Deadman Wonderland is the newest anime by Manglobe. It is scheduled for 12 episodes and started airing on April 17, 2011. The show is based off of the manga (Japanese Comic Book) that shares the same name. The manga runs in Monthly Shonen Ace and is made by both Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondo. Kataoka writes the stories and Kondo does the art. This isn't the duo's first work. The duo got their start by making the manga adaption of the anime show Eureka 7. To me I've always thought that their work bears some similarities to that anime series because of that. It's especially obvious that the art style in which the manga is drawn in is heavily influenced from their time working on the Eureka 7 adaption. Deadman Wonderland is the duo's first stand alone series that isn't an adaption of someone else's work and is a series they originally made. Being a fan of the manga I can tell you that It's a very dark series that at times can be cruel. It's the kind of story where any character can die at any time. I have had a few instances where the characters I have started to like was killed off. Deadman Wonderland is violent, and doesn't hold back any punches. I advise any one who is not a fan of psychological thriller or grotesque violence to just stop reading now and not watch this series.
The pretext the series is based off of goes a little like what follows. In the near future Japan suffers an earthquake the destroys Tokyo amply named the Greater Tokyo Earthquake. Ten years have passed and people are starting to rebuild their lives. During this time the first ever privately owned and operated prison is made in the ruins of Tokyo. This prison is called Deadman Wonderland. It serves as both a prison for the worst of the worst criminals and a amusement park. People view attractions with the prisoners in them and the prisoners are the workers who manage the park. It's a little weird I know but the main idea of why such a thing is allowed to be done is because apparently Deadman Wonderland generates a lot of money and said money helped to rebuild Tokyo.
The story proper starts with the young 14 year old Igarashi Ganta, a middle school boy who lived through the quake and moved away afterward. He has finally adjusted to life in his new home. His class is going to go on a field-trip to none other than Deadman Wonderland. Ganta is just living his life as happily as he can among his friends. It's at this movement though that a weird "Red Man" is seen outside the class window. What's even more bizarre is that the classroom is on the third floor and the man is floating. The class freaks out as the Red Man breaks into the classroom and precedes to slaughter everyone. In the chaos Ganta is knocked unconscious. When he awakens he finds all 29 other students in his class killed, including his friends. As he turns around he sees the Red Man with the severed head of his friend. Ganta does the reasonable thing and strats freaking out and fearing for his life. But the Red Man doesn't kill him. He instead implants a Red Crystal into Ganta's chest which knocks him out again.
When Ganta is awakened in the hospital it appears that no one saw the Red Man and no one believes that he ever existed. The crystal implanted in Ganta's chest is also gone. He is arrested for the serial murder of his classmates and trailed. He is found guilty as apparently a video leaked of him practically confessing to the crime. The thing is Ganta didn't do it and never had that conversation. Ganta's's state provided layer snarks as he is arrested and commented that he shouldn't said those things that he did. Ganta has a breakdown in court as he is pulled away to prison and has to confront the parents of his deceased classmates who are more than happy to give Ganta a good licking when he had his episode in court. It's here that Ganta is sent to the prison of Deadman Wonderland.
Ganta is dis-hearted as he tries to adjust to his new prison life. The poor boy is practically broken and wishes that the Red Man had just killed him. The briefing of what to expect on death row in Deadman Wonderland is interpreted when an in-mate bumps into Ganta and pick-pockets him. The Prison Chief who was debriefing Ganta and the other new prisoners then proceeds to cut the in-mate open for playing dumb and not giving back the item (a small candy) that he stole from Ganta's issued-prison belongings. Ganta is appalled and terrified by the cruel treatment and never even notices that the candy was taken from him. It's here that Ganta and the other prisoners are put to work. Ganta is still downtrodden as he remembers all the good times he had with his now deceased friends and the horror that he'll spend the rest of his life in a prison kicks in. It's at this moment a mysterious young albino girl approach him. This girl then quite playfully swings an iron rod at Ganta and tries to kill Ganta as to comply with his whining about how he rather be dead. As Ganta avoids her swings he yells at her "What's wrong with you" and she replies "See you really don't want to die." Ganta starts to feel better as it seems that the girl was trying to cheer him up in her own weird way. She somehow knows him and says that they are friends. It's her that we learn her name is Shiro (Japanese word that means White). As Ganta tries to reply to Shiro all he can say is that "If you were really my friend then you wouldn't of tried to kill me." Shiro replies inquisitively "You wouldn't try to kill me?" It's here that Ganta starts to cry and tells her that he would never kill any of his friends ever and he wouldn't kill her ether.
