“He that is taken and put into prison or chains is not conquered, though overcome; for he is still an enemy.” – Thomas Hobbes
Title: Deadman Wonderland
TV; 12 Episodes
Genre: Action , Horror , Sci-Fi
Sometimes it was difficult to watch. It hard not to when Deadman Wonderland is such visceral dissection of gore within the genre. Maybe I have a weak stomach, but seeing an eye pulled from its socket as each neuron snaps isn’t pleasant. So I preface this review with my conclusion: Deadman Wonderland is not for everyone. The gratuitous violence at points seems inessential to the Hobbesian points that the series is trying to make that humans are fundamentally savages. Sometimes its use even jeopardizes the anime’s philosophical goals. This show is not a crowd pleaser, but is filled with unique ideas that set what is ultimately flawed, apart.
Now onto the bloody details.
Deadman Wonderland based off the manga written by Jinsei Kataoka and illustrated by Kazuma Kondou of Euraka Seven fame. Currently it has an ongoing serialization on Shonen Ace. The concept is pretty unique if a bit twisted (a motif that runs through the show) of a privately owned prison where the inmates are forced to run an amusement park, making them into nothing more than tourist attractions.
Through this vivid carnival and desolate prison we follow Igarashi Ganta, a highschool student falsely accused of massacring his entire class. Now finding himself on death row, Ganta clings onto a friendship with a mysterious girl named Shiro and the faint hope of escaping. Soon though he finds out he is caught in an even darker game between Deadmen. These super powered beings, locked up in the deepest bowels of the Wonderland, use their blood for their various abilities and are pitted in bouts of survival for an anonymous audience of power brokers, politicians and wealthy.
Ganta is entangled in a plot filled with political intrigue and emotional depth but the format of the show and the pacing of the plot leaves an unsatisfying taste in the mouth. Deadman Wonderland wants to be a lot larger than the real estate it inhabits. By the twelfth episode were introduced to a whole host of interesting and dynamic characters who have none of their issues resolved. I am sure a second season is planned, but I was hoping to have some of my questions answered. All the viewer is left with is a list of open ended statements. And with only 12 episodes a few concepts and scenes are rushed through with characters very frequently ferried on and off screen. The ultimately well wrought script has a terrible time keeping up with this pace, where certain interactions between cast members aren’t given enough screen time.
The visuals and sound production on this piece are phenomenal. The action is well done and the gore is accomplished in such surgical detail. Characters designs are not overwrought but have their own unique quirks. The voice acting is done in a similar manner, while emotional, carries the grave atmosphere of this series. The music is exceptional with the opening theme toting a nu-metal sounds and excellent lyrics.
Deadman Wonderland has some great aspects: great concept, excellent production and philosophical intentions. Yet they don’t come together as cohesively as expected because of the intense moment. At one point there’s tons of emotional banter and then the intensity level will just ratchet up very quick with some bloody scene. It becomes distracting and makes the short series seem like it’s begging for attention. I’m not one to be against the gruesome, but its hard not to comment on it when its interrupting a very good anime.Story: 7/10