When six young loves end up in trouble because of crimes committed, violence acted upon and other situations, they find themselves in a reformatory where they may find the hope that they're looking for, if they don't despair more first.
What They Say
July, 1955. Six young men, chained together and soaking wet, board a bus that speeds through the pouring rain. They're only 16 and 17 years old, and there's something unusual and eerie about them.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga titled Rainbow - Nisha Rokubo no Shichinin, which just recently finished its run with twenty-two episodes, this series takes us back in time to 1955 to follow a rather potentially interesting story. Originally created by George Abe and and Masasumi Kakizaki back in 2003, the story tells the tale of six young men that are being sent to a special reformatory. We know that they're pretty much scum in a sense from the start because they take a public bus on their route there and they're all wearing hoods and are chained together and one of them seemingly tried to steal some candy from a little girl on the bus. With the setting taking place only ten years after the end of the war, the psychological mindset of these young men is vastly different from what you'd get from people of the same age today. Surviving that war at a younger age and going down dark paths isn't so much a surprise.
Their introduction to the reformatory goes as expected with a mixture of good cop and bad cop routines and the kind of cavity searches that can only harden young men at this age. Things that will make them only more resentful of all those around them as they're all placed together in relative squalor and piss poor conditions. As hardened as they are, as tough and proud as they are, the end up in a cell with one other prisoner who looks to be even more basic in his approach than them as he carefully and quietly challenges them by being the dominant one, easily defeating them with a few boxing moves combined with their intense pride that keeps them from realizing what their true situation is.
Through the fight, we get to meet each of the six men, aged from sixteen to seventeen, as we see some of them are in there for things that they shouldn't by while others are just basic criminals or violent characters that went too far. Such situations as this fight can in the end help to bond the young men together even more, especially with their initial adversary, and even more so when the main guard uses the situation to teach them all a lesson The brutality of the situation is made very clear and stark here, perhaps too much so, but it all seems to fit within the time and setting and the kind of people that would be a guard at that point. With the doctor watching all of this and playing the good cop, he's able to stop it from going too far, but it's a cruel fate to be caught between these two and swinging wildly with their different approaches.
Like a lot of seinen series, Rainbow has a very distinct feel to it. Madhouse has made this a dark, grimy and dank show that has a very oppressive feel to it that works very well. You can feel how bad off these kids are here, but also through their expression and movements you can tell that they've lived rough lives for the most part in the aftermath of the war. With most of them being six or seven at the end of the war, and basically being born into it, the chances of them coming from broken homes or homes with no parents at all, their descent into crime and violence for the most part doesn't seem shocking. Resentment, pride and a desire to stand on their own with no help outside of each other certainly looks to be their theme at the moment and Madhouse has made it something that you can tell clearly through the visuals.
Though the names of the six are given in the middle of the episode, and we learn the name of the other young man at the end, for pretty much the entire episode names are secondary. What we see is the new group realizing what kind of situation they're in with this reformatory, some of the basic rules and how cruel it can all be depending on what they do. Or what they don't do as one of the guards is the type to be cruel just because he can. A show like this is very much outside the norm for what gets released or streamed here but it's one that I'm definitely interested in because of that, since it's something that appears to be very much based in a real world setting with no women involved, at least not yet, where the darkness of life has descended on them. Madhouse has put together a really fascinating show here with its visual design that plays to the time period and the oppressive feel of it all while also making sure we see that glimmer of hope as well.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.