Hey everyone! Yet again, it's time for I, Crimson to review yet another title, so what are we looking at this time?
"Deadman Wonderland" is the anime adaption of the Manga series of the same name, written by Jinsei Kataoka and illustrated by Kazuma Kondou. Since it's debut in 2007, the Manga, and this Anime series, have both gained quite a large following of fans, and both have been enjoying very high success, with them both being scored critically high review values, and recieving a lot of praise.
But what do I think of "Deadman Wonderland"? Is it really this great series worth ranting and raving about? Let's find out...
The premise for "Deadman Wonderland" is actually very interesting and unique and it was what roped me in to watching the series.
10 years ago, a massive, unidentified, anamoly caused a gigantic earthquake, which destroyed most of Tokyo and sank three quarters of the city into the Ocean. Ten years after the events, the story focuses on a young, seemingly ordinary high school student named Ganta Igarashi, who is dubbed an "escapee", a survivor of the great earthquake incident. One day at his school, a mysterious figure dressed in red, "The Red Man" shows up, and massacres Ganta's entire class, and embeds a crystal into Ganta's chest instead of killing him, leaving him as the only survivor. Ganta is then framed for the murder of his class, and is sentenced to death row at "Deadman Wonderland", a theme park styled prison.
Upon arriving at the prison, Ganta is fitted with a collar which monitors his life signs and status, and is injected with a poison that will eventually kill him, which can only be neutralised via special candy-like medicine, which can only be gained via "cast points" the prisons currency, which is gained through completing death games. Ganta is aided by a mysterious girl named Shiro, who claims to know him, and alongside her, Ganta attempts to reveal the mysterious Red Mans identity and clear his name, all whilst trying to survive the prison, with a mysterious power brewing within himself.
Sounds awesome right?
Well, yes. It does sound awesome, but there are a few problems.
A whole host of plot problems:
The first of these problems, is quite obvious. The building was completely destroyed, the classes bodies were decimated, and yet, the government somehow believe that this was all due to a little, whimpy kid who can't even squash a fly. The series tries to bullshit it's way out of this so badly, but I just don't buy it. This is fucking stupid.
Secondly, although it is unique, the setting itself doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. Why the fuck is this "prison" disguised as a "theme park" where people can watch the inmates massacre each other? This really makes no sense whatsoever. It's dumb, it's absurd, and more than anything, it's just fucking ridiculous. Is this supposed to be a joke?
The premise sounds great and unique on paper, but it is executed poorly in the sense that it doesn't take itself seriously. Ever. Which brings me to my next point regarding the actual plot of the series...
A plot of plotholes and wrong tones:
The plot itself, is utterly ridiculous. There are so many things here that just fail to make sense. I'll list a few below:
- The prison is an amusement park in disguise where families, with children go to watch prisoners kill themselves and each other in ridiculously gory death games. Why? This doesn't make sense.
- The main character gets sent to prison, even though they don't even give the kid a chance to defend himself or court, nor do they allow him to bring forth his testimony. What kind of justice system are these guys running?
- Although initially interesting, and unique, the concept of the candy medicine and the poison is quickly forgotten about and is dropped within the first few episodes of the show, meaning the sense of danger and tension that comes with these elements are also completely wiped out.
These are just a few of many issues I found with the plot.
But what irritates me a lot more is that the series presents itself as a smart, witty and intelligent mystery show in the beginning, with the main character trying to clear his name and survive the hell that is this death game prison. However, after the initial episode, the show proves itself to be, yet another mindless rehash of your typical Shounen series, with lots of over the top blood spatter, with no real plot to speak of. This saddened me a lot, because I was really into this show at the beginning, and then discovered it was merely another Shounen that lacked creativity.
The show also never takes it's own plot seriously. It expects you to just switch your brain off, and accept everything that happens on screen with no questions. Sure, this is anime, and things aren't supposed to be realistic, but that isn't what the problem is. The problem is that stuff just happens because and we're meant to accept that.
