Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Anime Review: Deadman Wonderland

People who aren't fans of gore should probably avoid this series or not go looking for the BR/DVD rips of it (especially since it's on crunchyroll) because this is one of the bloodier and disturbing series I've seen in the past few seasons. That may be because I'm not a big fan of blood and gore shows but something about the plot drew me into this one, even if I had to close my eyes during some of the more disturbing scenes.

Deadman Wonderland

Summary: Igarashi Ganta was enjoying a normal life and excited for his upcoming class field trip to Japan's only private prison, Deadman Wonderland where the prisoners put on shows for the tourists, when his classmates are brutally killed before his eyes by "The Red Man", he's framed for the murder and he ends up going to Deadman Wonderland as a criminal instead. As brutal as the prison is there's an even darker side to it lurking underground, one that is connected to a little gift that The Red Man gave Ganta.

The Good: The pacing may be fast in this work, not surprising considering the staff had the daunting task of animating 21 chapters in 12 episodes (the first arc), but it's consistent and it appears that everything important was kept in. The story balances the action scenes with the downtime well, the downtime never felt like it went on too long or like it was happening when the characters need to go and do something important. The show has a good sized cast, although a few were cut for the anime, and many of the important characters get some backstory, quite a few characters actually considering the show is only 12 episodes long.      

The Bad: The ending of this series screams "hey there's more, you can't just see this part and not wonder about the rest of the story!" which means that if the viewer doesn't get a second season or tries out the manga they haven't seen a full story. It's impossible for every adaptation to tell the original story completely (at least in the first installment) but it should provide some sense of closure, the ending here simply felt like even more things were about to get going. Also, it appears that anime gave away a major spoiler much earlier than the manga (or at least made it more obvious) which isn't exactly a good thing. 

The Audio: The opening song is interesting since it's done by a Japanese band with an American singer so the English lyrics sound great (in fact, if you didn't know this was the theme song to an anime most people would just think it's from an American rock song) and the song is actually a cover of this song. The lyrics are completely different but there's no question that the instrumental parts are the same which is all rather interesting, I've never seen an anime use a cover that doesn't use the same lyrics as the original song. The ending song is much less interesting, a slow song (which accompanies images of the cast from before they ended up in Deadman Wonderland) which feels strangely out of place with the rest of the series.

The Visuals: This series is a rather gory one, gory enough to have some censorship and in some places the censorship just feels dumb, especially when it doesn't work. In the first episode, after The Red Man has gone on his killing spree in Ganta's classroom, the entire scene is darkened so the details can't be made out as well, there the censorship works but later in the series a character gets an arm partially chopped off and the area where it was chopped off is blurred. It's still completely obvious what happened and makes the blur feel just stupid, it's not hiding anything. All of that will be removed for the DVD/BR release eventually in any case and as for the rest of the show it looks fairly good. There are plenty of fighting and action scenes which all look good (and usually pretty cool due to the nature of the fights) and the designs for the many characters all seem to stay consistent.

This show recently got licensed by Funimation (when they went and licensed almost a dozen recent shows that had already been streaming) and I honestly don't think I want to see the uncensored version of this show. If there is a second season I'll watch that (and the show seems to hint strongly that there will be one) but I just don't know if I want to rewatch this. I am curious about checking out the manga however it was published by Tokyopop so it's now out of print (it is still running in Japan however) so that means it's less likely I'll follow up on that urge.  

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