Akira Hiramoto is internationally known for creating Prison School. The sexual comedy won fans for Hiramoto’s detailed art, absurd humor, and a willingness to cross the line.
Prison School brought Hiramoto fame, but fans should check out Me and the Devil Blues (Ore to Akuma no Blues) if they want to appreciate his full talents!
1Hiramoto’s has an interest in the blues.
We joke about Hiramoto being a “man of culture” for portraying a variety of ecchi scenes in Prison School, but the mangaka has a real interest in the blues.
The blues is a music genre that originated in South of the United States, but there is a dedicated subculture in Japan that spun-off from their adoption of jazz music. It’s a niche topic and one that Hiramoto appears knowledgeable in seeing as how the series’ protagonist is shrouded in myth.
2Robert Johnson is an intriguing historical icon.
Me and the Devil Blues follows Robert Johnson, who was a real-life blues musician from 1929 to 1938.
Hiramoto takes a lot of creative liberties because not much is known about Johnson’s life – he only recorded 29 songs before his mysterious death and there are just three verified photos of him in existence. Third party accounts are also difficult historians to verify since Johnson never traveled with a band and used at least eight aliases when staying in different towns. Despite little personal information, Johnson was one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Johnson’s mystique and talent gave rise to popular legends, with the most famous saying he sold his soul to the devil for mastery of the guitar. This legend serves as the basis for Me and the Devil Blues, but don’t mistake the manga for a fantasy tale.
3Hiramoto painstakingly researched pre-Civil Rights America.
Hiramoto spent a lot of time researching life in 1930s America and captured the racial tensions of the era. The racial discrimination depicted in the manga isn’t caricatured or glanced over, which can make some readers feel uncomfortable.
4Non-history will buffs will love the horror aspects.
You have to be a fan of the blues or appreciate historical accuracy to enjoy Me and the Devil Blues. The story is filled with psychological-horror elements involving Johnson and the Devil, which can border on the surreal. In fact, the reader is constantly unsure if what Johson is experiencing and seeing is real or only in his mind.
5‘Me and the Devil Blues’ is the rare manga to have been uncancelled.
Kodansha published the manga’s “final” in February 2008, with many people believing that low sales led to the story’s premature cancelation. Hiramoto would go on a three hiatus before working on Prison School, which became a financial success.
The height of Prison School‘s popularity caused fans to explore Hiramoto’s catalog of work. Fans became reacquainted with the 32 volume Ago Nashi Gen to Ore Monogatari gag manga, but it was Me and the Devil Blues that earned interest. Me and the Devil Blues would win the Best Reprint Publication at the 2009 Glyph Comics Awards and Hiramoto was allowed to continue the manga’s story in 2015.
New chapters have been published on an irregular schedule, but there is hope that Hiramoto will dedicate more time to Me and the Devil Blues now that Prison School is over.