Deadman Wonderland – 5

When it comes to cruelty, insanity and perversity, Deadman Wonderland continues to raise the bar. In the immortal words of Nigel Tufnel, these go up to eleven…

I’m pretty impressed with the job Manglobe is doing with this adaptation so far. Sure, there were a few moments of lost detail on faces and the occasional clunky animation – though generally the visual standard is quite high. Much more importantly, they’re not softening the blow here. That would kill this series, and I credit them for realizing it – and even so, I’m surprised by how much of the horror (graphic and otherwise) is surviving the transition to the big screen. The penalty game, though I knew it was coming, actually made me shut my eyes for a few moments.

I’ve seen some folks say that they like the show, though they find Ganta annoying. Setting aside for the moment that I’d love to see how they’d react in his situation (I hope they’d have adult diapers handy) I confess I find that a bit puzzling. I’m glad they like the series, but so much of it comes down to having empathy for Ganta that, in it’s absence, it would seem impossible to really bond with the series. But hey, that’s me – it certainly has simpler charms as a pure adrenaline rush.

What happens to Crow (Senji) in this episode is almost as painful to watch as everything that’s happened to Ganta. He’s probably the most straightforward person in Ganta’s life – Yoh is a duplicitous and self-serving coward, Shiro is… Well, I won’t go there, we’ll learn more of her in good time. The behavior of Takami and his stooges speaks for itself. Bar the Warden – who is still Ganta’s enemy by circumstance – only Crow has really played it straight with him. He’s a vicious SOB and a trained killer, but he at least fights straight-up and no one deserved the “penalty” he received. If seeing that didn’t piss you off, you’re probably watching the wrong series.

For all the horrors on display, the most chilling moment might actually have been Shiro’s laugh at the end – though seeing Yoh’s reaction makes it all worthwhile. As for Ganta, no good deed goes unpunished – for defeating Crow, he must watch him disfigured and feel responsible for it. Ganta’s victory itself was pretty cliche and probably the weakest moment of the ep – the old shounen “surpassing your own limits” deal again. It was still an important moment for his character though – for all his (in my view quite understandable) distress and self-pity, he doesn’t give up. Even if it’s clinging to the notion of revenge that keeps him standing, he does stand – and earns Crow’s respect in the process.

I sure wish I knew what the ultimate destiny of this show is: will it really be 12 episodes and done, or will Manglobe stop and continue again after a break? The answer to that would tell so much about where the next seven episodes might be headed. I fear for the story if it really is fated to end so quickly, knowing all that’s still left to tell. But even if that’s the case MG deserves a chance to prove they can make it work based in the strong showing they’ve made so far.


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