OK, don’t let the genre categories throw you on this one, although I question if ‘funny prison rape’ qualifies as one and no, there is no prison rape, funny or otherwise, in this series. “Nambaka” (“The Numbers”) relates the tale of our four favorite felons of Cell 13, Block 13. Introductions are in order, from left to right:
Rock, a man who likes to get into fights
Uno, a man who likes to gamble and win
Nico, a man who likes anime
Jyugo, a man who broke out of numerous prisons
They have all been sent to Namba, a floating prison, where the worst of the worst of the worst end up. Sort of. Actually, these are more troublesome felons who need solid discipline to straighten out their lives than anything more socially dangerous. Their prison guard, Hajime Sugoroku, is a tough, no-nonsense caliber of person, who does everything by the book. The problem: these guys try to escape with almost clockwork regularity and it kind of crimps Hajime’s day, as he has to chase after them and stop them. And the breakout is more of a way to alleviate boredom.
Adding to this nonsense is that all the prison guards are ridiculous fashion plates, with long, flowing hair and/or outrageous make-up styles and/or over-the-top garb. And they are all guys! The head warden, Momoko Hyakushiki, the only woman in the show, is hopelessly in love with Hajime, but, as the warden, she cannot express herself, so it is unrequited love. Hajime is oblivious to this and the rest of the guards mistake Momoko’s actions, reactions and demeanor for anger or rage or frustration.
The series is all the nutty and silly adventures they have and it is, as always, put into the 4-4-4 sequence: the first four episodes establish the characters, the middle four episodes complicate matters and the last four episodes have the plot show up and some element of seriousness comes into play.
The one thing that bothered me most about this show is that everyone sparkles all the time! (You can see a couple of sparkles on Rock). But it is relentless to the point of extreme annoyance, which is a shame, as it really is a goofy show. Jyugo wants to escape because it is something to do and not that he wants to escape. Besides, you are on a great floating island in the middle of the ocean; where would you go after a break out?
Plus, things are pretty plush in the prison. I mean, look at what they are wearing! Under normal circumstances, those earrings or chains or metal numbers could be used as weapons. Nope, not for these guys. The cells are very spacious, more like a luxury hotel suite and the food is pretty damn good (there is a monster cook who takes pride in all he does in the kitchen. Like Steven Seagal without all the macho junk.)
I was trying to figure out how big this place is, and it all depends on the monorail (Huh?) There are 13 cell blocks, each holding 100 inmates. Your number designation is the first two numbers of your cell block (13, for example) and the number you are assigned within that cell block (15, you see that on Jyugo’s face). So, he is Inmate 1315. Now, there are 13 cell blocks and it takes about an hour by monorail to get from stem to stern. So, how fast does it go and how long are the stops? Well, that just adds to the absurdity of the situation.
The ending dictates a second season, as the problems manifested have not been fully addressed. And as I was working on this review, season two started right up, so there is more hysteria in store.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (But some of those guards are absolutely fabulous)
Plot 7 (A bit on the silly/goofy/strange side)
Pacing 8 (Moves along consistently)
Effectiveness 7 (Takes a while for the plot to show up)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 7 (Got a bit too ‘wide-eyes’ for me)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Funny prison rape?