- by Kōichirō Hatsumi
- 1 season: 12+1 (OVA) episodes
- based on manga
The anime starts with a normal day for a student named Ganta Igarashi. He goes to school with his classmates where they start to prepare for a class trip to an amusement park called Deadman Wonderland. This parks differs from “usual” parks, here death row prisoners perform acts to entertain the audience. Suddenly, a mysterious man in red appears at Ganta’s school and kills all his classmates except for him. As an innocent young boy, Ganta was accused of these murders and so he was sentenced to death. The prison where he has to spend the rest of his life is the one the class was supposed to visit. Deadman Wonderland is only the beginning of Ganta’s worst nightmare. Every inmate has to live in constant fear, the fear of dying. Prisoners have to wear lethal collars around their necks which is a deadly ‘weapon’. They are forced to eat at least one candy every third day to avoid being killed by the collar. However, this is not the most terrifying aspect in Deadman Wonderland. The inmates have to do deathly games and the winners are at the same time the survivors. Ganta’s goal is to find the Red Man in this prison which means that he has to overcome all these obstacles.
The concept of the anime is unique: a prison constructed as an amusement park where prisoners (mostly those on the death row) have to perform deathly acts to entertain the audience (who, obviously, thinks that this is just a game/show). It does not matter if they die during the game, because sooner or later they are supposed to be executed. Justice is a further subject which plays a big role: Is it right to treat death row prisoners like if they have no rights? To treat them as performing dolls? The meaning of justice is also illustrated in the beginning of the anime series where Ganta has been found guilty even though he is innocent. He is on death row because of falsification of evidences. The depiction of innocent people on death rows can also be applied to the reality. Many innocent people have already been executed.
The anime consists of good character developments. Ganta Igarashi’s life changes drastically as he goes to prison. At the beginning, he is a harmless and fearful young boy who suddenly does not understand what’s actually happening (the murdering of his classmates, his sentence to death as an innocent). Indeed, Ganta wants to become stronger to take revenge for his classmates’ murder and so he learns from another inmate (Senji) that fear is not a way of life. So, Ganta becomes an angry and full of rage and hatred boy who is maybe ready to murder. The anime shows how extreme traumatic experiences can change someone’s personality. Ganta never had the intention or the thought of killing anyone however his new environment such as the prison, the other inmates and the murders presented him the world from a new and different perspective.
Another fascinating aspect of the characters are the pseudonyms of the inmates especially those who take part in the so-called „Carnival Corpse“ game. In fact, these names are based on birds such as The Owl, The Crow, The Mockingbird, The Woodpecker, and so on.
Senji is an inmate at the Deadman Wonderland prison who possesses the Branch of Sin. He is known as The Crow in the Carnival Corpse games. This power allows him to do extraordinary things with his blood which means that he can control his blood outside his body. Senji is a tall man with a very muscular stature. In fact, it seems that he enjoys violence and he is fond of fighting. At first, Senji seems very revolting toward Ganta but afterwards both became friends. He is the protagonist in the special episode (OVA/ Red Knife Wielder). In contrast to his rough and fearless personality, Senji also has a helpful attitude (he helps and teaches Ganta how to use his Branch of Sin).
Her name means White in Japanese. She is an albino girl meaning that she has red eyes and white hair. She is a childhood friend of Ganta which is revealed later in his flashbacks. Shiro meets him again in Deadman Wonderland where she treats him like her best friend. She likes eating together with him especially sweets and candies. The fact that she is much stronger than him, she sees him as weak and wants to protect him in every situation. For instance, she puts herself in great danger to safe Ganta in a game in Deadman Wonderland. Her immense strength and numbness are results of the experiments people did on her as she was a child. She also talks about herself in third person and is childish.
The anime is very bloody, especially the games and punishment of the losers which is also an interesting and unique method. It consists of many supernatural elements such as the Branch of Sin. The anime is very dark whereas the prison itself is presented with various light colors which have the purpose to amuse the audience because it is at the same time an amusement park.
The art illustration is very well drawn. The characters and amusement park are very detailed and good animated. The fight scenes and games are easy to follow. Moreover, the male characters are depicted in a more masculine way compared to other anime series. Additionally, we think that the intro music was very well chosen even though it contains a few spoilers which could have been avoided.
Unfortunately, the anime also consists of some negative aspects. For example, the ending is filled with many superpower elements. The last few episodes are mostly dealing with the deadman powers which is a bit too much. Another negative point affects the unanswered questions at the end. The fact that no further season has been announced yet, one is kinda forced to read the manga. All in all, we enjoyed watching the anime series because it was very thrilling and it contains a lot of suspenses.