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Manga / Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin
aka: Rainbow

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I wonder what they’re doing now. There were seven men who survived through rather grand days at the bottom of the cauldron of Hell, inside a cell, fifty years ago . . .

A manga by George Abe and Masasumi Kakizaki, Rainbow tells the story of six teenage inmates of a post-World War II prison in Japan, and the hardships they endure.

It was adapted into an anime by Madhouse.


  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Minakami Mario, Matsuura Mansaku, Tooyama Tadayoshi...
  • Adults Are Useless: Most of the guards other than Ishihara are well-intentioned, but they don't have the same pull he has with Dr. Sasaki. The only one who even tries to protect the boys is Kumagai, whom Ishihara murders to stop him from helping Anchan.
  • Asshole Victim: Although Ishihara unfortunately doesn't die or get killed, he does, however, lose his job and becomes a homeless drug addict with no future. To say he had it coming is a complete understatement.
    • As for Gisuke Sasaki, he also doesn't die or get killed either, but he does get put in prison for being a pedophile and a rapist. One must wonder how long he will survive in jail because we all know how pedos and rapists get treated in prison.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: In general, characters fit into one of two art styles. The first is relatively soft-faced, and is used for the boys and for well-intentioned side characters. The other is harder-lined, more likely to have facial bulges, and, for some reason, darker-skinned, and is used for brutish characters like Ishihara. This isn't always consistent, though—the more reliable rule is that characters who smile frequently are either good or Faux Affably Evil.
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  • Big Brother Mentor: Anchan, as his nickname indicates.
  • The Big Guy: Cabbage lacks finesse, but makes up for it in applied momentum.
  • Body Horror: The owner of One Percent Loan has huge scars covering his body, as a result of loaning money to the wrong people.
  • Break the Cutie: Almost everyone, even the side characters, has gone through some amount of this (the rule seems to be that you are either broken or the one responsible for said breaking). That being said, Joe has it bad even by the usual standards of the series, his life being a mixture of Parental Abandonment, Rape as Backstory, being separated from his sister (and only known family member), his But Not Too Foreign looks getting him labelled as 'exotic' in a So Beautiful, It's a Curse sort of way that attracts the attention of many, many an abusive pervert and so on, even before he ends up in a Hellhole Prison at the age of 16. The fact that he eventually comes to agree with his sister that, as orphans, they "have no other choice but to be used by other people" says it all, really.
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  • But Not Too Foreign: Joe is half Japanese and half... something.
  • The Cavalry: Over and over again, with one memorable example being Mario and the others running across town to Joe's aid. That arc in particular even had shades of Gondor Calls for Aid.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Turtle thinks he's much more popular with women than he actually is.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Rainbow does an admirable job of differentiating characters who all wear uniforms and have similar haircuts. Even the guards can be told apart with practice.
  • Content Warning: "After careful consideration of the times, we feel that intense scenes in this show are important to the story."
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: Apparently, Dr. Sasaki doubles as the coroner. So long as there aren't obvious external wounds, any death can be explained away.
  • Covered with Scars: Over ten years of working as a moneylender, Sugi has acquired quite an assortment of what appear to be knife wounds. He says they all came from people who thought it would be easier to kill him than to repay him.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: This is as close as a prison show gets to having clean language—the characters only curse under stress.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Anchan against the entire main cast, and later Mario against the American soldier Jeffrey.
  • Determinator: The inmates in general, but especially Anchan and Mario.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Whenever someone tries to beat up Anchan, he smiles like he knows something they don't. This is invariably seen as highly unnerving.
  • Eagleland: Most of the Americans don't come off well, although Jeffrey eventually redeems himself, and Mario's trainer is pretty benign.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The mafia who becomes antagonist employs some colored and a woman as active members.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: A microscopic example. After Ishihara murders Kumagai for being nosy, Sasaki beats and berates him for such a reckless move, expressing he was simply going to have him transferred elsewhere. This quickly leads to both of their downfalls.
  • Everybody Smokes: If they can get a cigarette, that is—they're valuable contraband in the detention center.
  • Eye Scream: In the manga (but not the anime), Mario's left eye is seriously damaged in a fire.
  • Fan Disservice: Any sex scene in this series that isn't offscreened invariably involves an old, fat, hideous pervert raping a terrified minor.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Ishihara becomes a homeless druggie with no money, and Sasaki gets put in prison (and everyone knows that pedophile and rapists barely survive in jail). Both are fates anyone would rather die than go through.
  • Genre Shift: The story transitions towards Slice of Life when the boys all complete their sentences. (Though of course, they still have the stigma of their imprisonment to contend with.)
