Deadman Wonderland Finale: That’s it?

Without having ever read the manga, I’m well aware that there’s plenty of “story” left to tell in the world of Deadman Wonderland, but really — why end here and why now?

I subscribe to the belief that even parts of a bigger story must be self-contained to some extent. If what I just said isn’t immediately clear, then let me elaborate with an example. Have you ever watched a sequel and felt lost because you hadn’t seen the prequel? Deadman Wonderland’s first season is just like that, but in reverse. There’s no sense of finality in, ironically enough, the finale of the first season. The story isn’t self-contained enough to a degree to allow for a satisfying ending.

What actually changed from the first episode to the last? We’ve been following Ganta this entire time, but has he really undergone any real character breakthrough? In the end, it strikes me that he hasn’t grown up as a character — he’s the same whiny dork he was at the start of the show. Only now, he gets to make an inspired speech about friendship or something. If that’s catharsis, I don’t know what to say. Fighting and dying for friends in anime? That’s like one of the lowest hanging fruits out there.

So Ganta didn’t change, but surely other things have! Actually, no. Who’s to say the resistance group got out at all? Even if they did, what could they really do? Deadman Wonderland is still up and running. Tamaki and Makina are still in charge. Worst of all, Ganta still doesn’t realize that Shiro is the Red Man (I may not have read the manga, but this is so plainly obvious well before the finale episode). We just watched twelve episodes of nothing.

Even within this episode, there are moments too bizarre to ignore. Karako’s “death” couldn’t be more contrived. Like Ganta, she gets to have a touching moment of her own to get Nagisa to snap out of his despair. You can’t miss it — the melancholy piano music starts up amidst all the death and destruction. Then she casually turns and BAM! — knife through what appears to be her heart.

You think Nagisa would have noticed Genkaku readying the blade to strike Karako. If not Nagisa, then surely Ganta or Shiro must have seen and should have said something. But nevermind even the implausibility of Karako’s supposed death. Why? Because it never happened. Oh, Karako got stabbed alright, but mere minutes later, it turns out she didn’t die from it after all. All this setup to make her death seem absolutely tragic is undone by the very fact that Genkaku didn’t even kill her — he didn’t even want to.

Likewise, a little later into the same episode, Genkaku blows a gaping hole in Nagisa’s abdomen. This is no mere gunshot wound — this is a gaping foot-in-diameter, “you just lost 30 lbs in two seconds” hole that any bulimic would kill for. Like Karako, he still doesn’t die yet. Nagisa just lies limp for the rest of the episode until it’s time for him to heroically hold Genkaku in place for Ganta’s final attack. And even after that, Nagisa doesn’t die until he gets to say some parting words to Ganta while a moody track plays in the background that totally says “THIS IS SAD.”

The fake-outs with Karako and Nagisa actually reminded me of when I was young and playing Final Fantasy IV. My party members kept “dying” left and right. It turned out that some of them didn’t die at all, completely cheapening their noble sacrifices earlier in the game. Well, that was a dinky video game made in the early 90s. Deadman Wonderland doesn’t get a pass. Someone’s gonna snidely remark that I shouldn’t take this anime seriously, a criticism I heard constantly during Star Driver, but who cares — bad anime is bad.

Finally, in the middle of Genkaku’s killing spree, the anime just couldn’t resist weaving a tragic past for him. Really? — right now, at the eleventh hour, we are going to do a corny-as-hell flashback about how the death of a cat totally set this guy off? It wasn’t the constant beatings and rapings or his master’s complete obliviousness to Genkaku’s situation; the dead cat was the straw that broke the camel’s back. To tell the truth, I half suspected Genkaku’s assailants to rape the cat to death because that’s just how exploitative and cheap Deadman Wonderland is, but I guess I can take some solace that even this anime wouldn’t go there.

Then when you get to the technical aspects of the anime, it’s still a mess. I’m going to pull a number out of a hat and say 80% of the damn anime takes place in featureless corridors. The anime feels so uninspired and hemmed in. For a deranged, depraved prison borrowing from both the Roman gladiatorial matches and the circus, there’s hardly any imagination employed in offing the countless victims in Deadman Wonderland. Other than the one episode that featured Ganta and other prisoners racing through a hazardous course, we have been subjected to nothing but dark tunnels.

