Hello Vice. It’s M here again this time finally with something other than Deadmen. This time I take a look into the well received Ga-Rei: Zero and see exactly what it has to offer the anime community. Ga-rei: zero was a 2008 anime and a prequel to the manga that shares the name Ga-rei. For the most part I didn’t know anything about Ga-Rei except for the somewhat famous pocky yuri scene and that it was “about F.E.A.R. except their Japanese school girls with swords not big American guys with guns.” Neither of these things necessarily sold it to me, but seeing all the positive reviews did.
A supernatural action anime dealing with fighting demons and ghosts, Ga-Rei starts off with the group called Paranormal Disaster Countermeasure Headquarters (PDCH) a government agency that hunts demons and ghosts. I say starts off because they are all subsequently killed in the next episode and replaced in the battle with Ministry of Environment's Supernatural Disaster Countermeasures Division (SDCD) who come in and also get messed up within the next episode. After that it turns back the clock to follow the actual story of Yomi and Kagura, two non-blood related sisters who eventually join SDCD.
Obviously from that description one might notice that the story is a tad bit…disjointed at least to start off. While I wouldn’t call in confusing it starts off making you want to just pause and ask what and why the whole first episode is there to begin with. I would describe the story as one trying to start their car in mud; spinning their wheels, but not getting anywhere conceivable. Putting that aside Ga-Rei is what it is at heart, an over the top silly action anime with a dark tone. Normally with the tone it tries to set I would think this anime was trying to be serious, but with one of the characters being essentially the chick from grind house with a bladed wheel chair along with the gun leg, no it’s not meant to be taken too seriously.
However immature as the story is and as over the top and impossible the action is to physics; Ga-rei is fun as hell to watch go at least for the short little 12 episodes it goes on for. It looks good in terms of art, not exactly shaft good, but good enough to be pretty interesting. The plot does grow on you a bit even if all the twists are revealed in the first two episodes of the show. The story stays for what it’s worth thematically consistent with the universe its set in even if it’s a tad bit preposterous and manages to have struck a minor emotional chord in me, probably due to the heavier parts of the story dealing with sibling (not romantic) love something I personally can relate to.
That being said ga-rei isn’t anything special. It’s good and I’m comfortable calling it that, but as a whole the package isn’t fantastic in any way. At the end of the day Ga-Rei isn’t a series I’m going to think about past this review, it came and it went, simple as that.
Also as an aside, the only real legal way to watch Ga-Rei is on Netflix streaming in English dub. While I’m not anti dub; this was the worst performance of a dub I have seen Funimation do in a very long time. I won’t knock the series for it being that the sub might be wonderful, but the acting in dub is just emotionless and jerky as hell I had to make note of it.
All in all Ga-Rei is good, but not worth much mentioning earning the comfortable place of 3.5 holy water hand grandees out of 5. With Ga-Rei in the bag I feel completely content to move on to something else, even if I’m not sure exactly what. Vice you decide, but for today that’s all for M. See you later folks.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Well Vice, it’s me again, M. To the few that follow me more regularly I’ve just finished a quest to finish all of Deadman wonderland the manga. With All of Deadman in the hole finished and my last review up it was ironically perfect to see the Anime variant reach its conclusion on Toonami. With Deadman wonderland the Anime Completed It’s up for the chopping block as a separate entity entirely.
To the Uninformed to The series of a whole it revolves around the story of Ganta, an average middle schooler; just like many Anime protagonist, however unlike many protagonists within a few scenes his entire middle school class is murdered in front of him. This act done by the mysterious Redman. The only Survivor, Ganta, is sentenced to death in a horrific prison turned carnival that earns its name Deadman Wonderland. There he discovers a friend Shiro and a series of horrors hidden in Wonderland, not the least of the Strange Deadmen. This series carries a lot of blood from the hit Eureka 7 and reached a pretty decent leave of attention especially with its reintroduction into toonami.
Speaking strictly the anime deviates from Manga in very seldom ways, except for the removal of a few relevant side characters. It’s frankly a streamlined visual version of chapters one through twenty one or volumes one through five respectively, cutting out the side bits not relevant until the parts post the twenty one mark. As a whole Deadman starts off with a very strong and positive early game. Deadman Wonderland is a terrifying nightmare draped in colorful lights, Shiro remains impossible to dislike while Ganta remains realistic considering being a fourteen year old. For the most part it capitalizes on the same successes as the manga, especially early on in a well themed and stylish way. Sure not studio shaft stylish, but not a bad. The beginning six episodes build a set of interesting flavored and fairly likeable characters and a dark world with tasteful and unnerving contrast of grit and cheer that drives ones interest up easily. This all while delivering a slight commentary on society that isn’t forced down your throat.
