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Deadman Wonderland: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

October 12, 2012 by  



From the creators of “Eureka Seven” comes an anime series that is a little mix of “Hunger Games”, “Battle Royale” and “Guyver”!  And for those who enjoy more mature, violent and bloody anime series will surely enjoy the chaotic, action-packed episodes of “Deadman Wonderland”!

Image courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Deadman Wonderland: The Complete Series

DURATION: 12 Episodes (Duration: 325 Minutes, 3 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9, Japanese and English 2.0 Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV M

Release Date: October 9, 2012

Directed by Koichi Hatsumi

Series Composition: Yasuyuki Muto

Music by NARASAKI

Originally Created by Jinsei Kataoka, KAzuma Kondou

Character Design by Masaki Yamada

Art Director: Michie Watanabe

Mechanical Design by Takayuki Yanase

Anime Production: Manglobe

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kana Hanazawa/Monica Rial as Shiro

Romi Park/Greg Ayres as Ganta Igarashi

Iori Nomizu/Leah Clark as Minatsuki Takami

Junichi Suwabe/Eric Vale as Tamaki Tsunenaga

Masayuki Katou/Patrick Seitz as Kiyomasa Senji/Crow

Mina/Lydia Mackay as Rei Takashima

Takako Honda/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Chief Makina

Yuuki Kaji/Aaron Dismuke as Yo Takami

Ganta is the only survivor after a mysterious man in red slaughters a classroom full of teenagers. He’s framed for the carnage, sentenced to die, and locked away in the most twisted prison ever built: Deadman Wonderland. Then it gets worse.

At Deadman Wonderland, convicts are forced into brutal deathmatches for the amusement of the masses, the cheers of the crowd drowning out the screams of the dismembered. Even when Ganta befriends Shiro, an unusual female inmate, his dark fate crushes all hope – until he discovers a strange ability to wield his spilled blood as a weapon. Ganta learns his new skill might be related to the murderous man in red and uncovers disturbing secrets that could expose those who stole his freedom. He’s determined to see justice served – but first he’ll have to fight for his life in a prison that holds a million ways to die.

From the creators of “Eureka Seven” comes a violent sci-fi prison anime series known as “Deadman Wonderland”.  Created by Jinsei Kataoka and illustrated by Kazuma Kondou, “Deadman Wonderland” was a manga series published in Shonen Ace back in 2007.

An anime adaptation based on the first 21 chapters was created and released on Japanese television from April through July 2011 and aired on Adult Swim’s Toonami block.

The anime production is by manglobe and is directed by Koichi Hatsumi (Aishiteruze Baby”, “Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor”, “Moribito – Guardian of the Spirit”), series composition by Yasuyuki Muto (“Basilisk”, “Afro Samurai”, “Sengoku Basara – Samurai Kings”), character designs by Masaki Yamada (“Appleseed”, “Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040”, “Great Dangaioh”), art direction by Michie Watanabe (“Eureka Seven”, “Haibane Renmei”, “Wolf’s Rain”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed”) and music by NARASAKI (“Penguin Drum”, “Dragon Crisis!”, “Aquarian Age the Movie”).

And now the series will be released on DVD courtesy of FUNimation in October 2012.

“Deadman Wonderland” takes place during a time when Tokyo has been ravaged by a massive earthquake and 3/4 of Tokyo is now submerged in the ocean.

Ten years later, we are introduced to a kind middle-school student named Ganta Igarashi.  Ganta loves hanging out with his friends and all was going great one day, until some man clad in red is seen floating outside of the school window and destroys the classroom.

When Ganta wakes up, his classmates are all dead, including his best friend, who’s head is being held by the man in red.  The man in red then implants something into Ganta’s chest and he collapses.

When Ganta wakes up in the hospital, he is accused of murdering all the students at school.  Ganta tries to plead his innocence but the authorities do not listen to him.  Despite having a lawyer represent him, footage is shown to the judges and parents of the deceased students of Ganta bragging about killing all his school classmates.  Knowing that is not him, Ganta is shocked that there is video of him saying such a bad thing.

