Nanbaka - Reviews

PointOfViewMan's avatar
Apr 15, 2017

Before I start this review, I just want to say that Nanbaka is probably one of my favorite shows that I've ever watched, and I've enjoyed it immensely. I would love nothing more than to give it a 9/10 or 10/10, just because of my personal tastes. But that's not reasonable, so I'm going to be accurate in my review, and not go easy on this show. Nanbaka does have its flaws, which I was able to overlook, but you might not be able to do the same. Note: I'll try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but there may be some spoilers. Also, this is pretty much a review for both the first and second season, which are treated more like two halves of the same season.

Story: 8/10

Starting from the first episode, Nanbaka seems to be sort of a comedy slice-of-life show about the lives of four flashy inmates in a flashy, maximum-security prison. The first episode does a very nice job introducing the personalities of the main characters in a natural way, as they interact with each other. There's no huge exposition dump in the first episode, as is common in a lot of bad anime. (There are some exposition dumps in future episodes, but they're still done naturally, and don't distract too much from the story.) Not everything about the characters is explained in the first episode, but they set a great base to work off of for future episodes. You can tell that the first episode is only providing you with the basics of the plot and characters, so that you understand what's going on, but you aren't spoiled for everything. It's a great storytelling strategy. 

I was kind of expecting Nanbaka to just be a comedic, slice-of-life, episodic show, about the wacky misadventures of the prison inmates, as it advertises. It turns out that there are some over-arching story elements. In the first "season," there is a story arc that spans several episodes. When watching this portion, I found that I preferred the slice-of-life portions, with the goofy jokes and the simple character interactions. The comedy in this show is actually very funny and well-written. It's kind of an absurd, random style of comedy, with lots of slapstick and hilarious one-liners that come out of nowhere, leaving you laughing at how bizarre everything is. If you like that style of comedy, then you'll love this show. The comedy is the highlight, but the story eventually gets good, as well. The story is character-driven---it unfolds as you learn more about the characters. The first story arc gets a bit tedious, but it pays off at the end. Just give it a few episodes. The story arc in the second season doesn't have as great of a pay-off, but it's more interesting throughout. 

Animation: 6/10

(Sigh) This is the part that I get mixed feelings about. I really wish the animation in Nanbaka was impressive and groundbreaking. But this is probably the show's biggest flaw. The animation isn't god-awful---it's not like there are glaring flaws or anything---but you can tell from watching that the budget for the animation was pretty low. If you're someone who is critical about animation like me, then you'll constantly be spotting places where they cut corners. Reusing animation, using simple patterns instead of drawing detailed backgrounds, cutting out parts of action scenes that would be difficult to animate, etc. It wasn't a dealbreaker for me, but these flaws were very noticeable. 

There are good things about the visuals, though. The character designs are ridiculous and fun, matching the tone of the show. Warning: if you prefer your characters to look realistic, and hate crazy anime hair, then you'll despise Nanbaka. Personally, though, I love it. It shows a lot of artistic freedom---Why not have a character with an impossibly long, multicolored braid? Or a character with hair that turns into arrows when he gets pissed? Another fun thing about the character designs are how flamboyant they are. Everybody, including the male characters, is wearing nail polish, or makeup, or piercings. It's very refeshing in media to have male characters being feminine without any judgement. I also admire how diverse the cast is. There are characters with different shapes, sizes, skin colors, nationalities, etc. There's just a lot of creativity put into the character designs, instead of making them look like generic anime characters. I really appreciate that. 

I also like the design of the prison they're in. Reminds me a quite a bit of Deadman Wonderland, and I'm sure that was an inspiration. Another fun thing is the unexplained sparkles that are in every shot, like someone just sprinkled glitter over the whole prison. It's not needed or anything, but it's a nice touch. Overall, the visual style is great, but the animation itself can be really lazy sometimes.

Sound: 7/10

Not too much to talk about here. The opening and ending themes are both very catchy and well done. Nothing else in the soundtrack is really memorable, but it's not bad or anything. One thing I don't understand, though, is why they decided to change the singer of the opening theme halfway through the show. Honestly, the first singer sounds a lot better---the second singer is kind of nasally and annoying. 

Characters: 10/10

Now this is where Nanbaka really shines. The main thing that kept me watching this show was how attached I got to the crazy cast of characters. The four main inmates are the best. At the beginning, they may seem like stereotypes---the arrogant one, the otaku, the one who loves food---but as the episodes go on, they receive a lot of character development. All of the characters are written fantastically. The best part of the show for me was the genuine friendship and love you could feel between the four main characters. Even with their their quirks and petty squabbles, they care about each other, and support each other physically and emotionally. Even though they're criminals, these characters are so genuine and lovable that you wish they're real. 

The side characters are great, too. Some get more screentime than others, but all of them are very interesting and enjoyable to watch. Like I said, the absolute best part about this show are the character interactions. That's the reason why I recommend it.

Overall: 8/10

If you can look past its flaws, Nanbaka is a great show. But it isn't for everyone. If this review makes you interested, then go watch it!

8/10 story
6/10 animation
7/10 sound
10/10 characters
8/10 overall
CrimsonCyclo's avatar
Feb 8, 2018

A show in which its title loosely translates to "Not Stupid," and wears that badge of irony with pride. Nanbaka is a comedy that relies mainly on the absurdity of its nature: from the flashy designs and use of every color known to man, to 4th wall-breaking jokes clearly tutored under the School of Deadpool. What matters above all this is whether or not the mixture of these elements and others fuse together to make a good blend of a show.


