Well, hey everyone! I hope your week’s going pretty well, but if not, well. IT’S FRIDAY! Yeah! And you know what else is special about Friday? Nothing else…except the fact that I’m going to review Deadman Wonderland, to commemorate the return of Toonami, as per requested by a certain slave-driving Editor-in-Chief (not naming names here!). Jokes aside, I just marathoned the show yesterday, so it’s still pretty fresh in my head. And, the show was pretty darned good, so I’m glad I watched it. So let’s dig in, itadakimasu!
Let’s start out as usual, with a premise/plot and the characters. The setting is futuristic Japan, 10 years after a disaster called the Red Hole swallows up Tokyo and some of its surroundings. We first meet our MC, Igarashi Ganta, a seemingly normal middle school boy. Unfortunately, 5 minutes in, Ganta’s whole class is brutally massacred by a mysterious “Red Man.” Ganta alone is left alive and unhurt, and therefore is framed for the murder. He gets the death sentence and sent to a special prison called Deadman Wonderland, which functions as an amusement park for the general public.
Spoilers alert! Some major plot points will be discussed here so if you don’t want to know, skip to here.
Now, all of this is incredibly fishy. Why the hell was Ganta the only one left alive? And why did he get the death sentence based on so little evidence? These questions are, surprisingly, answered as the anime progresses. We learn that the “Red Man” is the source of a sort of a virus (very loosely defined), called the Branch of Sin, that allows those infected to be able to control their own blood. And Ganta seemed to have caught the Red Man’s interest, so the Red Man decided to infect him.
Due to Ganta’s infection, the answer to the second question can be answered. The “Promoter,” the one in charge of publicity, of Deadman Wonderland, named Tsunenaga Tamaki, will do anything to obtain those with Branches of Sin, so he is the one who frames Ganta and has him sent to Deadman Wonderland. For the sake of writing efficiency, I’ll just say that those with Branches of Sin are called Deadmen. Hence, the title, right? But why would he want Deadmen to get sent to Deadman Wonderland? Well, Deadmen are a secret to the general public, so what Tamaki does is he reallocates them to a secret sector of the prison. And…
Once Promoter Tamaki tells all of this to Ganta, he goes on and drops another bomb. Obviously, since Ganta can control his blood at will, the only logical thing to do is to throw him in a ring and tell him to fight with another Deadman, for a sick show called the Carnival Corpse. When Ganta refuses, Tamaki promises that if Ganta wins enough battles, he can eventually meet the Red Man. Oh, boy did that work. And Tamaki’s motive for gathering Deadmen is revealed. He gets money from bigwigs who come and assumingly pay big bucks to watch this show. Virtually of course.
Ganta’s first match is against a veteran Deadman named Kiyomasa Senji, alias Crow. Senji is by far the coolest character in my book, but Ganta wins by fluke and element of surprise, among others. Ganta gains cast points (basically prisoner’s money) from his win, but Senji is sent to the after-show punishment game, where he loses an eye. And you see the doctor dig his eye out too, without anesthetics. Grossness level is pretty high here, and Ganta vomits after seeing this. He’s a recurring character, though, and eventually acts as a mentor and perhaps role model for Ganta.
Now a couple other things happen, one of them is major spoilers, but in any case, here Ganta realizes that he wants out. Big time. He joins up with a group of Deadmen who also want freedom, and who want to expose the cruelty that goes on in Deadman Wonderland. The rest of the anime follows Ganta and their plan on expose Tamaki. But oh yeah, wait. Ganta still has that stupid collar stuck on him, doesn’t he, since he’s a death row inmate. This problem doesn’t come up in the anime, but if Ganta were to have escaped, there’s a good chance he would’ve died anyways. Ganta’s prisoner’s collar constantly excretes poison into his body. Three day’s worth of this poison will kill him, so he needs to eat the antidote (candies) every three days.
I’ve conveniently forgotten to mention Ganta’s new prisoner friends, but they’re actually quite important. At least, one of them is. Ganta’s first candy is stolen by his first friend, a kleptomaniac named Takami Yoh. Yoh is a pretty fishy character from the start, but after his ulterior motives are revealed and dealt with, he becomes a decently loyal friend. Then, there is Shiro, our main mystery character. She is incredibly attached to Ganta, but her mind seems to be that of a young child’s. And for some reason she has no prisoner’s collar. And she’s incredibly strong. A lot of questions stem from her true identity and her existence, but they are not answered in this season of the show, which brings me to think that there will likely be a second season.
If anyone is thinking the art here is really familiar, you have every right to think so! The character design and illustrations of the original manga were made by Kondou Kazuma. If that name doesn’t ring any bells, well, that’s the same person who did Eureka 7’s designs. Ganta kind of looks like Renton now that I think of it, but they have different hair. Ganta has that one piece of hair that sticks up in the front and makes him look like some sort of bird. A woodpecker, perhaps? The irony, why that’s Ganta’s battle alias! Clever…
The animation for this show is actually not that great. Since this is a battle anime (in a way), there was definitely much more potential for more… battle-like happenings. However, there really wasn’t that much fighting on anyone’s part. Ganta’s Ganta-gun (the form of his Branch of Sin) just shoots out blood bullets, Crow just uses his Branch of Sin to slice stuff up, etc… It’s just people flinging red stuff all around everywhere.
And finally, the sound. There’s a creepy recurring melody that gets hummed ever so often, and each character (good, bad or crazy) seem to have their own themes. None of them are particularly memorable (even though I just watched it yesterday), although I did find both the OP and ED to be quite good. The OP I think is entirely English rapping (not Engrish!) so it’s pretty uncommon. Not that I particularly loved it, but it does stand out. And as for the ED, well, it’s by one of my favorite bands, NIRGILIS. No complaints so far. I do have to touch on the voice actors a little though. Ganta is voiced by Romi Park, the seiyuu for basically every young boy character out there, including FMA’s Edward Elric. So expect a familiar voice. And who else voices Shiro but Kana Hanazawa. We’ve got some big names here, definitely.
This show is actually pretty dark, despite the fact that the main character is a middle schooler, the rating on this should definitely be PG-17… maybe even R. Not for foul language though, they censored the cursing in Japanese (but strangely not the English cursing). However, there’s definitely a lot of gore here. People are unbelievably persistent in staying alive, so there are definitely some frames that get partially censored due to… well, bloody and broken body parts. And there are those mind games. In the words of Promoter Tamaki, Deadman Wonderland is a microcosm, and he is but the facilitator. I guess as in, everyone is a little crazy, he simply doesn’t require his prisoners to hide that craziness. Well, we have to take what he says with a grain of salt, since not everyone is innocent like Ganta, but it does make one wonder. Doesn’t it?
Well, in any case, thanks for reading. Over and out, gochisousama deshita!