Prison School is a bizarre and absurdly funny comedy of errors, and after I read through the first volume of this series, I decided it was one of the best things I’d read all year. The premise seems fairly innocuous: four male transfer students are sent to Hachimitsu Academy, formerly an all-girls school. Like the series Highschool DxD, the boys are excited to be surrounded by a campus full of young women, believing that this will be the key to finally going on dates with girls. What seems like a paradise quickly turns to hell on earth after a peeping raid goes horribly wrong, putting Kiyoshi Fujino and his classmates Takahito, Shingo, Joji, and Reiji under the thumbs of the school’s draconian Underground Student Council. Given a month to reform their perverted natures or be expelled, the boys do their time in a small jail built in the center of the school.
Despite his incarceration, Kiyoshi has caught the attention of Chiyo Kurihara, a girl who shares his love for a popular sumo celebrity. Before the boys’ nighttime raid, the two make a date to see a sumo match later in the month. After he is sentenced by the Underground Student Council, Kiyoshi’s resolve to go through with the date is cause for many of the male students’ misadventures. Teaming up with Takahito, whose interest in his classmate’s escape is motivated by a selfish desire to collect limited edition toys, the boys enter into a contract that proves to be a frequent disaster. Seeing these two work together is like watching Escape From Alcatraz as performed by the Three Stooges.
The book is rife with misunderstandings, odd coincidences, and unintended circumstances, and it is these scenarios that drive the comic’s humor, raunchy as it is. Another element of the book’s humor comes from the hilarious reaction faces of the cast during moments of extreme duress. For the better part of the work, the character artwork is above average and nothing too special. However, when Kiyoshi finds himself infiltrating the girls’ shower by virtue of a woman’s lack of eyewear or Takahito risks becoming a social pariah to record bowel movements for a future escape attempt, their faces take on an overly detailed expression that is incredibly funny, if somewhat unnerving.
To keep the boys on the straight and narrow through a regime of schoolwork and hard labor, the Underground Student Council dispatches its vice president and chief disciplinarian Meiko Shiraki, a large-bosomed masochist who dresses in a manner that sexualizes her appearance. A tough taskmaster, Meiko is a woman who lets her riding crop do most of the talking. She treats insubordination by physically assaulting the boys, be it by whipping, kicking, or verbal emasculation. She would make the most seasoned and bitter dominatrix cry with joy. The punishments she doles out lead to the most flattering glimpses of her body, and whole panels are reserved for unique angles and full body shots.
As such, Prison School is decidedly a work for mature audiences. Meiko herself is enough reason to reserve this material for older readers, but there’s more in this manga than the actions of a buxom woman with a penchant for random squat exercises. Nudity is anatomically correct from the waist up, while convenient shadows are used to hide lower extremities. A chance encounter between Kiyoshi and Hana Midorikawa, the Underground council’s secretary and martial arts aficionado, leads to obsessive behavior involving certain bathroom activities (which is honestly the funniest encounter in the book). The school’s principal, who is the council president’s father, is a porn-loving lame duck who struggles with abandonment issues stemming from his decision to discard his personal porn collection. While there is no sex to be found in Prison School, there is enough over-the-top fanservice to give any teen librarian pause.
Akira Hiramoto’s Prison School is the manga equivalent of Animal House, a raunchy school comedy that is unlike other school comedies. The sexual themes and blatant fanservice will be off-putting to some readers, and to be completely honest, this has no place in a teen collection. However, adults who have an interest in goofball comedies with a sprinkling of titillation—some of which I could have done without—are in for a wild ride. The book almost functions as a parody of the high school comedy genre, in which the basic structure is infused with so much insanity that the best thing to do is simply buy the ticket and take the trip.
Prison School, vol. 1
by Akira Hiramoto
Yen Press, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: Mature (17+)