No one enjoys having a manga that they loved get such a bad adaptation. Not only does the anime get tarnished because of it, but the source material, regardless of quality, also gets looked down upon. Deadman Wonderland is a prime example of a poor adaptation that leaves a different impression on the fans than it really should have.
Deadman Wonderland is a story about a student named Ganta Igurashi, who is having his normal life turn into the hellspawn of Higurashi in a matter of five minutes. Ganta’s entire classroom gets murdered by this abnormal creature, with only our unfortunate protagonist living through it. Before this monster leaves, he gives Ganta the present of a red diamond-esque mineral implanted into his chest. However, that will become the least of his worries, since now Ganta is framed for murdering his entire classroom, since the police don’t want to waste their time looking for a “red man”. He is then sentenced to the newest prison in Japan, Deadman Wonderland, where he’ll meet many great people who will want to kill him at first sight.
The introductory episode was surprisingly strong enough to grasp the attention of the viewers, but the appeal is quick to be diminished as the show goes on. Ganta gains a motive to want to kill the “red man” who killed his classmates, but he then seems to drop that motive in the second half of the show, for whatever reason. The wonders of a premature ending! There was also a small contest within the facility where two Deadmen were pitted against each other in a fight to the death, or damn near close to death. However, this small exhibition was then dropped as time went on.
As I mentioned in the last paragraph, the show does have a premature ending. The studio was more than likely hoping to create a second season, but the extremely poor sales of the show stopped that dream from happening. Due to this, certain events in the show become dropped for what seems to be no reason whatsoever. Also due to the premature ending, Deadman Wonderland gives viewers a different idea of what it is trying to be. This title is often mistaken for just being a gore fest just for the sake of being a gore fest, when in reality, it is a battle shounen. However, the amount of interesting battles taken place in this show is equal to the chance of this show getting a sequel.
The cast of characters are also an extremely weak portion of this. The manga used enough time to develop some of the other Deadmen, but the anime doesn’t have the same treatment. This then causes most of the characters to feel shallow, excluding Shiro, who seemingly carried the other characters on her back. Even then, Shiro’s character had some faults, with one being her erratic development as the anime goes on.
Characters are also introduced, but then seem to fall out of the viewers mind in an instant. There was nothing particularly memorable about anyone in the show, excluding Shiro. There were even characters that were literally introduced, but hardly did anything to move the plot forward. The best example of this would be Mockingbird, who is introduced around episode ten or eleven, but, to reiterate myself, does nothing to move the story in any direction.
The animation quality was surprisingly well done. Whenever there were fight scenes going on, they actually looked pretty. Character designs weren’t too out of the ordinary either, until you get on to the latter half of this show when some interesting personalities are brought in to play. The OP and ED songs are also noteworthy. The OP was created by Fade and they’re able to produce a very heavy and pumped-up feeling to the viewer. NIRGILIS sings the ending song, but they have a completely different tone than the OP, one that really doesn’t fit the show whatsoever until the very last episode.
Overall, Deadman Wonderland is a great manga that gets a poor adaptation. At the end of the day, the impression that this show is just a gore fest rather than a battle shounen is understandable, seeing as the writers did a pretty poor job on this show. Parts were left out of this from the manga, the pacing was off, the second half of the show felt like a joke and the characters are left looking shallow to the viewers. Don’t waste your time on this show, but rather take a read of the manga. It will be well-worth your time compared to this show.