Watching Deadman Wonderland is like eating a beautifully designed piece of cake and after you ate the cake, it left you with a delicious but short feeling while it lasted.
Deadman Wonderland takes place in Japan where 10 years ago, an earthquake shattered half of Japan's cities into the ocean and that event was named as The Red Hole, as we see a student named Ganta Igarashi, who has a normal life and has great friends. Then fate takes a turn for the worst when a mysterious man in red appears out of thin air and kills the whole class, leaving Ganta as the only survivor. When he wakes up at the hospital, he's been charged and framed for all the murders, gets sentenced to death and he's send off to Deadman Wonderland, a massive theme park like prison where tourists enjoy cruel and sadistic games that involves around prisoners forced to survive these gruesome games to win Cast Points, which is the currency for Deadman's own economy system. On the prison, he meets a mysterious girl named Shiro, who knows Ganta for a reason and knows everything about Ganta's childhood than he does. Later on, he discovers that he has the power to use his blood as a weapon known as "Branch of Sin" and now he must survive the deadly prison in order to find the one who killed the classmates and uncover the dark secrets behind this prison.
The story is very interesting but it offers little answers to all the questions that keeps popping up in each episodes. Like what is the connection between Ganta and Shiro or better yet, what the hell triggered the earthquake to glow red? It's a shame cause the concept for the show is really neat and it offers some interesting issues like society's thirst and hunger for human violence and the corruption of the justice system but instead, it focuses a little too much on the violence and gore. Don't get me wrong, i like violence and fun gore in movies, shows and anime (I'm a gore hound fan), but I also like that the writers can focus on story and character development as well cause I want to know more about the world that a certain film or anime takes place.
While Deadman Wonderland does it's best on introducing the world and it's characters, it just falls short and while it doesn't hurt the experience that much, I wish they could expand the world a bit bigger with more episodes instead of 12 and that's my main problem with it: It's only 12 episodes and since the manga has a lot of story and it will still keep on going, just 12 episodes isn't enough to end the series. Why they didn't go with 51 episodes just like FMA 2003 series did is beyond my reach.
The characters in Deadman Wonderland range between normal to f*cked up and to put it simple, they're awesome despite not having enough character development since this is a short series. Ganta is the normal kid stuck in a complicated mess that was blamed on him and therefore, having his life sentenced to rot in a hellhole like this and even with his Branch of Sin, he is still weak cause he is a child and he's afraid to die despite having such awesome power but keeps moving on to fight for his freedom and exposing the secrets of the prison. Shiro is like the mystery girl. On the outside, she looks and acts as a fun friend to Ganta and in occasions, she helps Ganta in situations that he can't handle but in later episodes, we get to see her real side and there's an episode where it reveals that Shiro is something more dangerous that we could have ever imagined.
There are other crazy characters like Senji, Tamaki and Toto but the less I say about it the better. The action and violence in Deadman Wonderland is brutal and twisted. Limbs get blown to pieces, characters go AWOL for carnage and little girls transformed from good hearted people to twisted little f*cks that wants your ass punished, It's pure insanity but with a twist of fun to it. Something about using blood as your weapon against your enemies just sounds and looks cool.
The animation by Manglobe (Samurai Champloo and Ergo Proxy) is stunning. The art is luxurious and grand just like the park itself with rich color palette, amazingly detailed background art and top notch character models that each has a neat style on their own. The music by NARASAKI is awesome, kinda like a mix of dark techno rock and industrial music that fits the shows dark tone perfectly and it has it music orchestrated moments but the overall music package is excellent.
The dub by Funimation is pretty good with some faults. Greg Ayres was very miscasted as Ganta and it loses all the charm of it's Japanese counterpart. Monica Riel as Shiro was great in this and yes at times, she sounds like Stocking cause she voiced Stocking in the anime Panty And Stocking, she does get gradually better in the later episodes delivering the lines in a very chilling kind of way. Leah Clark was a badass in her role as Mitsuki. The scene where the character taunts Ganta like a bitch is probably one of my favorite moments to see her performance go nuts and it's a thrill.
While the story could have been better if it was expanded to more episodes instead of only 12 episodes, Deadman Wonderland still offers fun thrilling moments of gore and violence while providing a strange but rich world where a prison is a tourists entertainment park for audiences to enjoy blood splattering goodness.
It will be a while to possibly get a season 2 for this show since the popularity of this show in the West is huge and with potential to improve the faults that this show suffered from. For now, just sit back and enjoy the show of death.
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