  • Gentle Giant: Cabbage can fight if he has to, but he's not emotionally suited to it.
  • Gonk: Ishihara has a face like buttcheeks being spread for a colonoscopy. (Turtle could also be considered one, with his acne, bald spots, and enormous ears, but he fits in with the rest of the cast surprisingly well.)
  • Hate Sink: Ishihara and Dr. Sasaki provide a more direct source of the boys' pain and suffering than "the war" or "the economy."
  • He Knows Too Much: If Anchan gets out of the detention center alive, he'll be able to prove that Dr. Sasaki was involved in Hagino's death.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: When the detention center catches fire, Ishihara throws away the key to the boys' cell, thinking Anchan is inside and will burn to death. Actually, Anchan and Scam are the only ones outside it. Anchan tries to rescue the others, but fails to force the door—it's Scam who saves them all, after finding the key outside.
  • Honey Pot: Vera, mafia member sent to seduce Setsuko's husband.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Ishihara seems to get some inkling of the enormity of his crimes when Anchan simply hands him the suicide note he's spent a quarter of the series trying to destroy. But he's still determined to get revenge on Anchan, no matter what.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Ishihara acts remorseful for Hagino's death. Sadly, this is just a trick he uses to distract Sakuragi so he can stab him.
  • Jizzed in My Pants: Scam, walking up the stairs of a whorehouse with the whore walking in front of him, her skirt giving occasional glimpses of her rear.
  • Karma Houdini: The orphanage owner, in the anime.
    • Subverted, if not averted, with Ishihara and Sasaki. The former ends up as a homeless drug addict, while the latter is exposed during a press conference as the child rapist he is and it's implied he goes to jail. Needless to say, they both deserve it.
  • Love Makes You Stupid: Scam blows all his money and the money borrowed from his friends on his first crush, a beautiful prostitute he takes pity on and wants to elope with. She didn't even love him, as he learns too late; she uses the money he gives her to meet up with her real love and performs a lovers suicide with him. He may have dodged a bullet there.
  • Lucky Translation: Mario is metaphorically indebted to the others, but there's no time limit to pay them back—they have "bonds for life."
  • Lying to Protect Your Feelings: When Soldier was little, he always wondered what his father was like. His mother kept telling him that he was a good man and a fine soldier, making him want to be like him. Turns out he was yakuza, and she had only told Soldier that to make him feel better about his parentage.
  • Man Bites Man: Turtle claims that no one has ever withstood one of his bites for more than three minutes. (Scam wonders why none of his victims has ever put a knife to his throat.)
  • Manly Tears: The boys aren't afraid to shed some tears in this story, but post-Time Skip their crying isn't as visually open after they become adults.
  • Martial Pacifist: If Anchan fights a group of people, and none of them have weapons, he is guaranteed to win. However, he only uses force as necessary to protect himself and the other boys.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Mario sees an imagined/hallucinated/ghost of Anchan a few times, and even has a conversation with him once or twice. It's never really explained (in the anime or the current scanlations).
  • My Greatest Failure: Anchan blames himself for driving his father to suicide.
  • Never Tell Me the Odds!: Surgery on Mario's right hand has less than a 30% chance of restoring it to full functionality. Obviously, it works.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: There are a lot of scenes of Ishihara beating the crap out of some unfortunate convict while smiling maniacally. (Anchan is the only one who can wipe away the grin, by promising him that someday, he'll beat him in exactly the same way.)
  • Not Worth Killing: The only reason Mario doesn't finish off Ishihara.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Joe used to live in one, which doubled as the headquarters of a child sex slavery ring. His pupils shrink dramatically at the mere sight of the orphanage owner.
  • Out of Focus: Soldier. In the anime, he doesn't really have as much screentime or development as the other boys. All we really know about him is that he's a tough guy and wants to join the SDF. Cabbage and Soldier weren't in focus most of the time, but Cabbage at least ended up getting a small arc dedicated to him. In the manga, this is completely averted, but it does take longer for either Soldier or Cabbage to get an equitable amount of screen time.
  • Out of the Inferno: Just when Ishihara is certain the protagonists have all died in the fire . . . Happens again with Mario and Setsuko in volume 20.
  • Posthumous Character: Although important for much of the earlier volumes, Anchan becomes something like this as he continues to appear in flashbacks throughout the rest of the series. Even his reason for entering the reformatory isn't fully developed until a good 10 volumes or so after his death.
  • The Power of Friendship: Oh, you have no idea . . .
  • Prison Tropes: Well, the first half is a prison story, so...
    • Hellhole Prison: The detention center is a prison in all but name, but apparently, the actual juvenile prison is even worse.
    • The Old Convict: Anchan, relatively speaking. He's just a teenager, but he's been in prison longer than the others, and he functions as a mentor figure.
    • Prisons Are Dojos: Anchan teaches fighting to anyone who will learn. Mario and Soldier take to it quite well.
    • Prison Break: Mario, Turtle, and Anchan end up breaking out of the reformatory, while Cabbage, Soldier, Scam, and Joe sacrifice themselves to let them go.