And good lord is the anime dark, but not even in an emo, “woe is the world” sort of way. Half of the scenes in the finale are literally pitch black. I get it — there’s a lot of gore in Deadman Wonderland and the Blu-ray version of this anime will be chock full of bloody goodness. But even shots in which nobody was wounded or injured, the anime is darker than black.

Deadman Wonderland wasn’t funny (even unintentionally) or raunchy. It didn’t push the envelope enough in terms of ridiculous, over-the-top action. In the end, Deadman Wonderland was a complete waste of time.

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67 thoughts on “Deadman Wonderland Finale: That’s it?

  1. tomphile

    Funnily enough, I totally agree with you. It was moody and bloody to the point where it seemed like there was just blood for the heck of it. It just didn’t mesh with the fact that Ganta was a hopeless wimp. His kickass abilities in the last half of this episode can’t make up for his whining and crying for most of the series.

    1. E Minor Post author

      Funnily enough, I totally agree with you.

      I’m not so horrible!

      Yeah, the show was a disappointment. I didn’t like how plenty of characters just kinda dropped off the face of the planet like the klepto.

  2. chris

    WTF is a klepto?
    PS. I have just finished gurren Lagann in two marathon sessions over the weekend, BEST ANIME EVER!!!! I am going to be quoting that puppy all week.

  3. inushinde

    If they didn’t try to shoehorn character development in where it didn’t belong or toss aside perfectly good psychotics, it would’ve been decent. If they knew the meaning of restraint, it would’ve been decent. If they gave the events some sort of closure, it would’ve been decent. I mean hell, I love campy gorefests, but this was just so mundane and not worth the time to watch. Too many loose ends, too many fuck ups, too much wasted potential.

    1. E Minor Post author

      I am just struck by how uncreative it is. Maybe I’m used to crazy Miike films where people get slaughtered in bizarre, cartoonish ways but Deadman Wonderland was just vaguely claustrophobic.

      1. inushinde

        To me, it had the Umineko problem of doing well with the bare bones premise, but fucking up with the details enough to make it feel like a chore to watch. And I agree, they really could’ve been much more creative with what they had. I mean the obstacle course episode was an example of that. Even if the deaths weren’t very creative, the idea was interesting enough.

        1. E Minor Post author

          Well, I think Umineko had a lot of different things going for it. It had a plot that was either fascinating on asinine depending on the person you asked. It had anime girls going nuts. Even Battler was more charismatic than anyone DW could throw out there.

  4. Taka

    *wooo woo nitpick ahoy!*

    Yes the show was pretty bad. Yes they shouldn’t have had a random back story for Genkaku as you said in the 11th hour. However- and I know this sounds crazy- I liked the cat thing. At first I laughed and thought it was stupid but then I went back and I listened/read what he was actually saying. He was suffering n shit at the hands of rapers but because of various twisted morals he wouldn’t say anything or fight back. He questioned Buddha’s teachings on how when you reach enlightenment you are free from the cycle of death and rebirth. He said, hey what’s so bad about death. Then when he saw how peaceful the dead cat looked he realized there was a way out. I’m sure the violent rape contributed to the mindset but the trigger, the realization that death wasn’t something bad, but a way to save people from suffering. So yeah, he “saved” the dudes from there own black hearts.

    It doesn’t change anything about the story but to me it makes it more than just: “my pet died, now I’m gonna go psycho”.

    1. E Minor Post author

      I know I may seem like an idiot, but I’m well aware of everything you’re saying. At the same time, he came to this realization when he saw a dead cat. Not because he saw a dead human being, but because he saw a dead cat. Again, anime characters ignore the obvious around them until something cute dies. I’m not saying this can’t happen, but when it occurs for the umpteenth time in anime, I’m going to be a little incredulous.

      1. Taka

        It’s legit to say anime ignores the obvious till something cute dies but it’s actually pretty true to real life. The most telling recent example I can think of was viewers getting up in arms in the early episodes of Game of Thrones when they “killed” a wolf on screen only minutes after they showed that another character had chased down and killed an innocent butcher’s boy. Angry letters for the wolf, nobody cares about the butcher’s boy.
        Same thing happened in a later episode with a dead horse and a dead jouster.

