Deadman Wonderland 12 (Fin?)

Well, I guess that was a kind of an ending, but it certainly didn’t answer all that many questions that were posited in the build-up of this series. Karako and Ganta manage to get Nagi to snap out of it; Ganta protects Shiro and asks for her forgiveness, and then proceeds to kill Genkaku (whom we get a little background on) with his best Ganta Gun bullet yet. And then…the series just kinda…ends.

Toto, who had just been introduced, just shows off how deadly he/she is by totally wasting the second grader, and he/she seems to want to kill Ganta, but none of that happens. Everybody seemingly runs out of time. The only sure thing is that Ganta and Shiro are friends again. But even that isn’t certain, because we know that Shiro is Red Man, and if Ganta ever found out that she was the one who killed his class, he’ll surely be none the kinder.

So what, are we supposed to expect a second season? I’m not all that okay with that. I was invested for twelve episodes, and even though by the tenth or eleventh it was pretty clear things weren’t going to be resolved, that doesn’t mean I have to like it. AnoHana was a brillant series that managed to accomplish everything it set out to do and then some, in only eleven episodes. Now after twelve of this, I feel like more effort should have gone into bringing the story to a conclusion, It’s a good story; why drag it out? Rating: 3.5

Deadman Wonderland 11

Things can’t get much worse, but they will -that’s a good slogan for Deadman Wonderland. After managing to survive the first raid attempt, Karako rallies what’s left of Scar Chain to attempt to rescue Nagi. She keeps Ganta out of it, guilty of what she’s already put him through. Little does she know, her dear leader doesn’t want to be rescued, or even to live. And he doesn’t want anyone else to live either. He’s become a nihilist.

Ganta, desperate to do something and make a difference, trains with Crow – losing nearly all his blood in the process – and is introduced to a very creepily friendly Mockingbird (aka Toto). In fact, true to his/her name, Toto mocks both Crow and Ganta here, and it’s pretty unnerving to see Crow actually afraid of something; in this case, a deadman who’s stronger than him. When Genkaku calls Scar Chain out, having captured both Karako and Shiro (and seem to be threatening to rape them before they’re killed), Ganta is off to the races, having just improved his Ganta Gun by speeding it up, but very low on blood indeed.

This episode also had a brief cameo by Minatsuki, who gets Ganta out of an initial spot, but refuses to fight for Scar Chain – as she explains, she has to look out for Yoh, and she wasn’t framed; she is a murderer. She isn’t interested in freedom anymore. Ganta proceeds, and manages to knock out a bunch of undertaker guards with his faster blood bullets – but he’s far from out of the woods, as he still has to deal with Genkaku, the second grader, and a new, “sane” Nagi – while suffering from anemia. Most important, he has to apologize to Shiro. This was definitely one of Ganta’s more assertive moments…but will it mean anything? Just one more episode to determine that. Rating: 3.5

Deadman Wonderland 10

Shiro calls Ganta weak and a jerk. Truer words were never spoken. At least he admits he’s pathetic, but I have to say I was pretty disappointed with his reaction to Shiro saving his life by tossing the datachip bomb. Neither he nor the rest of Scar Chain could connect the dots until a totally tweaked-out Rokuro showed up at their hideout to spell it out to them. Of course, the damage is already done; Ganta has already slapped Shiro and told her he never wants to see her again. Treating Wretched Egg like that will have consequences.

So Rokuro arrives to take the remnants of the resistance hostage until Nagi/Owl defects to the Undertakers. The Priest pumps him full of drugs to speed things along. Beneath his earlier calm demeanor, Owl does seem to be barely-contained utter chaos personified. Rokuro comes with undertakers (both silly-looking freaks of nature) who seem ready to kill Ganta when Crow arrives in the nick of time with an awesome supersonic blood blade. He then refuses to help Scar Chain, basically contradicting what he just did (help a weakling) by saying only the strong should survive. Ganta may have potential to be strong, but he isn’t strong now. He seems helpless.

