Having watched that utterly preposterous and offensive premiere, I’m beginning to understand why so many people seem to have a hard time explaining just what this series is. Is it satire? Is it a straight sex comedy, or cynical exploitation? Is it a condemnation of the worst trends plaguing anime these days, or a celebration of them? And just how, exactly, does it want to be perceived?
To be honest, I’m still not sure. But I will say, if nothing else, Kangoku Gakuen has the distinction of being demeaning to both males and females – both genders come off looking pretty awful here. I think it’s safe to say this is not a series that wants to be taken remotely seriously – I can’t imagine any show with this premise does. But it’s a long way from there to actually figuring out what the point of all this is, if indeed there is one.
I can see this show being a sort of wet dream for Mizushima Tsutomu, because I always sense his instinct is to go as outrageous and balls-out as possible all the time, and only the strait jacket of expectations ever keeps him in check (as in, I think it was the last two episodes of Another that represented his real aesthetic). And Prison School is a series that removes that strait jacket, because it wants him to be as vile and outlandish as possible. Sadistic girls torturing masochistic and grotesque boys for the sybaritic enjoyment of the audience – what more could a berserker of a director like Mizushima ask for?
If you totally shut off the part of your brain (and soul) that’s ever heard words like “decency” or “dignity”, there are certainly moments here that are funny. Hey, Mizushima is good at whatever it is he does. But is he – and is mangaka Hiramoto Akira – laughing with the audience, or laughing at them? Does it even matter? There’s definitely less sinister intent here than in something like Aku no Hana or Sundome, but on the other hand I don’t see this series as the harmless sex comedy, say, To LOVE-Ru is – I think Kangoku Gakuen knows exactly what it’s doing in appealing to the darker side of the human libido that exists in both sexes. I can’t make any kind of judgment on the larger merits of this series – I’m not qualified to, and even if I was I’d have no clue where to start. But as pure entertainment, it’s so ruthlessly bleak and degrading that I’m skeptical that it can keep from wearing out its welcome pretty quickly.