Nanbaka is like one of those assorted chocolate boxes, containing all sorts of contradicting flavors. Sadly, instead of being an expensive grouping of delicate candies, it’s more like one of those value boxes with flavors nobody really wants. It wouldn’t be farfetched to say the box was left open by accident for the chocolates to go stale, either.
It’s hard to sum up exactly what Nanbaka is about in a few sentences, since it’s all over the place. What starts off as a comedic spoof show about a group of inmates attempting to break out of prison soon morphs into a mess of an action show, making a serious attempt at super powered battles and tear jerking backstories. There’s even a large subplot involving a tournament.
The main problem with the show is its lack of identity. Throwing too much at the viewer takes away from what is good. Even if the comedy isn’t to my liking, it’s not technically bad. It does ask you to suspend a large amount of disbelief for it to work, which is then countered by the various attempts at drama that’s hard to relate to. That being said, certain shows thrive on variety. Mixing genres and tones isn’t always terrible, but it’s strikingly obvious when it’s done without care. This is unfortunately one of those times.
For better or worse, Nanbaka is intensely self-aware. This can sort of help with comedy elements as the characters point out how ridiculous the situations can be, referencing other anime in not so subtle ways or even pointing out that they are in one as well. The execution is never perfect, but the attempt isn’t completely wasted. However, there’s a problem when a show knocks other shows for doing something while at the same time continually doing it. Referencing something for a laugh is fine, but reminding us why we don’t like it by example kind of defeats the purpose.
You can't really talk about this show without mentioning its flamboyant character designs. Every character is very recognizable, covered from head to toe in sparkling adornments that in no way make sense for a prison. If the show maintained its light-hearted nature set at the beginning, this wouldn’t be so off-putting. Watching glittering characters battle to the death, crying over mistakes, and attempting to tug at our heartstrings can make for a confusing experience, though. I also still don’t get why obnoxious sparkling lights surround each character.
I’m not entirely sure who the target audience for Nanbaka is, honestly. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for chocolates. read more
A description of Nanbaka is probably going to make it sound real dumb. This is likey because it really, really is. But the fact it is dumb does not preclude it from being entertaining, and I assure you that it is nothing if not that. I 100% recommend watching it if you are:
A.) In the mood for something funny.
B.) Unbothered by something being really stupid.
C.) Equally unbothered by anime being weird for weird's sake.
I can best sum up Nanbaka thusly: it is pretty much what would happen if you transformed the Looney Tunes into bishy anime twinks with FABULOUS hair and threw them into a facility that is simultaneously the worlds most secure prison and the worlds most liberal Montessori preschool. So like Tiny Toon Adventures meets Orange is the New Black. Specifically those two shows, because like Tiny Toon Adventures the characters seem to have the impulse control of infants and can pull seemingly whatever they want out of Hammerspace and like OITNB everybody is kinda compelling and pretty fabulous and kinda gay and in prison. If that doesn't sound fun to you, you probably won't like it. We would probably also not be friends, because it sounds like a whole bunch of fun to me.
Art: OH MY GOD REALLY GOOD! It is a joy to look at. The color is hyper-saturated, lime green and hot pink and crazy in the best way possible. It is exciting and surreal, which helps you suspend your disbelief over the antics of the ridiculous plot and characters. The art puts me in the mood to have fun, which the show then offers. 10/10, this is what art should do for an animated show: inform you by design alone what kind of show you are watching.
Sound: Also awesome. The opening song is pretty cool: rocky J-Pop paired with some fun imagery indicative of the mood of the show. The ending, however, is the shit. It's more or less chibi versions of the characters running around escaping from prison while they all sing a song together. I love it and watch it every time. It is charming and funny, and always made me want to watch the next episode.
Character: Over the top and too much, but so is the show and consequentially it more or less works. The main 4 are all pretty funny and engaging, although main guy (#15/Jyuugo) is kind of a sad sack these days. Everybody has more or less exactly one joke that they are used to tell over and over, but the joke seems to always land despite being repeated ad nauseam. They are either manic and adorably annoying, or unvarying serious to the point that they cannot themselves be taken seriously. Sometimes both at once (The Warden). Special shout out goes to Nico, the hyper kid who takes a bunch of drugs and is really into stupid anime, because he is basically me. I just wanted to hang out with him and smoke a blunt and watch G-Gundam (secretly the best Gundam despite what everybody else who has ever watched it beside me and Nico might say).
