|Deadnman Wonderland-The Lovecraftian Disney World||1 out of 1 user found this review helpful.|
Call me a sadist, but I love the premise of anarchistic prisons. The fact that prisons must struggle to fend oneself in a correctional facility where they must fight for their lives and make alliances seems surreal; like a fantasy the Joker would come up with. What I don't like is being led on by a premise that eventually spirals into a chaotic and overall mean view into the darker sides of human beings. The fact that we act noble and say we would do right means nothing when the chips are down. Even then, if you were in a prison, your voice still wouldn't matter since there are meaner and more vicious dogs. And they don't always wear the jumpsuits. I am of course referring to the inmates and staff of Deadman Wonderland.
Deadman Wonderland is a series created by Jinsei Katoka and Kazuma Kondou, the same guys that did the Eureka Seven manga (a manga I was displeased with). The story revolves around Ganta Igarashi who has witnessed his friends and class get slaughtered and ends up being found guilty and sentenced to dead in the titular Deadman Wonderland: a prison built theme park. What he finds there is that the prison is actually a facility to house super humans called Deadman and that he himself is one. As memories from the past, locked away in his mind come to life, he must battle not only the other inmates but the sadistic and cruel staff of the facility.
I'm not going to lie, when I first heard about this, I got excited. It sounded like Batman: Arkham City and Battle Royale got together to make a manga, and it was made by the guys who worked on the Eureka Seven manga. And it started out just like that. There are deadly prison games to play, the staff is as uncaring as Hugo Strange was, and there are some clever characters that Ganta befriends. Not to mention there is a stunning comparison between Ganta and Renton as well as Shiro is reminiscent of Anemone.
As time went on, it slowly turned into a psychological battle series as well as going down the route of an exploitation series, a genre most of you may know I loathe with a passion. However, I continued to read it as I had nothing to do before graduation started and I needed to kill time. So, what is to be said about the series?
Well, praise needs to be given to the art style as the characters, abilities, and atmosphere really work to the series' advantage. I honestly felt myself immersed into the manga as if I was actually witnessing these atrocities. Another thing I actually enjoyed are the characters. There are quite a bit of characters in this hellish prison and each have their own unique characteristics, histories, and emotions where you can make connections with each of them. No one that is incarcerated has a pretty past and that builds their overall roundness as a player in the story. Speaking of, the story is a bit dry in places but it does carry the weight well, especially when things are looking hopeful then you get a soccer ball to the gut that leaves you stunned in disbelief.
However, what I don't think works is the overwhelming amount of cruelty in the series. The main antagonists are nothing more than the most sociopathic devils in human form as one loves to perform experiments for no purpose than to be turned on while the other treats everything like its a game, ruining people's lives for his own amusement. Yeah, I know the bad guys are supposed to be unlikable but I've seen plenty of villains with their own charm that are fun to watch. I equate it to when I read Death Note and saw Light Yagami, you can't help but to feel an immense hatred that would put AM to shame. Throw in a sympathetic villain or maybe something to ease the pain of the series. Not to mention Ganta himself. My god, I have never seen a 14 year old dumped on so many times. His parents are dead, his friends were slaughter, he was represented by a lawyer who wanted to send him to jail (see the amusement villain), and things get worse and worse for him. I swear he is the Rick Grimes of manga. This overwhelming sense of doom and dread often left me with a bad tastes in my mouth. So much so that I had to stop reading, scratch my head, and ask "they didn't really just do that, did they?"
Deadman Wonderland isn't a bad series. Its strengths play well to its advantage and the art is impressive, even when the panels are full of shots of blood and dismembered body parts; then again subtlety is not this series' strengths. Just the fact that this child is tortured constantly for no other reason that "I was bored" makes you want to erect a TARDIS just to lay out some beatings. In the end, I'll say this series is like watching Hobo with a Shotgun. A great experience and you want to watch it, but it will leave a sour taste in your mouth at point.