Sunday, December 10, 2017

AniManga: Kangoku Gakuen (Prison School)

Kangoku Gakuen (Prison School in English) is my manga guilty pleasure. It has a comedic storyline, interesting character development, borderline hentai imagery, and insane plots. The manga is written by Akira Hiramoto. Its been serialized since 2011. The series was made into a twelve episode anime in 2015.

This AniManga centers around a group of five teenage guys who attend Hachimitsu Academy. The school was formally an all-girl academy and one of the strictest schools in Tokyo. To make things worse the school is under the control of a group called the Underground Student Council. Most of its members hate men. The rest of the student body is apprehensive about talking to men because they have no experience with them. If that sounds only gets worse from there. On the high school premises is a small prison, hence the name Prison School.  The five guys named Kiyoshi, Takehito, Shingo, Joji, Reiji get locked in prison. 

Kiyoshi is the main character of the series. He's in love with the president of the USC (Underground Student Council) little sister Chiyo. Kiyoshi is also the love interest of Hana another member of the USC. Hana is a martial arts expert, sadistic and is jealous of Kiyoshi's affection towards Chiyo. Out of the four guys Kiyoshi is the most normal and runs into the most problems. Kiyoshi and Shingo were friends from middle school. Shingo, is your average high school delinquent. He has a pessimistic personality and almost zero loyalty towards the other four guys. 

Takehito (also known as) "Gakuto" is a glasses wearing otaku with a fascination for the Three Kingdoms. Throughout the series, Gakuto proves to be a smart strategist and opportunist. During their stay in prison, Gakuto and Kiyoshi come up with several ingenious plans to escape their forced captivity. Out of all the guys, Gakuto takes the most physical abuse during the series. He also has the worse reputation. 

Joji (also known as Joe) is the weakest member of the group. He has a persistent cough that never goes away. He can only take light physical exertion and is no help in their attempt to escape prison. Joe does have an affinity towards animals. At one point during the series, he is portrayed as a Doctor Dolittle by talking to a colony of ants. Joe is loyal to his friends. On numerous occasions, he tries to be the voice of reason for the group.  

Reiji (also known as Andre) is the largest member of the group. He is overweight and taller than the other guys. Andre stands out from the group because he is a masochist with extra long earlobes. He enjoys pain and being degraded. During his stay in prison, he becomes obsessed with their prison guard Meiko. Like Joe, Andre is fiercely loyal to his friends. Throughout the series, he starts out as a gentle giant. As it progresses, he becomes more outgoing. Due to his strange proclivities, he becomes the object of fascination for several girls at the academy

I'll leave the circumstances of how the guys get locked in the school prison up to you the reader to discover. What I will say is once the guys are in prison they get treated worse that POW's (Prisons or War). Their prison guard and enforcer for the USC is a woman named Meiko. She is in charge of keeping the guys in line by using fear, intimidation, and extreme violence. For some reason, she has a particular dislike for Gakuto. 

Meiko is a tall curvaceous woman who is fiercely loyal to Mari the USC president. Meiko also has enormous breasts which she flaunts proudly. As a youth, she was bullied for her breast size until Mari befriended her and helped her develop the self-confidence to be proud of her figure. Due to her constant strength training, Meiko is often drawn sweating. She is an extreme sadist with inhuman strength. Meiko is stronger than Andre the biggest member of the guys' group. She can be seen as the main protagonist during the first half of the series. 

Mari is the USC president. She is also the daughter of the Chairman of the academy. Mari hates boys and believes all men are perverts because her father has a fascination with the female form (especially butts). Mari plots and conspires with the rest of the USC to get the guys expelled from the academy. In the first half of the series, she is pure evil. During the second half, she becomes calmer because she experiences some of the torment she put the boys went through. Her relationship with the chairman is tumultuous. She is overprotective of her friends and little sister Chiyo.  

The character development during the series is phenomenal. The whole first half is about the USC while the second half of the series is about the above ground student council. The USC and the student council go to war for control of the academy and the five guys get trapped in the crossfire. My one criticism is that during the second half of the series some of the story arcs get dragged out. The writers break-up the action between too many chapters instead of keeping it fast-paced and condensed. 

Overall Kangoku Gakuen is an awesome series. If you're looking for action, ecchi, romance, comedy, interesting characters, with insane plots...I highly recommend it. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Welcome to Barcelona

I recently returned from a trip to the wonderful city of Barcelona. Let me tell you...they have some awesome street art and donuts there. 

Since I moved to Europe eons ago. I've visited Barcelona several times. Most of the visits have been weekend trips to see a particular person or place. I would see who I had to see, or do what I came for, then leave. I never got to see much beyond the Barcelona Fish monument, beach and the La Rambla market. This visit was different because for the first time I got to play tourist

My mother was visiting from the USA. She had never been to Spain and wanted to see Barcelona. We hadn't seen each other in over a year. The last time she visited I took her to Paris. Our Paris visit was fun since I was familiar with navigating the city. I didn't know Barcelona very well so I suggested we do the tourist thing. This entailed buying Hop on - Hop off bus tickets. Best idea ever! 

If you're unfamiliar with Hop on - Hop off bus tours I'll give a simple description. They are a bus service found in most major cities in Europe. You pay a fee (around €20 euro per person) and can ride the bus to different locations around the city hopping on and off at your leisure. The service we used was Touracti. They run the Barcelona Turistic Bus lines. The buses came every  15 - 25 minutes. There were three different bus lines (Red, Blue, and Green). Each color bus line followed a different route which covered most of Barcelona. The tour started at 09:00 and ended at 18:00 (6pm).   

We had a great time...or as my friends in Tokyo would say "Subarashii". The apartment we were staying in (courtesy of was five minutes walk from the blue line. My mom, girlfriend, and I rode around Barcelona taking in some spectacular views. The tour bus had an open roof so we could shoot pictures from an elevated view. Some of the best shots came from the Sagrada Familia, Columbus Monument, and a place that looked like a Palace. While riding the tour bus they provide headphones so we could listen to an audio guide that talked about the different locations and history of the city. 

Our narrator had a British accent and couldn't pronounce some of the monument names properly. He would call the Spanish architect Goudi, which is pronounced (Goo-day) Gow-Dee. During our stop at the Sagrada Familia which was designed by Goudi. The narrator said Gow-Dee so much when explaining the history of the monument that his bad pronunciation became funny. Bad pronunciation aside, the narrator was very informative. The audio comes in thirty-five languages so everyone on the bus could follow along. 

There's way too much to see in Barcelona for one day, so we took a two day pass. This allowed us to tour the city comfortably and stop anywhere that looked interesting. We stopped by a grocery store chain that I thought was native to Holland called Lidl when switching from the red line to the blue line. Inside that Lidl was a bakery that had the best chocolate filled Berliners I've ever eaten. Not just me; my mother, girlfriend, and several other tourists shared the same opinion. Those donuts were f**king delicious! They were so good that the entire stock of around two hundred donuts were sold out before 12 noon. Where I live the Lidl doesn't sell them. If I had known how popular they were I would've stocked up. 

On the first day of our tour we passed some colorful street art by the marina at the end of the day. It was about to hit six o'clock and the sun had already set. We decided to return the next day when it was bright out. It was worth the wait. Spain has some phenomenal street artists. I glimpsed a taste of  their talent while walking around the city. At the marina located at the bottom of La Rambla. There was a long wall covered in murals and lettering of all styles. 

I took photos of the best pieces I could capture with the ever shifting sunlight. Below are pictures of the street art as well as some photos from around the city. If you have never been to Barcelona, buy a ticket and see it for yourself. It's a great city.