Enjoyment: Loads. This show isn't going to teach you anything. It's not going to tell you anything profound, it will just make you laugh a bunch. If that is enough for you, give it a watch. I did and do not regret it in the slightest. read more
The action/comedy multi-genre is saturated with great shows and awful shows. The great shows are not only deliver brilliant action scenes through the quality of the technical aspects, they’re also hilarious and consistent with the comedy. The poor action/comedy shows either skimp on the quality of the art and sound involved or lack consistency in the comedy or both. Action/comedy shows are at their best when they’re funny or exciting but not when they drift off into needless drama.
Nanbaka falls between the two; it starts out great with an interesting premise and acceptable comedy. But it loses its focus along the way near the end of the series and slowly becomes boring.
[Repeated prison escapists]
Nanbaka is an action/comedy anime series based off a web manga originally created by Futamata Shou and his influence glows throughout the show. It is directed by Takamatsu Shinji, who’s directed brilliant comedy series like Gintama and The Daily Lives of Highschool boys. The series is revolves around the daily antics of four inmates in the self-proclaimed, most formidable prison in the world. The inmates of the infamous ward 13, Juugo, Uno, Rock and Nico, often try to escape the prison’s walls and are always stopped in their tracks by the fearsome guard, Sugoroku Hajime. But Juugo is also on the lookout for the man who gave him his unremovable shackles and his colleagues question their motives for trying to escape the prison.
[An interesting premise abandoned]
Nanbaka begins as a ‘gag’ comedy with an interesting premise: the main characters frequently try to escape from the prison. In the first few episodes, we see them break through several high security gates only to be caught and beaten by the head guard, Hajime. The hilarious execution of this premise coupled with the diverse skill set of the inmates makes these episodes interesting to watch. The premise also leaves a lot of room for creativity; the prison could be viewed as a dungeon, for example. As thin as the plot was, it was replaced by a pointless intra-prison arc.
The intra-prison arc was not boring by any chance; it was even more exciting than the initial episodes though less creative. The event introduced most of the cast of the show and showcased the abilities of the inmates and guards alike. It was hilarious and full of explosive battles with fluid animation and lots of special effects. It was pointless but still fun to watch. Unfortunately, the show slides into a series of dramatic sketches following the last battle in the arc.
The last few episodes seemed like the opposite of the first episodes; they had direction but were boring. They just seemed to tick off all the common tropes for drama present in an action show; a self-deprecating main character who learns to lean on his friends. It wasn’t awful; it just wasn’t what was sold by the show at the start. Also, the drama would have been better had there been more characters involved.
[A diverse and wild cast]
Nanbaka has a large cast of characters from various nationalities. Some are declared in the show like Juugo’s British and American fellow inmates. Others are inferred from their design like the inmates of ward 5. With this comes a variety in the design; some inmates wear their prison clothes while others do not. Unfortunately, the personalities aren’t as diverse. Almost all the characters, inmates and guards alike are hyperactive and aggressive; most of the inmates have no motives at all. Only the main characters seem to want other things hang out in prison.
Juugo likes to break out of his cell, 13, for the fun of it; it’s later revealed that it’s the only skill he has. He’s also in search of the man who placed shackles on him but this only becomes a focus of the show much later. Uno is the self-proclaimed pretty boy of his cell; Rock is the muscle who likes to eat and Nico is playful and immune to drugs. That’s about all there is to them although they reveal other skills that only last the duration of the intra-prison event arc. The other characters of note are ward 13’s head guard, Hajime, who’s a workaholic and the warden who has a crush on Hajime. Fortunately, what Nanbaka lacks in characterization, it makes up for in its art and character design.
[Glitter, gloss and pretty boys]
The art style of Nanbaka is distinct and loud. The background and character art is sharp and colourful; the colours are bold and bright; the characters are drawn with prominent outlines. It’s artstyle is similar to that of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure but it’s recognizable for the tones of colour used. It’s uniqueness lies in its overall theme: femininity.
