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Prison School Complete Collection Collector’s Edition UK Blu-ray Anime Review

13 min read

Prison School UK Blu-rayShinometa number two? Well, not quite but the cringe is definitely there…

What They Say:
When the prestigious all-girls Hachimitsu Private Academy becomes co-ed, five young men are the first males to attend. But the girls aren’t so accepting of their new classmates. Despite their best attempts, Kiyoshi and his friends are met with cold shoulders from the girls. So what better way to deal with rejection than a little bit of peeping? When they chance a peak at the girls during bath time, their plan falls apart and they are caught by the Underground Student Council. Unwilling to hear any excuses, the USC enforces an absurd punishment imprisonment! For a month, the boys must live within the school’s very own penal system while enduring long, hard, and gruelling tasks.

But the work is the least of their worries.

With the sharp crack of a riding crop and the harsh discipline from a stiletto heel, it’s going to take more than sheer will power to survive the next month especially when the ladies of the USC have their own secret agenda.

Contains the complete series on Blu-Ray with both the English dub and the original Japanese track with English subtitles. Presented in collectors packaging with a slipcase featuring a lenticular image of USC Vice President Meiko. This release also includes a 44 page booklet with artwork from the show and an interview with the director Tsutomo Mizushima.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio has a 5.1 release in English and a 2.0 in Japanese – I watched the first disc in English and the second disc in Japanese to compare – and with the Japanese release I did have to raise the volume a little from my default settings, however, there were no other issues regarding sound quality, echoing, synching with subtitles, etc – the quality is high overall. The dub sometimes verges on too loud at times but the combination of music and foley (the punishment scenes in particular) works well and is transferred perfectly.

Video:
Similar with the audio, the video is set in full screen format via NTSC transfer to PAL format with the show combining animation and colour in a more traditional sense but with a rather unique look with some of the designs making the animation stand out (especially considering the prison setting with a lot of gritty and dark colours), with no real problems with the subtitles, the sound synching in either language, no pause lag or in general, it is a quality release, and one with no real effects in terms of CGI or anything, the colour scheme’s uniqueness makes it almost too good for what the show eventually is about…

Packaging:
There was no packing for this test release.

Menu:
On each of the discs, the menu is very similar – lots of clips from the show with a catchy tune in the background– like most Blu-Rays it has popup menus during the show (bar extras) – on the main menu, the choices are on the bottom half of Play All, Episodes, Set-Up and Extras on both discs. Very simple but eye-catching, some good extra little things in pop-up and audio, almost instant like most Blu-Ray releases, it is very well-rounded.

Extras:
We have quite a few dub commentaries- standard and video – for this show, and you can tell if for some reason you watched these first that there was a common worry for this show….

The episode 1 commentary has one of my favourite Vas in Sonny Strait (ADR Director and voice of Andre, which pretty much every cast member tries to imitate in all the commentaries), Kristin Machuire (Chiyo) and Austin Tindell (Kyoshi) – when your director’s first question to the cast is ‘have you ever done porn’ and asks them if they wanted to be known under an assumed name working on this project…yeah, you’re kind of worried. They do mention though about there is an underlying story/plot outside the rather heavy fanservice (which your mileage may vary when you see my thoughts if it does have one) and how they adapted it from the manga at a much faster pace to fit the majority of the first main story into 12 episodes (the ending does suggest sequel) – a nice bit is Sonny asking about the two actors history which you don’t get that much of especially with newer ones like Kristin so it actually has a good point to the commentary albeit with some funny moments like above.

We have a video commentary of episode 11 where you see both the show and actors – here we get Alexis Tipton (Hana) , Tia Bullard (Mari) and Clifford Chapin (Shingo) – after the obligatory Andre impressions they pretty much reveal that Sonny told them the same thing as above (have you ever worked in porn and do you want a pseudonym) which showcases the initial aversion that people may have to this show or working on it (it is revealed in this commentary some actors did refuse to work on it though won’t say who…) but they do mention that the comedy does make it fun, especially with Mari – they mention there were outtakes but sadly not on this Blu-Ray release as I imagined those to be hilarious…

Lastly we get a regular commentary for episode 12, Sonny returns as does Tia, but now joined by Christopher Bevins (Jo) – which is pretty much similar in terms of the initial discussions (plot despite fanservice and wondering if the actors were worried about performing in this), they compliment Tia’s range as it is a role that required her to go from low to high a fair bit, again they go into their legit history with Chris and Tia (Tia being an artist was nice to know), how their vocals had to change with their roles and how working as voice actors is different between the west and the east – they do mention that in terms of roles for women, it is far more ranged to work in anime compared to western stuff which definitely helps considering the amount of shows out there…just not sure this is one you would want on your resume…

We do have the clean opening/ending and commercials (11 of them) and trailers for Death Parade, the live action Attack On Titan, Harmony, High School D x D Born, Maria The Virgin Witch and Aquarion Logos.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Prison School is a still ongoing manga that has been licenced prior to this and has been known for a couple of things. 1) An incredibly unique and good art style and 2) rather heavy on the fan-service side with a few more risks taken. Whilst the manga started (and is still going) since 2011, the anime aired in 2015 and even got a live action drama series the same year. So it definitely is popular and has a fanbase, but the series from the trailers in terms of…certain shots…made me fear that this was another porn without plot series. The fact the commentaries asked if the actors wanted to change their names wasn’t a good sign and considering I recently reviewed Shinometa, a series that nearly made me throw up because of how far they went, I wasn’t really looking forward to this.