On top of that, this show is nothing but a gore fest filled with mindless shock value. It's much like "Elfen Lied" only more generic, and even less creative.
The battles themselves are also nothing special. They're entertaining enough that when they come up, you get excited, after all, they're the most exciting aspect of this shows plot, but even then, the battles themselves aren't really all that great. Forget the smart, intelligent, and unpredictable battles of "Hunter x Hunter". Forget the well choreographed, and aesthetically pleasing fights of "Naruto". Hell, even screw, the unique and imaginative battles of "Katekyo Hitman Reborn". Rather than take a lesson from either of these shows, "Deadman Wonderland" instead simply decides on making ridiculously one-sided and predictable battles which play out like this:
Ganta begins the battle shitting himself > Ganta gets his ass kicked, and gets pierced by many attacks > Ganta believes in his "willpower" > Ganta wins through sheer "willpower"
This is every fight in the series.
The biggest problem with these fights is there is no realistic power scale like there is in other shows, a lot like "Fairy Tail". "Hunter x Hunter" has the Nen system, which evenly balances characters out, by making every Nen user having their own strengths and limitations. "Naruto" has it's Chakra nature system, in which all the natures balance each other out. Fuck, even "Dragonball Z" has Power Levels measured by numbers and later on "Super Saiyan Levels". What does "Deadman Wonderland" have? Nothing. The main character just wins because. The fights do nothing but attempt to create forced drama, which doesn't even happen, because you know Ganta is going to win every single time. Of course Ganta isn't going to lose. That would be too creative and unexpected.
However, despite all these problems, "Deadman Wonderland" is a very well paced series. The series is only 12 episodes in length, meaning you can power through it in a day if you wish, (I sure did). Something happens in every episode, and events move along very nicely, with lots of things happening. However, this fast pace also poses the problem of being too fast. For example, sometimes stuff happens so fast that the audience is unable to care for what just happened. If a character dies, the other characters get upset for about 2 whole minutes, then move on, without ever bringing them up again. You feel no connection to the events, or the characters that are involved in them because everything happens in such a short space of time. It's ridiculous. I couldn't bring myself to give a fuck half the time.
But hey, at least it's quick, that deserves some points right? I enjoyed that I could get through it quickly.
Finally, the series ends terribly, ending at a cliffhanger with nothing resolved in the slightest, and everything left up in the air. This is mostly due to the anime catching up with the Manga, and having lots of source material left to adapt, but why isn't there a Season 2? Hell, why couldn't they have just done an original ending? What was the point in making this show if you're not even going to attempt to conclude it in a reasonable way?
Yeah, I could go read the Manga right? I shouldn't be forced to read the Manga. Not that I want to because this series can't possibly get any better...
The ending is disgraceful. Nothing is resolved. At least "Attack on Titan" resolved the major conflict of the series before giving us a cliffhanger ending. At least "Soul Eater" ended the series with some kind of actual resolution, even if it was an original ending. But this show? It doesn't even try. It's sad really.
So overall, the "plot" of this series is quite frankly, god awful, and I fail to understand why people find it so appealing and rank it so highly. Ugh. Next.
Oh boy. This section is going to be fun. The characters of this show are also nothing special...
The main character, Ganta, is simply nothing more than the Shounen cliche of a strong willed individual with a low IQ, who solves every conflict by using his willpower. He is just a massive trope, and could easily be swapped with any other generic Shounen protagonist, and nothing about his character would be different at all.
As a character, Ganta really isn't all that great. He's a crybaby, and not a good crybaby like Tsunayoshi Sawada or Shinji Ikari, but a bad crybaby like Sasuke Uchiha. His voice also couldn't be more irritating, in both versions, and it's unfortunate that in the English version, he is voiced by my most hated dub actor of all time, who quite frankly, is god awful.
Ganta also really doesn't develop that much at all. He becomes more strong willed, and ends up less of a crybaby, but his development simply isn't believable, nor does it really mean anything n regards to the storyline. I just can't care for him as a character. He sucks.