It’s difficult to miss the glitter that pervades the environment in the show. The characters glitter, the prison walls glitter, even the ocean that surrounds the prison glitters. In addition to the glitter is the gloss that’s also on everything, from hair to their clothing. The characters also tend to wear more jewellry than the average male and often have painted fingernails. Then there are characters that are effeminate in their appearance, voice and mannerisms. This art style, coupled with the jazzy themes, gives the show a 70s feel.
[Jazzy with a spice of rock]
The opening (Rin! Rin! Hi! Hi!) gives away the catchy jazz style that pervades the entire show. It’s a brilliant intro to the flamboyant show and one of the most memorable for me in the Fall season of 2016. Sadly, only Uno’s melody (a score that plays when he’s about to play a trick) comes close to being as memorable as the opening music. The rest of the scores are either gentle jazz tunes or generic rock music that’s designed for fight scenes in anime.
I wouldn’t say I enjoyed Nanbaka in its entirety as some of the episodes were a chore to watch, often because of the obvious drama. The comedy grows less hilarious past the halfway point; it even loses its most popular running gag. The show was mostly enjoyable for its first few episodes and its flamboyant art style. It did get its technical aspects right and would have been a much better show had it stayed on course.read more
Now that that's out of the way, I found enjoyment in this show though the hilarious imagery and funny jokes.
THE STORY is mediocre at best, but it's a comedy, so there's not much you can expect.
THE ART is great. It's the main focus of the comedy element and sometimes is a bit too lenient on it. The art by itself though colorful and wild is sometimes a bit eye bleeding.
THE CHARACTERS aren't varied. They are all just comic relief, which makes them seem bland overall.
OVERALL I liked this show, not to where I'll be recommending it, but it made me laugh and I think a comedy shows goal is to make you laugh and this show accomplishes it's goal.read more
If you came here looking for an immensely meaningful plot that will make you see the world in a completely different way and make you wonder what the purpose of life is, then I'm terribly sorry... you came to the wrong place. Though, if you came here for a short show that will keep you entertained on times when you purely want to watch something simple, but just aren't into those moe-blobs or harem shows, then... nope, not that one either.
Nanbaka offers you the typical gag-anime humor consisting of popular shounen anime "special move" exclamations and pointless comical moments in the middle of serious fights, but then there is some drama that makes the show seem as it were trying to make the plot deeper, thus make it look like it doesn't know what kind of series it actually wants to be.
The story is nothing special. Four young criminals with unpleasant pasts, known for always breaking out of every prison they're transferred to, end up in the world's most intimidating prison, where the story is set. That's pretty much the baseline, and while it wasn't that bad at all, the needless drama kicked in, and it ruined everything. Pointless overexaggerating drama, even though it could've stayed a fun and lighthearted series without any drama whatsoever.
The art is very nice and detailed, which I like a lot. Every single thing on a character, no matter how big or small, has a slight gradiation which makes the art look significantly more detailed. The animation seems pretty solid, as well. The colours are very bright and vivid; just what feels best for an action anime series. On the other hand, we always have those flashy stars around the character that seem kind of pointless. Also, all of the characters have these colourful characteristics, be it hair, eyes, clothes, or all of those together, and while it suits the carefree comedic side it had in the beginning, it quickly gives off the opposing effect when it has its identity crisis. Simply makes it look like a few rainbows fighting to death. Lovely.
When it comes to sound, I didn't really notice anything astonishing during the actual show, but I do like the opening considerably. I might also add that the voices suit each character fairly well.
The characters might be a little cliché at times, but overall they're aren't that bad... that is before it goes up the hill with the drama and they become impossible to relate to, or even just enjoy.
Now, there are still quite a few flaws in this anime, so let me just mention those right now.
