“How many banchous are even in this school?“
Being the head of the discipline committee, Michael is beyond furious at the state his school has gotten into. He’s had enough of people puffing smoke into his face, tossing rubbish everywhere, and generally being rude by not even cheerfully saying ‘good morning’. So he decides to change things. But to do that, he needs to obtain a most mystical set of clothes, that is said to grant the wish of whoever is wearing it…
Banchou was initially touted as an April fools joke on the PIL/SLASH site last year. It was all very amusing, seeing the cast uncharacteristically dressed up in eye patches and ripped jackets, a far cry from their neatly pressed 40s/50s British schoolboy uniforms. When the joke turned reality at Super Comic City 20 two months later, I was both pleased and frustrated. Pleased because, hey, more Shingakkou merchandise! It must be popular! But frustrated because if it was going to be an event only deal, then how the hell would I get it? Stalking Mandarake for months on end seemed like the only viable option, so it was one I sulkily accepted for a couple of months.
Until Shingakkou’s actual FD was announced. As along with it, Banchou was going to be sold. But it wouldn’t just be any regular reissue… this time, it was to be fully voiced. Glorious. I obtained it, and here I am.
As I mentioned in the synopsis, Michael can’t take that his beloved school has turned out so horribly, so he decides to do something about it. Hearing about an outfit that can supposedly grant the wishes of whoever wears it, he sees it as something that can finally whip his school into shape. But to do that, he’ll have to battle through the school and their banchous. If you’ve read Shingakkou, the plot sounds… at least a little familiar, right? That’s because it’s a send up of Shingakkou (as well as high tension shounen manga and yankee dramas), with a hysterical Michael yelling at Gabi that something has to be done, networking through the school to obtain his goal. It’s even laid out in a similar way, with Jack being the first opponent, with Neil, Leonid, and August following shortly afterwards (along with a truly mysterious opponent). I appreciated the parallels. After such a serious VN, it’s nice to see that Shingakkou is able to poke a little fun at itself.
The characters were mostly caricatures of themselves. With only a few minutes screen time, each characters had to make the best of their time to make their silly selves memorable. Neil had an awful stomach ache due to tuna which was 70% off, which resulted in a brotastic scene with Michael helping him out. Cecil worried way too much, and just wanted to be seen as cute and frail by Michael, no matter what form he had. August calls Michael ‘my banchou~’ on more than one occasion. The principal was the most humourous character out of the lot, though. Ever since P/S’ April fools joke with him this year I haven’t been able to take him seriously, so I lost my shit after seeing him in a Hello Kitty kigurumi. He stole the show with his pathetic state every time he appeared on screen while simultaneously making me want to reach for my comfiest pajamas because that kigurumi did look enviously comfortable.
And it is funny. Instead of long winded descriptions of all the intricacies of bending someone’s pinky while they continue to be stuck on Namek, Banchou had fight scenes which were plain silly. Michael’s method of attack was an unearthly screech which defied the limits of man, even breaking windows and having birds fall from the sky. Jack’s fight is the most battle-like battle, dipping heavily into the sea of tropes with Jack himself citing shounen manga twice (to which Michael looked appalled at). It’ full of those old cliches, with lines such as ‘t-this can’t be!’ and ‘let me show you my true power!’. The end of his fight has a melodramatic Michael wailing for someone to call on ambulance having believed that Jack died, only for Jack to wake up and tell him that he should just leave the scene and say a few lines befitting of the situation. When Michael does so, he does it with gusto leading Jack to exasperatedly say he didn’t have to be that over the top with it.
I’ve already said what has to be said about the production values in my Shingakkou review. They were the same as ever here, although, like the last time, I still have minor problems with the art. Nothing too major, but some characters looked off in their new get ups. Take Abel, for instance. In his brief appearance, he’s wearing a hat. But it’s placed on him in such a way that looks highly unnatural. There are no creases, no shadows. It all looks very strange. The new CGs vary in quality. There were maybe six in total, and half of them had the most awful colouring.
One aspect I praised about Shingakkou was the shoujo manga line work and colouring. The lining was the same, but the colouring was a different issue altogether. They looked heavily put together, no subtlety. I initially thought that since P/S were parodying hot blooded shounen numbers they were doing the same with the art, but I was proved wrong soon enough. You see, there are instances where P/S are clearly parodying that style (most notably towards the end with the big bad and in the opening – you can even see it in the first image I posted), so they probably weren’t taking the piss in those CGs. Then why was the art like that only some of the time? It doesn’t add up. Leonid’s CG doesn’t look as well as it could have. He has wispy and delicate hair which doesn’t deserve harsh block colouring.
There were two endings – the bad end, and the true end. I actually preferred the bad end because it had a more humorous edge to it and the true end has a set pairing. The true end was still sort of funny, but it didn’t have that spark that the bad end did. Banchou is very short, and can be completed in just over an hour. If you’re a Shingakkou fan and want to see a more silly side to the series and don’t mind lighthearted parodies, then track this down. You won’t be disappointed. You don’t even have to go hunting it down on Mandarake anymore, as I mentioned earlier it comes with the fandisc The Gift.