And losing Shiro, even temporarily, didn’t help. Now she’s making friends with Mockingbird, whose motives we can only guess. What we do know is that s(he) is androgynous and voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro, and gained some of Shiro’s trust by warning her about the datachip Ganta carried. Ganta needs to get his shit together. Weeks past, he was able to defeat both Crow and Hummingbird. Where the heck did that strength go? Finally, we get a brief glimpse at Makina’s personal crusade to expose Tamaki, but it seems the defence ministry is already well-aware and complacent with his methods and plans. I’m holding out hope Makina will have a role to play in Wonderland’s demise – if it occurs. Rating: 3.5

Deadman Wonderland 9

Before delving into this week’s bloodbath, I just want to note that I really like the ending sequence of Deadman Wonderland. That cropped shot of a Ferris Wheel at sunset combined with a soothing, upbeat dance track makes for a nice respite from the darkness of the previous twenty-two minutes. But the slideshow of photos – which didn’t mean much the first time we saw them, are given more gravity as the series has progresses. These are snapshots of the pasts of the characters, many of whom we just met last week.

Anywho, back to this week, one of the goriest yet, which is saying something. Star Chain suffers almost total losses, including Koshio and Nagi. The former dies in a blaze of glory, wasting a Necro Macro, while Nagi’s demise is far slower and more torturous (if he indeed dies, he’s pretty worse-for-wear). Specifically, a totally twisted second-grader with a massive blunt blade treats his body like a ham at the delicatessen, then relieves him of an arm. Even so, Nagi is one tough mutha, managing to knock out the Judas Rokuro and activating the elevator for Ganta and the others.

It’s all for naught though, as the data chip Ganta has been entrusted with isn’t the truth that will set them free at all; its’ a bomb, and Shiro arrives in the nick of time to snatch it away and toss it a safe distance away. The mission is basically a total failure, which explains why the undertaker corps withdrew before finishing Ganta off: their role was to put down Scar Chain, and they would seem to have succeeded. I was hoping Ganta would have gotten further. Now, who was that weird Ganta-looking guy with white hair Shiro bumped into in their HQ? Rating: 3.5

Deadman Wonderland 8

Thanks to Shiro, who seems to be back to normal (for now, of course), Ganta, Nagi and Koshio are saved when she drops in and destroys Genkaku’s guitar gun. We then see that Scar Chain is actually quite a large group of resistance fighters. We also learn that the crazyass priest is a former inmate and now part of Tamaki’s corps of anti-deadmen enforcers, or “undertakers”, who can counter branches of sin. So if there’s a war in Wonderland, Makina’s guards aren’t the only thing standing between Scar Chain and their freedom.

And there will be a war. It’s inspection week, which means all of Wonderland’s sadistic games are shut down and the prison is made to look normal and sqeaky-clean. Nagi doesn’t want revenge or to escape as much as he wants the prison’s secrets exposed to the world, where presumably the public will call for its termination. It won’t be easy though, with Tamaki and the undertakers on the prowl. It would seem, however, that Captain Makina shares this goal, if for different reasons. She doesn’t seem aware of Scar Chain’s plan, but I wonder if she’d let them proceed just because she’s sick of Tamaki.

Which brings us to Rokuro, a Scar Chain member who seems to be a double agent. He is in league with the undertakers, and I have no reason to believe he won’t betray his comrades – and Ganta, for whom he has no love – right when victory is in grasp. That’s just how this show has gone down so far. Even if Rokuro turns out to be good, Ganta still doesn’t know Shiro’s true deal. Lot on his plate, this kid. Rating: 3.5

Deadman Wonderland 7

Another amazing episode. This one was jam-packed with new characters, new twists, new opportunities and new hazards for our seemingly cursed protagonist, Ganta. There’s even a moment when he, Yoh, and Minatsuki seem as normal and comfortable as Ganta with his old, dearly departed friends. That brighter tone doesn’t last, but it I am glad the series is mixing moments of levity/comedy/romance in with the horror. Even Senji makes an appearence, exhibiting no hard feelings for Ganta.

