So I’ve just started watching Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, so this will be the last review for the next couple of weeks or so, but rest assured there will be plenty of content around such a big show when I’m done! I’m also trying out a new idea for my reviews by recommending the best track- fitting seeing as Deadman Wonderland has a couple of great ones and hopefully we’ll be able to keep it going. It’s worth saying before we get started that Deadman Wonderland got cancelled half way through and as a result won’t have a second season which my review does reflect. Let me know what you think of the review and feel free to dispute it through whatever social media you like!
Deadman Wonderland starts as it means to go on. Our hero, Ganta, sees his entire middle school class brutally murdered by a mysterious red man. As if that’s not bad enough, he is then accused and found guilty of this massacre and sent to Japan’s one and only privately owned prison, Deadman Wonderland. From the outside the prison is designed to seem like an amusement park where the inmates are made to complete gruesome events to entertain the masses. As Ganta soon finds out however, the prison has an even darker side, where ‘Deadmen’ are kept, these are people that have been infected with the branch of sin virus and can use their blood as a weapon. The Deadmen are forced to fight each other for a select group of researchers and other questionable people. Ganta, after two of these battles, joins up with a rebel group of Deadmen who are trying to escape the prison and tell the world it’s dark secret. If you’re looking for a positive here, you’ll struggle, but Ganta’s childhood friend, Shiro, a bubbly, over-excited, sweet loving girl, unexpectedly turns up (no really, we never find out the explanation, but there is an answer) to provide comic relief and generally help Ganta out.
The plot of Deadman Wonderland focuses almost solely on the main character and protagonist, Ganta, though there are moments where we get an insight into the story behind Shiro’s background. After the oh so gruesome beginning in the classroom, Ganta is questioned and promptly arrested by police before being stitched up in court by his own lawyer who happens to be the promoter of Deadman Wonderland.
Soon after arriving in the prison, Ganta meets his old friend, Shiro, who promptly stops him being beaten up a group of bad people before a building proceeds to fall down and almost crush the two of them, only for the situation to be saved by Ganta’s new mysterious power. After he wakes up following the event we are also informed that all inmates needs to eat a piece of candy once every three days to survive, otherwise the collar around their necks will inject a dose of poison so strong they will die.
More gorey things happen and Ganta predictably almost gets killed again only to be saved by Shiro before he finds his way into Block G and meets more people like him – Deadmen. After being taken prisoner within the prison, Ganta is forced to enter into the carnival corpse, a fight where two deadmen fight each other until the other can’t go on, with the loser foregoing a body part. Rough, right?
Soon after our hero joins a rebel group looking to escape the prison with Block G where they end up fighting a group of super powered, emotionless guards called Undertakers.
And then it ends. I’m being serious, there’s a battle, a chat and a very good cliff hanger.
What we see in Deadman Wonderland is the development of one character and one character only. Unfortunately for the outcome of this review I can’t say that Ganta (the character in question) really changes all that much. It’s understandable following the traumatic events of the first couple of episodes that Ganta is traumatised, but there isn’t ever really much evidence of him trying to adapt to the situation. Even after he gets some really good friends that help him out a lot, he still has to cry and generally be very annoying.
The other main character in the show is Shiro. I can’t help but feel that if the show had been given the second 12 episodes Shiro would develop into the sole main character. Despite the focus on Ganta in the episodes we do have, the scenes that do focus on Shiro and her other half, are far more interesting. Her character keeps on giving right up to the very last scene of the series that for some reason makes the ending all the more difficult to swallow.
There are some other characters that we should mention: Yo acts as Ganta’s one and only ‘normal’ friend through the show and, despite his questionable motivations, helps make Ganta more bearable. Then there is Yo’s sister Minatsuki, a suitably crazy deadman who would have no doubt grown into the show in one way or the other, but nonetheless adds to the action throughout what we do have. The crazed but toy loving boss Tamaki is also an interesting character but never really got the opportunity to develop properly. And then there’s the unanswered question of the Wretched Egg, which I won’t spoil for those tempted to watch the show or read the manga.
Sound, Artwork and Animation:
This is an area where Deadman Wonderland really excels. Both the opening and the ending soundtracks are very good, and the opening sequence is so well done that it does give off the impression that more time was put in there than for most of the rest of the series. The artwork and animation is very pretty, though as a result of the show’s nature, very gorey. I can’t say this really bothered me though, how can you really show off a prison that makes money through violent trials of it’s inmates and while secretly conducting researching on people that can use their blood as weapons without a fair amount of gore?
Best piece of music:
One Reason- Fade: Opening Theme. The reason I decided to add this to my reviews when covering Deadman Wonderland is because both the opening and ending tracks are so good. I went for the opening, One Reason, though, if only because I think it represents the theme of the show really well. The accompanying title sequence has clearly had a lot of work put into it and fits with the track really well. And actually it’s just a really good rock song- plus it’s in English if you like to know what your lyrics mean!
Episode 7: Original Sin (Wretched Egg). This is the episode where everything starts to really get going. It gives the season real direction, we start to learn a little bit more about Shiro’s background and why she might be in this prison and about the rebel gang of Deadmen that Ganta is roped into joining.
It’s difficult to properly judge Deadman Wonderland because I can’t help but feel if there were another 12 episodes, they would be really good. It’s not even as if I didn’t enjoy the 12 I did see, I just felt like I was only given half of my cake. The lack of attempt to finish the show off in anyway really takes away from the overall quality. Ganta is not a very likeable main character, and even if those around him are more interesting we don’t really get enough time to learn much about them. The soundtrack is exceptional and the artwork isn’t half bad either, but at the end of the day I feel as if I’ve been a bit let down. This could have been something really special, but instead I feel like I can’t really recommend it. The story looks like it could be really good and the concept is original and very exciting so I’d say give the manga a go – at least they finished that.
What did you think of Deadman Wonderland? Did you care that they cut the second half? Was it great in it’s own right? Do I have any idea what I’m talking about!? Leave your own rating below and comment to your heart’s content in the comments.