This series isn’t exactly old, but it’s still been on my to-watch list for a while. Seeing as it has a massive fan base, I decided to catch up with it. After watching Nanbaka, it felt like jumping from one weird prison to the next. Now, was it worth the jump? I’d say meh… I really don’t know if it was, but let me write a short review before I slam my honest opinion onto the table.
Ganta is a normal schoolboy, who is talking with his friends about how they’re going to visit Deadman Wonderland on a school trip. And visit the place he shall, as a prisoner, after his entire class is being slaughtered, and he as the lone survivor gets framed for the crime, and put to jail as a walking deadman. As expected from the name of the prison, inmates sentenced to death are being used as entertainment for visitors, but not in the good and fun way. No, they die in the most horrible ways before the eyes of ignorant people, who think it’s all a show with special effects.
The prizes for winning such entertainment events include money and candy, something that’s necessary for prisoners to survive, as candy neutralizes the poison being pumped into their bodies from a collar. Of course Ganta wants to survive, so he sets out to enter some events, with the help of the mysterious girl Shiro, who seems to know more about the boy than a stranger should.
While trying to survive, Ganta notices how he is able to control his own blood as a projectile, an ability he was given by the one who really murdered his entire class, a guy he dubbed the “Red Man”. Gantas primal goal, other than living on, is finding this man, so that he can prove his innocence. By doing so, he finds both new enemies and friends, and some of them are able to control their blood as well, which leads to some heavy fights.
Okay, this basically sums up what the series is about… ooor does it? Uhm, it sums up the first half at least, and now I’m gonna write my opinion about the second half, which is full of SPOILERS. You’ve been warned, so read on if you’ve watched it already, or you just don’t care.
So, half way into the series, it takes a radical turn into a very different direction. While it used to be about Ganta wanting to survive, it’s now about Ganta wanting to escape. I can see why of course, as no one in their right mind would want to be inside Deadman Wonderland, and Ganta is a really weak shit, always relying on the help of Shiro, who we eventually find out is the Red Man. No, she is not a man, but she apparently dressed up as one just to kill all Ganta’s friends, and make him go to the prison she lives in.
But it stops there. The entire Red Man plot, which used to drive the story forward stops right there. We now know something very important… but it doesn’t matter. Also, candy, which seemed so very important in the first half, becomes completely obsolete until the second last episode, where it’s suddenly mentioned again for plot convenience. I could go on about the awful storytelling in the last half of the series, but I won’t, as nothing makes sense at all, and the ending is not wrapping anything up.
Let’s move on to the characters, as they are plenty, and new ones show up in every episode. Actually, there are so many characters, that many of them get killed off fast, or simply disappear for a while every now and then like Makina, or vanish completely when not needed anymore, like Yoh, who only got a mention by his sister in the end. What bothers me more though is, that we get to know just about every character’s backstory, but it doesn’t matter, because the chance that the character you just got to know stays on screen long enough for you to care is slim. To be honest, the only character I really liked was Senji, and he is one of the few characters we get to know nothing about.
While we’re at Senji, did anyone notice how he was the only character who made Ganta develop in any way? Because during the whole series, not a single character develops in any way, not even Ganta, until he asks Senji to train him and get stronger. When Shiro told Ganta to his face that he is weak, I agreed so much with her. Granted, he learns how to shoot his blood, but it’s such a lame ability, and it doesn’t do any good until his training with Senji. No one changes personality though, other than Nagi, but he was on drugs, so it doesn’t count. When you meet a character, you can be darn sure, that he/she will stay exactly the same during the time he/she is on screen. It’s sad…
This series needs either a second season to make up for the mess the second half has left behind, or an OVA to quickly wrap up the questions it has left unanswered. Sadly though, I think it’s not gonna happen, and it will forever be a broken anime. I can recommend the first half of the series, but I’d tell anyone to avoid the rest, and make up their own story before Ganta decides to try and escape.
On a side note, I would have liked the series to end with Makina leaking information during the inspection week, ending all of the insane slaughtering of prisoners, and the world finally opening their eyes to what they witnessed during their visits in the park. I could have lived with some open questions, if only it had an ending where you knew that something actually ended.