For starters, the show is about 5 different individuals, the four inmates and their guard, so why is it that an episode ends with an intriguing cliffhanger and continues with an entire episode about the backstory of a character who barely even has any screen-time? In that case, a mere filler about just one of the main characters would've been a lot more entertaining. Generally, the show often gives off this rushed feeling, as if they tried developing the story at the last second. Which leads to my next point, what we've all been waiting for: The identity crisis. Typically, an action gag-anime has a lot of humor during fights and such moments, with slight drama here and there to add some spice, but here there's a supposedly serious fight, random humor all over the scene, and then suddenly everyone gets depressing. The anime proclaimed that it's a gag-anime during the show. It seems as though it just can't pick its mind on what it wants to be, a serious action drama show, or a comedic gag-anime. My guess is that it tries to be both, serious and funny, and balance that like other shows do, but it just seems to fail miserably. In my opinion, it would have been highly enjoyable without any drama, if it simply stayed the way it was in the first few episodes.
The only audience I could imagine Nanbaka for, the way it ended up, is the audience that has just watched a few mainstream shows, and doesn't really care about that story. The audience who just wants some action, which action is kind of unappealing, as well, because it barely has any.read more
Nanbaka is an action dramady that definitely excels at the comedy aspect, but failed to impress me with its more serious plot-building episodes; which seem to outnumber the mostly or strictly comedic ones. I was just in it for the laughs, but it got totally serious after the tournament arc, after which it dove head-first into hidden dark sides and tragic backstories galore. These were never BAD by any means, just kind of mediocre. This being the case, it was never so dull as to make it difficult for me to finish watching an episode, or several in a row.
Hey folks, this will be a review for Nanbaka. I have mixed feelings about this show as a whole. The overall premise and layout was fun and enjoyable to watch. However the dramatic events that arise are really not that deep or extraordinary as some reviews have mentioned. Its those "deep" moments in the later part of the show that really kill the entire thing for me.
The story revolves around 4 prisoners in the most secure and top secret prison in the world. These four prisoners are well known for escaping prisons, Juugo especially. What seems to start off as a comedy show about escaping, and or making a home in this oddly comfortable super prison turns into a odd mix of mini stories. Each prisoner has some sort of semi tragic back story. However the main focus turns to Juugo as we discover a odd tangle of things involving modifications, super advanced technology, fantasy like super villains...etc.
The art is strange but very colorful and fun. The soundtrack was enjoyable to listen to as well.
The characters were a great mix. Juugo, the main character is only good at breaking out of prison. Nico is the otaku character who has the ability to steal peoples moves by observing them. Uno is the woman lover who is exceptional at cheating and has amazing intuition. Rock is the brawny guy who loves to fight, but more than anything loves food. Its a ragtag bunch and the first few episodes you watch as they attempt to escape, pick on the guards and make friends.
Most of the characters are important and have their own back story. However most of the show revolves around the four prisoners.
I enjoyed this show a good amount for the first half or so. It felt like a silly romp in an insane prison. However they derail that for some cheesy drama. The good news is the cheesy drama gets replaced with drama so game changing you are left thinking "Wasn't this a show about 4 jail breakers trying to escape the worlds most impressive prison". The deep moments everyone is yammering on about is nothing more than friendship, finding a home, and "tragic pasts"...the usual stuff. The friendship and finding a home elements get destroyed along side the comedy. The tragic pasts are poorly written drama fodder.
This show was like a small get together with a handful of friends. Its enjoyable, things are going alright, your having fun but you wouldn't mind being somewhere else. Then all of a sudden the person who had two mikes hard lemonades drunkenly stands up and begins spilling everyone's secrets. After a few well chosen swear words and some shouting they begin pissing on all of the snacks. They didn't spill any of your secrets so your not angry, but you had been eyeing that chocolate cake all evening. You wanted it, but it was clearly the last piece and you didn't want to be that guy. Now its being pissed on and the only thing you can think is "damn, I really wanted that cake". You look around to see how everyone else feels about the cake being ruined and they are all cheering him on. You look back at the cake confused and somewhat sad before you leave out into the world where you will find another cake or perhaps some Wendy's.
TLDR: Decent start, poor and shallow ending(cliffhanger). Art and soundtrack pretty good. read more
I don't actually think it has an identity crisis as much as it fits with the intention of the author into two genres, much like Gintama if you will. Gintama swings 180 very fast too, could argue any day it operates just as good without its drama (that does indeed loses out to its comedy) bc it does /philosophical/ and not shounen action well.
