Reviews of yesteryear: Deadman Wonderland

Deadman Wonderland was written by Kataoka Jinsei. It started in 2007 and is still going. Last year it got a twelve episode anime adaptation. I haven’t heard much about the series so I don’t know what to expect. Let’s take a look and find out.

Fourteen year old Igarashi Ganta witnesses the murders of his peers at the hands of the mysterious “Red Man.” The Red Man pushes a crystal into Ganta’s chest and vanishes. He soon finds himself in a privatised prison where he’ll have to fight to survive. The basic elements seem very cliche, but it’s all presented in a very unique and interesting way. The story does an excellent job of balancing between more light-hearted moments and really dark, twisted moments. This contributes to making it very interesting to watch. It also has excellent pacing. It sets up for another season while still having a satisfying climax and an interesting conflict. The one negative is that it is a short anime. The result is that a lot of plot points don’t get resolved. However, it is clearly set up for a sequel so it’s really not a major negative and I do hope that the series does get a second season because what’s there is very interesting.

This series has a massive cast. The major characters are, mostly, very well fleshed out, as are some of the side characters, but most of them get very little character development. However, that does work for the story and the setting. Given the length, they really couldn’t have done much better. My only real issue with the characters is with Ganta himself. He feels like a stock everyman protagonist that we’ve seen a lot. He does get a little development in the last couple episodes, but he still comes across as a pretty bland character. Especially when compared to the far more interesting group around him.

The art is very good, overall. There’s a good use of colours, the fight scenes are interesting and they even manage to make the backgrounds lively. Which is pretty impressive for an anime mostly set in a prison. Now, there are some really gruesome scenes that may be a bit difficult to watch, but they are excellently handled and plot relevant. This isn’t mindless or something that’s just done for shock value. There are a few art issues. The first is that there are some really dark scenes that are hard to see and there’s really not a good reason for them to be. Another is that there are a few art errors, there aren’t many but there are enough that it is a little distracting.

The voice acting is excellent. Paku Romi and Hanazawa Kana both have very strong performances. The rest of the cast is good too, but those two in particular stand out. The music does a very good job of helping set the tone.

The yuri factor is a 2/10. Kyoko seems to have a crush on Makina in a few scenes, but you don’t get enough with them to be certain.

My final rating for Deadman Wonderland is an 8/10. It has a few weak points, but it’s a very good anime overall. It’s well-paced, interesting, well acted and it has a lot of endearing characters, even if the main protagonist is rather dull. If you don’t mind sitting through some gruesome scenes I would definitely suggest checking it out.

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