Deadman Wonderland

“I’m a student of violence because I’m a student of the human heart.” – Sam Peckinpah

As the title of the series suggests, this is a series which is pretty heavy on the gory stuff. Sadly it does not seem to be heavy on much else.

The series is set in the near future, a decade after most of Tokyo was destroyed after an earthquake. Ganta Igarashi is a normal schoolboy but one day a mysterious Red Man” floats outside his classroom several floors above ground level and kills everyone else in Ganta’s class before disappearing. Ganta is framed for the crime and is sentenced to death.

His sentence is carried out in “Deadman Wonderland”, Japan’s only privately run prison, built on the ruins of Tokyo. It is a combined prison and theme park, with the inmates having to take part in various activities for the entertainment of visitors. What the visitors do not know is that most of these activities result in the deaths of the prisoners. The prisoners also all wear collars that monitor them. The collars of Death Row inmates like Ganta also slowly inject poison into them, which can only be delayed by eating a vile “Candy” antidote every three days, which has to be earned.

Ganta tries to figure out how he can prove his innocence and discover the identity of the Red Man. Soon he encounters help in the form of Shiro, an albino girl who is rather friendly with everyone. But later Ganta discovers he also has developed a strange ability called the “Branch of Sin”, that allows him to use his own blood as a weapon. Ganta’s powers result in him being entered into the prison’s secret gladiatorial battle “Carnival Corpse”, against other people with the same power. Ganta soon finds out that just about everyone in Deadman Wonderland appears to be insane.

If you like action and violence, Deadman Wonderland has it in spades, or rather blood bags, given how much of the red stuff you see on screen. There are also plenty of extras, including a prequel OVA, commentaries, trailers and commercials.

However, there are many issues to take with this release. As it is Kaze you might expect a problem with the subtitles, and while there is no trouble with the spelling (it was previously released on Anime on Demand so it has already been translated into English) there do appear to be sections where the subtitles are missing.

But the biggest problem is the plot. It is not so much the fact that it is not thrilling or engrossing, but quite simply the issue that the anime only covers a small amount of the original manga story. The anime covers events depicted in the first 21 chapters, which are the first five volumes of the manga. There are 57 chapters in total, collected in thirteen volumes of manga, the last of which was released just a few weeks ago.

As a result you have to ask the question as to why they decided to animate it at this particular point? Why not wait until later on and turn it into a 26 episode series? Of course, you could make a second series, but there is no indication of that happening at the moment. The ending is somewhat unsatisfactory and there are plenty of plot holes that are not filled.

While there is a lot of action, there is nothing really in it to sustain your interest. It is advised that you should only get this series if an anime sequel is announced to complete the rest of the story.

4 / 10

Ian Wolf

Ian works as an anime and manga critic for Anime UK News, and is also the manga critic for MyM Magazine. Outside of anime, he also is the editor of On The Box, data specialist for the British Comedy Guide, is QI's most pedantic viewer, and has appeared on Mastermind.

More posts from Ian Wolf...