Shiro, the sidekick of Ganta is a lot better as a character. She has a lot of mystery behind her, and she's cute and funny, and all around, a much better character. Sadly, her mystery is never revealed in the Anime, although I worked it out easily, and checked online to see if I was right, which I totally was.
She doesn't develop at all, which kind of sucks.
In regards to secondary characters, a lot of them are just sort of there. Most of them are forgettable, most of them do nothing and practically none of them develop in the slightest. The characters are so forgettable, I can't even remember any of their names. A lot of characters die too, but their deaths are so meaningless and rushed, that it's difficult to care.
In regards to villains, the shows villains really aren't that enigmatic or well grounded. I can't remember any of their names, their goals or much else about them at all. They really aren't that memorable, and they don't really develop at all, and have no clear motives.
Even the "Red Man" does nothing. He appears at the beginning, sets the plot up, and is never seen again. It's sad really, as he could have been an interesting character. His motives and character are never explored in the Anime. The villains are just braindead cannon fodder.
So the characters aren't that great, which is sad, as I expected much more after all the praise they had recieved.
Art and Animation
"Deadman Wonderland" was produced by Manglobe, a studio who aside from "The Sacred Blacksmith" have produced mostly mediocre animated shows, with nothing particularly outstanding or marvellous. So how did they do with this show?
Well, in general, the artwork is actually very nice, with a decent amount of detail applied to both the characters and the setting. The characters are fairly detailed, and look very nice, however they appear quite generic, and don't stand out from one another too well. Most of the characters look very similar in appearance. The backgrounds however, are very nice, and detailed and convey a unique style and really draw on the prison and theme park theme of the setting. I can't really fault the backgrounds. Visual effects such as blood are rather nice, with the gore, the selling point of this show, being the nicest looking stuff.
In regards to animation, it's mostly okay. The battle scenes are animated rather nicely, although they have nothing on bigger shows done by better studios. Stuff moves rather nicely, however, not perfect, and there is a lot of static. Outside of battle and gore scenes, animation is decent, but nothing spectacular.
Gore is the main visual appeal here, and while the violence does look rather nice, the art and animation of the series really isn't anything too special. It's mediocre at best.
However, where "Deadman Wonderland" stands out best is it's sound. While not particularly memorable or amazing, the soundtrack is fairly decent, with some tracks being good, and some being bland. It's a mixed bag of mediocrity, but there's some good stuff in there.
The series has one opening theme, "One Reason" by DWB feat. Fade, which is a very awesome piece of music. It's in english too, and it's a hard rock piece. It's the kind of music I regularly listen too, and as such, I find it amazing.
The series also has one ending theme, "Shiny Shiny" by Nirgills. It's also a very good piece of music, but nothing memorable.
The opening sequence is great, but the ending sequence is rather forgettable.
I watched the series in English, which was dubbed by Funimation Entertainment. The voice acting was pretty decent, in both languages, but Ganta's voice was fucking irritating in both languages, especially in the dub. I hate Greg Ayres so fucking much. He's a terrible voice actor. Aside from Ganta, most voices are fine in both English and Japanese, but they're not the greatest ever.
The sound effects are fairly good too, with a lot of good quality sounds, however, they lack variety and aren't the most creative.
So does "Deadman Wonderland" live up to it's hype? It certainly doesn't.
What starts off as an interesting and almost captivating tale, quickly devolves into nothing more than a generic rehash we as Anime fans have come to expect from the Shounen genre, due to poorly integrated tone, a ridiculous nonsensical plot, the discarding of previously established plot elements, poor characterisation and a conclusion that resolves nothing.
Sure, the art and animation aren't bad, and the sound is nice, but these good elements are outshined by the bad ones, making this show, yet another overhyped and overrated mess.
It's not terrible, it's just not that good, and I don't get what the big deal is. It's nothing special, it does nothing new, and it certainly isn't satisfying to watch.
There are better shows out there that handle the same things in better ways. I suggest you watch those instead.
This show is a mindless gore fest. It might as well be called Braindeadman Wonderland...
