First of all let me say, this anime is not for the faint of heart. If this were a live action adaption, not an anime, I would be surprised if telecommunication companies would even permit it to adults. The gore and the violence are rife in this anime, the level of hardship our character endure, nothing is left to the imagination. Do not watch this anime unless you are over the age of 18, and even then it still might be unsettling to some to get through.
The opening theme, strangely enough, an English dubbed song, fully encapsulates what you are about to witness in this gruesome anime adaptation. The hard metal rock band rhythms and electric guitar might make you jump up in excitement, but the imagery that follows is anything but inspiring. And on the topic of inspiring, not many of the characters in this story are actually anything of that at all. The only character in this story you actually might connect with is a cop who was arrested for killing murderous criminals. Everyone else in the story is pretty forgettable, but that’s more due to the own flaws of the production team rather than the writing.
Let me elaborate a little backstory. Deadman Wonderland is a 12 episode series with 1 special episode. Yes, it’s very short, but it’s also, incomplete. Even episode 12 ends in a way so that the viewer would expect there would be another episode. It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, nor a conclusion, nor a plot-twist. It’s a little hard to even like this series from a story-driven standpoint, to be honest. Especially when you get more invested in the side characters rather than the main cast.
I suppose that this might be a fault of mistaken identity. Adapting a manga into an anime isn’t always the easiest thing. Deadman Wonderland largely seems to be based on a fictional-fantasy story of the real-life events of the Japanese 2010 earthquake. I say this because a lot of the setting depicts a truly cataclysmic disaster that changed life around the island forever. It would be interesting if the original manga writer was a survivor of that natural disaster and that’s how they draw inspiration into their artwork. Now transferring that into an anime, obviously isn’t the easiest thing to do for an animation studio. Then when you do a little googling you find out they were run out of production, and never got the funds to finish anything.
Needless to say, the overall tone of this anime will turn most people off. The only reason why I finished watching it was to see if everyone made it out of the madhouse alive. But when the payoff seems like it’s never going to come, or the characters aren’t interested in seeing it come, then how can I be motivated to keep watching? I don’t think the only factor that should make me want to watch a show should be seeing people express pure hatred for the sake of hatred based on past hatred. It gets agonizingly redundant and soon you’re just watching characters die and get raped in bloody battles that really lose meaning when the heroes, like our main character, just feel like constantly crying.
And that right there is actually the weakest point of this anime itself. The main character. He is the depicted as the most worthless, weak, and small-minded child right up until the very end. It might be a burst of fresh air when we finally get to see him at his full power, and finally, save the day, but it feels pointless when the final shot isn’t used to free everyone from imprisonment. Moreover, a lot of the stuff is left up to the viewer’s imagination and assumption as to the backstory of the promoter, director, the wretched bug, and many more crucial characters.
The last piece of advice I can give you on this anime is if you don’t have the stomach then don’t watch. If you thought Parasyte -the maxim- was full of blood and gore, well that show is tame compared to this. And if anything, Parasyte -the maxim- was more interesting too. With no “deeper meaning” or “moral to the story”, no lessons learned for the viewer or the protagonist, this anime might be better off reading as a manga, or just waiting until it’s picked up by another production studio.