Welcome, readers! Today I present a simple review of the 2011 anime Deadman Wonderland, produced by studio Manglobe. It’s a horror/thriller series with elements of shounen-type powers and fighting. The story is about a boy named Ganta who was framed for the mass murder of his classmates. Instead of being executed, he was handed over to a strange prison called Deadman Wonderland. The horrors and secrets found within will be shocking. Now then, let’s get on to my thoughts on five categories: visuals, audio, story, characters, and enjoyment.
Visuals: 7/10 (Good)
The visuals for Deadman Wonderland had some ups and downs, for me anyway. Keep in mind, I’m quite poor at recognizing when anime visuals are noteworthy or unimpressive. But here are my opinions nonetheless. The character designs are pretty good. Shiro in particular isn’t a character whose look you will be able to forget easily. The design for Senji was cool and attractive. Ganta isn’t the best, however. On a related note, the detail in the character designs and the artwork in general is commendable.
Fighting scenes and animations of different abilities are excellent. The color scheme (lots of dark browns and greys mixed and contrasted with bright red blood magic) is fitting for the show, but didn’t strike me as anything special. The smoothness of the animation is well above average for a 2011 anime. Face expressions are aspects of visuals that I actually do know something about, and the ones in this show were more than satisfactory. Shiro’s smiles are most memorable.
On a final note, the violence in this series is done well in terms of looking bloody and disturbing. For a thriller/horror anime, that’s pretty important. All things considers, the art and animation in Deadman Wonderland is a solid 7/10.
Audio: 7/10 (Good)
The music did not leave much of an impression or stick with me. As for the songs, the opening was something I could not take seriously even for a minute. It’s called “One Reason” by DWB featuring Fade. It might be quality music for all I know, but the lyrics are so laughably edgy and trying way too hard to mimic a 2000’s emo band. The ending song (“Shiny Shiny” but Nirgilis) was a little better, but it felt out of place in the show.
Despite the fact that some very talented seiyuu play parts in this series, I still wasn’t impressed enough to call the audio category excellent. It’s still good enough, however. I hate to be critical of Romi Park, but she really didn’t capture the role of Ganta very well. She’s more believable as eccentric female characters than as young boy characters, at least at this age. But Kana Hanazawa performed excellently as usual playing Shiro. Daisuke Ono was also memorable as Nagi Kengamine. This part of why I rated the audio elements as 7/10 overall.
Story: 4/10 (Poor)
The plot, themes, and related components are the major weak points of Deadman Wonderland. There’s no significant meaning or point to this story. It’s simply violence, shock value, and thrills for their own sake. I’m not saying there must be a “moral of the story,” or there must be strong positive elements. But there needs to be substance to think about, especially when most thrillers include psychological or philosophical facets. You can find themes of some kind in any story; for Deadman Wonderland, perhaps the main ones are cruelty, despair, and injustice. But not even those were developed in a purposeful way. There are really no noteworthy or thought-provoking story elements to be found.
Beyond that, the plot itself was pretty weak, and some points are quite poorly executed. Through his terrible experiences and meetings with other blood manipulators, Ganta discovers the truths behind the Deadman Wonderland prison. The progression of these events just wasn’t very creative. Random character arcs were thrown in that didn’t fit smoothly with the rest. We were not given nearly enough clarity or detail about Shiro’s story and her connection to Ganta in the past. Granted, some of this can be guessed, or realized with careful re-watches. Even so, the presentation of these important aspects were muddy.
Many short anime series do not get approved for more seasons for various reasons, even with a decent amount of popularity. These series still serve a purpose of inviting viewers to become interested in the longer, more detailed manga. Deadman Wonderland was one such anime. However, it did nothing to inspire me to pick up the manga. The ending felt rushed and unsatisfactory. Plus, as mentioned, there is nothing deeper to keep me interested. So why would I want to continue a shallow story with poor execution? So to restate, the story in Deadman Wonderland is sadly substandard.
Characters: 6/10 (Fine)
I have nothing against weak and whiny characters; I often like them. But with Ganta, his trauma and weakness were not explored enough. If you look at the depth of development for characters like Yuki Amano (Mirai Nikki) or Shinji Ikari (NGE), Ganta doesn’t compare. Most of the other characters are alright but not great, including You, Karako, Bando, and Senji. We only get the slightest feel for these characters beyond their anime stereotype. I was hoping for better. Minatsuki (the sister) and Tamaki (evil lawyer) were over-the-top and annoying.
Now there are some excellent and entertaining characters, too. I liked the Warden (Makino Flugel), Kengamine (escape plan leader), and of course, the unforgettable Shiro. As for Makino, even with a great design and some development in the later episodes, her character seemed very inconsistent. Kengamine was great, though, and so was Shiro. I’m still fascinated by this girl’s abnormal psychology combined with adorableness. But much more could have been done to explore this character. So, Balancing things out, the character category is fine but not good.
Personal Enjoyment: 7/10 (Good)
My opinion on many areas of Deadman Wonderland may be low, but I still had a good share of personal enjoyment. The one thing this anime is great for is violence-fix. I appreciate that stuff from time to time– so long as it’s only animated. This show has it all: severed heads, chopped off limbs, bloody cuts, sheering away layers of flesh, eyes being gouged out, torture, and a plethora of disturbing death traps that prisoners fall into.
I also enjoy yandere characters, and Shiro was a pretty good example. Though their personalities annoy me somewaht, Senji and Makina are both really nice to look at, if you know what I mean. The style of fighting with blood manipulation was entertaining too. This anime was actually pretty enjoyable for me, despite its unfortunate weakness in story and characters.
Overall Score: 6.2/10.0 Fine
The overall score is the average of the numbers for the five categories. Anime series in the 6’s range are right between mediocre and being actually good. For most audiences, I think Deadman Wonderland will disappoint. It’s too edgy and shallow. However, for fans of anime horror and thrillers, the series is definitely worth checking out. That wraps it up for today. Thank you sincerely for reading my work. I hope you come back to visit soon. 🙂
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