Saturday, April 4, 2015

Deadman Wonderland Anime Review

Deadman Wonderland
Deddoman Wandarando
Funimation
Complete Collection - 2 discs
325 mins - 12 episodes + OVA
$34.98 (2014) Blu-Ray/DVD
$64.98 (2012)
ISBN 704400075803
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Koichiro Hatsumi
Studio - Manglobe

Synopsis: Ganta Igarashi is a normal high school student.  Or so he thinks.  Ten years earlier there was a mysterious and devastating event centered in Tokyo which destroyed the city and most of the surrounding areas.  Ganta was one of the survivors and he has regained a seemingly normal life among his friends.  This all changes when a frightening figure attacks Ganta's classroom and massacres all of the students.  Only Ganta is spared, but he doesn't escape unharmed.  The floating and deranged man embeds a red crystal shard into Ganta's chest.
The 'Red Man' embeds a glowing red crystal in Ganta's chest
Awakening in the hospital and clearly traumatized, Ganta discovers his wounds have miraculously disappeared.  The authorities question him and to his vast dismay they suspect him as being the perpetrator of the slaughter.  Ganta pleads innocence and is subjected to a rigged court trial where falsified evidence damns him to death row.  He's living a nightmare and gets sentenced to 'Deadman Wonderland', a privately owned prison modeled after and functioning as an amusement park.
Ganta is handed a death sentence for killing his entire classroom - say what!?
The inmates all work in the theme park and are fitted with tracking/suppression collars.  Condemned prisoners are administered slow poison doses through the collars as well.  If they don't earn 'candy' every three days then the poison overwhelms them and they die (fulfilling their death sentence).  Inmates can earn candy by participating in dangerous (often deadly) games for the guests amusement.  The prison is run by a sadistic and well-endowed warden, Makina, who brutally punishes any misbehaving inmates.  She especially likes to cut them with a sword she wears.
Deadman Wonderland - first amusement park prison
Ganta obsesses over finding the cause for his torment - the Red Man.  Surrounded by killers and criminals he's gotta watch his back!  A strange girl appears who says she knows Ganta and acts very familiar.  Her name is Shiro and she dresses differently than any of the other inmates.  The two become friends and she has an uncanny ability to get out of trouble.  What is the top secret G Block and the tournament called Carnival Corpse?  The red crystal in Ganta's chest has changed him and he's about to discover a horrific, hidden world behind the colorful facade of Deadman Wonderland.
Shiro finds Ganta, who she swears is her childhood friend
Pros: Great visuals, interesting character designs, great opening/ending theme songs, strong profanity, some epic battles, underdog story as Ganta must overcome incredible odds to stay alive, Shiro is a cool character
The head of the prison is a total slimeball nutjob
Cons: Major suspension of disbelief in the world set up by this series (seriously, who is going to take their kid to a theme park staffed by criminals), Ganta cries like every episode, this show is clearly a first season for a longer story yet there is no second season (it didn't do well in Japan although success overseas may garner its continuation, US release was censored (no nudity and some of the gore was blocked)
Ganta runs afoul of one of the G Block cellmates - The Crow
Mike Tells It Straight: Deadman Wonderland aired on Cartoon Network in the States and is based on a manga by Jinsei Kataoka/Kazuma Kondou.  It's a slick looking anime series with cool character designs, an awesome theme song/opening, and ultra-violent action.  The plot is outlandish and hard to believe, but enough hints are dropped (if you pay attention) to give you a little backstory of why things are happening.  I liked the animation and the characters looked cool doing a bunch of violent things.  Ganta is a sympathetic protagonist and the mysterious Shiro was an intriguing character.  A lot of battles and neat tricks happen with the powers of the Deadmen.  That's the good stuff.
Ganta's power surfaces from the red crystal
One major issue with this series is it doesn't have a definitive ending and begs for a second season (to finish out the manga).  Apparently it wasn't a success in Japan and no second season is planned at this time.  It saw domestic success in the States and might possibly get that second season, but I wouldn't bet on it.  Big disappointment.  Anyone who wants to finish out the story can turn to the manga.
Ganta befriends another Deadman called Hummingbird
Ganta was a serious crybaby throughout the series and cries at least once per episode.  It gets pretty sad although I'd probably do much worse in his shoes (plus I don't have freaky telekinetic blood powers or a hot girl like Shiro to watch out for me).  His pathetic demeanor is tempered somewhat by the tougher characters he befriends.  Some of the plot was confusing and far-fetched.  When I saw the Carnival Corpse matchups I thought the series was going to be a tournament show.  The Undertakers were stereotypical bad guys and didn't garner much sympathy despite their tragic backstories.
Seriously, who is taking their kids to a prison amusement park?
I enjoyed watching this series although it was a bit violent and overly cruel at times.  Definitely not for younger viewers.  Opening theme song and animation sequence was great.  It's hard to recommend a show which doesn't have a satisfying ending (the OVA episode is a prequel focusing on one of the Deadmen).  I would watch a second season if it comes out and may get around to reading the manga someday.
From left - Koshio (Game Fowl), Nagi (Owl), Ganta (Woodpecker),
Shiro (Wretched Egg?), and Senji (Crow)

TO BUY and Recommendations: