NOTE: This post is about one of my very favorite shows of the summer season… and fanservice. But please understand this post isn’t an argument for fanservice. I’m writing about how fanservice doesn’t automatically make an anime bad or poorly written. I just want to make this point clear before I get going. 😀
Facts of Interest: I’m a 21 year old woman. I was raised in a very conservative home. My highest priority in the anime I choose to watch is character and story developement. And I love the very crass Prison School.
Synopsis: An all-girls high school decides to accept five new male students during the new school year, including a decent boy named Kiyoshi. The boys are not there long before they attempt to peep on the baths. They’re caught by the underground student council, and the five are committed to a month of prison time on the school grounds or face being expelled from their dream school. If Kiyoshi wants to got on his date with cute Chiyo, he’ll have to attempt a prison breakout!
When I watched Prison School’s first episode, it struck me as being so many things. When I say that, I mean it was more than just a sex comedy, which I think a lot of people will brush it away as. Given that the content of this anime is rather extreme and crass, I won’t gripe too much that a lot of people skipped this one. 😉 However. HOWEVER, I’m not going to listen to any crap about how fanservice automatically makes a story cheap and badly written. That’s just not true and that’s what this post is all about.
When that first episode ended, I was shocked, stunned, floored—I hated myself a little, but I had liked it. A lot. Despite its strangeness, intense animation and tons of crass content, it had been a solid first episode, full of tension and excellent laughs. Sticking through episodes two and three, the show took flight and it has been nothing but downright hysterical with excellent storytelling.
I’m ten episodes into the show now, and I no longer bother myself by wondering why I’m watching a show with so much fanservice. Feeling that way would only be called for if Prison School was just a fanservice-heavy anime. But it’s not. It’s actually a lot more. And while there’s a lot of flashing boobies and butts in your face throughout each episode (thank you God for censorship, because my poor eyes), the story is basically about brotherhood.
There’s many other things going on in Prison School! It features, for the most part, surprisingly likable characters! While I’ve never been more aware of how teenage guys look at the female body, I’ve also never wanted to be in a group of guys so much. Like, “let me in your squad! We shall survive this school’s prison together by having each other’s backs! KIYOSHI-DONO.”
The show is insane, but the epic bond of brotherhood has possibly never been so extremely communicated before and I LOVE IT.
Prison School is a comedy drama. And it’s key advantage to its humor and story is that everything is over the top, including the animation style. The show is so serious that you can tell the creators just know how ridiculous it is. The animation has a unique realism which is used to the comedy’s advantage with extreme facial expressions, along with extreme camera angles and epic shading.
Of course, this means the censored fanservice is more realistic too…but let us now talk fanservice and what it is in a literal fashion. Fanservice (not talking hentai, just fanservice) is kinda like sprinkles on a cupcake.
Some people really love sprinkles, others think sprinkles get in the way of enjoying their dessert–however you like your dessert is your business. BUT we often judge a “cupcake” (or anime, seeing what I’m doing???) by its presentation…. and sometimes the presentation can be a little misleading about what the cake is actually about (and that is the choice of the creator.)
For me, I don’t want to get hung up on the sprinkles if just beneath the distracting eye grabbers is a moist, well-made chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting. Sprinkles do not define how I choose my desserts; that’s just how I’ve learned to roll, for reasons just like Prison School. I’ll give the cupcake a good bite, I’ll chew it thoroughly, swallow it, and then ponder: “Was all I got out of that bite sprinkles or was there actually a really good cupcake in there?”
Meaning, was the fanservice the only prevalent element, or is it merely the most obvious thing atop an well-constructed plot and intriguing character development?
Generally, you can tell very fast if you all you got was crap. I don’t want a “cupcake” that is merely dry crumbs with a wrapper full of sprinkles. That’s disgusting. That’s a bad dessert. But thankfully, that’s not what Prison School is.
Prison School might have a lot of in-your-face heavy fanservice, which is very hard to avoid because it’s such a part of the presentation and elements of the story itself, but the cake and the frosting are amazingly legitimate! Prison School features a fantastic, gripping plot; it has provided some amazing character development; there’s over-the-top comedy that has left me gasping for breath; AND it has executed some of the best tension I have ever felt in an anime.
It’s one of the most entertaining and well-written shows I’ve seen this year. It holds its ground under the layer of heavy sprinkles. So, you might understand my frustration when I stumbled over: “uhg, there’s fanservice, it must be a terrible show with no plot or good characters.”
It’s fine if you don’t want to watch shows with fanservice, extra props to you in fact. But please don’t talk down a dessert if you’ve never even tasted it.
Of course, most of the time, we can generally tell crap when we see it, amiright? I’m not saying you need to try every single anime just because it might be more than it looks. I’m merely against assuming things without any actual facts.
YES: Prison School’s content is extreme; with the unique animation style, it can seem like that’s the only point to the story at first. I myself was overwhelmed by the content of the first few episodes: But I kept coming back. Besides being amazingly entertained, I could tell there was something more to the story. I just needed to put my finger on it.
And sure enough, the plot and the character development kicked in about three or four episodes in and I have not regretted watching this show ever since. While the fanservice is still my least favorite part of the show but this will probably be in my top five anime series of the year!
The characters are the best part. I like the boys of this show. Though they can be pretty pervy, they’re also humanized and imperfect. And I don’t like perfect characters. Perfect characters are no fun and they can’t be developed.
At this point in the story, I’m just as engaged mentally and almost as emotionally as I am with the innocent, super amazing Ore Monogatari, a show that is the polar opposite of Prison School. With Ore, I’m involved in Takeo and Yamato’s beautiful romance and the relatable struggles of building a relationship. With Prison School, I’m involved in the boys surviving of the prison’s female wardens and the bonding between them as they’re pulled apart and brought back together–in fact I feel like I’m one of the gang at this point!
I generally don’t like fanservice to saturate my shows of choice, but I’ll make exceptions for the shows that deserve it! Now, I don’t know to how many people I would actually recommend Prison School. Most folks will loose pateince by being thoroughly grossed out by some of the content before the first two episodes are over. And that’s fine.
So, only the bravest and the most daring anime viewers in search of unique, excellent storytelling would I probably recommend this too. XD
Alright, I think I’ve managed to give my defense for Prison School’s storytelling. I don’t like people making broad assumptions of these guys BECAUSE THESE ARE MY BROTHERS WE’RE TALKING ABOUT, DO YOU FEEL ME?? KIYOSHI, GAKUTO, SHINGO, JOE, ANDRE, I HAVE YOUR BACKS. YOU’VE SUFFERED ENOUGH. TAKE CARE, YOU RIDICULOUS GROUP OF HORMONAL STUPIDNESS. LET’S SURVIVE THE NEXT FEW EPISODES TOGETHER OKAY?!
Until my final review, this all I have to say in defense of the deliciously awesome cupcake that is Prison School. ❤ 😀 ❤ 😀 ❤