More big news come in the form of a Lal’C-looking lady (Koshio) who socks Ganta then brings him to the hideout of Scar Chain, DMW’s underground resistance. They like his spunk and his straight-arrowness, and want him on their team. Scar’s leader even makes sure the only thing Minatsuki loses in her Penalty Game is her hair. Seems to good to be true, and it is, as their encounter is rudely interrupted by Promotor Tamaki’s “ultra-priest” pal, Genkaku, owner of a Fender Explorer that turns into a machine gun. However, if they ever get out of this, Scar Chain should team up with Warden Makina – she’s apparently also sick of the insanity around here, and of Tamaki in particular.

The episode also gives us loads of new info about Ganta’s childhood, notably, that his mom was a scientist, Shiro showed signs of superhuman strength even back then, and there were experimental terror dogs roaming wherever it was Ganta hung out back then. He was also a fan of the super-hero Ace-Man, who bears an uncanny resemblence to the mysterious Wretched Egg, “Red Man”, who originally set Ganta up. Oh, and can’t overlook this lil’ nugget: SHIRO is the friggin’ Wretched Egg. Ganta can’t catch a break! Rating: 4

Deadman Wonderland 6

Was I surprised that the sweet, charming, adorable inmate-ette-next-door Minatsuki turned out to be a totally bonkers sadistic lying bitch? Not totally; I saw her in the opening credits looking totally bonkers, and she also has a pierced tongue, which clearly means she’s evil ;) What I didn’t know was that everything Yoh was doing was for her sake; not like she cared.

The past she narrates to Ganta at first suggests her widowed father beat her, leading to her using her branches of sin as a last resort, but her power works so quickly, she could just as easily inflicted her own wounds without anyone knowing. Minatsuki, or “Hummingbird” is consistently all over the place with her past and her motives, but one thing is certain: she isn’t happy. She’s also extremely unpleasant, but I like her anyway!

Another thing that’s certain: Ganta has a hard head, which he uses to win by KO, flipping off the crowd that wants him to kill her. He doesn’t. I’m glad he didn’t, because for all her lunacy and two-facedness, Minatsuki has a lot of potential. Like Crow, she is both entertained and tortured by her power, and sickened by the weakness around her. Perhaps not a perfect match for Ganta, but definitely moreso than Shiro.

Shiro, who as far as we know was a childhood friend of Ganta’s, is also an instrument of the Wonderland’s founder, “No Name”, who is holed up in a hospital ward/lab, and isn’t happy with how the promoter is doing things. After her outburst last week, she’s brought here to recover, but after seeing what she’s capable of, it will be interesting to see if her childlike demeanor or innate need to protect Ganta endured that incident. Rating: 4

Deadman Wonderland 5

The date of the much bally-hooed duel between Crow and Woodpecker finally arrives, and Ganta gets himself into trouble almost immediately. While backing off of Crow and perching himself on the high ground seems like a good idea, not only are his blood projectiles ineffective at long range, they soon put him in shock from loss of blood. The Branch of Sin doesn’t always mean instant victory, especially when facing off someone with the same power, but knows better how to use it.

So Crow knocks the tree down and starts laying into him with his blood-blades, sharp and deadly, but not anemia-causing. The battle looks all but over until the typical usually-weak shounen Gets Back Up (TM) with nothing but Willpower. When stuck in the bowels of the prison with Yoh, Shiro tells him that’s Ganta’s trait; but like I said, he’s hardly unique amongst shounen protags when it comes to taking punishment. When he defeats Crow, Ganta isn’t bitter, and even gives him a fist bump for a well-fought fight. The situation ends up giving Ganta hope that things may end up okay, only to lose that hope when Crow, the loser, has his eye removed without anesthesia on live TV.

