“Very watchable and enjoyable!”
Ganta Igarashi (name reversed to match Western standards) is a student at Nagano Public Middle School #4 when his life goes to hell in one eventful day..
Prior to the slaughter, some nifty foreshadowing has Ganta and his two (soon to be dead) friends discussing going to the murderous theme park of the title. After the murders, Ganta blacks out, and upon awakening in hospital he is accused of the crime and sentence is passed soon after, with false evidence and a faked video of his confession sealing the deal.
Blood drips, pools, and splatters from episode one. The slaughter Ganta is accused and finally convicted of is not shown. The aftermath, however, looks like a train wreck in a classroom. Ganta is spared by the real killer, the ‘Man in Red’, yet he is ‘infected’ with a mysterious red crystal as the murderer leaves.
When Ganta is convicted, he is sent to Deadman Wonderland, a hell-on-Earth prison where convicts are forced to fight to the death (and perform a myriad of other entertainments) for the amusement of spectators and the masses. At first, he is reluctant to believe that he is in this situation, but as he is drawn further and further into the extreme violence that is commonplace in the themed amusement park allegedly designed to restore Japan’s economy after a recent tragedy that destroyed Tokyo, he has no option but to become as brutal as he was judged to be by the courts.
The animation is, as in most anime, very smooth and vaguely basic, yet it suits the genre, allowing for ultra-violence with bodies gushing more blood than they could possible contain.
The plot is simple yet compelling, as we really do feel for Ganta’s predicament.
Ganta seems a typical anime hero: angsty yet likeable, and when you combine the ultra-violence explicit throughout the series, you get something that all anime fans are likely used to seeing. Of course, there are ‘powers’ some of the deadmen prisoners use while in combat, but the fight choreography is better than can be seen in some anime series.
Shiro, the white-clad genki girl that partners up with Ganta early on, stands out among the drab colours of the prison internal scenes, and the character manages the mysterious archetype quite well.
Ganta spends the whole first season trying to solve the mystery of who really killed all his classmates, in between fighting for his life amongst the vicious criminals incarcerated in Deadman Wonderland.
Cruelty is dominant throughout the whole series, as is a sense of hopelessness, so if this is something you prefer to stay away from, then avoid this series like the plague. If you like your anime dark, dreary, and violent then grab this series and enjoy.
Overall, this is a very watchable and enjoyable series, certainly not intended for a younger audience, and captivating enough to watch the entire season in one extended explosion of blood.
Director: Koichi Hatsumi
Script: Yasuyuki Muto
Starring (English cast): Greg Ayres, Monica Rial, Aaron Dismuke, Colleen Clinkenbeard
Running time: 360 minutes (12 x 30 min episodes)
DVD release date: 9 September 2013
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