Turns out, it DOES at least have an arcing story and there is some character development so I will at least give it a roll of the dice…

Our school, Hachimitsu Academy is an all girls school but has decided to admit boys for the first time in the system thanks to their rather interesting male chairman…however there are only 5 boys that do get admitted. Those are our main character Kiyoshi, a run of the mill handsome protagonist, then we have Gakuto, a hyperactive history and tech buff, Shingo a run of the mill decent looker but perverted, Joe, a rather sickly young man and Andre – the supposed gentle giant of the group. And the laws of the school are rather strict to say the least. So interacting with the girls is something they want (all of them are a tad perverted) but unsure how to go with it. By sheer luck, Kiyoshi drops an eraser which has a sumo picture on it…and it goes by the attractive sumo fan Chiyo, and plan to have a ‘date’ at a sumo tournament. However, the guys all begin to ruin it when they plan to peek and film inside the girls baths – a few misunderstandings later and a student council catching them, they are sentenced to the school’s prison.

Yes, this school has a prison.

Anyway, to make things worse, the officers they use for the prison are clearly on the vicious side of man-hating – the president Mari is the chairman’s daughter who clearly sees her father in disgust (consider the guy tries and fails to hide his rather obvious fetish for ladies’ behinds, it’s understandable) – the biggest fanservice culprit is the vice-president Meiko, a very busty young woman – let’s just say most of the still shots is either of her chest, behind, or legs when she is dripping with sweat…get used to this image…she is also the main course of torture with her whipping and violence – much to some of the guys actual pleasure (especially Andre) and Hana, initially looked like the nice girl of the three…and then turns out she is just as bad with a black-belt and some serious issues…in fact, when Kiyoshi tries to convey a message to Chiyo by hiding through some drains, he comes across Hana trying to urinate…and it all goes from there.

Yeah, there are some uncomfortable scenes throughout here, making me initially think Shinometa 2. And it does continue…BUT there is a bit more to it so…

Mari first punishes the boys by removing their free time over the weekends (and screwing over Kiyoshi his date with Chiyo, who also turns out to be Mari’s little sister) and then Hana draws some revenge motifs by constantly trying to get Kiyoshi to urinate in front of her. He is saved by Gakuto who initially Kiyoshi thought was trying to blackmail him as he seemed to know about his escape plan – on the contrary, he wants in and asks him just to get some rare Three Kingdoms figures which are only out every 4 years which leads to an actual quite good friendship between the two (though it also leads to Hana trying it again and getting accidentally caught in a golden shower…yeah…)

This leads to Gakuto trying to aid Kyoshi to escape with various plans – a hole dig is unintentionally thwarted by the chairman (though it leads to something right at the end of the series), using recorded sounds to showcase Kiyoshi is in the bathroom (leading to a very humiliating moment for Gakuto) and then cross-dressing – this one actually works with a very high detailed plan involving Gakuto being sent to have his hair shaved after ‘accidentally’ pulling down Mari’s skirt, but the hair is used as a wig to make Kiyoshi look like a girl, then Kiyoshi gets a uniform from the laundry room via distraction. He makes it to his date with Chiyo, and all seems to go well however by total fluke, the uniform he wore was in fact Chiyo’s leading to her being disgusted, and worse prior to that, she posted a picture on social media about their date which the council do pick on. This leads to an extension of their punishment and also the 3 strikes you’re out rule – 2 more escape attempts and they get expelled.

