One of the shows I’ve watched recently (‘recently’ meaning during the Christmas break) would be Manglobe’s half-season offering, Deadman Wonderland. And I’d have to say, with its great concept and nice animation, one would wish it was actually longer.
Deadman Wonderland is a privately-owned prison-slash-theme park which exploits its prisoners as a form of entertainment. And not just your ordinary entertainment but bloody, murderous entertainment. Not exactly the happiest place to be, I know, yet this is where the protagonist Igarashi Ganta gets thrown into after being accused of the murder he didn’t commit. In here, he meets Shiro who is, apparently, connected to him not only through his past but also in a lot of other ways he can ever imagine.
What makes Deadman Wonderland interesting is, first of all, its concept. Not only is the prison itself interesting but also the concept of the Deadman. Being a Deadman gives one the ability to make a specific type of weapon with his blood. Ganta, for example, is able to make projectile bullets with his blood — which is actually disadvantageous for him as it is inefficient and wasteful. There’s also Crow who can make ultra-sharp, super-sonic blades with his blood. The power to make weapons out of one’s blood is, in my viewing experience, something new and therefore, interesting.
Second, the curious bunch of characters. Starting off with Ganta, he’s basically your average boy who gets caught up in a nasty web of circumstance. As such, he initially had no idea on what to do and took quite some time to get used to his new prison life. I do commend his efforts but I still think he’s a failed bildungsroman hero for the most part.
Then, there’s Shiro — that weird, cheery, unbelievable strong and schizophrenic girl who shares a deep connection with Ganta. Her identity was never wholly revealed which makes her all the more mysterious. Shiro’s affection for Ganta is admirable. However, this is challenged later on when something is hinted in the show.
And of course, the other Deadmen. Each Deadman possesses their own unique ability which they use according to their own specific pasts and intentions. That innocent-looking girl at the top picture, for example, proved to be quite a demon as Minatsuki grew up amidst a disastrous environment. Karako, on the other hand, is Minatsuki’s polar opposite. Apart from having what is in my opinion the coolest Deadman ability of them all, she made a swing to the good side after joining the rebellion.
Lastly, Deadman Wonderland gives its audience a nice commentary on how society runs as well as showing them how cruel man can possibly be. True, it was presented in quite an exaggerated manner which simply made the point more blatant. Honestly, I think Deadman Wonderland could’ve offered a whole lot more — it had so much potential. But sadly, it was only slated for half a season so everything just seemed like a gigantic cliffhanger.