The basic setting and premise of the show sounds like a recipe to limit just how much the show can offer in variety. Unfortunately, for the most part, this is the case. The show's need to bring in a counterpart of heavy drama to offset the comedy puts too much of an imbalance to the overall tone. Neither trait meshes with the other most of the time. One example is a backstory mid-season revealed to a minor character, taken much more seriously than what may come off. It could play off as a more satirical play on a classic trope, but it chooses to play much more on drama. Since the rest of Nanbaka plays as if it shouldn't be taken seriously, the show would benefit from adding wit to weight.


Much of, if not the entire show, is riddled with sparkles and multi-rainbow colorations to maximum degrees. The animation itself, however, feels more stagnant and cheap. Coming from someone who's read a a good chunk of the manga on which its based off, Nanbaka's anime counterpart is less of an animated adaptation and more like a motion comic. Not much is brought visually to the show that the original source couldn't already bring to the table. Some moments of stark, comedic timing do come through well, but they are few and far inbetween.


In all honesty, I originally dropped the series. My reason for picking the series back up was the dub version, which is better than the original/sub in my book. The English cast offers both fresh faces (Daman Mills, Jarrod Greene, Alejandro Saab) as well as classic-era VAs (Ian Sinclair, Vic Mignogna, J Michael Tatum, and ADR Director Aaron Dismuke), and all of them fit their roles perfectly. Even the comedy comes out stronger in the dub, emphasizing a more light-hearted feel. Nothing much else stands in terms of sound quality save for a couple music tracks and slapstick/gag moments.


What really makes the show worth it in the end to stay is the [literally] colorful cast of characters. Each one is a joy to watch, with personalities ranging from reserved to brimming with energy. The aforementioned voice talent help to shine light on every character, major or minor. The choice of making a specific character the "main one" remains questionable, until a key episode that not only handles some drama well, but actually brings weight to the earlier comedic scenes from most of the show.

Final Thoughts:

Nanbaka is a show that I don't feel entirely works, at least from a more balanced perspective (even the ending leaves too much questioned and left to be desired). But key traits, a short season-span, and a giant need to make its audience laugh every other minute do help to bring it to a guilty pleasure standard, if not moreso. If you are more forgiving of anime like myself, you may find worthwhile enjoyment in this prison.

5/10 story
4/10 animation
7/10 sound
7/10 characters
6/10 overall
Justhappydog's avatar
Nov 19, 2016

Nanbaka , a gag comedy anime which takes place in a prison called 'Nanba' which is most famous for its high tech security and no one has ever escaped from that prison. The story includes four characters who are inmates i.e who live together in the prison sharing the same cell. These four people has escaped from all the prisons around the world and thus they are put in this prison. They all have special skills like gambling , problem solving which they use and try to escape from the prison, even thought the prison is situated in the middle of the ocean and the prison's location is unknown. This anime was mainly intended for gags but has its very own moments too. And the most important thing i liked about this anime is that how they used phrases from other anime like the famous 'kamehameha' (if i spelled correctly) and more! And of course they would censor them. 

Lets talk about the animation and sounds. Anime made by Satelight studios who also made the 'Fairy Tail' the animation was very good especially the backgrounds and special effects like how the character always shine with stars around them. The sound was good but not that great.
And about the characters , wow they totally have a huge load of creativity . Characters with colorful hair and eyes , tall , short , buff , thin and more. But some characters like Nico and Seitarou , for me it really took some time to realise that if they were men or women...haha. And in this anime many male characters have really long hair and wear lipsticks and such , so don't get confused like me and think that they are
Overall , this is a really good anime considering its gags and whole bunch of references to other anime. If you want some laughter and wanna see the most amazing characters which you probably haven't seen in any other anime , you have to watch this!

7/10 story
8.5/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
8.1/10 overall
trashcan007's avatar
Dec 16, 2023

A twisted action-comedy anime surrounding jailbreaking.

Get your favorite psychedelics and/or hallucinogens out for this one. It's so absurd and unrealistic that you are left more confused than anything after watching each episode.

I will say that the animation was pretty good and some of the skills/abilities were cool but, let's be honest, this was not funny at all; it’s just over-the-top chaos. 

There’s no way anyone who prefers to keep an anchor in reality could like this mess. You can hardly even follow what is happening. Any you can hardly distinguish between which characters are males and which are females; Hell, I’m still confused. 

When you boil down the anime down, the plot is very basic. There are just a lot of flashy animations and distractions.

Eventually I dropped it. It’s pretty much the definition of mind-numbing entertainment. Overall a 2/10. Skip it unless you want something to watch while getting as high as a kite.

1/10 story
3/10 animation
2/10 sound
2/10 characters
2/10 overall
YellowTamaki's avatar
Aug 25, 2021

I really loved how they displayed the friendship between the characters. They had backstories and reasons for the way they are. I wasn't really a fan of all the experimentation parts like with Jyuugo or Musashi. Although I really liked how Musashi got a chance to share his backstory, and how he slowly grew closer to Jyuugo.

7/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
7/10 overall