Prison! A place where the worst of the worst go! Filled with the dregs of humanity! Murderers! Rapists! Drug Pushers! Model Gun Owners! Counterfeiters!
Model gun owners.
In 1994, Kazuichi Hanawa was arrested. The crime? Owning model guns. Firearm law was strict at the time, and a harsher sentence was given to Hanawa. Three years in the big house.
So… hey, we have a convict for our review! Swell!
That’s the basis for “Doing Time,” a manga that Hanawa made after his release. So the manga is a collective of events, detailing Hanawa’s personal experiences and the various details enforced within the prison system.
Interestingly, time skips around in the manga. We never see Hanawa enter or leave prison. It starts with him there and ends with him there. Did he get out? We’ll never know; this manga is the only proof. Oh, and photographs, interviews, and a film adaptation. Poor li’l Hanawa.
Speaking of Hanawa, he’s barely the focus. In the beginning he is, and he appears in every chapter, but the focus is on this guy’s release or that guy’s distaste for winter. So we have to ask, is this the original “Orange is the New Black”? I would imagine. Well-adjusted citizen sent to prison, writes a book, focus on everyone else. Or, you know, literally every canonical prison tale. I could insert a gif, yeah? Would that sate you guys?
Well, I have none. Sorry. Because this is nothing like Orange is Blanu Nack. No, things are nice here. Uncomfortably. Not Stepford levels, just…
SO MUCH FOOD. HOW DO THEY DESERVE SO MUCH GOOD FOOD.
In contrast, Chapman spent the second episode trying to get fed. Because show.
True, the inmates are treated well. However, they do get punished. This is rare, of course, since they live in a country that arrests people for owning model guns. I wouldn’t disobey those officers.
The manga touches on obvious points of prison stories. “Can’t imagine/handle life on the outside”. “Put them in the worse prison”. “How do I poop in here”. “Crosswords get you punished”. “How does that poem go”. WHY DO THEY HAVE TELEVISONS? No, not a relaxation area for all. PER ROOM.
The art is great. It can be creepy or soft, depending on the context. Usually grotesque is the style of choice, and I’m not complaining. Not to mention Hanawa has an eye for detail, remembering every nook and/or cranny in the prison. I mean, it was three years.
There are interviews with the author, which is great since he elaborates more of his time there.
The only drawback I can think of is the price and availability. I mean, it’s from the dark ages of US manga translations. I’ve never heard of Ponent Mon. Have you? What were their dreams? Their goals? Why did they put some of the copyright information in Spanish? And I feel that 19.99 US dollars is not proportional to 12.99 UK pounds. I don’t know the rate, but seven?
I lucked out. Got my copy for 10 even at The Strand. It was glory day at the place, along with a manga about economics. Maybe we’ll get to that in a babillion years.