        Is it some inability to recognize fact from fiction when animals are involved? Is it because they believe showing the violence on screen will lead to more violence against animals? What about killing innocents on screen? I dunno but the point is there is something in us that will make us become more upset about the welfare of animals than of people.

        Also a fair amount of PETA.

        1. E Minor Post author

          Again, I don’t deny that people will cry foul on cute puppies being tortured over a human being, but my only point is that it’s fair to say anime overuses cuteness in this way. This strikes me as lazy, no matter how well it correlates with the real world. My day to day life is boring — I don’t need anime to emulate it. Likewise, I don’t need anime to reuse the same “the death of something cute is super tragic” trope because it is fictional.

  5. Anonymous

    idk if you know BUT, read the manga,
    than there is parts about forgeries (dk if i spell it right) and stuff like that,
    they just didnt complete the anime, dun blame them for that

    1. E Minor Post author

      A series should always be self-contained to some extent even if it’s part of a larger story. Manglobe did a poor job at this, so yeah, I will blame them for lackluster adaptation.

      1. Anonymous

        They were trying to justify the anime by coming as close to the manga as possible. I know its not the greatest because of the issues of light, but they did follow the complete manga very well, although it ended prematurely >.<

  6. AkashaDemon

    Thanks guys,
    I thought it was just me. It had a real good premise but failed in execution. I really had high hopes for it though

  7. Reginald

    ya whats with this that girl killed his class rom and he just never finds out wth mann!!!

  8. kyosuke

    “But how did he know the song?” GANTA YOU FUCKING DUMB ASS SON OF A BITCH I KNEW THAT IN THE SECOND GODDAMN EPISODE ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW AND SHIRO I’M NOT EVEN GONNA GET STARTED ON YOU YOU JUST SIT THERE AND LET HIM THINK A MYSTERIOUS FLOATING RED THING KILLED HIS BEST FRIENDS THAT IS SOME BULL SHIT. YOU TELL HIM OKAY! YOU TELL HIM! WHAT’S THAT? HE WON’T BE YOUR FRIEND ANYMORE????????? LOOK AT ALL THE FUCKS I GIVE!!! THE SEASON IS OVER, YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE FRIENDS! I NEED CLOSURE! SO YOU TELL HIM, BITCH! KARAKO JUST FUCK OFF, SERIOUSLY. AND THEN NAGI, THIS BASTARD. START OF 10TH EPISODE I WAS LIKE, “This mofo gon die” AND HE HAD A GODDAMN HOLE BLASTED THROUGH HIM I WAS LIKE REALLY, BITCH? REALLY? YOU HAD TO DRAG IT OUT? REALLY? IT’S THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, I’VE EATEN NOTHING BUT NUTELLA IN OVER 32 HOURS, AND I JUST WANTED THIS TO END GRACEFULLY. AND GUESS WHAT??????

    It didn’t.

  9. John

    Wow, thats horrible. I j just started watching the anime because of toonami showing it on saturdays as a new series. Guess I won’t be looking forward to it

  10. Micheal

    Hey who cares its still better than no anime or toonami oh and if u respond to this i won’t respond to u anyway fuck u critic I’d like to see u make a show how dare u criticize this and still u think ur right no I like it so what it’s not a good still interesting to watch so yeah douch

    1. A Day Without Me

      Whoa, bro, you don’t have a blog, how dare you criticize E Minor’s blog, I’d like to see you make a blog and write posts, bro.

  11. black star

    okay i really do agree with u guys but for somebody who has’nt read the manga can not fully review this because everyone knows that the anime of deadman wonderland didnt go as far as the manga even toonami said that so go to boarders and purchase books 1through 12 and read them youll be supirsed what u find out or who lived in the end.

  12. Anonymous

    could of been better if it didnt end so prematurly the manga was like over 50 chapters so yeah the series is kinda gonna suck if you try to crame all 50 + chapters in to a twelve episode series. And whatever happend to Yo did he just fall off the planet or something? They also should have included more carnival corpse you only get to see him fight twice isnt like the main attraction of Deadman Wonderland the Carnval Corpse?

