Deadman Wonderland Review: A World of Insanity and Bloodshed
Wow, it’s still hard to believe that a manga I’ve kept up with for quite a while is actually concluding. I think it’s been about…..2 years? I haven’t been reading Deadman Wonderland from the very beginning, but I did read it chapter by chapter for some time and thoroughly enjoyed it. After a painful hiatus, I kept up with the series for the next half year until at last, it has concluded. It’s truly a sad thing when an ongoing manga finishes. While many ongoing anime have a set runtime, usually something like 12-13 episodes or 24-26 episodes, one can never really be sure about when a manga will end until it’s very close to the conclusion. Now it seems that I have reached such a conclusion to one of the manga I had kept up with. It’s truly a sad thing, but Deadman Wonderland had a great run and I truly enjoyed it during the time I read it ongoing.
Deadman Wonderland revolves around Ganta Igarashi, a boy who lives a pretty typical life as a middle schooler. However, this all changes when a mysterious figure referred to as the “Red Man” appears at Ganta’s school, killing everyone in the classroom except Ganta himself. Ganta is convicted as the criminal responsible for this horrifying massacre and is thus sent to a prison known as Deadman Wonderland. However, just as the name suggests, this is no ordinary prison by any means, and it’s no exaggeration to say that Ganta’s life is on the line in the insane world he is thrown into. Regardless, Ganta presses through with the help of a new friend, an unusual girl named Shiro, and is determined to find the Red Man that annihilated his classmates and dragged him into this uninviting world.
Now, it’s a bit difficult for me to remember a lot about the story seeing as how I’ve kept up with this on a pretty slow, chapter by chapter basis, and the year long hiatus didn’t exactly help my memory of some of the middle events of the story, so bear with me. As far as story goes, Deadman Wonderland is very similar to Future Diary, another manga I’m incredibly fond of and in fact one of my favorites. A wimpy, ordinary boy is thrown into a bloody, insane situation and helped by a much stronger girl who is sweet but insane in one way or other. There are many parallels I could make between the two but I’ll stop there. In any case, Deadman is quite a dark, intense story and a vast majority of the plot is by no means a happy, heartwarming tale as many disturbing things happen and tragedy is quite common. The story is already quite violent, but it just so happens that the characters themselves even use their own blood to battle each other in quite a brutal fashion. In any case, there are quite a few interesting twists and turns in the story as well as some interesting fights. The story is definitely action-packed, but it’s a lot more than that as there are many conspiracies beneath the surface of Deadman Wonderland and Ganta may have more connections to the insanity around him than even he himself realizes. It’s not only a story about survival and brutality but also a story about uncovering the dark secrets haunting the characters.
Speaking of the characters, Deadman has quite the interesting array of characters. Ganta himself may not be the most original or amazing protagonist, but he does grow throughout the story and he is a relatable character in the sense that he’s really just a regular boy in spite of everything that goes on. However, for me it’s really Shiro that steals the show (or, manga in this case). Shiro’s interesting in that she seems sweet and innocent but turns out to have more than a few dark secrets connected to her. The fact that she recognizes Ganta upon seeing him (while he doesn’t recognize her) also makes one wonder how she’s connected to him, and more than anything it’s her character and the events surrounding her past that shape much of the foundation of Deadman’s story. Of course, when it all comes down to it the story is mainly about Ganta and his own experiences as he deals with the enemies and horrors ahead of him, but Shiro is truly the character that ties everything together and her existence makes the story that much more engaging. The character relationships are quite important in this series, and more than anything it’s the relationship between Ganta and Shiro that has a huge influence on how many parts of the story turn out. Ganta and Shiro aside, however, there is a diverse side cast of many unusual but relatively likeable characters. One fan favorite is Kiyomasa Senji, better known as Crow. Crow is basically the badass character of the series, with a number of awesome battle moments and probably the manliest of the cast. In truth he reminds me of Kenpachi from Bleach, though I’m actually more fond of Crow because of his story and his role in helping Ganta through his struggles. There are many more characters, including a boy who entered the prison to rescue his sister, a twisted individual who controls Deadman Wonderland and amuses himself with the atrocious things that happen, a girl who seems innocent but is actually a violent sadist, etc. There are quite a few unusual characters, some of which are surprisingly likeable and quite a few who are pretty detestable for obvious reasons if you read the manga.
Deadman Wonderland is a very brutal, extreme manga, and while it might be easy to expect something to the effect of mindless killing this is not at all what the manga is about. Though it is very true that there are a number of bloody incidents and deaths that make this manga far from ideal for younger children to read, it’s not simply a hack and slash violence for the sake of violence story. As mentioned before, it’s really more about the characters and following their feelings and experiences as they cope with the situation around them. Ganta, who was for most of his life a typical kid and most definitely not familiar with the powers he has, is forced to adapt to the world around him and becomes stronger as a result. However, it’s not just his powers that grow, but he also grows as an individual and progressively becomes more able to fend for himself instead of depending on others to guide him. Not everything is as appearances suggest in Ganta’s world, and indeed he is faced with a number of questions as he tries to deal with the world around him. Is such a bleak future worth living for? Can humanity truly exist in such an inhumane place? Can I trust the people around me? Could an ordinary person truly have an extraordinary effect on the future? Such questions are very important to Ganta’s growth and a wide variety of events take place during his adventure, both for better and for worse.
It’s strange how even after writing this, I still can’t quite process the fact that Deadman has now been completed. I’ve heard about a number of manga this year that have come to an end, though it was not until one of the manga I kept up with myself had concluded that this has truly become relevant to me. Deadman may be done, but I can definitely say it was worthwhile and I am glad that I was able to read it all through to the end. Overall, Deadman Wonderland gets a 9/10 from me, though to be honest I think it’s been that way for quite a while now. It seems that Viz Media has licensed the manga so eventually I’ll be able to buy the manga for myself, and it’s a good thing because I was disappointed that Deadman was dropped after Tokyo Pop went under. Now I just have to hope that perhaps one day, somehow, a season 2 of Deadman might be made so that I can witness some of the better parts of the series in animated form.