Thanks to Chiyo, he does escape expulsion but the group (bar Gakuto) now are excluding from him and uses Shingo, the guy who seems to hate Kiyoshi the most, as a mole – he gets better treatment whilst he gathers information on them – for example, Joe is a fan of insects and collects an ant form, but gets aggressive when Andre nearly knocked them over. This leads to the girls using the school’s crows to swarm over them, thinking they are being eaten they plan for Joe to try and attack them as a way to expel them. Kiyoshi however sees this and actually takes the blow (in the ass of all places) and leads to another scene with Hana trying to get revenge (and it again ends up bad for her as being half naked and pheromones around does something to Kyoshi which causes her to faint) but the big deal is that the guys seem to accept Kiyoshi more, whilst Shingo is being bribed further…

So Shingo is allowed outside and even hits off with a cute girl named Anzu, whilst also informing the girls of Andre’s ‘slave diary’ of his enjoyment of being punished. So to get to their plan of expelling them (known as DTO) Meiko refuses to punish him and Shingo gets rewarded as he is having a date with Anzu – however if he fails to return after half 6 it would classify as a breakout. Suddenly the pieces come together – Anzu is also a mole and is designed to stop Shingo from returning, whilst Meiko uses Andre’s masochism against him for a breakout. Andre causes break out 2 but Anzu genuinely enjoyed Shingo’s company and tells him of the plan with 5 minutes to spare – Shingo realises he was being a jerk and rushes back but strikes out, and the girls are ready to expel them. Chiyo herself overheard some of the plans but no evidence seems to be around, which is then the last few episodes is basically trying to find the evidence to prove they were set up…

So Gakuto manages to sneak into their office (thanks to the guys holding off Meiko in arm wrestling) but seems to have failed (though does download some software which does hold water later), they get an appeal by the chairman accepted by tricking Meiko into a fake one which she rips up (and using the fact Kiyoshi saw in an earlier episode the chairman hiding some porn) and managing to convince him that he is a fan of butts against boobs (don’t ask).

So with one day left, a big plan is involved – this includes being stabbed in the head to get a wound as a disguise, Kiyoshi taking advantage of Hana’s tendencies and realising she is actually more innocent than she appears, and thanks to some intense planning, manipulation and help from Chiyo, the guys seem to have got the evidence they need, and the girls are the ones now on death row so to speak. And then the final scene screams sequel, except with the boys on the outside and a new group of torturers…except this time Hana, Meiko and Mari are the victims…
This is one of those series that for me at least, has no middle ground because I get the feeling it is a love it or hate it series. The rather excessive fanservice will obviously have its niche, but it can get grating with Hana’s tendencies to wanting Kyoshi to pee in front of her or her pee onto him as revenge or Meiko dripping in sweat from exercise or nerves around Mari – but the problem is that they are far more engaging and dynamic characters than the token nice girl in Chiyo so it’s hard not to be entertained by them despite their issues.

It is obviously a shot of the girls kicking ass against the guys who granted, were being perverts and don’t really stop but with characters like Kiyoshi, Shingo and Gakuto who do get some forms of development I was actually surprised with (the Anzu mini-arc was surprisingly well done for example) – hell, the chairman is actually incredibly funny (his speech mannerisms are basically say most of a sentence, then say the last word or part of the sentence very dramatically – works both in English and Japanese as well) and Mari is subtly developed through her man-hating yet is very behind the scenes despite technically being the head of the group – Hana and Meiko are much more in your face.

The plot, as it were, is basically a jailbreak story but in a school twist – the guys still eat school meals and still get taught (via a telescreen) but have to deal with anything wrong and they could be kicked out. And when they are tricked, they need to discover the evidence that they were. It is a race against time and the plots and ideas that they use range from very intelligent to rather…uncanny (Seriously Gakuto – pooping yourself? Grasshoppers for lunch to prove you’ve gone insane?). Whilst some cast get more airtime than others, and develop better (Shingo being the best example considering his earlier portrayal) it actually isn’t a bad idea for a story.

However, the selling point is more with the over the top fanservice, which makes it hard to take seriously, especially considering characters like Andre who enjoy it (albeit does become a plot point) and it does verge on ridiculous and rather curdling at times – the access sweat from Meiko, Hana’s getting golden showers (accidentally to be fair) whilst trying to get revenge by forcing Kiyoshi to pee or get peed on, only to get into an event worse circumstance, etc. Granted, Hana’s over the topness does bring in a lot of comedy moments (her ultimate revenge is even trumped when she steals Kiyoshi’s first kiss) and for that, the show is definitely more bearable because of that. However, it suffers because I get the feeling it didn’t need to rely on it so much, and when it is that in your face, it distracts you from the underlying story.

In Summary:
Prison School has definitely some fun moments and characters (the chairman, Gakuto and Hana in particular) which is strange, because whilst there are many understated characters and moments (Mari, Joe and Chiyo) the over the top fanservice (Meiko) and the mannerisms of some of the cast distracts you from the underlying clever plot of the girls trying to kick them out of the school, and the guys trying to figure out evidence that they were tricked. It is definitely better than some of the shows that rely on fanservice, but it doesn’t have a good medium of fanservice and plot (like a series like Lord Marksman does for example) and thus, the over the top scenes are what you remember and then you understand why people may not have wanted their name involved with this…

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 1 Commentary, Episode 11 Video Commentary, Episode 12 Commentary, Textless Songs, Commercials

Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Anime Ltd via Funimation
Release Date: June 12th, 2017
MSRP: £49.99
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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