  13. Anonymous

    Maybe not a season 2 but something needs to be done about this grave injustice like i said maybe not a new season but maybe the revise this season like add some more episodes and actually finish the same way or similar too the managa. Ohh yeah maybe i missed it or forgot but i dont recall ever hearing anything about the forgeries.

  14. friend

    nooo why cant good things survive i cant even get the manga the bookstores in my area closed and books from the internet tend to be badly damaged

  15. Cortney

    I disagree with whoever wrote this, I really liked the anime, but I will way I thought it went by to fast. I’m still scratching my head over a few things, but overall it kept my attention. I find it interesting how the show starts seeming like its going to be kind of like bleach or yu yu hakasho, school kid and his friends attain some sort of power and go on some sort of journey then BAM blood everywhere, dude holding girls head, and look I jus touched my best friends severed arm loll. Idk I guess I jus find the many ways of showing a this turmoil and ¿sadistic-ness? and ways ppl react to it (also that they show this 4 hrs after adventure time loll)…
    And also there is a season 2, he finds out about Shiro being the red man and all that stuff, look on Wikipedia

  16. Anonymous

    I originally loved this show when it first aired, but it began to go in a downward spiral as soon as it reached the scar chain episode. From that point on it felt like everything was being forced too quickly. Rather than slowing down the plot to stabilize the episodes, they crammed way too much content in the final episodes making it almost impossible for viewers to enjoy. The unnecessary backstories would either leave the audience with additional questions or stupid explanations like “Genkaku feels the need to kill people because his kitty died and none of the other monks wanted to be his friend.” I guess what I’m saying is I don’t need a ten minute flashback to know that mass murderers have issues. The series was filled with random violence that had no real connection to any plot and the only thing that felt dragged out was Ganta’s constant whining. One lesson that can be taken away from this cancellation is that you can’t cram 21 chapters into 12 episodes without jeopardizing the overall quality of an anime. Despite its many flaws, Deadman Wonderland is not all bad. Though the anime needs some series work the manga is amazing and the plot has some of the most creative concepts that I have ever encountered. If the producers could learn from their mistakes and bring back a second season I would definitely give it another chance.

    1. E Minor Post author

      Despite its many flaws, Deadman Wonderland is not all bad. Though the anime needs some series work the manga is amazing

      That’s just the thing though. This post is nothing but an assessment of the anime series. The manga might actually be great, but the adaptation failed. It goes nowhere, it’s underdeveloped, it’s unimaginative, so on and so forth. I just expected a prison carnival to really be out there — to really seem crazy — but somewhere along the way, the adaptation dropped the ball.

      1. Anonymous

        I still kinda feel like the show got a raw deal though. If they had more episodes to work on the first arc the plot would have been much more stable. They could have also done away with each undertaker’s background and used that time to spotlight supporting characters like Yo or Makina.

        1. BLACKSTAR

          you do realize there are more episodes than just the twelve they follow the manga exactly they just havent been relesed in north america so dont get down the next episodes follow senji and his life before he was caged in deadman wonderland so look forward to thr next season it is GOOD ;-)

  17. Taka

    To all those touting a second season:

    1. There is no second season, there is a one episode OAV. Enjoy it while it lasts.
    2. Deadman Wonderland tanked hard in Japan so the likelihood of a second season is low. It didn’t even rank on the Oricon charts.
    3. Unless by some miracle you can put together a grassroots campaign that generates enough popularity to justify a second season from an American standpoint ala Big O season 2, I would pick up the manga; it is probably much better anyway.

    1. Anonymous

      y the fuck are we still doing this anyway we will just move on to a different anime anyway so y bicker with each other

      1. Anonymous

        yur all stupid and like 35 sittin at yur houses all alone with nothing better to do then rip on someone elses show bc yur fucken jelous you not smart enough to make a good anime show

        1. BLACKSTAR

          well im only 12and i dont c any importance in doing this and the people im talking to are 35 critisizing there ol enuf to make there own but im in the 8th grade makin comics with two friends at this point in timebwe are converting to a mini series that will be aired on u tube but ur 35

        2. E Minor Post author

          I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I bring a peace offering.

          Let’s drink some and chillax.

