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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nanbaka is a prison comedy series. The manga was originally written by Futamata Shou. In late 2016, Satelight began airing an anime adaptation. You may remember them as the studio behind Heat Guy J & Sousei no Aquarion. So, how does this one compare to their other works I've reviewed? Let's take a gander.
Nanba is, supposedly, the world's most formidable prison. With the toughest guards, the most inescapable perimeter, the sparkliest design and the finest dining and recreation services. We follow four prisoners, Juugo, Uno, Rock & Nico, who have escaped from prisons all over the world as they go about their lives and
make trouble for the guards. Insert shenanigans here.
The biggest issue with this series is that it attempts to blend zany, really over the top comedy, with some more serious back stories and an underlying plot about a certain character having serious enemies who may well pose a threat. This results in a pretty significant case of tonal clash. Then we have the humour itself. Honestly, it doesn't work a lot of the time. A lot of it is based around the characters being stupid or something over the top and random happening. I've talked about this before with a different less than good comedy, but randomness isn't funny. A good zany, absurd comedy will have some internal logic that will be largely consistent, being bent on rare occasions for a jape. Pure randomness is what you get when an eight year old tries to make up a joke. “So, a guy walks into a pub and asks the bartender for a pint. The bartender says, 'I can't serve you. I'm a cockatoo.' And the guy looks up and notices that he is.” And it's not funny but you give them a pity chuckle because they're eight. Problem is, this was written by an adult who should know better.
That being said, some of the goofs based around characters acting like idiots are pretty funny. There are times when those get executed well. I'll give it credit on that, it does have some funny bits.
The major inmates in this series can all be described very simply. They have a tragic back story and very little personality. Now, I have maintained that a comedy doesn't need deep, complex characters. It needs characters with strong dynamics who can play off of one another really well to deliver the laughter. However, the whole tragic back stories element and the more serious stuff the series tries to do arguably makes this a series that should have more complex characters. Even putting that aside, the character dynamics are pretty underwhelming and don't generally lead to good comedic moments. A lot of the side characters suffer from one joke syndrome. Take the Warden. Her joke is that she has a crush on Hajime, the guard in charge of our protagonists, and people misinterpret her intense gazes.
The art isn't very good, to put it nicely. While I will give it credit for having unique character designs, the backgrounds are pretty lazy. Additionally, Satelight made the perplexing decision to put everything in sparkle vision. I'm not kidding, the entire bloody anime is sparkly. Now, here's the thing. Sparkle vision can work when used in certain circumstances for comedic effect. Fullmetal Alchemist is a great example. However, putting everything in constant sparkle vision doesn't have any comedic effect. Instead, it just hurts your eyes.
The cast in this is perfectly passable. I can't call them brilliant in this, or even good, but it's also one of those series where the acting can't make up for the lack of characterisation. The music was handled by Fujisawa Kenji and it's all right. Which may actually make it the strongest element of the series.
There's a bit. We have the gay stereotype character voiced by Kimeru. Juugo also mentions liking both guys and girls, and there are reasons to believe he was serious.
Nanbaka is a pretty weak comedy. It suffers from tonal problems, humour that falls flat more often than not, constant sparkle vision and dull characters. That being said, it does have its funny moments and I can't really say it was bad. If you're a fan of randomness and comedy stemming from characters being morons, you might enjoy it. For me, the final rating is going to be a 4/10. Next week I'll look at Osomatsu-san, which will hopefully be a better class of comedy.
I started this series off thinking it was just going to be a simple prison comedy and BOY WAS I WONG.
Yes, this is a prison comedy but there are times in this series were the mood completely changes. It will be loud bouncy and funny one second then turn to an intense or dramatic scene the next. I was sometimes confused whether I was watching a comedy or a drama because it would break from comedy to have these large emotional dramatic scenes and then go back to its normal bouncy comedy. Also, I sometimes hated the pacing because sometimes it was way too
fast, to the point where I needed to pause just to comprehend what happened and other times where the pacing was way too slow and I wanted to bang my head against my keyboard. overall I give the story a 6 because I did enjoy the story but hated the pacing and sudden mood changes.
I really did enjoy the art of this show. The loud bright colors and how practically everything sparkled. I thought the art style played really well into the show's comedy aspects and when they dulled the colors down for the show's drama aspects. the art wasn't breathtakingly beautiful but it was fun and enjoyable perfect for the show.
I loved the characters of this show. I believe Nanbakas strongest attribute is the characters of the show. All the characters are enjoyable and each has their own interesting personality and goal.
Many have heard the old proverb, "If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one". By extension, the more rabbits one chases at once, the harder each is to catch. Nanbaka takes this a step further: it starts going after one rabbit, then gets distracted by a bird and later a fish. It unfortunately fails to catch any of them, but at least it looks cool trying.
At its core, Nanbaka is a zany, colourful gag comedy in a prison setting! ...Or is it an action shonen? No? A character drama? In practice, it frequently switches targets when it may have been wiser to
stick to one.
