I really didn’t want to review these two volumes together, but the only way that was going to happen was if I didn’t read them together. Here we are. Reviewed together because I couldn’t help but read these two massive sized manga back to back. I mean we’re talking 380 pages each. Together that’s 760 pages! Yes, I did pause to use a calculator. Don’t you judge me! If that’s not a statement of just how damn good this series is then I don’t know what is. There is no other series that I can say that I sat down and read 760 pages in one sitting, no breaks. None. If the next volume was out I would have read that as well. If I hadn’t read the first volume already I would have read that as well. Okay I know that number really isn’t sinking in so here’s a picture of the side profile of the books together with a normal size manga to compare.
Now, I wholeheartedly recommend that you just go read the series. Watch the anime, whichever or both they’re great. But for those of you that need some kind of summary of the volumes here you go:
Volume 2 finds Kiyoshi and Gackt totally fucked by the fact that their hole in the wall has been covered. Gackt has given up seven years of his life and shit himself for nothing. Kiyoshi desperately comes up with another idea… cross-dress. His plan is to steal a girl’s uniform and just walk out the front gate. Gackt goes along with the plan, but adds to it by being a total ass to the President and Vice President. To make amends he has the VP shave his head. He then gives the hair to Kiyoshi who thinks it’s really fucking gross… and it is. I mean hair? Come on… that’s gross. Spoiler for volume 2, the plan works, but Kiyoshi makes the discovery that Chiyo is the President’s sister and the Chairman’s daughter meaning he gets busted… she also now finds him gross because he somehow managed to steal her uniform to sneak out.
Volume 3 is fan-fucking-tastic because the power dynamic of the prison has changed. Kiyoshi has covered for Gackt's role in his escape, but now finds himself on the outs with the other boys. He’s started to earn their trust back, which is good since he’ll need them unite if they’re going to stop from getting expelled. Why? Because the Shadow Student Council has enacted E.B.O. aka Expel the Boys Operation… and it’s working. Also, more fun with Hana as she takes Kiyoshi to the nurse’s office after getting stabbed in the ass with a sharpened stick. She wants to pee on him and see him pee… while he’s putting ointment on his asshole. They end up bottomless together under a cot when Chiyo comes to check on Kiyoshi. Let’s just say that nature takes its course and little Kiyoshi reaches out and touches faith… I mean Hana. Hilarity ensues.
To say that this series is hilarious is a bit of an understatement for me. It’s funny all the time. Everything that feels serious like the fan service is actually just satire. We spoke in great lengths about this on this week’s episode of Super-S so I actually recommend listening to that in addition to this review. Aside from the comedy and the satire there’s this realistic prison story going on still. There’s shanking, there’s “rats”, escape plans, a pecking order. There are all these things that on their own would actually make for a hell of a prison story. It’s the fact that its paired with the comedy and the satire that makes it so good, but what makes it great is that it’s a high school. It’s very easy to forget that at times, but when you remember that all of this is in high school it makes it so damn funny.
Akira Hiramoto’s art continues to be some of the best I’ve ever seen in a manga or a comic book period. I recently read 7th Garden and while the art was technically great, it lacked personality and passion. When I look at something like Prison School it’s oozing with passion and trickling with personality from every page. There’s never a wasted panel. A filler page. All of the art has beauty and meaning to the story. The art tells so much of the story on its own and is really a display of a master at work. To put it plainly I lack the knowledge to praise the art any further, but fully acknowledge that it deserves more praise.
Volume 5 of Prison School isn’t out until July 26th… that’s a long time to wait in my book, but this series is absolutely worth the wait. Sure I could find it online to read, but there is something beautiful and wonderful about the trade paperbacks. The covers are classic and the additional pages of character art are beautiful. And if you haven’t read the series yet, well then you have roughly 60 days to read 1,140 pages of a story that is bound to be a classic.
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Prison School Vol. 2 & 3 Creator: Akira Hiramoto Publisher: Yen Press Price: $20.00 each Format: TPB; Print/Digital
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