  18. Anonymous

    wtf r u talking about r u guys stupid or somefin fuck dis sho was awesome and stupid japan didnt like it becuz its 2 machur for them

  19. Anonymous

    WHY HAS NO ONE POINTED OUT- THEY ARE ALL HIGH LEVEL SECURITY MURDERERS!!!!!!!!!! But they are portraid as human beings of the HIGHEST moral fiber? (aside from Gantas pussy ass-lets be honest he is a total punk but innocent) I cant help but raise the question; REALLY? You care about friends and the well being of of others? Youre willing to pound your way through mountains of guards, tears and snot galore, to reach your 1 serial killer friend? Where was this compansion when you were hacking up children, your wife, best friend, ect. that landed you in this High level security part of an-Insane Hostal meets Saw and have a baby Named Green Mile- containtment facility? This isnt Bleach: Memories of Nobody, you werent wrongly acused, this isnt Witch Blade, you werent forced into a state of survival due to some freak accident (Ganta aside) NO!! You choped up those babies and used their blood to marinate your grandmas thigh stake and had a damn good time doing it, but now all of asudden you have a sense of humanity, love, teamwork, friendship, and every other cliche that pokemon has bled dry for the pass 15years? Sorry im not riding that horse……..cause its retarded. I dont need friendship and love examples from a puppy eater, give me the one bastard out of this sensitive bunch of Hitlers thats like; FUCK you Karako, FUCK you Nagi, FUCK you Ganta and the schizophrenic super sayan you hang out with, Im bout to kill all yall to escape cause i have a preschooler to at home to defrost

    1. BLACKSTAR

      just like fma and bleach they should make a video game based on this game i thought this show was good or at least 3 movoes that r based on anybody

  20. Boochjr

    I was disappointed with the end, but I actually really enjoyed the show as a whole. It may have been the fact that I (mini-)marathoned the whole series in one sitting, making the ever increasing level of ridiculousness present in the show VERY entertaining. Ganta gets thrown into prison and two hours later for the viewer and he is launching freaking blood from his arm. I don’t think it excuses the anime as for its heavy handed weaving in of tradgedy, and leaving plots undone, but in a really stupid way I really liked the ending for this specific story (I have never read the manga, so this was the introduction and exit of this universe). The whole “well now what” feeling that I got when it was just over, it was fitting.

    1. longer johnson

      I really don’t like it when anime go that route. You might be totally right, but I got the anime to watch an anime, not to see an intro for a manga :(

  21. longer johnson

    This review was about 90% spot-on. It certainly hit all of my initial impressions right on the head, and was ironically the first place I came to when looking for a “wtf what happened” explanation… good to know I wasn’t the only one left in the dark.

    First, I don’t feel disappointed by the whole show. Just the last episode. At first I thought “does this mean a second season will happen?” Then “wait, how did they not wrap this up in 13 episodes?”

    The flashbacks of Genkaku’s life were all right, but could have been made better by not happening at all, which would have given the production crew possibly enough time to wrap things up a little. These thirteen episodes have certainly caused me to suspend my disbelief a little, so wrapping it up couldn’t have been that difficult.

    And sadly, I agree with your summary that the violence is too invisible. The word you didn’t use is “censorship”, and I don’t see why not — carefully placed shadows and blurs when the rest of the show is quite well-animated makes it relatively obvious, and after I shelled out $70 in hopes I was supporting the un-censoring of the show (and any show that makes it into my hands) I was sorely disappointed. They do it for hentai, they might as well do it for gore… heck, even Gantz looked better than this in terms of raw carnage. Maybe they passed some new law recently…

