(Ed. Note: Spoilers aplenty)
Imagine an anime that’s equal parts Prison Break, Akira and brain bleach of the Evangelion variety. That’s what I got out of the twelve-episode Deadman Wonderland. For those unaware, DW is a one-season prison thriller anime from 2010. Based on a manga series that ran four years after its animated counterpart ended, DW had an original premise and great animation.
Here’s the gist.
Ten years after Japan is hit with a earth-shattering incident, a teen boy named Ganta with supernatural blood-bending skills (stemming from something called Branch of Sin) gets wrongfully imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. The series starts off with a bunch of school-aged teens brutally slaughtered by someone Ganta calls “The Red Man” and Ganta’s left out to dry over it. While in prison, he resolves to clear his name and help get the prison–an corrupt, inmate-featuring amusement park which ran an underground Fight Club with other Branch of Sin users–shut down. It’s interesting stuff and it gives us a graphic anime take on prison and bureaucratic corruption.
However, the way the anime ends sucks a lot of the goodwill it built up throughout its run.
The ending of the series is a Gainax ending, since there’re plenty of set-ups for a continuation of the anime that’d never come to be. Ganta gets close to finding out who The Red Man is. That said, he’s dumber than a box of rocks when some of the hints are as bright as the Sun. The prison is blown to bits and about to be investigated, only for the closing song to come on. You don’t really get a resolution about the Undertakers. I could go on for a while, but you probably get the point and I’d end up spoiling it completely. There’s a slew of stuff left unresolved.
Maybe it was a “read the manga” sort of situation. Some anime exist only to get people to read the manga (or at least seem that way). Maybe it was a series of unfortunate events because Manglobe, DW‘s animation studio, went bankrupt in 2015. I try not to be too hard on series that only get one season. Sometimes, you don’t know the story behind the why. The end of Deadman Wonderland‘s anime pissed me off, though. It had me like “why did I even start this if this is how it’d end?” So I read the manga and was even more miffed about the way the anime just…ends.
But that’s the way life goes. Sometimes, you’re given lightning in a bottle and can’t replicate it for one of many reasons. Deadman Wonderland is a decent ride. It’s just one that left me angry at its inconclusive ending more than fulfilled. I don’t like that in my anime so I unfortunately can’t recommend it.
Just read the manga, even though it’s awesome seeing stuff like the below. You’ll thank me.