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It just so happens that Tetsuo has a real affinity for demis, and as a biologist wants to know more about them. So who better to give scientific answers than teenagers who probably don’t really know where they fit in the world, right?

Luckily for Tetsuo, there’s a whole host of perfect interview candidates at Shibasaki. We first encounter Hikari Takanashi, a lively vampire easily identified by her shock of blond hair and mischievous attitude.

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She is soon joined by Kyoko Machi, a shy red-headed dullahan…

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…and Yuki Kusakabe, a snow woman, the extent of whose ice powers is that her sweat freezes when she’s nervous.

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There’s also a non-student demi, Sakie Satou, the most powerful succubus in Japan who also happens to be a math teacher.

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Together, our hero and heroines seek a better understanding of demis for the betterment of all. Isn’t idle curiosity grand?

One of the best things for me about the series, aside from the absolutely wonderful artwork and animation, is the focus on the science of the demi-humans. Light as the overall tone may be, there are many questions that arise when using them as a plot device. How does a dullahan eat? Do vampires really hate garlic? How can Sakie possibly be so adorable? Who IS Best Girl???

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All. The answer is all.

The series is so pure and innocent it’s practically an anomaly in the grand crazy world of anime. The animation and art remind me of modern anime movies, with soft warm colours and bright, airy exchanges between characters.

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Even the swimsuit episode was innocent, which shows a huge amount of restraint.

That’s not to say the series never gets emotional. It’s been posited that Interviews… is something of an allegory for disabilities or chronic health conditions. I’ll leave this article by Peter Fobian to elucidate; but think about the special needs, as it were, that our heroines require.

Kyoko needs help in her daily life – a pillow to lay her head on during class, a harness for when she’s eating; Yuki is bullied because she doesn’t want to get too close to people in case she freezes them; and Sachie has to be extremely careful about what she wears and does in case pupils are exposed to her pheromones.

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And some other things.

It very much becomes clear that these young ladies really just want someone to treat them with respect. Curiosity may be Tetsuo’s main motivation, but he genuinely does care for his students, and maybe that’s all they really wanted – a friend to talk to in the big wide world that doesn’t quite understand them.

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Also interesting is the fact that the main character himself is a full adult. Too many series go straight to the standard shonen high school boy as a hero, so it’s nice to see a responsible (27-year-old, beefy) adult be in the limelight for a change.

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PHWOARR, amirite?

Despite this high praise, the series isn’t without its problems. A few plot threads go completely unanswered, like the sudden appearance of the succubus-specialised police investigator and his sidekick, a young man named Kurtz, who is supposedly the ultimate weapon against succubi. This statement is never clarified – is he an incubus? Secretly a girl? Does it matter? Then why bring it up?

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“Stop asking questions! Nothing to see here!”

Still, such issues are few and far between, and not really deal breakers. Overall, I thought Interviews… was funny, cute and generally pretty great. Full marks.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

One of the most pleasant slice-of-life series I’ve had the fortune of watching. Interviews With Monster Girls is smart, funny, thought-provoking and well worth watching.