Mystery, Chaos and Gore
Let me premise this review by saying that I really wanted to like DeadMan Wonderland. For it had so much potential to be an amazing show. It really did. To start off, there is an interesting spin on how criminals are handled in society. From the citizens standpoint: Deadman Wonderland is a theme park where criminals participate in daily events to entertain and enthuse patrons. However, as we find out, these death defying stunts performed by the inmates are actually life or death scenarios and people do die. Lots of people die.
Our story begins with Ganta Igarashi–a high school student–who is over the moon for his school trip to Deadman Wonderland. That thought is quickly squashed. As a masked vigilante shows up and slaughters his entire class, leaving him the sole survivor. The judge has no choice but to sentence poor Ganta “to death” and exile at Deadman Wonderland. From there, Ganta is tested both emotionally and physically as he becomes restless in his quest to discover who the masked vigilante was that slaughtered his class–so he can in turn–prove his innocence.
Like I said before. Deadman Wonderland has all the makings of an amazing show. The same animation studio that brought you Samurai Champloo deserves some credit. But it just turns out that great story line is not enough, when almost every character has no real depth to themselves, beyond the basics of instinct and survival. So if your into surreal dystopian plots with limited character knowledge, go for it.
The pacing of the dialogue is slow, as characters seem to struggle with their own lines. To counterbalance its negatives the show has some perks. The fight scenes were pretty bad ass for the most part. I never felt it started to get the Dragon Ball Z effect where you get 5 min of fighting in a 10 min scene. You get your moneys worth. Later in the show Ganta is introduced to some of–what I’ll call–Wonderland’s finest. A group of elite fighters who basically have survived this long because…well they are strong as F**k. Interestingly enough the poor chap has to face off against them. In addition to action, the mystery of Deadman Wonderland itself and what lies at its center always pressured me into the next episode. There is that whole deal with the Wonderland warden and what exactly he has planned for Ganta and why he was the lone survivor of the attack is a constant thought. In his first moments at the park, Ganta meets with a psychotic young girl named Shira. Shira has the brain capacity of a 12 year old girl, but the body of a 25 year old woman, in a skin tight morph suit. Go figure. Either way, her childhood memories of Ganta and and the relationship that forms between them is enjoyable to watch. I’d recommend reading the manga on this one–as the anime ends on like chapter 36 of a 45 chapter manga.
For a drinking tip. There is a game, where you take a shot every time Ganga cries. Good luck! As my friend never even made it to the end of episode two ;o.