"Deadman Wonderland," a newer anime which aired on "Toonami," combines torturous prison sentences with an entertaining amusement park. Need I say more?
Story: Igarashi Ganta is living the normal life of the Japanese schoolboy: He plays with his friends, blushes around his crush, and eats ice cream. He's happy living his average life, and never expects anything more. The latest craze is a cool amusement park known as "Deadman Wonderland." But Ganta doesn't need to go there, 'cause he is chummy with his homies and doesn't ask for anything more. Then all his classmates are brutally murdered right in front of his eyes.
Uh... huh. Seems legit.
Ganta is convicted of the crime because a weak, traumatized middle schooler can rip apart every single one of his classmates and his classroom without anyone hearing screams or signs of a struggle. Gee. Wonderful judicial system you got there, Japan.
His punishment? He is now a prisoner at "Deadman Wonderland," where he has to eat candy to survive. (Here's how the candy works: Every prisoner has a collar around his/her neck. Not eating candy for three days causes poison to seep out of the collar and into the person wearing it, therefore killing the person. They remind me of the collars in "Battle Royale.") To pay for the unpalatable candy, one must earn special money (this also buys food, drink and even freedom). To earn this money, one must participate in the games. The entertainment at Deadman Wonderland is basically high-stakes "Wipeout"-style obstacle courses: If you wipe out, you die. Needless to say, it was damn entertaining to watch this. One must also fight other prisoners (yes, everyone has a cool power). The loser plays a punishment game in which the busty nurse gets to remove one part of his/her body (chosen by a Vegas-style slot machine).
Sounds interesting enough.
The sad thing is that most of the story revolves around Ganta trying to escape with another group, and that's probably the most boring part of the story. (However, the characters are better and the ludicrousness is less obvious in these parts.) The basic premise sounds effing awesome (and unbelievable, but I digress), but most of the anime is not the basic premise.
Animation: Artwork in a nutshell? Anime. Nothing too out-of-the-box. Character designs for "Deadman Wonderland" are nothing special, save for Shiro's slightly more imaginative naked body--I MEAN outfit. The color palate is pretty good--most scenes are dark and moody, which fits. The game show scenes are bright colors, which is so disturbingly fitting. Backgrounds are suitable, but some are great. The animation looks good, and I have no complaints on that front.
Sound: No one, NO ONE should argue--the opening song kicks ass. It is so effing awesome and the visuals are just as good. The English in it is well pronounced and actually kind of makes sense. The ED is, well, crap. The song is too happy and jpop-y (they shouldn't be in this kind of show) and the visuals are just an afterthought. I watched the OP for every episode and didn't bother with the ED at all. The Japanese seiyuu do a fine job, but no one is particularly excellent (Chief Takami's seiyuu portrays his character quite well, though). English voices are inferior, but not awful. OST aren't very standout, and insert songs fluctuate in quality.
Basically, don't watch this for the sound... but seriously, listen to the OP. You will not be disappointed.
Characters: Meh. Lack of just about anything.
Characters: Boy with black hair (it looks gray in picture): Igarashi Ganta; girl with white hair and bodysuit: Shiro; boy with blonde hair: Takami Yoh; girl with brown hair behind Yoh: Takami Minatsuki; man with red hair: Genkaku Azuma; girl with dress and hair bow: Daida Hibana; woman with yellow jacket: Koshio Karako; man with black hair: Kengamine Nagi; girl with pink hair: I guess she's manga-only, because I have no clue; woman with sword: Makina...?; man with eyepatch: Kiyomasa Senji.
Igarashi Ganta: The Ikari Shiji of "Deadman Wonderland," he wants to protect Shiro but always ends up beaten. He kind of dull and cookie-cutter. Also, his lack of a backstory makes him unsympathetic.
Shiro: Because she switches between creepy and naive/cute, Shiro seems like a Ryuugu Rena-wannabe. She's a little annoying when she's not smiling insanely, so I can't say I like her as a character.
Takami Yoh: His only interesting trait is that he's confusing--is he a backstabbing bastard or a caring friend/brother? Other than that, he's pretty boring.
Takami Minatsuki: She supplies most of the minimal fanservice of the anime, and, like many of Deadman Wonderland's inhabitants, she is insane. Well, in the beginning, she is. She's less cookie-cutter when we first met her.
Genkaku Azuma: Due to my forgetting his name, I lovingly called him "Crazy-Ass Rock Monk Dude Person" through most of the series. He's just that--a psychotic religious man. And he carries an electric guitar which doubles as a gun. WANT. WANT SO BAD.
Daida Hibana: The token loli. Who carries a sword-like-thing.
Koshio Karako: She wears minimal clothing. Wait, that's NOT her whole purpose?!
Kengamine Nagi: Despite his tragic past, I can't feel sympathy for him. He's dull.
Unknown person: WTF DO YOU EXPECT ME TO SAY?!?!
Makina...?: If it is her, then all I can say is, "F-cup."
Kiyomasa Senji: Perhaps the only truly likable character, he develops as a character. Plus, he can kick major ass.
Anyone else: Underdeveloped.
The characters show glimmers of hope, but can't do much in only 12 episodes.
Overall: Awesome... but empty. I heard that the manga is better, though. Maybe I'll try that.