The question boggles the mind when asked, "Why do you like this show?" Superjail! is incredibly fast-paced; it's packed with wall-to-wall gore and violence of the type only seen on Adult Swim (or in anime); and the viewer only understands what's going on after two or three repeat viewings of any episode. Yet I can't stop watching it.
How to describe it? Every episode begins with the latest adventure of Jackknife, the only inmate ever to escape Superjail, which he does at the end of each and every episode. Meanwhile, at the beginning of every episode, Jackknife is caught by the Jailbot in the middle of doing something disgusting, obscene, and inhuman, and the Jailbot flies him back to Superjail through a psychedelic landscape, in a sequence that is different with each episode. (No animated sequence ever repeats itself on this show!) Superjail is in an impossible location, a gigantic fortress within a volcano, within an even bigger volcano. This is the type of idea you'd expect to see in drawings from the imagination of a seven-year-old child…and in fact, the entire design of the animation, right down to the hand-drawn "Superjail!" logo, has that aspect. It's as if the series creators took a hundred years' worth of graffiti and doodles from the back pages of bored elementary school students' textbooks, and brought them to absurd, sadistic life.
There are only few actual "characters" here – the Warden, the insane yet naive and child-like overlord who treats Superjail as his own personal Christmas toy; Jared, the nervous and shy accountant with a gigantic forehead not unlike The Leader from The Incredible Hulk; Alice, the hermaphrodite prison guard with strong female overtures, even stronger muscles, and a deep baritone voice (who really gets off on the tortures and sick perversions that take place all the time in Superjail); and the strange Twins, who appear to be from the future or maybe another dimension, causing trouble and havoc in Superjail just because they're bored and want to liven things up. And then there's the jail itself, with its thousands upon thousands of inmates who pack the frames of every moment of this show. Other than Jackknife, none of them is an actual personality; they're there for our entertainment, as we watch them suffer the whims of the Warden's latest idea, dying horrible deaths by the hundreds in sequences that happen so fast, they scream for DVD and frame-by-frame examination.
I think it's the animation that makes this show what it is – outrageous, absurdly glorious animation that is refreshingly unlike anything else showing today, on TV or in the movies. There's no CGI, the designs seem to be taken from bad 1960s acid trips (one episode has a five-second-or-so clip that's a direct homage to Yellow Submarine's Sea of Monsters), and there is (refreshingly) absolutely no influence of anime stereotypes anywhere at all in this show! What's more, every single frame of this show is packed with movement, with something happening in every single frame. This is an animation background designer's paradise, as you can look at any part of any scene and see something strange. You could freeze-frame any moment of any episode, and I would defy you to describe that single image in anything less than three paragraphs. This contributes to much of the reality-defying moments of the show. It moves at such a breakneck pace that we're treated to sudden sequences in which the gore and action flow off on strange tangents, unrelated to the main plot in any way other than we're watching the inmates die in unendingly creative ways. There's so much going on here that it threatens to overwhelm the viewer…but, somehow, it works. Each episode is only about eleven minutes long, and that's for the best; this show is taken best in small doses. Maybe that's why we don't care that there isn't much of a plot or any actual characters other than the regular cast – we don't need them.
This could be one of those shows where the creators went for broke: not knowing if they were going to be renewed for a second season, they poured all of their ideas and creativity into the first season, resulting in one of those flashes in the pan that may not last into a second season. There will be a second season of Superjail!, and like its other fans I am hoping that it is every bit as good as the first, or even better. But even if it isn't, the first season will stand like the original first season of Ren and Stimpy – an instant classic of surrealism that makes your jaw drop as you can't believe what you are seeing, but you simply enjoy every moment of the experience.