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Deadman Wonderland review

Have you ever been wrongly accused of something? In April 2011, Ganta wanted justice, unfortunately the justice he got... he didn't want.

Directing this 12 episode (24 minute each) animation/action/drama/horror/thriller is Koichi Hatsumi.

Some of the voice cast is: Romi Park as Ganta Igarashi, Kana Hanazawa as Shiro/Wretched Egg, Hiroshi Naka as Rinichiro Hagire, Junichi Suwabe as Tsunenaga Tamaki, Takako Honda as Makina, Masayuki Katou as Kiyomasa Senji/Crow, Yuki Kaji as Yo Takami, Iori Nomizu as Minatsuki Takami/Hummingbird, Daisuke Ono as Nagi Kenagmine/Owl, Kumiko Ito as Karako Koshio/Game Fowl and Toshiyuki Morikawa as Azuma Genkaku.

An anomaly tore Japan apart and sank three quarters of the mainland into the ocean. Ten years later, the survivors have picked up and went on with their lives and some don't even have memory of the event. Like, middle school student, Ganta who was just sitting in his classroom talking with his two best friends like he did every day. When suddenly, another horrific event struck and this time Ganta would never forget it. One minute the classroom was filled with students chatter, the next... their screams. Ganta couldn't understand how it happened, how everyone in his classroom was dead, but he was still alive. Then Ganta realized the answer he was looking for was standing right in front of him, in the form of a blood stained individual wearing some sort of armor and a red cloak.

During his court trial Ganta swore his innocence, trying to tell his story to anyone who would listen. How the real murderer was... the Red Man. Unfortunately, no one would listen and Ganta was sentenced to a unique prison called Deadman Wonderland. Ganta vows to prove his innocence even from prison, but it seems like the cards are stacked against him. Once he's in prison, Ganta finds out things aren't exactly what they seem to be. Before long, Ganta starts to realize that the events leading up to this moment may have been shaped from the very beginning, but by who... and why? Who is the Red Man, and what is so special about the crystal shard that Ganta now has in his chest, thanks to the Red Man.

Deadman Wonderland started out as a manga in 2007 and had a 13 volume run that was written by Jinsei Kataoka and illustrated by Kazuma Kondou. Now, if you watch this series on Netflix it shows Deadman as having 13 episodes. The 13th episode is actually a 24 minute long OVA (original animated video) that was released in October 2011, called Wielder of the Red Knife. The story takes place only two years after the anomaly that tore up Japan and gives some back story on a character named Senji before he wound up in the Deadman Wonderland prison. If you're not watching this on Netflix then I suggest finding the OVA for a quick spin. Are you missing anything by not watching it? No, it doesn't really have anything to do with the series, but I thought it was just as good as the show (animation/story wise). Plus if you're like me, I always dig back stories on characters.

The story that writer Yasuyuki Muto came up with was pretty cool. I didn't think I would like watching some show about a kid going to a prison, but the story is pretty interesting. Not to mention, I liked the unique style of prison Kataoka came up with because it adds a great twist to the storyline. One of the many things the prison has going on that the public doesn't know about is the underground fights they have called the Carnival Corpse.  These fights are held in secret and the wealthy can bet on the fighters anonymously. Now, what makes these fights so cool is that each of the fighters possess an ability to use their blood as a weapon. Yeah they can turn their blood into whips, knives etc.

I thought the playthrough was seriously cool. The flick does a killer job at keeping a good solid pace and handing out little bits of details that not only keep you guessing but keep you hooked. Like most series, everything (story wise) is slowly dealt out, but Muto's writing style delivers it in such a way that it holds your interest and keeps you wanting more. Unlike some runs that get a little boring when the main story takes a break to cover another angles or sub-stories. Here, the story constantly keeps moving no matter what angle it's covering. Plus, the animation looks great and everything flowed well.

Now, one of the problems I had with this one was the fight scenes. When they happen they look pretty cool, but they don't last all that long. As much as I liked the story and wanted to see what was going to happen next, I r-e-a-l-l-y wanted to see everyone just tear it up a bit more. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it took anything away from the show, but (my opinion) it would have added to it.

Overall, this one is worth checking out, but I will warn you that there is a downside to starting this show. Apparently the anime didn't sell well in Japan and it's looking like there may not be a second season. Even though it became very popular and found a fan base with the North American audiences. So, if you don't mind being left hanging (possibly forever)... give it a go.

It's rated UR (unrated) but has violence and language.

3 stars
 

Michael Carter  - Back Seat Viewer 

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