That is until the series takes a sharp nose dive into the ridiculous and absurd. Unfocused and often a tad bit too incomprehensible or forced depending on your perspective story directions begin to take over. This slowly begins to degrade the series as a whole and greatly limits one’s ability to take it seriously. More so the prime failure of Deadman wonderland has been its inability to capitalize on its interesting concepts, such as the Wonderland aspect of world, or the political tension of that world. Instead the series makes constant story arc shifts incapable of committing to any one thing and properly execute its plot in any meaningful ways. It’s not that the story isn’t capable of being good, it has all the materials of a fantastic story, just never manages to play them out well or satisfyingly. Well to be fair the introduction of the Bleach Character rejections that are the undertakers could never be good, but I digress.
Deadman Wonderland was given all the tools to be functional, even more so has the concepts and the originality to be above and beyond its peers becoming excellent. Some Series have the execution to make two plus two equal five superseding the weaknesses in its parts , Deadman started off with a greater sum in pieces then it manages to be together, with that three plus three ends up four. While Deadman Wonderland is never bad, and rarely even so low as to be mediocere it manages to be completely disappointing compared to its ultimate potential especially when adding the inconclusive and unsatisfying end.
While I still feel a blog post is needed separately to address specifically where Deadman Wonderland consistently went wrong and why this will do as a spoiler free review of the series. Deadman Wonderland isn’t bad, hell it’s actually pretty good, but fails to manage above 3.5 Ace men out of 5. I can’t shake how great all this could have been, but I don’t regret watching it in the least. That’s all for today, M’s heading out vice hopefully for a bit of a break, but don’t worry. We got more Reviews and podcast one the way, later vice.
Hello Vice, it is I, M, here this time for that last show in our carnival, the final Available Deadman Wonderland Volume, Volume 11. This last show completes the quest I have set out for finishing off the world of Deadman Wonderland until the artists hiatus comes to a close. That being said lefts set this one off as we push on with the final Volume.
With Ganta surrendered to the mockingbird the crow is saved, however things get even more disturbing as the rest of the Deadman Crew discover the secrets of the Wretched Eggs origins while Ganta find out exactly who Shiro is and what Mockingbird is planning. Volume 11 features mostly flash back and back-story until the ending half of the Volume.
Speaking specifically to Deadman Wonderland Volume 11 I feel like it’s distinctly focusing on things I care about. Shiro, Mockingbird, Ganta, and Crow are the primary characters, all of whom are my favorites. With no silly last minute introduction of auxiliary characters lets Deadman start coming to a close on exactly what we cared about in the very beginning. This Arc is very easily my favorite and to see and understand her and the Wretched egg better is well overdue.
However not much actually happens in Volume 11, a lot is explained, but as things begin to come to a natural close Deadman Wonderland seems to be dragging its feet in the dirt. The explanations while enjoyable take up too much of Deadman wonderlands time, more than anything volume 11 feels like it has a lot of talk but nothing really going on yet, something that should be wrapping up just is standing still. So while it’s my favorite arc and I remain interesting, I’m starting to feel more and more withered by Deadman Wonderland again.
I have a lot more to say about Deadman wonderland, and will in the form of a blog post, but for now my mini review quest is over. This is the final available volume until the lead artist returns from maternity leave. So for now the Carnival closes its doors and Deadman Wonderland remains quiet. I’m glad to have kept up with this quest even if I walk away with some serious issues with the Franchise as a whole. Over all I give this Volume alone 3.5 Deadmen out of 5. That’s all for the carnival folks, but it’ll return in time, and when it does, M will too. Later Vice.
Hello again vice, it is I, M. Once again the Carnival is open lights are on for the second to last showing for quite a bit, Volume 10 of Deadman Wonderland. Thus starts the mangas believed to be last arc. The good stuff; the Arch of the Wretched egg herself.
Volume 10 starts off with the newly freed or transferred members of the cast reentering society or regular prison based on how their retrials went. Crow tries to get a new job, Ganta tries and cope with Shiro being the red man, and the hummingbird enjoying calmer prison, this is all interrupted by the ex warden of Deadman wonderland making a call for all the old Deadman Crew and Scar Chain to form a task force and return to Deadman Wonderland one last time to see the Wretched egg and mockingbird stopped for good and Deadman wonderland to be laid to rest.
This has already begun to be my favorite arc, being that it exclusively deals with the characters I care about, Shiro, Ganta and the Deadman crew, and while the story beats so far have been predictable, it’s been well executed and on occasion actually surprise me. Such as how interestingly they pulled off the Wretched Egg and Gantas first confrontation. For the most part what surprises me is how well this volume is executed seeing as how poorly most of the execution has been. It seems focused and serious without relying on silly side characters for confrontation.
The problem is that so far it’s not that striking. It’s competent, hell, its damn right good, but it’s not like it’s in any way awe inspiring. It’s a difficult complaint to have and address, but it remains accurate, despite having all the parts right this time it still doesn’t manage to be as engaging as its more perfected brethren of the genre.
So far though this arc is turning out well thought out and cutting out much of the crap in Deadman Wonderland. Finally settling on serious over ridiculous. Hopefully it keeps to that as it moves on with this story, and while I’m not going to increases its score, Deadman Wonderland Volume 10 is my favorite one so far, earning a 4 flesh boxes out of 5. That’s all for today vice, next time, the carnival comes for the last time. Hope to catch you there. This is M, signing out.