Unfortunately, due to the number of people killed, Ganta is sentenced to death and will be incarcerated in a theme-park like prison known as “Deadman Wonderland”. A prison that houses prisoners from all over Japan and raises money from its brand of violent entertainment among prisoners to raise money to rebuild Japan.

At “Deadman Wonderland”, all prisoners must wear a special collar which monitors their activity and location.  The special collar injects poison into his bloodstream but can only be neutralized if he eats a specialized candy every three days.  And the only way to get access to the candy is by performing activities in prison.

But the most significant activity is winning Cast Points which allows a prisoner to purchase ordinary lunches, furniture, take years off their sentence and also purchase the specialized candy.

But Ganta quickly learns that at “Deadman Wonderland”, Chief Guard Makina is the law.  Harsh, cold and has no qualms of slashing prisoners for disobedience, she is known for being severely harsh and also being well-endowed.   Also, within the prison, prisoners are used for entertainment courtesy of Assistant Warden Tsunenaga Tamaki, a sadist who butchers prisoners for amusement and profit.

While in the prison, Ganta makes friends with a mysterious albino girl named Shiro, a girl that reminds him of his best friend Mimi.  She has become good friends with Ganta and seems to possess special abilities which include superhuman strength and also knowledge of the prison.

Ganta also befriends Yo Takami, a thief and informant sent to watch over Ganta for Assistant Warden Tamaki.  But the real reason he is in in prison and doing these services is to help find his sister Minatsuki and buy her freedom by accumulating cast points.

While in prison, Ganta sees the man in red trying to kill people within the prison.  Upset for being incarcerated for the murders  that he did not do, and that the red man is responsible for, after nearly being killed, Ganta’s special ability (known as “The Branch of Sin”) from the crystal embedded in his chest from the Man in Red that he encountered, allows his blood to be manipulated to weapons and automatically begins attacking the Red Man.

Wanting to fight for his innocence, Ganta hears that the Man in Red that he is after may be inside one of the secret rooms inside Deadman Wonderland.  But the more Ganta and friends research the hidden areas of the prison, Ganta learns that others inside the prison have the same special ability and are Deadmen being prompted to battle and fight each other to the death inside the Deadman Wonderland arena.

Since Ganta is not a person used to fighting, will he be able to survive this ordeal of facing experienced fighters who want to kill him?

“Deadman Wonderland” the anime series comes with the 12-episodes of the first season plus the OVA that revolves around one of the Deadmen characters, Senji, who becomes a police officer and must catch criminals.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Deadman Wonderland” is presented in 16:9 widescreen with audio presented in Japanese and English 2.0.  The character designs and animation are very cool and chaotic at times!  As one should expect from a violent anime series, there is a lot of blood featured in “Deadman Wonderland”.  Not because many people are killed, but also because the Deadmen’s “Branch of Sin” powers is about utilizing one’s blood to create weapons.  So, a character like Senji can create a large sword using his blood.  Or Minatsuki who uses her hair to turn into blades and impale enemies or grab hold of them.

But when it comes to animation, Manglobe did a wonderful job balancing out animation with CG.  I am a bit surprised that this series was not anime series released on Blu-ray, since it was released on Blu-ray and DVD in  Japan.

As for audio, audio for the series is primarily Japanese and English 2.0 stereo.  But as the Japanese soundtrack is well-done especially during the more emotional scenes, the English dub actually makes things much more intriguing because as one would expect in a prison, these people talk with a lot of profanity.  In fact, this is probably the most profane when it comes to dialogue that you will hear on a FUNimation animated series, also with the audio commentary as the English dub voice talent go crazy with the F-bombs and C-word.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Deadman Wonderland” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 6 Audio Commentary – Featuring Audio commentary with Leah Clark and Aaron Dismuke.  (Note: Because this anime series is rated mature, the audio commentary features profanity)
  • Episode 12 Audio Commentary – Featuring Audio commentary with Monica Rial and Greg Ayres. (Note: Because this anime series is rated mature, the audio commentary features profanity)
  • U.S. Video Commentary – (24:27)  A wonderful video commentary with ADR Director Joel McDonald and voice talent Greg Ayres, Monica Rial and Leah Clark.
  • Promo Videos – (6:57) Japanese promotional videos for “Deadman Wonderland”.
  • Original Commercials – (1:25) Japanese commercials for the Blu-ray and DVD release
  • Textless Opening Song “One Reason”
  • Textless Opening Song “One Reason” (Director’s Version)
  • Textless Closing Song “Shiny Shiny”
  • U.S. Trailer

From the creators of “Eureka Seven” comes a new, violent and bloody anime series titled “Deadman Wonderland”!

