If you have not witnessed this one as of yet I really recommend you get yourself over to any site streaming this and dive into the first few episodes. For anyone familiar with the manga, Deadman Wonderland is the tale of Ganta Igarashi, a seemingly normal 15 year old attending school and getting ready to take a field trip to an amusement park called "Deadman Wonderland". Ganta is going to go, but for all the wrong reasons. To not go on and on about it, I will sum it up thusly: Ganta's entire class is slaughtered for no seemingly good reason by an unknown antagonist, Ganta is subsequently blamed, tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death in Deadman Wonderland. Oddly enough, this amusement park is a privately ran prison using inmates to both work in and used as attractions (inmates being pitted against each other in a variety of brutal games in a last man standing, ultra violent fashion). The Death Sentence is carried out by the administrators pumping a deadly toxin into the death row inmates bloodstream, but the catch is that by being able to afford an antidote like candy every three days, the inmate can continue to live. Hence the need to participate in these games to earn "cast points" in order to make the purchase of these life savers (literally) amongst other items.
Story - (7.5/10)
At first glance, one could say that the premise is original. However, the unoriginality is where I fault the story but not much. I would not say that Deadman Wonderland steals ideas from Battle Royale, The Cube Series, Running Man, and other various and sundry sci-fi and prison films/stories more than it pays homage to them very much. However, there are some very sly references to even Death Metal music (Carnival Corpse anyone?) that make me smile and tell me the creators are having fun with this story. It's not so much the day to day survival of Ganta and his strange new found friend Shiro as it seems to be leaning toward Ganta trying to find out what happened to himself, and how he will deal with his new found powers, as he also discovers that he has been given an incredible amount of energy that seems to come from his blood (a la Soul Eater).
Animation - (10/10)
The animation is excellent, surprisingly dark and foreboding and beautifully renders the violence and bloodshed, while at the same time holds back as to not assault you with it. Colors are vivid, and definitely brings out the circus atmosphere of the setting.
Sound - (10/10)
Another stand out for this anime is the sound. The OP is a metal track called "One Reason" by DWB feat. Fade that really sets the tone for what you are about to watch. Along with the more laid back ending "Shiny Shiny" by Nirgilis, the show itself is scored in the thrash vein, making this a very metal leaning anime. Voice acting is superb, the stand out being Shiro whose whimsical voice is not only amusing but very unsettling given the situation the characters find themselves in.
Characters - (8/10)
While characters like Shiro who somewhat disturb you, and the various Officers who run the prison with cold and calculating efficiency, and supporting cast who have as yet to reveal their true natures and intents are really good, the drawback is Ganta the "hero" of the story seems to sulk and whine about his predicament and this is where the anime fails to me. Ganta seems to just be there as a witness to the depravity he finds himself in although I am not going to pass judgement completely until we get a few more episodes in, as he is just learning the ropes, and discovering his power. We know that more is in store for him and can only watch and see how the plot unfolds.
Overall - (8/10)
Over a year since it's release and it is still one of my favorite anime in the hyper-violent anime world. Scenes will stick with you for a long time to come. From Ganta's screwing over in the courts to the mayhem of the final confrontation with Genkuku leaving Ganta's friends victorious although barely so, this is gripping story telling from beginning to end.