And for me, Nanbaka has made me laugh out loud on several occasions with its comedy (rather straightforwardly played) nothing serious, just a few chuckle here and there but that only proves it has the ability to do light-hearted (which is more of a task than it presents itself to be) bc the jokes are nothing amazing, nothing that will make you bow over but enough to steal some real laughter from your person, which I personally think is a job well done for a comedy that is average and regular in all its element.
And I also don't think Nanbaka has overambition in its intentions. The ambiance makes me feel the comedy and drama are both a subsisting part of the author and it doesn't feel forced, despite pacing and transitions leaving way too much to be desired. If I can like the nearly inane comedy of Nanbaka this much, it's probably drawing somewhere from the heart of the author. Now the drama I can't comment much because season 1 is basically a set up in that aspect. You have no idea where it's going/gonna go since it's just the beginning. The drama/plot as a phase by itself (starting chapter) was *all right.* Nothing mediocre but nothing impressive either. Nanbaka is probably gonna turn into a character-reliant series, and it's good for itself seeing how surprisingly (just lightly) strong it can be in this segment.
If you don't inherently like Nanbaka though, the fitting of its story is gonna throw you right off. You're gonna get fed up with it. The only reason I'm not is because I like the atmosphere, I like this Nanbaka verse that the author has presented to us but in strict storytelling regards, it shouldn't receive much respect from me.
But I just want put Gintama and Katekyo Hitman Reborn as examples for you to consider when you persist into the lane of identity crisis. KHR first off, had an entire arc dedicated to opening comedy (dragging on for way too long for the worst comedy I've ever seen, nobody's probably gonna be able to take that title from it) and arguably, could continue that way for the rest of what KHR is meant to be about (just like many has pointed out about Nanbaka). But it went on to "serious" action and timelines and whatnot didn't it, so if we want to define identity crisis as this then you have to put all 3 of Gintama and KHR and Nanbaka into it, for the term to come to acknowledgement. Otherwise if you think Gintama and KHR do fine as they are, it'd be hard for me to agree with Nanbaka alone being labelled as a kid with identity crisis.
For the actual review (aha had to get the above out of the way)- look, I don't even know what drew me to Nanbaka but by the end of ep 2 I was surprised at my gut instinct telling me this series had something in store for us (and that was way before we knew Nanbaka was supposed to contain drama). The part with the other painfully flashy-looking wardens /was/ supposed to put me off but /none/ of their dialogues played out to be that idiosyncratic brand of anime annoying to me. Despite Samon or any of the others having cliche lines you hear everywhere, when a series is sincere all their lines sound different to my ears bc they actually mean every word of what they're saying (instead of being employed as a plot device for the story).
Samon's overdramatic imagination of Building 13's inmates' plights was hilarious if only for the fact I could imagine it was him saying for the sake of his own personality, or whether be that the author's own personality, but it came from somewhere /real/ and ended up making me laugh no matter how many times I'm to review the scene.
The bulk of Nanbaka is allll about character interactions. Really if I had to sum Nanbaka up for you, even without knowing where it's trying to go with its main plot, is that Nanbaka is *about* the interactions of its cast and the prison universe they are in. Dialogues are the main pull and substance of the show, dialogues and relationships. I was kinda mesmerized by Hajime's and Jyugo's relationship by the end of everything, even if the final quarter of the show was anything but good (too messy and rushed and uncaring to be coherent).
As a season by itself I think it's okay. Meh-meh but something I adore, bc most of the other cast are just reclining in the background despite the enormous potential each and every one of them holds. Props to the author if they could make it come together, but I highly doubt so. Feels to me this would take a lot of concentration on their part (or that they actually hate exerting this kind of sensitive effort) and with a zealous fire revert to their comedy like a teenager rebelling (which is in fact what's happening in the start of season 2?) It's a trend too with Gintama if you can see it.
And well even if they expand, properly and deservingly, on the other characs in later seasons, these characs have been put been put through one too many mandatory filler for me to pass up on its laziness. Most inmates (and a tiny portion of the wardens) are sadly caricatures in these comedy moments despite me sensing and knowing the author is capable of doing more with them even in these moments. Since even as caricatures they aren't half bad! They are average like I said, their comments aren't dull to be honest but it's very... average... and makes me wonder if they aren't going full blast with comedy (which it could actually do) and has gotten rid of the notion that it's just a fun and breezy light hearted thing existing just bc, then why continue with this half-assed, not all in or out kind of direction? Laziness at the best that no storyteller should be forgiven for. And for this Nanbaka will never reach the top tier of anime despite innate potential.
