「赤いナイフ使い」 (Akai Naifu Tsukai)
“Red Knife User”
Released earlier this month with the eleventh volume of the manga, Deadman Wonderland’s OVA features an original episode centering around Kiyomasa Senji’s past as a police officer. It provides an interesting glimpse into his pre-Deadman life, something that I’ve been curious about after seeing the images in the ending sequence.
Right from the get-go, it shows that he wasn’t very different prior to being thrown into Deadman Wonderland and forced to take part in the gruesome Carnival Corpse game. Ever since the Great Tokyo Earthquake (a.k.a. “Dead Hole”) that gave rise to the Branches of Sin, he’s been hot-tempered, terrible with women, and most importantly, a lot more caring than his demeanor suggests. It’s somewhat relieving to learn that he’s always been as true to his emotions as I’ve been led to believe, which sort of explains why he took a liking to Ganta. Senji’s a badass who has no problem dealing and even tormenting punks, but has just enough self-restraint from killing anyone needlessly. He’s also grateful to those who gave him the benefit of the doubt — namely his superior, mentor, and friend Domon (Ishizuka Unshou, Jet Black from Cowboy Bebop) — and doesn’t like to involve women and children, which is what made this OVA as interesting as it was.
At first, I figured the deaths of Mukai Hinata (Kayano Ai, who’s in every anime these days) and Tsukiyoshi Izuru (Ooura Fuyuka) at the hands of Ugachi Keigo (Taniyama Kishou) and his gang, Goreless Peace, drove Senji over the edge and landed him in prison, but there doesn’t seem to be anything that can get through his tough exterior. He seems to have the uncanny (and inhuman) ability to channel any would-be feelings of sorrow into sheer anger — something that intrigues me because I know I’d never be able to do that. He also seems to have a strong sense of justice, but is far removed from getting emotionally attached to anyone. This was most apparent when it looked like Domon was killed and Senji completely lost it in a fit of rage. Had Domon actually died there — which I feel he should have to not “cheapen” the effect — I highly doubt that Senji would’ve even shed a single tear about losing him. His fellow police officers who came to his aid, Shindou Akira (Tachibana Shinnosuke), Momoi (Yamaguchi Tarou), Kan Toshirou (Sugiyama Noriaki), were unlikely to induce any feelings of comradery in him either, seeing the deaths of Hinata and Izuru didn’t even faze him — not on the surface anyway.
I’ll be quick to admit that I had pretty mixed feelings watching this episode. It didn’t bother me so much that Senji didn’t seem to care, because I get the feeling that he does but chooses to suppress those emotions, but it did bother me that he’s a loose cannon who showed restraint toward Keigo. Sure it adds a great deal of complexity to his character, but boy did it leave something to be desired when there wasn’t a single redeeming quality seen in the Goreless Peace leader. I hate to sound like a revenge-stricken viewer, but where was Hinata and Izuru’s justice? It didn’t help when the city is in a sorry state and could’ve benefited from having one less drain on society. The only thing I would’ve liked to see other than Keigo’s swift death is how Senji was ultimately convicted and thrown into Deadman Wonderland. I already have an idea after cross-referencing some material, but it would’ve been cool to see it animated after they hinted at it by showing Akatsuki Ikazuchi (Hamada Kenji). Anyway, this was an eye-opening OVA in various aspects, so I’m all for seeing more episodes about the backstory of Deadmen. Makina wouldn’t hurt either.