The other prisoners begin to pick on Ganta and tell him to stop talking to girls and start working again. They then start to show off why they are the lowest of the low and beat both Ganta and Shiro up. It's here that we flash away to the Warden of Deadman Wonderland. The man who was Ganta's lawyer? Yes it is indeed him. He seems to know something about the Red Man and wants the crystal Ganta holds wishing that Ganta will die sooner rather than later so that he can obtain it. When we flash back to Ganta it seems that a bomb is placed above where he is working on a water tower and it goes off and falls onto where Ganta, Shiro, and the prisoners are surely it will kill them. It's here that Ganta has had it and finds his own determination and declares that he will survive and he will avenge his friends and find the Red Man and kill him. The Crystal in his chest activates and he he obtains weird powers similar to the Red Man and destroys the tower saving his and Shiro's life. It's here that the episode ends but not before telling the audience the important piece of info that poor Ganta has yet to learn. All the in-mates on death row's collars are special (all prisoners wear collars. They monitors for their position and life conditions and to stun them if they try any funny business) if the in-mates on death row don't eat a certain candy the prison gives out they will die in three days. Ganta's candy was stolen. The only way to survive is if he gets another one and the only way to obtain one is to compete in the attractions meant to entertain the park goers. Ganta is going to have to compete with the much stronger and scarier prisoners for the candies that he needs to survive. Many of the prisoners themselves aren't just normal people ether. And so the series begins.
Okay so now it's comparison time. I plan to compare the original manga to the anime adaption. At first as I watched the anime I felt that it went a little too fast and tried to cover too much and brush over scenes without letting them fully sink in. I found the pacing in the manga to be of better quality since it lets the gravity of the events sink in. That being said I found that the anime did do a much better job of making me care for Ganta than the manga did. The manga just kind of throws Ganta into all these events and has you watch him react to them. There is of course narration in the manga but I didn't feel the same level of personal connection to Ganta that I felt in the anime. The biggest weakness I felt from the anime so far 1 episode in is that it doesn't have the same mysterious feeling of the manga. Like I stated earlier the pacing is faster. It makes the anime feel a little off. The manga was a bit slower and really drove home this mystery. It made you suspicious of everything and drew you in. The anime just seemed to try to get from one event to the next. The sense of mystery was replaced by the time constant.
However I found the animation to be of good quality. It was pretty standard but solid and moved naturally. I think the animation worked well and the acting was superb. Romi Paku is a veteran voice actor and played Ganta very well. As far as I'm concern she IS Ganta. Likewise Kana Hanazawa plays Shiro wondrously. Both the main actresses play the two main roles very well. You couldn't ask for better acting. The music also helps to elevate the anime as it makes up for the lack of mystery the faster pace created. Most of the mystery lost to the pacing is regained by the eerie sounds and music. Not a perfect soundtrack so far by what we have heard but I think it's very good. The directing is also good but serves to tone down the extreme violence from the manga. Don't get me wrong this is still a violent Gory show but most of the actions are done off screen and we only see the bloody results. Overall this is a very good and faithful adaption that I think should make any fan of the manga happy. I'm looking forward to watching more episodes.
Deadman Wonderland is available to watch on the anime streaming service Crunchy Roll. They simulcast the show an hour after it airs in Japan in subtitle format. Premium Users (the ones who pay for the service) can watch it right away. Free users will have to wait until the episode is a week old in order to watch it. It can be found here: