REVIEW: NANBAKA – Sparkles, make up and prison break?!

Hello! It’s been a while, and for that I apologise. My job all of a sudden got very hectic,. Adding to that, I also developed an addiction to Overwatch. But I will try and be more regular from now on, posting a review each time I finish a show. With that being said, what better way to welcome myself back than with a review of a show that unexpectedly stole my heart?

NANBAKA (The Numbers)


Genre: Comedy, Action, Shounen
Nanba is the world’s most formidable prison, built to incarcerate criminals who are too slippery to stay in ordinary confinement. The four inmates who occupy Cell 13 are particularly cunning on that behalf, having escaped every other prison with a perfect success rate. There is Juugo, a specialist in locks who has spent the majority of his life in prison; Uno, a gambler with great intuition; Nico, an otaku whose body reacts strangely to drugs; and Rock, a bruiser with a love for food. The daily shenanigans of the four prisoners always cause trouble for the building supervisor, Hajime Sugoroku, who desperately tries to prevent them from breaking out of Nanba.
Nanbaka follows the comedic, sparkle-filled exploits of these prisoners and their guards. From three square meals a day to sports festivals, prison life in Nanba isn’t actually that bad—and it is the closest these four have to a home. (taken from MyAnimeList)

Nanbaka originally aired in Fall 2016, a season largely dominated by Yuri!!! On Ice, which explains why it fell largely under the radar for me and many other anime fans. It was really hard to see anything that wasn’t Viktor’s bare ass, okay. But yet, a year later, I finally got around to it. One of the reasons was that I am currently taking part in the MAL Comedy Challenge (I started 1 month before the end of the year, GG!), but the other reason? Check out these character designs!

Ooh, aah! Sparkles!

Nanbaka really didn’t hold back in eye-catching designs, and it paid off. You’d think that with such gaudy, bright colours, you’d be blinded. But nope, they’re just enough that you find it difficult to pull your eyes away, especially combined with the gags and actual plot unfolding before you. AND THE SPARKLES. Have I mentioned the sparkles? Supposedly, Nanbaka’s creator wanted fans of the show/manga to have something nice to look at, and figured that the best way to do this would be through adding sparkles. They were correct, how many anime do you watch that literally twinkle at you? In a market becoming more and more saturated, I 100% support the notion of adding glitter to something to make it stand out.

Every character’s design had something outrageous about them (from left to right: 25’s bandages, 15’s heterochromia, 69’s nose scar and being generally 10x the size of everyone else, and 11’s long multicoloured braid), making it easy to fall in love with at least one character. I managed to develop a soft spot for all the protagonists, but of course, we all have favourites, which went to our main character, Jyugo (number 15). Not only did I find his dilemmas the funniest (amazing at one thing and useless at everything else, why is that so familiar?), and I am always a sucker for an edgy! boy design, but in the latter half of the season, his story took a turn for the interesting. Maybe a GIF is the best way to describe interesting…

Nanbaka is a gag anime, honest.

Despite this, whilst the overarching plot is very exciting, and very fun, what Nanbaka does first and foremost – and in my opinion best, is comedy. I mean, hello, even the title is a pun. Cell 13’s antics and interactions with one another are perfect, and difficult to resist cracking even a tiny smile at their antics. Hell, even the straight-man prison guards struggle to hide their amusement most of the time, and they’re meant to hate them. If you like your Slice of Life with a little bit of a crunch to it, Nanbaka is the perfect anime for you.

And before I sign off, I have to talk about the opening. The ending is great too (I’m a sucker for endings sang by the characters), but really. This opening has no right to be as great as it is. Also, falling back on what I said about designs, just LOOK at the centrepiece of this thumbnail. Wonderful.

Song: Rin! Rin! Hi! Hi! – Hashiguchikanaderiya catches the Super Ball

Overall thoughts, for an anime that I put on to kill some time, I finished it with a huge smile on my face, and the burning desire to get to season 2 as soon as possible. Don’t expect anything deep, but if you’re looking to laugh, and treat your eyes to something that’s a little more out there than what anime usually offers, look no further than Nanbaka.

My rating: 8.5/10

3 thoughts on “REVIEW: NANBAKA – Sparkles, make up and prison break?!”

  1. I really liked this show too! Even though it’s a gag manga that went serious, I liked how they still broke the 4th wall during the previews by saying things like “This is a gag anime, right?”


  2. Nanbaka was a breath of fresh air. Some people didn’t find it funny. I was laughing within the first minute of the first episode. All the gags, fourth wall breaking, and Momoko made the anime fun to watch. And you’re spot on with the character designs. The colors and the sparkles made it a happy anime, even though there was some drama. Still not bad though. I hope you enjoy season 2 because…well…you’ll see for yourself…


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