Title: Deadman Wonderland
Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Summary: A massive earthquake ravaged Japan’s mainland and destroyed most of Tokyo, sinking three-quarters of it into the ocean. Ten years later, the story starts with Igarashi Ganta, a seemingly ordinary, unassuming middle school student attending Nagano Prefecture’s middle school. An escapee, a survivor of the great earthquake, Ganta has no memories of the tragedy and has lived a simple, normal life. This all changes one day when a strange man covered in blood and crimson armour appears, floating, out of his classroom windows. Smirking madly, this Red Man massacres Ganta’s entire class and, instead of killing him, embeds a red crystal shard in his chest. Within days of the massacre, Ganta is declared the sole suspect and, following a suspiciously quick trial, is sentenced to life imprisonment in Deadman Wonderland, a massive theme-park-like prison.
Review: One of the more twisted anime out for the Spring 2011 season. Ever since I started to read the manga I was dying for this anime to come out. The manga was filled with action, character development, and an intense story. Everything about it made it seemed like it would make the perfect anime. It’s pretty obvious that I was bouncing off the walls when I found it was actually becoming an anime. However, as many manga reader fear, I started to wonder how well it would match up. Will it have the same action scenes? Same story line? Anime exclusive ending? The negative thoughts buzzed in my mind for weeks until it was finally released. To my surprise, the anime followed the manga almost to a tee. Probably the only difference really was the censorship.
The art for Deadman Wonderland was beautiful and made me a fan of Manglobe. They did a great job capturing the raw carnage displayed in the manga despite all the censorship. The opening scene where Ganta suffers through the loss of his classmates all the way till Crow comes to show off his skills was filled with complete bloodshed. This was one of the reasons I enjoyed this twisted series. The blood splatter and darkness brought out the disturbed side in me. I really liked how they colored and textured the blood during the deadmen fights. It really added to the effect from its gray scale manga counterpart. One issue that I did have was the censoring. I understand that it is on television so it can’t show everything, but I found the method used a little annoying. Instead of only showing what was allowed, or changing the art slightly to fit standards they decided to blacken the screen quite a bit. You could still make out a bit of what was going on, often times faces of characters, but nothing more. Although I find this method better than the random shining beam of light other series use, I felt it was unnecessary at some parts. The darkened screen seemed too overplayed and went beyond censorship. It was as though they tried to make it seem like it was part of the anime instead of a tactic to avoid excessive gore. However, the darkness didn’t consume the entire anime and was only present in a few scenes so overall the art was beautifully done.
The story is what got me excited about Deadman Wonderland in the first place. The carnage and dark atmosphere brought me in and got my adrenaline pumping since I started reading the manga. The anime followed suite by making sure every detail, scene, and panel was accounted for. To save some time for those who have already read the manga, the anime did a brilliant job creating a mirror image. A part of me wishes to say the anime is better for the simple fact it is animated. The animation made the fight scenes more intense and exciting to watch. The voice actors and actresses all seemed to fit the characters like a glove. Even the whiney, annoying Ganta was represented nicely by having a skilled voice actor. Unfortunately I stand by this anime’s manga source for one reason and one reason only: censorship. Not only was the blood and gore censored in the anime, but the dialogue as well. The lines of one particular individual caught my attention: Minatsuki. She is the most vile, sick, and wicked girl in the entire series. Her two face personality and unbelievably aggressive attitude made her one of my favorite characters. In the anime many of her distinguishing lines were cut or altered. Although the alterations weren’t bad and still showed you her dark side, it lacked a certain appeal. I would say that if you have never read the manga you will be satisfied and think nothing of it. However, for your manga readers out there you might miss her extreme displays of hatred like me. The overall isn’t too bad either. It doesn’t have the twists that many anime have, but it doesn’t need them. Deadman Wonderland is an anime that keeps you at the edge of your seat because you aren’t sure who is going to live or die next. Every fight is well choreographed and character development is kept strong. The back stories of nearly all the characters are explained with enough detail so you get to know them. Minor to major characters are represented well so the audience can feel a better connection with each individual. This leads to a bigger emotional impact when something happens to a character other than Ganta and Shiro. One issue I had was some of the dialogue, specifically when they tried to incorporate English profanity. I don’t understand the fascination with it. I personally find it comical which doesn’t work with this type of anime. That’s a minor detail that doesn’t effect the anime as a whole though. I can’t give you a full review on the story because the series isn’t close to done yet (I hope), but if the trend of following the manga continues I assure you it will be good. The only trouble I see is having the second season air far off into the future or never at all.
The soundtrack for Deadman Wonderland was awesome. A hardcore rock opening mixed with crazy background images really got into the spirit of the anime. I wasn’t a huge fan of the lyrics or singer probably because I’m fluent in English and needed subtitles to understand what he was saying, but the beat was awesome. I’m sure if they release an instrumental version I’ll grab it ASAP. The ending “Shiny Shiny” by Nirgilis is amazing. It gives you the feeling of a soft rock techno song with very catch lyrics. I felt that the ending was used as a remembrance of the good times. Pictures of Ganta’s high school friends laughing and having fun make you feel sorry for Ganta. A good tactic considering I found Ganta quite annoying the series for his complete lack of ability until the very end. The background music added a lot to the suspense. The famous “Song of the Woodpecker” was sung wonderfully and added a lot to the anime. The English translation doesn’t make it seem as rhythmic in the manga, so I’m glad I got to hear it in Japanese.
Final statements: If you are a fan of the manga definitely check the anime out. Unlike like most anime adaptations, this one doesn’t stray far and at least gets all the main points down. I wasn’t a fan of the censorship but I expected it coming in. Any new comers to Deadman Wonderland check it out anyway! It is a great manga/anime and I’m sure a season two will be out relatively soon. Word has it this was meant to be a 24 episode run but they cut it to 12 to fit the single season. A high priority watch for one of my favorite manga gone anime.