57 chapters in 13 volumes
Anime: 13 episodes + 1 OVA
Genre: psychological, tragedy
Story by Katakoa Jinsei
Art by Kondou Kazuma
Deadman Wonderland is Japan's only privately-owned prison, built at the epicentre of the Great Tokyo Earthquake which destroyed most of Tokyo 10 years ago. But to the general public, Deadman Wonderland is an amusement park complete with rides, food courts and games where the inmates will compete against one another to entertain the spectators. Our 14-year-old protagonist, Ganta Igarashi's class is supposed to go on a school trip to this amusement park/prison. As the story starts, however, Ganta's whole class is violently slaughtered by a 'Red Man'. Ganta, the only remaining survivor, is convicted of these murders. He will be visiting Deadman Wonderland not as a tourist, but as a prisoner.
"… You can only keep quiet … and go insane here." -- Karako 'Game Fowl' Koshio.
The back stories for the different characters are interesting. I need to watch more psychological stuff to comment on whether they're generic or not. There are very few gag scenes. I could probably count all of them with the fingers on one hand. They don't spoil the mood. With a mere 50-something chapters, the story might seem short but isn't. A lot of the chapters are really big. As for the anime, I really liked it (that was before I read the manga). I finished all the episodes in one sitting and listened to the opening theme every time. The art's good but sometimes it gets hard to make things out when too many details are put in, like in the gory scenes (because black, white and grey are the only colours used) and during the fights as well. This isn't shonen, so wounds here cut deep. This isn't a problem in the anime, however. The difference between the anime and manga make for a slightly bumpy transition. The manga introduces a cast of Deadmen that are previously unseen (except for one) in the anime. There's also a supporting character important to one of the later arcs who wasn't in the anime at all. Hopefully flashbacks in the manga might cover that. Yoh is portrayed as being much darker initially as well.
There is a curious similarity between the Deadmen's Branches of Sin and Suitengu's blood manipulation from Speed Grapher. Speed Grapher was there first, though. The same duo responsible for the art and story in Deadman Wonderland are behind Eureka Seven, a surfing/mecha anime. That's nothing I'd watch though.
For a story so gripping and twisted, the end left me disenchanted. There was a death or two less than I'd have liked and nowhere near as tragic either. While the conclusion may have been acceptable, the last clash felt anti-climactic. That might be the reason the manga loses a point in my eyes.
“You can only make it through the showers of blood if you trust that rainbows will follow …" --Karako 'Game Fowl' Koshio.