From the get-go, Nanbaka presents a fast-paced series of varied jokes, ranging from visual humour to ironic subversion to borderline non-sequitur. They weren't exactly original, and didn't get to me personally, but variety and quick pacing are handy tools for holding interest whenever a punchline doesn't quite hit the mark. At this point, I respected Nanbaka for what it was. It had a clear identity, and showed commitment to it.
However, the show quickly lost its focus from there. In my eyes, a lack of focus is one of the fastest ways to kill viewer interest, and often a sign of poor writing. Nanbaka soon falls into this trap; rather than continuing its gag comedy roots, it tries to take on multiple identities at once. As soon as the action and drama arrive, the pacing slows considerably and the jokes become less varied or frequent. This would be fine if the new elements meshed well, or were at least strong additions to the series, but instead, they just make things messier.
The action elements suffer from weak choreography. This is expounded on by mid-action cuts to narration by onlooking characters - an issue seen in many action anime. For once, Nanbaka could have made this trope work in its favour by filling the narration with its usual zany jokes. Alas, it's just the usual filler dialogue to stretch out the no-longer-action while explaining attacks that didn't really need to be explained and/or stating things that are obvious to the viewer.
Despite the action portion's weaknesses, the drama is where I find Nanbaka to be the least successful. At these points, the show suddenly takes on a more serious tone than the accompanying gag comedy and action. This results in a weird situation in which a viewer is simultaneously expected to take the show seriously while also not taking it seriously at all. It's not the tonal shifts that are the issue - rather, it's their frequency and the show's inability to sell them.
Furthermore, compelling drama requires compelling characters - something Nanbaka does not have. Most of them come down to one-dimensional quirks or hobbies and maybe the occasional simple backstory. They're too simple to be interesting on their own, and it makes investment difficult.
And this brings up what I believe to be Nanbaka's main weakness, and the source of nearly all its problems: it's characters. Even with its wildly differing subject matter, this show certainly wasn't doomed from the start. It simply lacked the tools needed to succeed. While there were several things that could have helped the show (improved action pacing and choreography, or a more memorable soundtrack to quickly and effectively shift tone), ultimately, I believe that characterization is the one key missing weapon it really needed to hit all its desired targets.
Stronger characters can create chemistry which helps to sell the comedy and elevate it from "gag" to "riot". In turn, these jokes can be a quick and effective way to show characterization. From there, these improved characters help to invest a viewer before the show switches to action, and when drama builds, the viewer will more readily buy into it. But without this depth of character, the act falls apart, undercut from its very foundations.
Despite all my criticisms of Nanbaka, one positive I can mention is the show's art. It has a unique, sparkly, insanely colourful style that immediately draws attention. I'll admit, this alone made it easier for me to sit through Nanbaka's weakest points. The style, however, is not nearly enough to carry the show on its own against its many weaknesses.
In the end, Nanbaka gets a tad too ambitious for its own good, and misses the fundamentals as a result. What could have been a notable series sadly ends up as a disorganized, zig-zagging mess, with no clear identity beyond its visual style.
- FINAL SCORES -
* Critical quality (includes story, characters, presentation, etc): 2.5/10 - Plagued with numerous crucial issues that hindered the show's success, but is slightly redeemed by its art.
* Memorability: 3/10 - While Nanbaka's style sticks out, the complete lack of notable or unique substance and disorganized handling of its content makes it unlikely to be remembered in 6 months.
* Enjoyment: 3/10 - In addition to Nanbaka's comedy not being my cup of tea, its lack of focus or characterization made this a chore to watch. Only the colours kept me from dropping it.
* General appeal: 3.5/10 - This might appeal to those who are really into gag comedies or especially like the style. But for most, it's likely to come off as forgettable at best.
* Overall: 3/10 - Of the Fall 2016 shows I watched, this was my least favourite for all the reasons described above, and I can't recommend it. It wears itself out quickly, and when it does manage to catch a rabbit, it's not a particularly tasty one.
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.
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
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.
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.
The creators of Nanbaka looked like they didn't know where they wanted the show wanted to go, the story line went from lighthearted to serious and back to light-hearted before you even know it.
I absolutely loved the bright colors throughout the show. My only concern is the sparkles that float around throughout the show. These sparkles added a fun touch but when the series got more serious, these sparkles were out of place and took a toll on the dramatic effect.
I'm not a huge critic on voice acting but I can say that it sounded pretty good to me :3
I LOVED the opening and
ending songs, both are catchy and memorable. I never skipped the opening/ending when it came up like I do for most other shows.
Each character is memorable and has a unique personality. You can really see the connection between characters and their development throughout the show.
Basic plot, just the whole revenge cliche. I could have gone without the filler episodes after a cliff hanger on the previous episode. It really takes a toll on the tone of the scene. Although I enjoyed the filler episodes, they could have easily been placed in another part of the show and not smack in the middle of two dramatic episodes.
The show is definitely a mess, but what made it enjoyable was the characters and art. I loved seeing the main characters interact with the guards and the other inmates. And the flamboyant colors, only when they are justified, however, added a special touch. I would not consider this a show to binge watch, but one or two episodes every now and then is just the right amount. The show gets an 8/10 for me :)