Deadman Wonderland The Complete Series Collection Review

Deadman Wonderlan

Deadman Wonderland is Japan’s only privately run prison, built after a great earthquake devastated Tokyo. Situated at ground zero of the quake this correctional facility is like no other, as it also serves as a theme park for the public in which the inmates must serve their sentences as workers in the park. That is until an “accident” happens to end their sentence/life. Whatever way you look at it, this is a prison with a difference and beneath it there certainly lurks a lot more than its public facing fun facade shows. 

Koichi Hatsumi, a key animator on classics such as Cowboy Bebop and Paranoia Agent, makes his directorial debut in this 12 part anime that has been adapted from the first 21 parts of the manga of the same name, written by Jinsei Kataoka. The anime tells the story of young schoolboy Ganta Igarashi, who is wrongly tried, convicted and sentenced to Deadman Wonderland for the murder of his entire class. Once there, Ganta learns that there is more to his new home and the events that led to his incarceration than his captors would have him believe. 
What on the surface seems to be a simple tale of a young boy seeking vengeance for the destruction of his and his friends lives ends up becoming a twisted dark exploration of violence, gambling, voyeurism and the price of freedom. To help Ganta on his way we encounter the usual mix of stereotypical characters that include Shiro (an aloof girl who claims to know Ganta and will do all in her power to protect her best friend), Yo Takumi (Ganta’s cellmate who will sell his loyalty for a price), The Promoter (a deranged figure who serves as the villain for the piece) and Makina (the female chief of staff who runs the prison with a iron fist and is not afraid to show her wrath). 
The plot itself is nothing unusual for the first few episodes and in fact seems to draw heavily from movies such as Battle Royale and even A Clockwork Orange. It is only in episode four that the series begins to finally shed some light on to the actual underlying plot. The character of Ganta who starts out as an a typical whining child of his age develops into a strong young man driven by a mixture of his will to survive and a thirst for revenge. Without giving anything away, the events that unfold from episode four (and even some scenes earlier on in the anime) are very graphic and brutal and certainly not for the squeamish or faint of heart. The violence and action in these scenes are also perfectly matched to the occasional bit of dark and ironic humour that rears its head.
Whilst there’s nothing groundbreaking plot or character wise, the actual presentation and style of the anime is certainly what you would expect from an animator turned director and at times adds to the visceral and destructive nature of the violence onscreen. 

Deadman Wonderland 3D

The dub of the piece sees well known voice actor Greg Ayres (Baka and Test) take on the role of Ganta and as such provides us with a not untypical voice for the character that is only saved from mediocrity by Ayres’ ability to turn a whinny sounding tone into that of a strong heroic one at the drop of a hat. The role of Shiro is also handled well by veteran voice actress Monica Rial (Hello Kitty and Tsubaki in Soul Eater) and this is due to the fact that the character bares certain similarities to her previous roles as a childish kooky girl with a powerful side to her. The cast also features commendable but unremarkable performances from Aaron Dismuke (Full Metal Alchemist) as the aforementioned Yo Takumi, Colleen Clinkenbeard (One Piece) as Makina and Eric Vale (Fairy Tale) as The Promoter. 
All in all Deadman Wonderland is an interesting series that manages to mix up a lot of different anime, science fiction and movie tropes into one stylishly brutal offering that is sure to appeal to a broad audience. It is just a shame that in that the mixing all of these tropes what we are left with is a somewhat unremarkable plot, which can be very predictable at times. What is also frustrating is that the series ends after twelve episodes and as such a lot of questions about the characters are left unanswered and can only be guessed thanks to the occasional flashback that the anime was fond of using. So with no second season in sight it would appear that for now all fans can do is either read the manga or complete the Lollipop Chainsaw game and unlock a costume based on the character of Shiro to get their Deadman Wonderland fix. 
Deadman Wonderland (18) is available on DVD (£29.99) and Blu-Ray (£34.99) from September 9th courtesy of Manga Entertainment.
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