I just couldn’t resist watching this colorful madness of a glittery rainbow ride! Was it worth it? Despite what I’ve seen some people write about the series, I’d say yes! You need to be into weird characters, even weirder storylines, and lots of bright colors though, to enjoy this show for what it is; a comedy anime.
We start out by following our four main characters Jyugo, Uno, Rock and Nico, as they break out of a prison, that is supposedly impossible to break out of. Or at least no one has succeeded in doing so yet. It is quickly discovered as to why, when our four friends meet their monitor, the prison infamous guard Hajime, who puts an end to their jailbreak the instant they try to escape… every time they break out.
During the first handful of episodes, no real storyline is to be found, but we get to know our jailbreak heroes very well, as well as some of the main guards in the prison. It’s nearly impossible to take anything seriously at this point, besides maybe Hajime, who is very serious about his job. Even the prison warden, who is very dedicated and seems humorless, turns into a little girl in love, as she has a very (very!) soft spot for Hajime, who is unaware of her affection towards him.
It all changes as the now well-known prisoners have to battle against the guards and their prisoners from other cell blocks for a new years tournament, where we get to see Jyugo’s secret powers as he fights against another prisoner, whom he seems to have met once in the past. From here on out, a rather serious storyline is being fleshed out, and we meet more sinister characters, who don’t seem to have any shred of humanity left in them.
Admitted, the wait for the actual storyline is very long, but then again, we get to know the main characters very well before anything happens, which in my case made me care more for them, than I would have if it all started with a bang. Even though the main story is dark and sinister, with human experiments, tough decisions and life choices, it’s still a comedy, and it knows when to take a break and let the viewer breathe.
If I had to use other words than comedy, I’d say Nanbaka is a series about friendship, betrayal, revenge and enjoying life, no matter the circumstances. I especially liked how the guards, while being whacky and colorful like the prisoners, always were grounded and serious in some way. Our four cellmates are lucky to have Hajime as their guard, though I’m quite sure he doesn’t feel the same about having them as his prisoners.
If you need something fun to watch while waiting for New Years Eve, try diving into the weird life of Nanba Prison. The best part is, that season 2 will start airing when you’re done celebrating! I’m looking forward to it 🙂