What They Say:
After the drama with Jyugo, it’s time to set things back on easy mode. This is a comedy anime after all! But before they boys of cell block 13 can get too comfortable, trouble stirs in Building 5. With powerful guard, imprisoned for killing an inmate, on the loose, things are about to get dangerous. Can the idiots with numbers save Nanba and themselves?
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language in stereo while the English dub gets a 5.1 boost, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show is one that works a good amount of action and wackiness into it so that it’s very busy in this area with all sorts of movement across it. The dialogue often works in this way as well as it’s almost like overacting in a way as they showcase themselves in most scenes and the four main characters compete for prominence. The action for it it is all over the map in what it does in movement and activity which keeps it pretty busy in good ways, working some dynamic moments and really driving home the craziness of it all. Dialogue may be all over the place throughout it but it’s done in a clean and solid way where there are no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes here are spread across two discs in a nine/four format, giving it plenty of room. Animated by Satelight, this series is all about high-motion action and a lot of really vibrant colors – and a lot of sparkling throughout with the characters. It’s filled with somewhat dark backgrounds of a more purple/blue variety but the main thrust of it is that they’re simple backgrounds more than anything else, keeping it fairly easy to encode. The high-motion foreground material with character animation holds up with with a good smoothness and lots to like in terms of solidity. The color vibrancy really stands out here with some great stuff as it works a range of colors across all the characters so that it’s not all standard uniforms. It’s a bright and colorful design overall and the vibrancy looks great with the encoding used here.
The packaging for this release brings us a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case that holds the four discs across both formats with hinges while also providing an o-card slipcover that uses the same artwork as the case. The o-card has a lot more vibrant colors because of the cardstock and that really does pay off here. The front cover uses the main key visual for the second cour of the series where it’s a bit brighter with the outdoor elements helping together with paint all over the place and the wackiness of the characters and their color design. It really captures the colo style of the series and brings it to life wonderfully here. The back cover goes with a simple black/blue/pink design that provides the text in yellow to breakdown the premise as well as part of the technical grid. A few shots from the show reinforce the color design and we get a good technical grid that showcases how the formats are put together. While there are no inserts included with the release we do get a reverse cover where the left panel breaks down the episodes by number and title and the right uses the same artwork as the front cover.
The menu design for this release keeps things very simple as it goes for the static approach for both discs. It also goes for the simple design by using the same static image for both of them, which is admittedly a good one as it uses the character material from the front cover of the four main guys up close and zoomed in. It’s very vibrant and appealing with what it does, providing for something that sets the tone very well. The navigation along the lower left features a paint splotch with the simple text which isn’t much since there are no extras for the release. Setup is a breeze and accessing everything as both the main menu and the pop-up menu during playback is easy.
The first half of the Nanbaka series was one that left me pretty happy with it though it was also one that I don’t recommend marathoning. There are shows that just run hard and fast constantly and with a very colorful approach it ends up coming across as way too much sometimes. Especially when marathoned. The second half followed right after the first half and I can only imagine the kind of sensory overload on a weekly basis in trying to keep it all together. This half is one that I definitely enjoyed overall but I did find that I enjoyed it less than the first as we get the final batch of twelve episodes and the OVA. It sticks to a lot of the tried and true from the first half while also expanding things a but. But it also simply because too many characters and intentions to keep track of while everyone is running around.
Events here do largely stick to the familiar as they run with the gag about them being a comedy series with lots of action. The show actually opens this half in a way that’s almost too familiar because it spends a lot of the first episode on just random things happening, particularly with the whole Random Hair Color Syndrome that has spread into the place and is impacting everyone – that has hair, at least. It’s silly and fun watching everyone with different hair colors than usual and the way they deal with each other, especially jealousies, but at the same time it left me feeling less and less sure of who anyone was because of some of the silly twists and turns they throw into it. It’s a fun one-off gag for an episode though.
The escapes are regular as the show goes on and there is some fun early on with new guards coming in and some time spent with Hitoshi. Just the way everyone leers at him since he looks so girlish is amusing as his responses don’t factor that in at all. So it ends up reinforcing their interest in her and lots of frustration for Hajime. Hajime is always good for some laughs as he mostly plays the straight man in so many situations and this half does some decent things by him in giving him a bit more to do and interact with, especially toward the end when he basically has to team up with Jyugo for a bit in order to deal with the problems of the final arc. Hajime’s also got some fun as there’s a cat brought into the show along the way as well and with the cat having a position of power within the ranking it just makes for even more tension within the guards’ group as they grate against each other over seemingly everything.
Some of the more amusing things with these episodes focuses on what’s below building 5 and elsewhere, some of the creative things put into the whole place, and just how strange everything can go as various prisoner groups start going at each other and the guards have their own rivalries as well. A big kind of subplot that grows over the course of it is the use of Enki as a big bad to deal with. It’s something that provides for some background since he was a guard that killed prisoners and betrayed other guards, but I found him to be someone that I couldn’t really connect with as a villain in a way. More that he wasn’t a strong enough character to really make an impact as most of the fun really keeps coming back to the core group and their interactions. Which is good and bad since they get split often and we have subplots that become dominant for a bit and those in marathon form simply don’t go as smoothly as they could.
As much fun as I had with Nanbaka in its first set I had a bit less with this. There are a lots of very enjoyable moments throughout and the visual design is crazy fun and enjoyable but it’s something that really needs to be in small doses. The core group and the focus on Jyugo mostly works well when they’re together and I like a lot of the supporting characters, especially Hajime. But the more it went on the less I felt like there was a really cohesive narrative to latch onto and more just an ongoing series of incidents. They’re fun and silly but they lack that oomph that they need. The release is nicely done with a great looking encoding and a fun dub but it’s unfortunate there’s no extras here as a dub commentary cast could have been a lot of fun, especially a video commentary.
Japanese 2.0 Dolby TrueHD Language, English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: October 9th, 2018
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.