As for Shiro, Yoh tricks her into starting a one-girl riot in the watchtower so he can save his own ass and be rid of her. I initially think this is the end for Shiro, but she becomes even more ruthlessly violent, destroying everyone in the tower and the tower itself. Watching all the bodyparts rain over Yoh’s head is a disturbing sight, but not nearly as much as Shiro’s CREEPY grin she cracks while standing atop a pile of rubble, with someone’s head in her hand. Somebody show this girl Ganta, quick! Rating: 4

Deadman Wonderland 4

Ah, so Mr. “Ssslice” isn’t the guy who tore up Ganta’s class; he’s “Crow”. Incidentally, Ganta’s alias is “Woodpecker.” Dunno why. Anyway, Crow didn’t slaughter Ganta’s class! He just likes fighting, especially those on equal footing with him…like Ganta. He won’t let anyone or anything get in the way of his battles. And despite being highly sensitive to provocatively dressed women, that “anyone” includes the hot doctor. When you have blades made of your blood like Crow, there are things you can get over.

So “Branches of Sin” isn’t just something Ganta and the class-killer (Wretched Egg) can do; Crow can do. Presumably, there are others. They’re known as “deadmen”. When Ganta realizes Crow isn’t the deadman, Crow assumes the kid is just confused, and that he killed his own friends. But Ganta and Crow are broken up and Ganta is sent to Tamaki. Confused as to why his former public defender runs Wonderland, Tamaki enlightens him: he manipulates the machine of justice to get deadmen into his prison. Ganta was the sole survivor by design, and Tamaki is responsible for his framing and conviction.

He wants deadmen in his prison so he can make them duel one another. And so Crow and Woodpecker will be fighting soon. Crow is so excited about it, he’s training hard despite a cracked sternum. Pecker is, well, less enthusiastic, despite the Clockwork Orange-style picture show. And poor Shiro won’t be consoled until she’s back in Ganta’s presence. We still don’t know her deal, aside from the fact she has no prisoner number. I’m wondering if Captain Makina will be a thorn in Tamaki’s side, or if Ganta will have any choice but to unleash his new powers, master them, and use them to beat Crow. It’s kill or be killed. Ganta got a lot of answers, but I still feel like we need more. Rating: 3.5

Deadman Wonderland 3

What I’ve found striking about this series is that it stars a pint-size punk kid with goofy hair and a generic punk kid voice and angsty tendencies, but by God, if anyone has a right to angst and cry, it’s this kid. And when he does scream, at least it isn’t as annoying as Rin from Ao no Exorcist. If we were in Ganta’s situation, we’d probably have to fight pretty hard to keep our sanity, let alone our poise. This week he re-meets his nemesis, who he calls “Red Man”, to which I say, what’s his beef with Wu-Tang Clan?

Seriously though, the evil dude who killed his class is known as the Wretched Egg, and Promotor Tamaki keeps him in G-Block, a block no one knows about, including Captain Makina – except for Tamaki himself…and Shiro. After another brush with Eggman in which more people are killed and maimed, Ganta wants to go to this G-block to teach him a lesson. And suddenly we have a mini Scooby Gang in place: Ganta, Shiro, and Yoh. We also know Ganta (and Egg’s) power is called “Branches of Sin”. They worked together to get here, and are concerned with one another’s safety.

To his credit, Wretched Egg just smirks a lot and says “slice”, but beyond that insanity, he made the conscious choice to inject (infect?) Ganta with his power. Why’d he do that? Why Ganta specifically? Did he simply meet the biological conditions? And did Tamaki sic Egg on Ganta, meaning is Egg in his employ, or is Egg working outside any authority?
And, oh yeah, is Yoh simply being friendly to Ganta because he’s being paid to? When the robot thingy scans Shiro, she has no number or information. We still have no idea what she is, or why she resembles Mimi. Lotsa questions, which is good. Rating: 4

Deadman Wonderland 2

It’s more horror and peril than wonder at Deadman Wonderland. What I find very interesting so far is that at least part of the audience of normal Japanese citizens seems to think that inmates aren’t really being torn apart, shot, burned, boiled, or otherwise killed; they think it’s all special effects. Since we’re right with Ganta the whole time, we know otherwise.

