Madhouse is at its best when it’s dealing with mature series, boasting a refined execution and storytelling. Rainbow is not that. It’s bloody intense to the point of melodrama, and it wants everyone to know about it as it tells about a group of youths as they spend time in prison.
And it’s indeed easy to look at Rainbow and get annoyed by its cheese and melodrama. Storytelling is a balance between trying to tug your emotions, and showing restraint. Rainbow instead just attempts to show the intense suffering in prisons with as much drama as possible by either being overly dramatic, overly sappy or overly cheesy. Having said that though, this show does pack an excellent plot and the characters are more than charming and developed enough to make up for it.
Because as overdramatic as they are, the heavy scenes in this series make one hell of an impact. This series shies away from nothing to prove its point, and this can be seen as early as episode two. As overblown as some of the scenes are, prisons in the years following the second world war were a pure hell, and the creators really succeeded in getting this effect. One guard in particular is just a complete and over the top nutcase that is both easy to hate and love, especially as this guy develops.
Speaking of development: the biggest reason why this series is so memorable is because of the huge amount of time it spends on showing the characters growing up. The entire second half takes place a year after the lead characters leave prison, and try to pick up their lives again. We get to see their troubles fitting into society, chasing after their dreams, and dealing with the pasts they grew up in. Whereas the first half of the series is dark, depressing and hopeless, the second half is bright, heart-warming and hopeful. Throughout both, the themes of friendship remain a red thread throughout the entire series, and together the two halves, as different as they may be, form an excellent whole, leaving behind a very well developed cast.
Whether or not you’ll be able to enjoy this series depends entirely on how you’ll be able to stomach the overly sappy and dramatic nature of this series. Especially psycho guard (as I’d like to call him anyway) will be… hard to swallow at times. It’s never going to be a masterpiece, and Madhouse has certainly done much better in the past. Nevertheless, for those who don’t mind there is a lovable and heart-warming cast, well thought out and planned plot and a great soundtrack.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – The plot itself is really excellent: perfectly paced, makes optimal use of its 26 episodes, throws in plenty of twists and turns. It’s just the delivery that will tug your suspense of disbelief with how over the top it is.|
|Characters:||9/10 – Wonderfully developed, each character has his own strengths and flaws.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – Average for Madhouse standards. Lots of still frames that do look quite pretty at times. The soundtrack is excellent, though.|
|Setting:||9/10 – A very interesting twist on “old versus young”, this series shines in portraying the lead characters’ attempts to fit into society, and the darker sides of the period after the second world war.|