4.405 out of 5 from 57 votes
In 1955 era Japan, ten years after World War II caused countless to descend into poverty, six young men are transported to a special disciplinary school where countless horrors await them. Overseen by a sadistic, abusive guard and a perverted doctor who requires invasive "inspections," the school is the new home of these boys who committed petty and oft-necessary crimes. Alongside their cellmate, the wise and hardened Rokurouta, the young men will try their best to survive their incarceration and hold on to the fleeting rainbows in their hearts.
After sixteen-year-old Ryo Narushima brutally murders his parents, leaving his sister alive, he finds himself at a juvenile facility where numerous horrors await him. Between getting gang raped and tormented at every turn for his crimes, the boy turns to martial arts, taught by the prisoner Kenji Kurotawa, in order to become stronger. Thus begins Ryo’s quest for power, no matter who tries to get in his way.
Shamo's first arc, which lasts a few vols, is very much like Rainbow's story, revolving around delinquents in very harsh situations. The difference being in Rainbow, the difficulties lie with the staff/conditions, while in Shamo, the difficulties lie with the other inmates. Both have disturbing themes, as well, though Shamo is far more explicit/graphic.