The Best Manga With A Prison Theme | TheReviewGeek Recommends

The Best Manga With A Prison Theme

Although many people cherish watching anime, they often forget that most anime serve as adaptations of the original source material. While there are some instances where the anime is better than the manga, those instances are few and far between.

With the amount of manga released on a daily basis, it could be hard to cut through all those books to find the “Best of” for any chosen topic.

Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest, and unforgettable manga through the years. For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best manga, our attention this time turns to manga with a prison theme. From action-packed adventures to deep psychological works, there’s a good choice to whet your appetite.

Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll get them added on!


JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean – Hirohiko Araki

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean is a fantastic entry in the JoJo universe with a captivating prison theme. The story follows Joylne, as she finds herself wrongfully imprisoned and caught in a tangled web of supernatural abilities, intricate relationships, and high-stakes battles. The prison setting adds a unique layer of tension that sets Stone Ocean apart from previous arcs of the series. 

One of Stone Ocean’s finest uses of its prison theme is its wonderful deep dive into the psychological effects it has on characters. The manga delves into the characters’ minds, revealing their fears, vulnerabilities, and resourcefulness as they navigate the harsh realities of prison life. Moreover, the series introduces a colorful and eccentric ensemble cast with unique Stand abilities that’ll impress readers.

With its impressive line-up of characters and masterful use of its setting, you’ll love this entry. 


Banana Fish: Another Story – Akimi Yoshida

Banana Fish: Another Story is a remarkable manga that takes place in the Banana Fish universe and delves into the series’s protagonist, Ash Lynx’s past. In this tale, he finds himself locked behind bears in Sing Sing Prison. The prison setting becomes a stage for exploring themes of power dynamics, corruption, and the human spirit’s resilience. 

This manga offers a harsh depiction of prison life. It delves into the harsh living conditions and abuse of power among inmates and prison officials. It exposes the underbelly of the Sing Sing Prison, highlighting Ash and his inmate’s struggles as they navigate this treacherous facility.

For those looking for a raw and realistic depiction of prison life, Banana Fish: Another Story delivers on that front. 


Our Happy Hours, Our Happy Time – Takashi Sano

This is a tale that’s best read when you’re in a cheery or introspective mood. Takashi Sano handles suicide brilliantly throughout the work, providing audiences with a genuine take on the subject. Many readers will relate to Yuu and Juri’s angst with self-harm and will end up fostering a deep connection with the characters as they learn about their individual traumas and actions.

If you’re looking for a prison-themed tale of forgiveness and one that identifies what it means to be human, this one’s worth reading. 


Nanbaka – Shou Futamata


Soloist In A Cage – Shiro Moriya 

Soloist In A Cage is a bite-sized action drama that’ll appeal to some folks. It takes place in an inescapable domain called Prison City, where its inhabitants are monitored by many cyborg guards. Our protagonist, Chloe, spends her time looking after her little brother after they’re abandoned by their parents. Unfortunately, Chloe abandons her brother one night but promises to find him in the future. 

The story follows Chloe’s journey as an adult, as she desperately looks for her brother she abandoned many years ago. The narrative carries mixed baggage and may not satisfy all readers. It teeters more toward Chole’s mission to save her brother instead of fleshing out the horrendous prison-like environment they’re inhabiting. 

However, Chloe’s journey contains enough engaging action scenes to keep readers glued to the page. As a protagonist, Chloe is a sufficient lead, with enough personality and internal demons to entice readers to foster a connection with her as she searches for her brother.

Coupled with premium art and a unique atmosphere, Soloist in a Cage is worth your time. 


Deadman Wonderland – Jinsei Kataoka & Kazama Kondou

Deadman Wonderland is an outstanding manga that combines elements of horror, action, and supernatural elements. Set in a twisted prison known as Deadman Wonderland, we follow Ganta, a boy who is convicted of murdering his classmates. The manga explores themes of injustice, survival, and the shadiest parts of human essence. 

Deadman Wonderland, the environment itself, serves as a twisted mental asylum for our cast. The characters within this environment display twisted and sadistic behaviors due to being entrapped within this prison’s domain. You’ll find yourself immersed in this nightmarish world where survival becomes prominent and secrets swarm.

On top of having rich action scenes that capture the gritty essence of prison life, Deadman Wonderland is worth checking out. 


Rainbow – George Abe

Rainbow is a phenomenal manga that explores the themes of friendship, survival, and resilience within the confines of a prison environment. The story revolves around seven young men who find themselves confined to a correction facility in post-World War II Japan. Each character possesses a unique backstory, making them relatable to readers. 

George Abe shares a nuanced portrayal of the prison system. He doesn’t shy away from showcasing the abuse, corruption, and dehumanization that the characters endure in the prison setting. The boys will face discrimination and prejudice, allowing Abe to take a critical stance on the flaws and injustices of the prison system.

On top of giving our cast amazing personalities and favorable backgrounds, readers will find themselves fostering a deep appreciation for this tale. 


Fort of Apocalypse – Yuu Kuraishi

Fort of Apocalypse is an exceptional manga that combines horror, survival, and prison life to create a gripping narrative for folks to enjoy. The manga follows Yoshiki, a boy who finds himself trapped inside a high school that has been transformed into a prison. This is all due to a zombie outbreak.

This high school prison contains its set of power struggles, alliances, and hierarchy. Not only must the characters deal with the zombie menace outside the school, but they must deal with the dangers and conflicts brewing within their setting. Yuu Kuraishi effectively captures the tension and claustrophobia that come with being confined in a prison, elevating the manga’s suspense.

If you love stories where characters must outwit each other in a dreadful environment, this might be the story for you. 


Deadlock – Saki Aida

Do you need a 20-chapter prison-themed manga to add to your completed list? Saki Aida’s Deadlock might be the story for you. This is a wonderful crime manga that blends mystery and prison life into a captivating and intense tale. In it, we follow Yuuto, a former investigator who got arrested because of a false accusation. 

Yuuto gets assigned a task to look for a specific criminal hiding in the prison. We observe his life in prison as he attempts to complete the FBI’s mission they assigned to him. While Yuuto’s attempts at finding the culprit are engaging, many folks will adore this tale for the bonds he forges with other inmates in the prison. 

Each inmate has depth and personality, adding more nuance to the narrative. The illustrations in this manga bring out its gritty nature and the characters’ expressions wonderfully.

If you’re looking for another enjoyable prison manga that’s short and complex, check this out.


Shamo – Akio Tanaka & Izou Hashimoto

Shamo is an extraordinary manga that delves into the gritty aspects of prison life. It follows Ryo, a young martial artist who, after committing a horrific crime, finds himself struggling to survive in a brutal prison environment. This manga explores imprisonment wonderfully by showcasing how it affects our protagonists’ psyches and transforms them. 

Akio Tanaka and Izou Hashimoto excel at highlighting the harsh realities of violence, corruption, and power struggles that exist within the prison’s walls. Through Ryo’s experiences, readers get exposed to the raw nature of survival in an environment where one must adapt or perish. Additionally, Shamo contains wonderful character development. 

Readers will enjoy seeing Ryo go from a skilled martial artist to a ruthless survivor. By delving into his psyche, our authors showcase the psychological effects one’s imprisonment can have on one’s psyche.

If you’re after another prison-themed work with depth, check this out. 


So, there we have it, our picks for the best manga with a prison theme through the years!

What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!


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