This week he meets a couple more friendly faces: the prison nurse, and Yoh, a fellow inmate. He also meets some new not-so-friendly ones, including Kozuji, an MMA champ doing time for killing his girlfriend. Naturally, he has a posse too, and Ganta is punished for not showing proper respect. But after all the threats and ridicule and actually going through a hellish obstacle course and reaching the final stage, it’s the final straw for Ganta. No more worrying about how he’ll die. He can’t control that. He’s going to focus on survival, not fear of death.

He’s helped from death literally dozens of times from Shiro. We still don’t have any answers about who she is, and no officials seem to care that she doesn’t wear a prison jumpsuit, is a girl, and is always doing what she wants. The series meets us halfway with our doubts that Ganta has any chance against larger, more athletic inmates in this race by having Shiro help him. In return, rather than catch her tossed ball to win money to buy candy in the future, he uses his free arm to save her from a Sonic-like spike put. While I thought his sudden change of heart and summoning of courage seemed a bit rushed, at the same time, under such conditions, kids grow up fast, and become hardened to their plight. Rating: 3.5

Deadman Wonderland – First Impressions

Not to compare plights this season, but If AnoHana’s Jintan thinks he has it bad…Igarashi Ginta blows him and everyone else’s problems way out of the water. He’s having a nice quiet lunch in his junior high class with his two best friends, when some crazy “Red Man” (no relation to the rapper) fires purple hexagons into the classroom, slaughtering all thirty students in a whirlwind of blood. Only Ginta survives…and he soon wishes he hasn’t. When he wakes up in bed, he’s arrested for the mass murder.

The media has a field day, and he’s conviced and sentenced to death in a laughable show trial. He’s basically guilty of surviving. This is a parallel to those once-every-couple-years horrendous, inhuman crimes from someone you least expect – they don’t just happen in America, but Japan too on occasion. Only in this crazy-ass version of Japan, the worst of the worst are sent to Deadman Wonderland; part supermax prison, part carnival.

The inmates perform for the amusement of audiences. It’s fun for the whole family! The warden is a short-fused sadistic bitch with a sabre, and the prisoners, including Ginta, wear collars with timers. If they don’t win “candy” by performing at least once in a three-day period, it’s instant death when the timer hits zero. I like these rrrrules!

Things are made even stranger by Shiro, a lithe, spandex-sporting white-haired version of Ginta’s dead friend Mimi, who is a kind of out-of-place guardian angel to him, assuring him they’re friends. If she is his friend, it would seem she’s his only one left in this world. He may look like an innocent, earnest little kid with funny hair, but the world apparently sees something we don’t. Never at any point does Ginta’s plight seem fair, but he’ll have to deal with it nonetheless.

What will probably help him moving forward his his newly-acquired power, based within a red gem the “Red Man” thrust into his chest after massacring his class. This gem gives him the power to save himself and Shiro – via purple polygons – from an intentional “accident” set up by the park administrator (also his public defender) in which a huge pylon comes mere feet from crushing them.

What we know so far is that supernatural powers are at work, and the world is not on Ginta’s side at the moment. Fortunately, he has powers which will make his life a little easier, even if it will never be the same again. Unlike your typical shounen junior high kid, Ginta doesn’t come off as whiny or annoying; his reactions to his situation are natural and he’s very sympathetic as a result. But why on earth did Red Man choose him? Why was he framed? Who wants him to die, but not immediately, and why? Is HE Red Man now? Lots of questions. I’m sure we’ll get answers in the balance of this stark, gut-wrenching, unrelenting series. Rating: 4