'Prison School'.

Akira Hiramoto is a Japanese mangaka. He is best known for his humoristic signature series 'Purizun Sukūru' ('監獄学園', 'Prison School', 2011-2017), which could be described as a cross between a sadistic prison story and a high school sex comedy with lots of fanservice. But Hiramoto also showed another side of himself with 'Ore to Akuma no Burūzu' ('俺と悪魔のブルーズ', translated as 'Me and the Devil Blues', 2003-2008), a semi-fantasized biopic about blues legend Robert Johnson.

Early life and career
Akira Hiramoto was born in 1976 in Okinawa. After graduating from high school he tried to get a job, but found this so difficult that he soon returned to the school benches again, only to find out that he didn't like higher education. Hiramoto spent most of his time in manga bars, where he became convinced that he too could draw a comic strip.


'Agonashi Gen to Ore Monogatari'.

Agonashi Gen to Ore Monogatari
Between 1995 and 2009 he created the humor comic 'Agonashi Gen to Ore Monogatari' ('アゴなしゲンとオレ物語', 'Chinless'), which appeared uninterrupted until 2007 in the teenage magazine Shūkan Yangu Magajin (週刊ヤングマガジン, Weekly Young Magazine). In 2008 the series was picked up again and ran until 2009. All gags revolve around Gen and Kenji. Gen is the manager of a small ship transport company, while Kenji is a common worker. The manga was popular enough to be adapted into a anime TV series in 2010, produced by BeeTV. In 2007 it also received a one-shot manga spin-off, 'Yarisugi konpanion to atashi monogatari' ('やりすぎコンパニオンとアタシ物語', 'Yarisugi Companion to Atashi Monogatari'), which ran in Weekly Young Magazine.


'Me and the Devil Blues'.

Me and the Devil Blues
In 2003 Hiramoto drew a semi-fictionalized biography about legendary American blues singer Robert Johnson, titled 'Ore to Akuma no Burūzu' ('俺と悪魔のブルーズ', translated as 'Me and the Devil Blues', 2003-2008). It was serialized in the magazine Gekkan Afutanūn (月刊アフタヌーン, Monthly Afternoon). Set in the American South during the 1920s and 1930s, the story follows Robert Johnson as he travels to become a blues singer. He meets real-life blues legends Son House and Willie Brown and - as the legend tells it - sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for amazing guitar talent. Every chapter is named after one of Johnson's songs.

The comic is a strange cross between a distinctively American story - the life of an African-American singer in a racially segregated country - and the distinctively Japanese way of storytelling. Hiramoto delightfully surprised many Western readers by accurately evoking 1930s America in his drawings. Rather than be content with just focusing on Johnson's life as a musician he also has attention for the racial segregation which was still in effect in those days. Various scenes are lifted directly from Johnson's real life story. Yet at one point Hiramoto deviates from the historical truth and follows more his own imagination. Some scenes still have a grain of plausibility over them, for instance when Johnson meets Clyde Barrow of the famous 1930s gangster couple Bonnie and Clyde. Others fall more into the fantastical, such as Johnson actually meeting the devil. From that point on the narrative becomes more creepy, wild and gory. Some people interested in a historically accurate depiction of Johnson's life might be put off by this gradual transformation into a horror fantasy. On the other hand it is left ambiguous whether Johnson is just imagining all these horrific events as a result of losing his sanity?


'Prison School'.

Prison School
In 2011 Hiramoto created the humorous series Purizun Sukūru ('監獄学園', 'Prison School', 2011-2017). The story takes place at a girls' school, Hachimitsu Academy, where pupils are severely punished for even the tiniest offenses. Anyone who breaks a rule is sent to a special section which is notorious for being the "Prison Block". At a certain point the school does allow male students, even though they're still limited to only a group of five: Kiyoshi Fujino, the bespectacled Takehito Morokuzu, the pessimistic blond Shingo Wakamoto, the weak misfit Jōji Nezu and the obese Reiji Andō . Naturally the boys try to get in touch with their female co-students, but their sadistic educators frequently thwart their plans.

'Prison School' could be described as a high school sex comedy. Some female characters provide male fanservice by having very large breasts, like student council vice president Meiko Shirako. At the same time though, the desperate and pathetic attempts of the boys to seduce girls provide the biggest laughs. They frequently try to spy on them in the bathroom or shower section, but usually get caught by them or the sadistic principals. The disproportionate ways they are punished are always hilarious to read. In an interview Hiramoto acknowledged that the series aimed at male readers, but at the same time the power of women to bend them to their will is a much larger theme. He named feminist series and films like 'Oshin' (1983-1984), 'Thelma & Louise' and 'Fried Green Tomatoes' as an important inspiration, since they feature women who try to survive by guts alone. Naturally prison films and series like 'Cool Hand Luke' and 'Prison Break' helped influence the atmosphere too. As a teenager he too went to a high school where girls were in the majority, but he was too shy to address them. Much of his frustrations are the prime source of comedy.

All stories were prepublished in Shūkan Yangu Magajin (週刊ヤングマガジン, Weekly Young Magazine) and made available in book form too. In July 2015 the manga was adapted into an anime TV series, directed by Tsutomu Mizushima. Three months later a live-action TV adaptation aired too. 


'RaW Hero'.

RaW Hero
On 25 September 2018 Hiramoto launched the manga series 'RaW Hero' in the magazine Evening (イブニング). Chiaki Miura is a young man whose parents have passed away. Because he has two younger brothers and sisters to feed he takes the train to a job interview. During the trip he rescues a woman from being molested. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department recognizes his good deed and hires him to fight against crime organisations and special units.

Personality
Hiramoto is a very reclusive artist who has never been photographed and rarely gives interviews. As a result there are many unconfirmed rumors about him. One of them claims that he allegedly once drew pornographic manga (or hentai) under the pseudonym Daigo.

Recognition
Akira Hiramoto received a Glyph Comic Award (2009) and Kodansha Manga Award (2013) throughout his career. In 2014 'Prison School' won a Kodansha Manga Award for "Best General Manga", sharing the prize with Yūji Moritaka and Keiji Adachi's 'Gurazeni' ('グラゼニ', 2010-2015).

Since April 2014 he has his own Twitter account.

Series and books by Akira Hiramoto in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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