“Dead Man Walking”
I didn’t know about this series before, but after burning through 40+ chapters of the manga in a day, I was sold and was excited for the anime adaptation to come out. My main fear was that there would be excessive censoring because it’s TV anime, not DVD or theaters, and also that the one cour may not be enough. There’s quite a bit of material and getting cut short would be no good. Deadman Wonderland seems to be set in a futuristic world, given the holographic screens, but the sci-fi aspect doesn’t seem to feature heavily. There’s no lack of craziness however, and the series has facets of a psychological thriller with no shortage of action, and I’m really looking forward to see what’s next.
The story opens with friends talking about their upcoming school trip, but no time is wasted as the “Red Man” suddenly shows up and massacres the entire class right after they are introduced, Ga-rei Zero style. Only Igarashi Ganta (Paku Romi) survives, but gets a red shard embedded into his chest. Unfortunately, one of my suspicions already proved true, as the scene was heavily darkened and blacked out in many portions (contrast). Regardless, it was still quite gruesome, with blood and dismembered body parts everywhere, and that damn song was creepy as well. Emotions really came off strong, and I was probably raging as hard as Ganta was at the injustice of being sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. Planted evidence, the rage of his friend’s parents, and his evil-looking public defender Tamaki — that’s some terrible stuff right off the bat. I don’t really understand how anyone could believe a 14-year-old could do something like that. Things continue to go downhill for him though, and the rest of the episode brings on even more despair.
Ganta ends up getting sent to the titular Deadman Wonderland (which happens to be run by Tamaki (Suwabe Junichi)), a for-profit prison in the ruined Tokyo where prisoners are used for entertainment and killed a whim by “accident”. There’s the standard ruthless wardens and nasty inmates, but not only that, the prisoners need to eat a candy every three days or die, forcing them to participate in gladiator-type fights to obtain credits to buy the candy. It’s pretty clear that private sector is going to give Ganta a far harsher experience, and with his “Branch of Sin” powers activated, he’s in for a really intense ride. Ganta meets Shiro (Hanazawa Kana) as well, who is introduced singing the same song heard during the massacre, but with such an innocent voice. The screwed-up lyrics were really unnerving and is mirror of Ganta’s situation as well. In addition, she claims to know him and is able to see right through his lies. Shiro is quite an interesting character: like a child, but can survive a fall of several hundred meters, possesses decent fighting skills, doesn’t wear a collar, and is probably going to be the only cheerful thing Ganta will be seeing around in the hellhole for a while.
Some of the other Deadman are seen as well, and the preview shows Ganta’s first game already as he struggles to survive in a violent environment. It’s a strong start, and this show should be a great watch unless the producers really screw up the adaptation from the manga. Because of the limited length, an anime original ending or a second season would be needed, and for now I’d prefer the second option, but either could be acceptable. So far though, it’s fast-paced, hard-hitting, unnerving, and completely engrossing; I have high hopes.