    • Prison Rape: Dr. Sasaki likes to check the boys for tuberculosis. If he finds one particularly attractive, he'll check him once every week. Hagino, one of his previous victims, was Anchan's cellmate before he committed suicide. Joe was planned to be his next victim.
  • Rape as Backstory: Both Joe and his sister Megu have this. Joe himself was frequently sexually assaulted and later raped by the female owner of the orphanage he stayed at, and Megu's foster father raped her throughout her time spent with him.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Some of the most vile people in the manga are going to end up as rapists or already are one. Mario almost kills a teacher because he had raped a student, Sasaki is a pedophillic rapist on top of his secret dealings, and the Rape as Backstory for Megu and Joe show both rapists as scum.
  • Recap Episode: The appropriately named "Recollect".
  • Rescue Romance: While Meg was friendly with the rest of the Cell 6-2 group after a while, she didn't really start falling for Soldier until after he rescues her from an Attempted Rape by her foster father.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Ishihara cannot let well enough alone when someone has previously humiliated him (most obviously in the case of Anchan.)
  • Sand Necktie: After getting out of prison, the boys kidnap Dr. Sasaki, bring him to the beach, and bury him up to his neck where the tide will drown him. They dig him back out, but not before he's admitted everything he's done wrong — on tape.
  • Satisfied Street Rat: Turtle plays the part, though he's in just as much pain inside as the rest of the cast.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: All of the boys' attempts to get Anchan out of the reformatory to avoid being killed end up with him dead anyway— while he did get to live for a couple of months on the run, ultimately he gets shot dead by police.
  • Shout-Out: Chapters from the manga are all named after songs, with everything from "Born to Be Wild" to "My Immortal." Artist credits are given at the end of each tankoubon; the mangaka seem particularly fond of Helloween.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Hopscotches wildly across it, but somehow manages to wind up on the idealistic side even after everything the protagonists go through.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Joe's blond hair and blue eyes are considered exotic, which makes him a target for would-be rapists both in and out of prison. (After a while, he learns to play the role of an innocent Uke to catch people off-guard.)
  • Society Is to Blame: After the war, and the resultant destruction, there simply aren't enough resources to go around. Those who can't survive by legal means necessarily break the law. (Then again, Turtle's life was pretty screwed up even before the war—the deaths of his parents just removed his last means of support.)
  • Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: In an early chapter of the manga, Anchan uses Scam's glasses to light a cigarette for the rest of the gang.
  • Son of a Whore: Scam's mother wasn't a prostitute when he was born, but she found it to be the only way to feed both him and herself after the war.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Invoked, but subverted. Joe implies that Mario should do something about Setsuko's upcoming marriage before he develops any regrets. Mario watches her wedding from afar, and smiles to give her his best wishes.
  • Spoiler Opening: Have you noticed that someone's missing from the image above?
    • The opening also gives quick flashes of important incidents from the characters' lives. Some of these are learned later (like why Mario was arrested), and some are only explained in the manga (like why Anchan was arrested.)
  • Straw Nihilist: Scam, at first, and he will not shut up about it.
  • Surprisingly Good English: The American soldiers speak perfect English. (Turtle, on the other hand, doesn't—which turns out to be important.)
  • Tattooed Crook: Cabbage, of all people.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sadly, Sakuragi. In a scene where they could have wrapped up a villain rather cleanly, they instead manage to give away their group’s bargaining chip, betray their deceased friend’s memory, leave a major villain in play, and, to top it all off, get themselves killed instead. All of which were easily avoidable by simply picking from any number of alternative, obviously smarter, choices.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Anchan, fullstop. You come to realize fairly early on that someone so good and inspirational and beloved and constantly in danger isn't going to make it for very long.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: More than once. At the end of the first half, when the boys are released, Soldier joins the military, Joe works as a band's assistant while struggling to become a singer himself, Turtle sells various items on the black market, Cabbage works for a construction company, Scam goes to high school, and Mario works as a bartender. At the end of the manga, Soldier is married to Meg and becomes a guard at the Shonan reform school, Joe is a popular singer running from screaming fangirls, Turtle has his own business, Cabbage is living in Hawaii with his wife Ruriko, Scam seems to have successfully become a lawyer, and Mario is in America, driving down Route 66. The anime itself ends with yet another epilogue taken from about halfway through the manga.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Ishihara says this after Anchan survives being stabbed in the gut, having previously lived through being starved, frozen, beaten, and nearly run over with a motorbike.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Surprisingly, Cabbage, who hates fighting, is excellent at wrestling.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: What Cabbage tells the approaching guards during Anchan's escape from the detention center. He holds them off long enough for Mario to unlock the gate, and Soldier to break the key in the lock once the others are past.


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