And now, it's scoring time:
Premise 2/3 - Appears as a unique and captivating premise, but quickly derails.
General Plot 0/2 - The plot is absolute nonsense and filled with holes, with little innovation, tension or coherence. Stuff just happens because.
Pacing 2/3 - Very fast paced, with stuff happening all the time. Sometimes can be too fast, destroying emotional connection to events.
Conclusion 0/2 - Completely unsatisfactory, with a cliffhanger that resolves nothing, making the show a pointless watch.
Artwork 2/3 - Fairly detailed. Backgrounds and gore look lovely.
Character Designs 1/3 - Detailed enough, but very generic. The characters all look similar with slight differences.
Animation 2/4 - Battle and gore scenes are okay, but still quite staticy. Normal scenes look pretty bad.
Personality 1/3 - Characters have pretty much no personality to speak of except for Shiro. Most secondary characters are so forgettable I can't even remember their names.
Development 1/3 - Ganta develops slightly. No one else develops at all and are bland as hell.
Uniqueness 0/4 - Every single character is generic and have been done countless times by other series. No uniqueness to be found at all.
Voice Acting 3/4 - I watched it in English, but the voice acting was pretty good in both languages. I fucking hate Greg Ayres though, so Ganta was annoying as hell.
Music 2/4 - The soundtrack is mediocre, and nothing is really memorable. However, opening and ending themes are very good.
Sound Effects 1/2 - They do their job, and sound very nice, but there's not a lot of variety to be found here.
It's pretty bad. It's mediocre.
But hey, I thought "Elfen Lied" was an overrated gore fest with no substance, so my opinion probably doesn't matter to you people.
Synopsis: The story centers on Ganta, a student who is about to go on a class field trip to Deadman Wonderland, a prison/theme park which funds itself by putting the prisoners through deadly sporting events for the enjoyment of the paying public. Hey, it worked for Rome, didn’t it? The problem with such a system is that it eventually takes on a life of its own, and needs to be fed. Soon, the need to replace prisoners who die in the games causes every little offense, such as j-walking and spitting on the sidewalk to become capital offenses. Fortunately, it hasn’t come to that yet. The prison has found a way to ensure a steady stream of new inmates… Framing high school kids for murder!
Unfortunately, before the class can go on the trip, a mysterious, super powerful, Red Man kills everyone in Ganta’s class, except him. The Red Man also gives Ganta a red crystal in his chest which gives him the power to manipulate his own blood as a weapon.
Since Ganta didn’t die in the attack, he is immediately prosecuted as the obvious perpetrator. His lawyer is also the guy who runs the prison, so there can’t be any conflict of interest here. An apparently fake video of Ganta confessing to his lawyer surfaces (apparently they don’t have any Lawyer/Client confidentiality rules in future Japan), and he finds himself as an inmate at the Deadman Wonderland prison. He quickly learns how prisoners are kept under control. They wear collars which inject poison, which will kill them unless they regularly eat nasty tasting candy. The candy must be earned, and so the prisoners do what they are told.
In his quest to discover who the Red Man is, and who framed him for the murders, Ganta discovers a secret area of the prison, G Block, where others with the same blood based powers are kept and forced to fight gladiator style battles in a giant birdcage. There is also an albino girl who can kick giant robots and jump out of tall buildings and land on angry dogs.
Let’s break it down:
Animation: 8 The use of color is done quite well. In the prison, many of the other colors are washed out, or subdued, in order to bring out the color red. It also adds a kind of depressed feel to the prison. Additionally, the opening credit sequence is entirely in red, black and white. The more I watched the opening credits, the more I liked them. Fight scenes are well choreographed, and the blood effects are well done. The character designs will immediately remind you of Eureka Seven. This is because the manga for both Deadman and Eureka were illustrated by Kazuma Kondou.
