With the end of my Deadman quest matched up with the end of the anime on Toonami I was left deeply disappointing with the franchise as a whole, but liked it far too much to ignore it entirely. This being so Deadman Wonderland has been on my mind Quiet a bit and I simply feel the need to discuss and break down my final thoughts on Why Deadman had so much potential to be a five out of five and more so why it went so wrong that it barely managed to be above mediocre.
This will contain spoilers, but I will try to keep them as contained as possible.
Deadman Wonderland as a Setting
Deadman wonderland is in concept one of the most interesting concepts for a location to set a story I've ever seen. Prison is historically underused setting for stories considering the amount of emotion tied to them. It is a wonder their isn't more actual stories that take place in them and yes I mean more the gay porn and romance novels. While prison isn't that interesting by itself to me specifically the addition of the Theme park fused into one Deadman wonderland could provide not only a interesting commentary on justice and entertainment, but also add a deeply disturbing contrast, bright and wonderful background of a theme park mixed with the dark realities of what it is and why. I'll even tag in that the back story of the ruins of Tokyo make for interesting stories.
These are wonderful in concept however the reality is one must execute and take advantage of ones setting to make that idea come alive well enough. The interesting "Wonderland" aspect of the prison is at best downplayed, but at worst completely absent from the series. Eighty percent of the anime takes place in G-block never even touching the surface of wonderland or dealing with that world. Even the manga while takeing place in Deadman Wonderland proper about sixty six percent of the time doesn't do much more then show one event and have the occasional blur of maybe something behind someone sometimes. This is a complete failure on the part of design and writing proving again that action and execution is required for cool ideas to be anything more then that.
Deadmen are cool right?
For the most part yes thats right. Deadmen of Deadman wonderland are fun enough each with a fairly new and unique skill set between them, while veering in actual quality most Deadmen introduced are at best Amazing characters (Shiro and Crow) and at worst fun and a bit silly (Hummingbird and Peacock) What helps alleviate the silliness of their blood powers is they are vaguely explained even if not super satisfyingly. Sure the Nameless worm is a completely preposterous idea, but its not as long as you dont ask "how" they give them blood powers the minor explanation of "CUZ SCIENCE!" works enough to settle with someone not trying to rip the franchise apart. The Forgeries and Shiro pretty much are given the exact same pass because at the least their is some sort of explanation even if it is lazy and overly convenient.
Undertakers are stupid
Its not that the idea of something that negates the powers of a Deadman is stupid, its more then that. The Undertakers seem like they were the duds stolen from the bleach villains factory and given computer generated "Dark past" to try to justify their nonsense that one might try to describe as behavior. They look silly, they are silly, they use silly weapons, their is no explanation to why they are silly, but I am suppose to take them seriously. Trying to play it off as "rule of cool" would work if Deadman did not attempt to convey a serious story, or if the undertakers had been cool to begin with. That tends to help. I can suspend my disbelief for a lot of things, but a eleven year old girl with no special abilities swing a sword that weighs more then me, well to that I say good day sir
What about the MC?
Ganta, Ganta, Ganta. Most Comparable to Yuki from Future Diary in terms of what he is to the story and is as a character and is the only character I've seen cry as much as Yuki in an anime. To be fair Ganta is far less of a baby in the manga, and they are both Middle school boys in the most stressful nightmares we can imagine, but the thing is, while both yuki and ganta can act like children, at least Yuki as the decency to be insanely clever and a pragmatist. In truth Ganta did grow to become worthy of my respect, but I never found him all that relate-able, more so in the anime they tend to strip him of his clever moments. Instead of outsmarting the other inmates intthe final part of the dog race he just so happens to luck out instead. Famous for making poor decisions just to keep the plot moving Ganta just isn't that great a main character except toward the end of the manga, and never in the anime.
Shiro the Yandere?
Their are, in my opinion three types of Yandere as follows
The Sentimental Yandere - This tends to be more characterized version. While they are obsessive and dangerous they are also more sympathetic and easier to relate to. Lucy from Elfen Lied is a good example of this.
- The Comedic Yandere- An obsessive lover like the others, but more for comedic effect then as a dangerous person. Mao another character from Future Diary is this.
- The psychotic Yandere- Lastly and most reputable is our classic dangerous psychotic lover. They are deceptively frightening, usually deadly stalker, these are perfectly described by Yuno the main female of Future Diary.
Shiro while one of my favorite characters is designed to be a mix of all three. She is Sentimental in the sense that she is probably the most likeable member of the cast and is beyond being disliked by anyone that deals with her. Shiro is also the secound being probably the funniest character on the show, most of her Yandere antics seem more silly and funny even if it involves the murder of someone else (I.E. knocking someone in a pit of spikes with a smile) it's funny and honestly a bit cute. Lastly and we are expected to view her other personality as the last type of Yandere, the psychotic, which is not hard to pull off when the Wretched Egg will murder the hell out of of anyone to get to ganta. What surprises me, more then the fact that the writer combined these very separate type of Yandere in to one character and it completely works. Shiro manages to dance along these lines of insanity very well all while remaining a combination of the funniest, most likeable, and most terrifying member of the cast. Shiro as a character is wasted on the franchise as is much of concepts and ideas.
I know this seems like Yandere is an odd fit for Shiro, but think about it. Shiro has shown willingness to do anything for Ganta, including murdering him. She has made it clear everyone's life is worthless in comparison and that anyone that hurts Ganta is Shiro's enemy, this all for the sake of love. That is a Yandere, just a lot easier and kinder one who prefers when no one is hurt.
Only one problem
The Wretched Egg or Red man, Shiro's alternate personality is very frightening and very powerful, but is barely a character. She doesn't appear much until the very end and most of her dialogue is just her blanket statements about how evil she. Hardly a character, the Wretched egg just seems so blank in comparison to the main personality. Just seems like more missed potential.
In a word, unfocused
The main plague that sickens and makes all the minor issues with the franchise worse is just the progression. 11 volumes and 5 story arcs. Do the math, thats just barely above one every two volumes. You simply can't introduce a story in one volume, have the dramatic conclusion in the other and expect the pay off to be worth it. Constantly making and tieing up lose ends makes the story seem lost and hollow for the most part and makes caring about it a difficult. This withers interest in the series so even when the story arcs start to get better you can't treat it with the seriousness it might have deserved on its own. perhaps cutting the poor arcs and spending the rest of the time with the other arcs might have helped trim the fat and allow the story to be more fluid and focused.
That's about all I can think to complain or examine about Deadman, or maybe I'm just lazy. So Vice what do you guys think? What would have helped make Deadman Wonderland live up to its promise? What decisions could have helped alleviate its problems and help it capitalize on it's successes? Or am I just full of shit?