Petros's Reviews > Deadman Wonderland, Volume 1

Deadman Wonderland, Volume 1 by Jinsei Kataoka
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's review
Dec 02, 2011

it was ok

Recipe: Take a third of Battle Royale, a third of Prison Break, and a third of Akira. Stir them in a bawl until the flavor is all gone and add lots of bad storytelling around the plate it is served upon. The result is Deadman Wonderland. Or as I prefer to call it, BrainDeadman COCOland; a completely unrealistic and chaotic show, with lots of gore thrown in to attract the casual viewers with superficial entertainment. Everything is made to be as much exaggerated as possible with violence overblown forced drama in an attempt to make it look special. It can work if you shut off your brain and expect to see nothing more than gore and unexpected plotlines because of the completely chaotic nature. If you are otherwise looking for some consistency, originality, reasoning, and other elite / snobby / culturistic stuff, you are watching the wrong show.

DW is the story of a boy being accused wrongfully to be a mass murderer and being sentenced to prison. Albeit not any prison but an amusement park where the inmates fight in various death games for the entertainment of the populace and where everybody is dressed as a silly plushy animal. There, the boy needs to find a way to survive the games as well as discover the real murderer, who seems to be an inmate in the same prison. He gains psionic powers (queue for the typical hidden dark superpower of every shonen lead) and needs to train in order to survive in prison, avenge the death of his friends, and prove his innocence.
- The premise sounds a lot better than the actual plot; if the show was taking itself seriously we would have an interesting action/survival/mystery story on our hands but instead of that we get a random line of events that are purely coo-coo entertainment.
- Unlike most manga, pacing is not an issue; each chapter provides lots of progress and revelations, and the action is generally interesting, for being too gory or exaggerated. At the same time pacing is not good as many things are going by in a few minutes, which makes all character development to feel rushed and forced.
- Storytelling is terrible. You constantly see people talking or looking at very scary or dramatic events and don’t react for several minutes, even when they are full of anger or terror. You also see how the plot is random, as elements are introduced without any sort of foreshadowing.

Artwork is ok although all the focus in given to gore and even that is occasionally not that great; I have seen far more in other manga.
- The prison/amusement park may feel quite memorable to most but it’s otherwise not something that makes sense in the way it is run; you are again not supposed to think about it much.
- The characters do not look memorable in any way, nor do their special attacks; a thing that makes them very forgettable next to the setting. It makes you care more about the gore than the people experiencing it, which is a sign of lazy storytelling in my book.

The characters are practically all stupid or crazy. It is a matter of personal taste if you get to like them and I just hate them. Being crazy and being an idiot are two different things and having both in the same package does not look good without proper handling.
- For example, Ganta the lead boy, is the average low intelligence, high ideals shonen lead. There is absolutely nothing special about him and could easily be replaced with any other protagonist from any other shonen show. It is not a good thing to be indifferent about the protagonist in a show full of gore and mystery and yet he feels completely out of place with his positive childish attitude. And he is so stupid, he falls for the simplest tricks, yet he performs a comeback with equally retarded straightforward attacks, which again make him look bad and a constant winner only because the scriptwriter feels like it. What is even more inconsistent is how he is unable to grasp the most basic facts yet he learns new supermoves in just a few minutes.
- Then there is his best friend Shiro. She is nothing but a super positive girl with an IQ of a monkey stereotype. Her behavior makes no sense and she is there only to eat bread and help Ganta with her antiques. She is way too genki and stupid for my tastes; I mostly see her as fan service because of that really reveling uniform of hers. You also eventually see that she has no free will of her own; she is just there as a cheap plot devise for the story to unravel anyway the scriptwriter wants. I mean she appears and disappears anytime she feels like it and nobody questions how easily she enters dangerous places or why she is even NEXT to them in the first place.
- The warden is above the law no matter how far fetched his actions are. He is some sort of a generic villain, a power crazy maniac who organizes death games for the people outside the prison and even conducts inhuman experiments in order to harness some weird psionic power centered in a red jewel in the chest of his human guinea pigs. Guess what, Ganta is one of them. He is just there as an untouchable asshole and nothing more; he completely lacks depth or sympathy from the viewer.
- The same thing expands to the rest of the minor characters; they are all stereotypes, crazy and stupid, with hardly enough immersion to care about. I personally don’t give a dime about them or their so-called drama. And guess what, all development the secondary cast receives, is to begin as adversaries to Ganta and as soon as he defeats them, they immediately become his buddies. Don’t have illusions about the cast; despite the occasional insanity and gore, everybody is shonen stock characters all the way.

The thing which eventually ruins the show is that everything is completely random.
- Amusement parks featuring death games for families to go watch while eating popcorn? Sure, why not? Let the kids watch as well; it is very amusing.
- A warden who can do anything he likes and nobody questions him? Why of course, let him blow a school bus in daylight, then get some tickets from him, go to his prison and see people being butchered while eating pop corn.
- A prison where the inmates are allowed to leave their cells and go anywhere they like? Why of course. What is that you say? Everybody is wearing explosive collars in their necks that blow up if they do something bad? Sure, that was very helpful when dozens of prisoners rebelled. Candy drugs that are supposed to addict the inmates to them as means of control? Yes, again very helpful for the dozens of rebels. Special armored prison guards that negate the inmates’ superpowers? Very helpful, until they learn how easily they can negate the negation. Psychotic inmates being used as prison control squads? Ingenious; especially for killing your own prison guards. And why are there rebel teams in the first place anyway? Nice prison security you have there warden. How about a drug or some machine that keep them at bay INTERNALLY?
- Where are the relatives of the hundreds of people that are constantly being killed making some sort of protest? Oh that’s right, they are eating popcorn and watch their loved ones being killed in an amusement park.
- Why isn’t anyone questioning Shiro for her weird appearance, how she pops out of nowhere or most of the time not even noticing her passing by them?
I can keep asking whys and the answer never comes because the show is BrainDeadman; everything is running on Idiot’s Plot.

Not even the action is that great to deem the show worthy of watching just for that. The battles and the games are more silly than exciting; they have very little choreography and very basic strategy. They follow the typical shonen fuss of the hero losing badly, getting up full of resolve and performing a move that gives him the upper hand, followed by some lame morality monologue around friendship and justice. And for some reason he is never hacked to pieces with attacks that turn other minor characters to beef jerky. As for the people he is fighting, they too are idiots for not finishing the duel with their ultimate attack right away and just waste time in gloating. When later on they use those very same ultimate attacks to save Ganta and claim they always were so powerful. Plain ass-pulling if you ask me.

After the fuzz from the initial shock of you being thrown in a setting where people go to watch inmates being dissected in an amusement park goes away, chances are you are left with nothing else to care about. It is nothing but retarded violence, forced drama and random script, around people you don’t give a damn about. DW is a very superficial and chaotic show that doesn’t have any redeeming qualities. Even the gore scenes are ruined by a lot of silly humor and shonen archetypes that water down the feeling of dread. For all the above reasons, this manga is not recommended at all.
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