|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
(Eight episodes watched):|
The distinctive character designs of Deadman Wonderland were the first thing to grab my attention. This was a good sign: a show which had been made without taking the cheapest, easiest, most generic route to completion. The fact that the characters spoke genuinely original lines rather than using simple-minded 'canned' dialogue which might have been lifted from countless other shows was another reason for optimism. Some shows are clearly 'dead' right from the start, but DW still had definite signs of life. This show piqued my interest, though I wasn't sure exactly what to make of it. Some sort of Westworld-like prison/amusement park; the strange mix of the plausible and the bizarre was fun. Some shows attempt lofty goals but just leave me confused and frustrated, but what was going on here seemed fairly clear, even if much of it has obviously yet to be explained. I got the feeling that what I wasn't told was as intriguing as what I was. I just hoped that the explanations would be as good as the mystery. A character suddenly sprouting fantastic powers reminded me of Akira. One problem was that it seemed that Ganta was railroaded to DW without a trial--only one piece of forged evidence was produced, and he clearly never confessed. I was not completely certain what to make of DW, except that I definitely wanted to see more.
However, while episode one established an interesting premise with definite potential, I couldn't help feeling that episode two didn't keep up the rapid pace that had been established. The brutality of the prison was made all too clear to us, and obviously there are conspiracies at work behind the scenes, but as of yet they don't make much sense. This was perhaps the primary problem with the series, at least for me: we never do get much of a plausible explanation of what's going on here. Such a bizarre premise demands one. Why was Ganta scapegoated into Deadman Wonderland? Did his powers originate there, or did he already possess them beforehand, but had yet to put them to use? Did the 'Red Man' come looking for him because somebody had sensed this? A show can answer every question, which kills the suspense and leaves it boring, or it can leave so many questions unanswered that we become frustrated and lose interest--I began to fear that Deadman might be drifting towards the latter option. Whereas I had originally thought that things were being kept from us for a reason, as a form of skillful storytelling, I got increasingly frustrated as we never seem to get any closer to the explanation. In fact, the storytelling could definitely have been tightened up, to reduce confusion and distraction from the important issues.
Another problem: the characters don't exactly behave in realistic manners. During episode two it seemed as if Ganta had virtually forgotten about the fantastic powers he displayed previously--as if his logic was 'well, I seem to possess incredible paranormal strength, but that was yesterday and this is today'. Tamaki is so pure evil that he is like a cardboard character--I don't hate him all that much since he seems like more of a caricature than a genuine person. And why isn't Ganta asking countless questions to Shiro, about how she wound up there, why she can do the things she does, why she dresses the way she does, etc, etc, etc? It seems that not much of anything is explained here, which, again, is frustrating. 'Abandoned Egg'? 'Branches of Sin'? There's all sorts of fancy terminology, but not much of a story seems to be coming together. Still no explanation of Shiro, either. The fight in episode five seemed unexciting to me; and what happened to the loser was just plain sadistic. This series began with a neat premise, but didn't really go much of anywhere afterwards. I couldn't help thinking that there probably never would be a satisfactory explanation to what was going on. And the farther behind the plot left me, the harder it would be to catch up later on. In general, while it started off fairly well, DW turned out to be a major disappointment and I finally decided to quit watching altogether.
Last updated Wednesday, August 06 2014. Created Tuesday, April 26 2011.
Deadman Wonderland is a series that clearly relishes in its gritty mood and violent content in its focus on middle schooler Ganta being framed for the violent massacre of his classmates that he witnessed first hand from a mysterious giant man in red who grants him the power to fire projectiles using his blood. Ganta comes across convicts with similar abilities as he does in the twisted carnival-themed prison that they are a part of and comes to realize some shady activities that involve the prison and a mysterious girl named Shiro whom Ganta befriends throughout his days in Deadman Wonderland. |
The major elements that will make or break your enjoyment of this series throughout its run are its grittiness and brutal violence. The series retains a consistently dark mood featuring convicts who are complete psychopaths that aren't afraid to kill others, relish in the enjoyment of their bloodshed and delving into betrayal and deception as major elements focused on in the series. The prison staff aren't much better in their brutal treatment of the prisoners and the means they deploy to keep them under control or make them suffer for their sadistic pleasure. The series is also quite violent featuring characters killed in enough gory ways and some prisoners being subjected to "penalty games" where they lose a body part for losing a battle.
Still, this doesn't excuse the series for being sloppy at many points with how it makes its story with events being rushed through with Ganta forced into the prison and a good deal of suspension of disbelief with the ridiculous means that the prison staff can dupe the public in believing they treat their prisoners humanely. Many characters in the series get little fleshing out beyond being psychopaths or the developments being rushed through without any proper build up. Also, the series was clearly made during the middle of its manga source material's run as there are a good number of hints dropped regarding major elements of the story like Shiro having past ties to Ganta and some seedy plans being conspired by the leaders of the prison, which are never resolved.
Overall, Deadman Wonderland is a series best enjoyed by those who like the title's gritiness and violence as it otherwise is lacking quite a bit on substance due to its lack of proper ending, sloppy storytelling and limited character depth. If you go into this expecting anything of intellectual relevance, you will be greatly disappointed with what you see.
Last updated Thursday, October 31 2013. Created Saturday, April 23 2011.