Sound: 7.0 The music was adequate and fit what was going on in each scene. The opening and closing songs were the highlight of the show. The opening song, “One Reason,” is a high energy rock piece, with an almost grunge sound to it, which fit well with the feel of the show. The end credit song, “Shiny Shiny,” is the best in the show, and doesn’t fit at all with the feel of the series, but it plays over pictures of the characters before they came to Deadman Wonderland, and has an appropriate retrospective/nostalgic feel to it. The voice acting in the dub is done by many familiar names. Ganta is voiced by Greg Ayres, the warden Makina is voiced by Colleen Clinkinbeard, and Shiro (Ganta’s albino girlfriend) is voiced by Monica Rial. All the voices are well done, although Ganta’s constant whining is a bit hard to take. Monica Rial is really the highlight here. The youthful and innocent voice she lends to Shiro is at times adorable, and at other comedic, and it’s exactly what is needed to balance the seriousness of the rest of the show. It’s no exaggeration to say Monica Rial, steals the show. I have read other reviews which had a negative reaction to Kana Hanazawa’s (normally critically acclaimed) voice for Shiro. She sounds good to me, but I have to admit she comes across a bit normal (if not serious), where Shiro should really sound a bit quirky, which is why Rial gets so much praise for her version.
Story: 6.5 A disastrous cataclysm happens in Tokyo, destroying much of the city and leaving behind people with unprecedented powers, kinda like in Witchblade, or Akira. And they are kept in a prison, where they compete in deadly games as part of their sentence, like in The Running Man, or Deathrace. Unfortunately, the basic premise lacks a bit of originality. There are also some other problems with the plot, but I can’t really get into them without major spoilers. Still, it’s a lot better than your average shounen plot which only serves to get the characters from one fight to the next.
The story basically follows two arcs. First is when Ganta arrives at the prison and wants to discover who the Red Man is, and who framed him. He hopes to clear his name and get revenge for the deaths of his classmates. Eventually, Ganta falls in with a resistance, and works to help them escape and get word out about the horrors going on inside the prison. It’s a fairly logical progression, but it would have been good to get some resolution on the first part before we got too deep into the second part. The show does let the viewer in on what’s going on, but poor Ganta never figures it out. That brings me to the ending. If you are looking for any resolution, you aren’t going to find it here. The show stops, not ends, abruptly, without any conclusion. It’s one of those ‘read the manga’ endings, because the series only covers about half of the story laid out in the manga.
Characters: 6.0 They do take the time to give backgrounds to most of the characters in the show, but unfortunately, I never really got too attached to any of them. The real exception here is Shiro. I watched this show with, and at the request of, my (old enough to watch this) daughter. During one scene featuring Shiro, she said, “You love her don’t you? You can’t not love her!,” to which I had to reply, “Yeah, she’s awesome!” Shiro is more than comic relief. She is genuinely likable, cute, powerful, and mysterious. Without her, the series would be fairly forgettable, but her innocence and cuteness effectively create a counterbalance to the ultra-violence of the series, and the mystery of who and what she is keeps you interested.
Overall: 6.9 Unfortunately, the show tries really hard to be dark, with the death games, gladiator combat, and the penalty phase where a slot machine decides which body part the losers will have cut off. I don’t mind violent anime, but this was a little over the top. I mean, why would the security robots spew acid? Couldn’t they just shoot, electrocute, or laser the inmates? I guess because acid is more gruesome, and that’s what the show is going for. The language was a bit of a shock too. I have never heard so many F-bombs dropped in an anime before. But hey, if that’s what you are looking for, then this is your anime. I think I would have liked it a lot more if it had answered its own questions, but unfortunately, we are left with a story with no ending (unless you read the manga, and I’m reviewing the anime, not the manga). Still, it has a good side too, so if you aren’t turned off by the above, watch it for the fight scenes, the animation (especially the use of color), and most of all, for Shiro!
