- Genre : Comedy, action, slapstick, drama, neon
- Episodes: 25+1
- Studio: Satelight
Jyugo is a man of many skills. He can break out of any prison, open any lock, mimic any key. He can also…ummm. Ok so Jyugo manly has the one skill but he’s working on it. Kida. It’s just not that easy to broaden your horizons when you spend all your time in a jail cell. Well, not that Jyugo spends all that much time there, what with all the breakin out and all. And it’s not that bad, his cell mates are pretty fun guys and the guards are decent too, as long as you don’t make *too much* trouble. All in all Jyugo can’t complain. Except that someone’s been using him for human experiments and he can’t quite remember what happened. Oh and the prison has just been taken over by a monstrous convicted ex guard who might murder them all. But otherwise, things are pretty good!
If you were to ask me right now why I decided to watch Nanbaka, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I had never heard of it at all and the only clue I had about the story, were the prison jumpsuits the characters seem to be wearing. Sometimes, you just got to go for it and hope for the best!
I wish I could recommend Nanbaka, I really do. I just don’t know who to recommend it to! It’s a technically proficient anime but it’s also a hodgepodge of so many clashing elements and styles.
For instance, the visuals are great. But they’re too stylish and zany to appeal to traditionalists and too unpolished and easygoing to be one of the cool kids. I would describe them as a more childish looking Danganronpa. The colours are fantastically loud and just everywhere. This show is an explosion of color and the thematic use is so heavy handed it’s comical. If you are the least bit annoyed by particularly loud colours though Nanbaka may kill you.
The animation is surprisingly good and fights look impressive but the pretty boy aesthetic may scare some people away. Even though the boys are very pretty, they’re also not the characteristic androgenous shoujo style. For instance I thought Hajime was one of the more attractively drawn ones and he’s a very tall, very muscled bald man. Which I realize is just another way of saying attractive. What was I doing? Oh yeah – reviewing a show.
The acting is deadpan and fast paced, which makes sense considering that Nanaka is a comedy show (this is a running gag in the show). Here’s the biggest problem when it comes to recommending Nanbaka, it’s a collection of intense tonal shifts.
The first few episodes had me thinking that this was i fact strewn together super short episodes. It was extremely silly and seemed more disjointed than most. It really made me think of Saiki in many ways but not quite as, for lack of a better word, smart. But then, out of the blue, it became a genuine action anime complete with great fighting sequences and impressive super powers held together by a clear continuous storyline and I really started to get into it. Then it got dark… Serious themes of addiction and uncomfortably topical discussions of police brutality were addressed head on. The moral dilemma and implications of drawing a line between discipline and reform, and punishment and vengeance were brought up but never answered.
And we go right back to slapstick humour, fourth wall breaks and casual innuendo. Shift again, the background puzzle of Jungo’s existence is brought up again just in time for a new conflict to emerge. The latter half of the second season was a fantastic mix of tension, mystery and action that had me blowing through the episodes at breakneck speed to see what happens next. It felt like the first arc of what could become one of my favourite long running shonen and then, it just ended. I mean the show ended way before the story ever did… ARG!!!! WHY!!! NO!!!
I read up a bit on it after finishing the series and it seems Nanbaka was adapted from a web comic. I believe this is the first time I’ve seen a webtoon adaptation and this may have something to do with the unusual tonal structure and slightly frantic mix of elements. It’s very difficult to compare Nanbaka to anything else. At best, you can compare it to a mix of 3 or 4 very different shows. An that makes it so difficult to recommend.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it. Because of its nature, I don’t know if you’ll like Nanbaka. And even if you do, I can’t guarantee that you won’t be annoyed by certain aspects of it. But as a clash of styles and ideas it’s interesting in concept if nothing else. You have not seen a show quite like this and you probably won’t again for some time. Or I am once again showing my limited anime knowledge and this is a super popular subgenre with hundreds of popular titles available. But I hadn’t seen anything quite like it before.
Also hair goals. I want to have every single one of those hairstyles, except Hajime’s (although that’s probably what I’ll end up with if I dye my hair that much). Oh and the Warden. The warden is amazing. She is more than worth your time and the only thing I really reproach that second season for, is the fact that she’s mostly absent.
If any of you have seen this (I know Mel has), please let me know what you thought of it. I’m really curious!
Favorite character: The Warden!!!!
What this anime taught me: adorableness can be mistaken for intimidation which explains so much about my life…
When life gives you lemons, add gin and tonic
Suggested drink: The Lock Pick
- Every time something gets bleeped out – take a tiny sip
- Every time anyone speaks in English – take a sip (water if it’s the dub)
- Every time anyone escapes prison – stretch
- Every time Hajime gets mad – hide
- Every time anyone sparkles – take a breath
- Every time the warden is adorable – squee
- Every time Seitarou-kun cries – take a sip
- Every time there’s a 4th wall break – take a sip
- Every time Uno goes girl crazy – take a sip
- Every time Rock obsesses over food – get a snack
- Every time Nico reminds you of yourself – take a sip
- Every time the warden gets mistaken for angry or ruthless – giggle
- Every time Hajime smokes – take a sip
- Every time Jyugo is bad at something – raise your glass
So…I figured out how to viably take screenshots of entire series…. YAY?