Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Prison School - Anime Dreams of a Masochistic Teenager

Abandon all hope. Kink on TV only makes things worse.

No matter how much fun it is, when anime depicts masochists as pigs, both literally and figurally, there is no hope of kinksters ever being considered normal people with alternative sexual preferences.

Prison School, 監獄学園, anime, femdom, japan, dominatrix, Meiko Shiraki, 白木 芽衣子, Hana Midorikawa 緑川 花, Reiji Andou 安堂 麗治, Mari Kurihara 栗原 万里, Underground Student Council, Hachimitsu Private Academy,
Prison School: Anime that spreads the message: no outsiders, on screen or in the real world.

After my Tokyo session I asked mistress how populair kink in Japan was. "It's really big here" she answered. In part four of our series on why kink on TV won't lead to more mainstream acceptance, a look at Japan and it's anime culture. Unfortunately, East or West, the message is the same. Kink on TV is being exploited for entertainment, even if it means dehumanizing BDSM enthusiasts.

Modern cinema with its avalanche of superheroes bores me. Friends suggested body-swap drama "Your Name", a Japanese animated movie. It's beautiful, for one because by not having all the answers you better understand what is happening. The days were anime was the domain of kids and adolescent boys hiding in the attic are long gone. [1] Afterwards I looked up "Your Name" and by chance ran into something very different.

Located on the outskirts of Tokyo, Hachimitsu Private Academy is a prestigious all-girls boarding school, famous for its high-quality education and disciplined students. However, the onset of the new academic year hails the reform of one tradition - the admittance of male students into the school system. The few accepted boys are thrilled by this discovery, however, only five boys enter the cohort with a 1 in 200 boy-to-girl ratio on the first day of school.

Prison School, 監獄学園, anime, femdom, japan, dominatrix,  Underground Student Council, Hachimitsu Private Academy,
If this were the real femdom world, changing the odds from 20:1 to 1:200 would spell revolution and disaster in random order, but this is a fantasy. Unable to connect to the girls, the boys become peeping Toms and immediately get caught. The Underground School Council (USC) sentences them to one month in prison. Don't ask why there is a prison in the middle of the school grounds, it's just there. Rather than letting their parents know the shameful reason they are expelled, they accept their punishment. The boys have to obey their female guardians, no matter what. Not that doing so, saves them from getting into trouble from day one.

Large breasted Meiko Shiraki (白木 芽衣子) is the towering, bespectacled vice president of the USC. She is in charge of guarding the prisoners. Her reputation for being a sadist and a misandrist is well known. Kiyoshi Fujino (藤野 清志), the boys' leader, tries to protect his friends from the excess sadism. But just like Meiko and the audience, he's in for a surprise. The other four love being treated like dirt by their sadistic female guards, they are deeply masochistic.

Prison School, 監獄学園, anime, femdom, japan, dominatrix,  Meiko Shiraki, 白木 芽衣子, vice-president Underground Student Council, Hachimitsu Private Academy,
Meiko Shiraki, crop in hand, is Prison School's sadist in chief.

It takes the girls some time to realize the boys love being whipped, spit upon and ordered to lick clean the boots of their guardesses. Confronted with the fact that punishment equals pleasure, Mari Kurihara (栗原 万里), president of the USC, adds the Council's secretary Hana Midorikawa (緑川 花) to the team of female wardens. Mari is fluent in karate and where Meiko's severe whippings fail, her truly fearsome kicks bring the boys to their knees. She is also a completely bi-polar nut job, one moment dreaming of selling four leave clovers for charity, the next breaking every bone in the boys' bodies.

Prison School, 監獄学園, anime, femdom, japan, dominatrix,  Hana Midorikawa 緑川 花, secretary Underground Student Council, Hachimitsu Private Academy,
Triple C: cute, crazy...
Prison School, 監獄学園, anime, femdom, japan, dominatrix,  Hana Midorikawa 緑川 花, secretary Underground Student Council, Hachimitsu Private Academy,
.... and cruel. That's Hana Midorikawa.

Prison School (監獄学園) is absurd. Add to that lavish 'fan service' and as a Westerner you find yourself constantly wondering, what is this? Fan service is an anime concept where scenes are being added that have nothing to do with the plot. In the case of Prison School that means lots of suggestive erotic scenes. Strip them out and the whole story can be wrapped up in under two hours. Despite that, even without the fan service, Prison School is very sexist.

The reviews on IMDB and anime sites are raving. The first few episodes, where the femdom element is more dominant, are less popular, but soon the story gains traction. In the end it is a coming of age story and one of friendship between five boys.