This Anime really is like no other. It has horror, gore, ecchi and even comedy. Some thing for everyone, you could say. It is most definitely one of my favourite anime for the pure reason that it is unique, brutal and not too long. It tells the story of a fourteen year old boy named Ganta who is wrongly accused of murdering his entire school class. For crime, he is sentenced to death at the one and only Deadman Wonderland prison. This isn't any ordinary prison, it is also a tourist attraction making money from gladiator style ''games'' starring the prisoners themselves. As the series goes on, you learn more and more about the sinister background to this odd organisation.
The only ddownfall to this otherwise perfect storyline is that it is squished into a measly 12 episodes. I love short anime, but for this one I wish it had lasted longer as there was so much more the writers could have done with it. Well, overlooking that minor issue, the story is just amazing.
The animation was also great. If you watch it online, the uncensored version is most likely what you'll get, and this is the version I prefer. However, the second time I watched this I watched it on DVD and the censoring was ridiculous, so that is my only problem. Other than that, the animation is beautiful. Especially during the blood-fighting scenes!
The sound got a particularly high score because the opening theme is just.. wow. It's catchy, Moody and all-round brilliant. The voices for characters were also perfectly paired. However, the ending theme really didn't suit the style of the anime I'm afraid.
The characters are stunning. They look good, act good, they are just everything you could want in an anime. BUT we see very little character development, and a lot of characters are left without so much as a back story. It's quite disappointing, but the range of personality types make up for it!
As I said before this is one of my favourite animes and probably always be. I don't know why, I just have a deep love for it and I will always recommend it.
Warning - Contains Spoilers
Deadman Wonderland is badass. Simply put. It's about a kid who fights deathmatches with other murderers. The prison is an amusement park. And the back story is really deep (if you've read the manga). Best part is they use there blood as weapons. Now, I'm very crass, and very strange, I have a unique fondness for blood. I know what your thinking, that's a sure sign of a serial killer; but It aint like that I promise. And for the record I'm not a cutter either, I just like blood. Now that you think I should be in a mental ward the reason I inform you of this is because as soon as I found out this show used blood as weapons, I was immediately interested. In general though, this show is just very entertaining. It's twisted, and I like that. Personally, I feel Deadman Wonderland is pretty underrated. Even the name is catchy. This show almost reminds me of deathrace, but a lot more interesting and without cars or Jason Statham.
The animation for this show is superb. The special effects left me an awe at times, and to be honest it's pretty rare that I praise a show for this. Furthermore the character designs a re solid and all in all it's very easy to watch.
The soundtrack for Deadman is absolutly stellar. The opening theme song is called "One Reason" by Fade. I suggest you download that immediately Because it's an incredible track. Also I really like when shows incorporate music into the plotline; in this case it's the song the redman sings. Excellent job overall, even the dubs are pretty solid.
The characters is probably the weakest part of the show, but they're still good. Shiro is an interesting character. Our protagonist is kinda a whiney bitch, but at least it's realistic to a point. The characters are buyable for the most part, which is always good. Personally, Crow is my favorite but only because he's a legitament badass. Also for all of you FMA fans, The prison warden reminds me a lot of Major Armstrong (I think it's major?). Anyways solid cast, just wish we could have got some more answers. Interestingly the only character that has any development really is the main character, but they go about this in an interesting way because it's mostly just about him adjusting to the other characters who have clearly already adjusted.
Can we please get a season 2? seriously. That's what I have to say about the overall. So open ended. Shows like this make me hate my life; it's so good and was ended so prematurally. If you have yet to watch Deadman, I strongly recommend it.
This is an interesting anime for the sole reason of the gore, violence and ruthlessness that envelop it, without making it terrible - and it is certainly not that, as for 12 episodes it will make you want to watch more of it to see what happens next.
The world-building here is the key aspect, a prison that is very different to any other, but most importantly the way the main character deals with his environment and the maddness that is his world. This is possibly the best aspect of the anime, as the protagonist doesn't change from a child to a hero that is blind to what's happening around him, but deals with it even though it is so horrible.
As for the rest of the story, too much is still undisclosed to have a full opinion, though what the story gives is pretty interesting.
There lies the problem with the sereies - it probably won't be continued. And if you are ok with that, you should go on and watch it.