I’m not sure what to make of Prison School. After three episodes I certainly know what it is and what to expect. I just don’t know if it’s good, or bad, or comedy, or one of those Studio Arms torture-porn things. Well, okay, I know it’s not the last one because a) it’s done by J.C. Staff and looks way better than any Arms show, and b) I don’t love it way more than I think I should.
The all girls Hachimitsu Academy boarding school has decided to let boys enrol for the first time. Five young men, hoping to meet some girls, eagerly sign up, just to find that they are just as awkward, and weird, dating-impaired as they were before. Out of desperation, they resort to peeping, and get caught by the Underground Student Counsel, and are sentenced to carry out their education from a small prison built in the middle of the school’s courtyard. However, one of the boys, Kiyoshi, manages to do the unbelievable; get a date. So he must find a way to break out and make that date, without getting caught.
I think, when you get down to what keeps the show going, it’s a comedy. That’s the only thing I can think of going back to watch more for. It’s the premise and absurd extremes it reaches that are funny; the simple fact that it continues is the comedy, not individual jokes. It does have jokes, but the problem is, this is Prison School’s sense of humour…
It’s not the animation (which is actually quite good; we’ll get to that), it’s not the ecchi and the show really shouldn’t even be considered ecchi, and it’s certainly not the characters. So far we’ve only really gotten to know two characters, Kiyoshi and Gakuto. Kiyoshi is just another cookie cutter protagonist, defined by two traits, 1) liking the first girl who talked to him, and 2) being a good friend. Dammit Kiyoshi, go be a philandering asshole! Gakuto is one step worse in that he only has one character trait. Really really liking The Three Kingdoms, aka that thing Ikki Tousen is supposed to be based on.
The other three boys, Shingo, Andre and Joe all seem more interesting than these two, but they haven’t gotten much screen time, and zero development. Then you have the three members of the Underground Student Counsel, Hana the tsundere(?), Meiko the dominatrix, and Mari the president. They all have interesting and varied personalities that add a lot to the show, and frankly I’ve come to like them more than any of our protagonists just because at least they’re interesting. Maybe that’s the point, side with the UGSC and laugh along at the boys’ suffering.
As for the animation, before the show started running, I’d heard a bit about it as an area of controversy. The manga had a very distinct style which some people thought would be difficult to execute in animation. Well, Prison School and J.C. Staff did it, and it doesn’t even looking like they had to do much. I don’t mean to undermine their work, the show looks great, and they made good decisions with the style. Heavy contrast and a lot of pitch black planes are used to keep some of the black-and-white look of manga without sacrificing colour. And everything has a slight textured look to it, like pages. At points the framerate of animation seems to drop, but I think that’s intentional, as imagining those moments in fluid animation just looks off.
The big thing that urks me is the censorship. As far as I can tell, there isn’t much outright nudity, but there’s a lot of censor bars. And Prison School uses the High School DxD type of censor bar where lens flares will appear in the middle of a windowless room. It just seems odd that the show will try to cover up every panty-shot like this,
When this is a freakin’ character design!
Oh well. I’m not so much complaining and confused. Overall it seems like some dumb fun that I’m not sure how long I can enjoy, but I’ve enjoyed three episodes so far. Check it out if you don’t mind that kind of stuff you’ve been seeing in the screenshots.