Prison School, 監獄学園, anime, femdom, japan, dominatrix, Meiko Shiraki, 白木 芽衣子, Hana Midorikawa 緑川 花, Reiji Andou 安堂 麗治, Mari Kurihara 栗原 万里, Underground Student Council, Hachimitsu Private Academy,
A vengeful USC: deceit and dishonesty to uphold the school's moral code.

Prison School was never about BDSM, but viewers were willing to accept it, live and let live. From the initial four masochistic boys, over time, the focus shifts towards Reiji Andou (安堂 麗治), nicknamed Andre, a die-hard masochist who keeps a slave diary. The USC is hell-bent on expelling the boys and they make Andre break the rules by withholding punishment. In itself rather funny, but it doesn't cast a positive light on people who are into kink. What's more worrisome is that the show introduces the idea that submissive people can be more easily controlled through their desires than the vanilla world.

Andre is portrayed as some desperate kink junkie, one whose brain has shut down for lack of punishment and will do anything to get his fix. A kind reviewer on My Anime List said: "they're all perverts, whether they admit it or not, but at least they're perverts with class... well discounting Andre that is."

Prison School, 監獄学園, anime, femdom, japan, dominatrix,  Mari Kurihara 栗原 万里, President, Underground Student Council, Hachimitsu Private Academy,
The woman in charge.

Not everybody is that understanding: "And then there's Andre. He is filth. He is the most disgusting character, the most repulsive thing, that I have ever seen in any anime. No, in anything. Every time he was on the screen, I felt tears welling in my eyes and beginning to drip down onto my cheeks as my body shook with dry heave after dry heave after vomiting fit. The creator of this character should be shot."

Unfortunately for those looking for the acceptance of BDSM, the creators of Prison School have taken the femdom theme too far. "Human disorders like masochism are a very frightening thing, specially when they can be sickening to downright disturbing levels. In the end the idea is to feel sympathetic of poor Andre that does not get his beating, but that's quickly overshadowed by how disturbing the entire shit is."
And remember, this is from people who enjoyed the show.

But that's not all - and this is where the even more ugly prejudice creeps in. All boys are realistically drawn, except Andre. He looks like Mr. Blobby. His face vaguely resembles that of a human being. The boy is beyond obese, he's fat - as in: fat in Japan. Andre comes across as a total looser, desperate for punishment, no matter what. His life has no other meaning.

Prison School, 監獄学園, anime, femdom, japan, dominatrix,  Reiji Andou 安堂 麗治, andre, masochistic student, Hachimitsu Private Academy,
"The creator of this character should be shot." (random non-kinky internet user)

Despite its initial kink-friendly appearance, Prison School reinforces the idea of people who are into kink, as utter loosers. Not only Andre, but also head guardess Meiko, who is both submissive to and afraid of USC president Mari.

The only thing the glorification of abuse in Fifty Shades achieved, was more ideas on how to portray loosers on screen. Acceptance of kink is, and probably always will be, an impossible sell. It's too far out of most people's comfort zone. The idea that a woman can love a man and also humiliate and torture him at the same time - something that makes both of them happy - will always be hard to swallow. Just like Harry Potter brought the world of wizardry to prominence, Fifty Shades did the same for kink. I've often wondered whether the real message of Fifty Shades is one of kink equals abuse. Almost everything on TV seems to point to that.

Prison School, 監獄学園, anime, femdom, japan, dominatrix,  Meiko Shiraki, 白木 芽衣子, vice-president Underground Student Council, Hachimitsu Private Academy, Kill Bill,
Prison School is based on a manga series by the same name. For several years now there have been rumours that a second season of the anime, in which the girls who lead the USC are being sent to the school's prison for being unduly harsh on the boys, is in the works. Who cares?

Yes, Prison School is absurd, I love that, but what I enjoyed most were the boys' strategies and the counter-strategies devised by the USC's president. The whole Prison School idea is fun in a flawed way. It reminded me of my own secondary school experience - true story - which was pretty interesting.

Prison School is also a story about love, even if at first you wouldn't think of it that way. Back to the beginning. So what did I like best about "Your Name?" Perhaps the notion that love is the ultimate superpower as it cuts across time and space, mixing dreams with reality. The first few times she and he swap bodies, the boy immediately starts to explore his new-found feminine side - read: touching his breasts. When their spirits swap for the final time, he carefully writes "I love you" on her arm. Love is neither about looks nor lust. The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.

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[1] Feel free to drop me a line if you want some suggestions on beautiful anime movies.


"you should know that hot anime characters are not real."
"You should know that hot anime characters are not real." D'oh

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