I love the sparkly art. You either like it, or find it obnoxious. I like that everything's so clear and bright and colorful. The OST is soooo dang good. I could never skip its OP and the ED is too tongue in cheek for its own good.
So conclusion... if you value character interactions I think this is actually worth a watch (you gotta shoot all other expectations down). Hajime's and Jyugo's relation is one of the best I've seen, to have out of anime in recent ages. Nico surprisingly is not a copy of the blonde boy in Free and is rational in his own right (reminding me of Kise). All else is light hearted fun for most of this season, that you might find mundane but when you let go not expecting anything in particular these are jokes that can make you laugh when you're caught in the moment. Campy maybe for the veteran viewer for its ~heartwarming~ and friendship vibe but I've always ignored these kinda things to focus on other strengths. Like it's a staple of anime, I've given up at this point.
Just watch 1 or 2 episodes then decide if you like the vibe of the show, your gut instinct will always be the best.read more
If there's one thing about anime that I usually avoid, it's either slice of life or more spontaneous gag anime. The latter being the definition of this anime. I originally decided to watch it cause the character designs were interesting and as an aspiring character designer, I decided that I would give it a go and see what this show was really about.
Since this is a gag anime, usually the story isn't very serious or just has a basic scenario. However, similar to Katekyo Hitman Reborn ( originally a gag manga/anime that turned shounen after 20 eps), the story takes much darker turns here and there, but never fully explores the darker parts of the story, as it always returns to the lighthearted comedy at some point. There are many questions left in the more dark parts of the story, so therefore the score is reasonable until S2.
First thing I would say is that the character designs in this show are rather unique. Each character is distinct, outrageous and has their own personalities, which fits the show well. The downfall of this however, is that only the main 4 plus random side characters got actual plot stories plus some character development. So there's that. My main problem was the random side characters that got development even though they served no purpose to the main story
First of all, this anime is BRIGHT. Flashy colors, and literally, sparkles EVERYWHERE. it fits the atmosphere perfectly, as the comedy is just as outrageous as the colors of the animation. In the darker parts of the show, the colors still maintain some brightness, but are slightly muted. My only slight problem is that there were sparkles in the serious parts of the show, which kinda ruined the atmosphere of the scene. The music is only really noticeable during the serious parts, with some nice opera in the background. It does its job. The OP is definitely a favorite though.
I actually enjoyed this show, and managed to binge watch all the episodes because I loved the outrageousness of it all. Despite the flaws it's still a nice show to watch for the comedy and the outrageousness of the characters. If you want some feel-good/crazy comedy, this is for you read more
In a world where people are born with nail polish...
Nanbaka is a complete mess. First it starts as a slice-of-life comedy, then it shifts to action shounen, then to drama, then back to comedy and eventually back to drama. I have no idea what the creators were trying to do, but it sure as hell wasn't entertaining the least bit. The main story (if you wanna call it that) is shortly mentioned early on, then forgotten for a good while, then brought back again all of a sudden. Maybe the episode writers should've talked to each other at some point.
The character design is a disaster. These guys are so flamboyant and feminine that it's ridiculous. And everything sparkles. Everything! This is what hell for the homophobic must look like. Animation is solid, the backgrounds look good, but I can't take my eyes off of these ladyboys.
The voice acting is good. Especially the chief warden sounds good, with her dual personality. Opening and ending were not very good however, especially the ending was more annoying than anything.
Most of them are incredibly boring. The chief warden and her assistant are somewhat funny, Hajime is also pretty cool. But that's about it. Especially the main characters feel very empty.
You may have noticed that this review is pretty short, especially compared to my other recent ones. But there simply isn't much more for me to say about Nanbaka. It was boring most of the time, the storytelling was incoherent and most of the cast was completely uninteresting. It's not even been a week since I finished this anime and I have already forgotten most of it. If you ever feel the need to completely waste your time, feel free to give Nanbaka a shot.