  22. Anonymous

    I don’t know what I must have missed, but you make it seem like the anime didn’t make sense when according to the story (least how I percieved it) everything fell into place right. the complaint on Ganta is okay but the rest don’t make too much sense, at least for an over observant person like me that tends to absorb as much about the worlds of things I find entertaining (side effect from gameing most of my life and needing to memorize directions in the old supernintendo and up untill maybe late N64 era to early gamecube games more than likely). For Kiriko not dieing you have to remember that as deadmen they have blood manipulation abilities and are the currnet survivors are more than likely stronger willed (or nutso in some cases) than average, and Kiriko’s ability in particular had blood armorization as her ability, making her survival more believable than if a normal person was stabbed. For noone stopping Genkaku’s blade in the first place you have to remember everyone’s conditions at the time, Nagi had just calmed down from his psychotic break after he just got done beating the monkey chippers out of Ganta, and Shiro’s legs were broken (and lets face it she was prolly more focused on Ganta since she is semi obsessed with him and all). For Nagi not dieing right away see the 1st 1/2 Kiriko argument for deadman resiliense. For Genkaku’s flashback, I like a little flashback for some enemies in tv series, it’s only annoying when it’s something irrelevent like Gremjow Jaggerjack’s (or however you spell it) flashback on Bleach. If you didn’t have Gremjow’s flashback episode you’d never know the difference since if I remember right all it was was his entire history summarized up to the current event, while Genkaku’s explained his pychopathy, with out the flashback you would’ve been complaining why they over did it with the skelebuda with the heads on pike they showed in the background of his room. On the lighting I watched it on toonami and I have a standard def tv (For me High Def tv’s tend to have better detail but tend to darken images on their own) so the lighting always seemed appropriet for the situations so I guess it was dark for you. Finally on Ganta not knowing that Shiro is the Red Man, you more than likely are using hindsight or are a naturally suspicious person to think he should know, Ganta wasn’t around when she practically bombed the guard tower when the power went off, he can’t hear the lullaby that Shiro hums regularly, according to the wiki Shiro is the only one who can, excluding us as viewers who can hear it because the authors want us to memorize the tune. The only clue he should have gotten was when her legs fixed up so fast before he megacannoned Genkaku, but for most people I know I doubt their first instinct when faced with a murderous psycho in the same room with them is to look and say “woah chick how you do dat?” especially if they have the means to kill said psycho before it happens to you first. In closing sorry for the super long post, but from what I can gather (epecially form your last mini paragraph) you more than likely don’t like anime’s like Deadman Wonderland regularly anyway, and while they did cut it too short last I heard (tho I am usually out of the loop ALOT) it was because their lead drawer or somebody was out on maternaty leave a last year maybe? regaurdless even if it doesn’t come back on it was a good watch in my opinion and if I could get ahold of the comics (can’t remember what they’re really called) I’d love to read it, but I respect your opinion. To think I got here because I was trying to see if thye made a video game off this and decided to type something :P Sorry again for the super large post btw, I tend to ramble when its late I found the article at 2:40 maybe and it’s 3:30 now…

  23. Anonymous

    Everyone’s entitled to their opinions, but I found Deadman Wonderland entertaining… I didn’t expect it to be a great… And I was pleasantly surprised with having such low expectations coming in the door only because someone recommended it to me. This series isn’t without flaws… Mainly because the actual series didn’t really get going until Espisode 8 or 10 or so..

    I feel like this had the potential to be a good series if they had 24 espisodes instead of 12… Did they throw it all together and wrap it up prematurely… YEP…

    Should Ganta had known that Shiro was The Redman? No… The boy is very … slow… He needed another 12 episodes to stop crying like a girl and accept his new reality….

    I felt like the characters were interesting and they had a lot to work with.. But yes the ending wasn’t the best but it could of been worst…

    Anyway some of you are bitching more than Ganta….

    1. ?

      Damn….these guys bitch way too much. Deadman Wonderland wasnt even bad. It was short but the action made up for all the rest. If you can’t like something very gory, you’re a little PAN (pussy ass nigga). Some people just like to shit on stuff that hasn’t gotten much attention and assume it sucks dick. Great Show Fuck You all :D

  24. Anonymous

    Wow, you nitpicked the shit out of it, not to mention that if you had gone through the trouble of doing a simple google search you would realize that the anime ended like 40 chapters before the end of the manga. Of course there wasn’t particularly visible character development in regards to Ganta, the anime ended not even half way through the story. The show wasn’t very popular in Japan and thus a second season wasn’t ordered.

    So before you denounce a series and blow small details out of proportion because you’re pissy your questions didn’t get answered, at least put an elementary school level of effort into researching what you’re writing about.

    1. E Minor Post author

      Someone as smart as you should realize that criticism of the anime is wholly independent from criticism of the source material. Wait, you are smart enough to realize that, right? Gosh…

  25. E Minor Post author

    Closing this ’cause none of the kids who saw this on Adult Swim seem to have anything interesting to say.

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