The second volume of “Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto” does get a little more creative in its antics. Where I was worried that seeing the title character effortlessly succeed in the face of any obstacle he faced, mangaka Nami Sano displays a little more inventiveness in showing us how he does that in this volume. Whether it’s displaying “Splinter Cell” levels of agility while being chased by an amorous housewife, or going head-to-head against a stylish thug in “the push game” while a police officer watches, I was more entertained by Sakamoto’s actions here than I was with the first volume. Granted, Sakamoto as a character treads a fine line between coming off as well-meaning or smug, and the humor can occasionally trend towards mean-spirited. At this point the series is basically an amusing curiosity that hasn’t quite come together yet.
Not so in the case of “Prison School.” Here’s a series that knows exactly how dumb and trashy it is and revels in that fact. The best part of all is that it’s all played completely straight! Where else are you going to find a series where one of its main characters utters the phrase, “For whom did I shit myself…!?” without a hint of irony. Or have another protagonist talk about his plan to crossdress as a schoolgirl -- complete with pigtails made from the hair of another male classmate -- as if he was planning an actual jailbreak. It’s all utterly ridiculous, and funnier due to how mangaka Akira Hiromoto handles the execution. I also have to admit to being impressed with how he manages Kiyoshi’s escape, disastrous date, and eventual redemption while also laying out a way for the five “prisoners” to come together as friends in a way that still comes off as plausible. Within the boundaries of plausibility for this series. It’s still a title about five boys being imprisoned by a “shadow student council” of three girls, one of whose clothes only seem to stay on through some miracle of friction. Definitely not for everyone, but it’s highly recommended to anyone who can appreciate something best described as “gloriously stupid.”