But while the anime series may prove to be too violent for some viewers, the concept is quite interesting.  Because Japan is in dire need to rebuild after a devastating earthquake, one of the popular areas of entertainment is the “Deadman Wonderland” theme park facility.

While the place attracts many people and makes quite a bit of money, not many people realize that inside the theme park is where gladiator battles between Deadmen take place.  And of course, the scientists of the facility are experimenting on the prisoners for the sake of monetary and political gain (of course, in the effort to help rebuild Japan).

What is interesting about the series is that the prison is home to vicious criminals, but somehow, Ganta Igarashi, a middle school student is targeted and framed for murdering his classmates and then being injected with the Deadman power, which is utilizing one’s blood to become a weapon of destruction.

And so, this meek boy must be put in a prison full of dangerous criminals.   Ganta is your banal weak character who gets stronger as he learns to become brave and wants to protect the people that he cares about.

Then you have Shiro, a mysterious albino girl who loves being around Ganta.  We know that she is gifted with amazing power but at the same time, she is naive and is always cheerful, wanting to play or eat pudding.

But the series features really interesting characters.  Some who are jerks and badasses, and some who are are just really wicked looking.  And for the most part, by the second half of season one, these characters start to become an integral part of this series.

The 12-episode TV series plays out like a prison-escape film, but each time Ganta encounters people who also want to escape from prison, there is always an antagonist who are Deadmen with amazing power and happen to be quite sadistic.  Also, included is an OVA, but instead of featuring Ganta and Shiro, it focuses on Deadman Senji, who becomes a police officer two years after the Red Hole incident.

While the series is violent and bloody, the English dub takes the series dialogue and enhances it was mature language, to make it more raw and real and what you would expect from a major prison holding the worst criminals.

The dialogue that you hear, coming out of the mouths of the characters is really surprising because it’s really profane.  Shocking even the voice talent who were beaming about playing these roles, because they had the opportunity to really say some crazy, dirty and profane dialogue.

The only caveat with the series is that it ends in hopes that a second season would perhaps continue the storyline and end it with a similar ending to the manga series.  There are a lot of questions that were not answered in the first season and unfortunately, the second audio commentary does spoil things by providing the answer of who exactly was responsible for murdering all the students and Ganta being framed for it.  So, if you don’t want to know, it’s best not to listen to the second audio commentary.

As for the animation, expected to see a lot of red blood splashing everywhere.  Not because of people getting murdered or maimed, but it’s because the Deadman’s power is the ability to use their blood to form weapons.  It’s not that scary, there are people getting slaughtered but it’s not too gory.  But the animation from Manglobe was wonderful and it’s a shame that the series was not released on Blu-ray, as it was released on BD and DVD in Japan.

As for special features, there are two naughty audio commentaries and as a FUNimation first, a video commentary which I hope becomes common in all upcoming Blu-ray and DVD releases from FUNimation!  But you also get promo videos, commercials and textless opening and closing songs.

While “Deadman Wonderland” has similarities to films such as “Battle Royale” and maybe even a little “Hunger Games” mixed in with anime series such as “Guyver”, the violence is not too bad and the story is actually quite fascinating and action-packed.  Also, I have to give FUNimation a thumbs up.  Although I’m not too big on profane anime series, the dialogue for “Deadman Wonderland” fit.  It’s a prison setting filled with vicious criminals, so why not make the dialogue fit the setting.  And the writers at FUNimation did just that!

For anime fans wanting a more mature and violent, bloody anime series, you’ll definitely want to give “Deadman Wonderland” a chance!

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