Deadman Wonderland Episode 6 – Evil for Evil’s Sake
Well, all good things must come to an end. Finally I’ve come to an episode of Deadman Wonderland that didn’t impress me. Not that it’s ruined the show and I’ll stop writing writing reviews over it. But this episode commits several errors—some technical, but mostly narrative—which I find rather annoying.
On the surface, episode six seems to follow the same pattern as last time: introduce a character, put said character in the ring against Ganta, have Ganta defeat said person in an honorable/worthy foe manner, which by the logic of defeat means friendship means Ganta has a new ally for the future, and life goes on. As I mentioned last time, it’s a staple of shounen action series, and that Deadman Wonderland amps up the violence inherent in the formula doesn’t mean it isn’t recognizable.
This episode, however, finally shows the inherent conflict between Deadman Wonderland’s shounen plot and its darker, more mature themes. It also shows that “darker” and “more mature” don’t always mean the same thing either.
Ganta’s opponent this time is Minatsuki Takumi, aka Hummingbird. A girl about the same age as Ganta, she introduces herself to him as pure, innocent, and overwhelmed by being a Branches of Sin user trapped in G-Block. Of course, it’s all an act, and once in the ring she drops the facade and reveals she’s really a sadistic killer whose previous behavior was just to sneak in some pre-fight injuries.
As observant readers might have figured out from her last name, she’s also You’s sister, and the reason You came to Deadman Wonderland in the first place. You was always convinced that he had committed the murder that Minatsuki was convicted of—an impression she deliberately engineered—and has been working to get enough cast points to buy his sister’s freedom.
I do appreciate that on seeing that Minatsuki is a Branches of Sin user, You manages to figure out that his sister might be less of an admirable person than he thought. Still, he insists on going to bat for her even with the knowledge she murdered their father, just as Ganta defends You in turn when Minatsuki outs You’s thieving tendencies and Ganta realizes who stole his antidote.
This concept of loyalty is alien to Minatsuki, whose mother abandoned her during the disaster that flattened Tokyo (and died all the same). Ever since then, she’s spent her life trying to betray other people before they could betray her, a concept she took to the extreme of killing her father and trying to set up You for the murder. (Why not have them both die by “accident”? It’s implied she wanted the joy of messing with her brother’s head.)
This is where my problem comes in. First off, even by the standards of Deadman Wonderland, Minatsuki is over the top. She talks about the pleasure she gets from seeing her victims’ hurt, betrayed faces in sexual terms and cackles like a madwoman as she prepares to flay people alive. Even with the provided tragic backstory, the extremes of her depravity don’t seem justified. It’s grimdark for grimdark’s sake.
That over the top feeling extends to her facial animations, contorting in ways that shouldn’t be possible for human beings. It extends to her voice acting, which sounds less like a real person and more like a junior actress trying to be Evil by layering on the cheese. Even Tamaki, who is the show’s version of evil incarnate, feels like he has a real personality (albeit, an entitled, sadistic, smug, thinks-he’s-untouchable personality). Minatsuki feels like a cardboard cutout.
This leads to the other problem: Minatsuki, as anyone familiar with the plot outline will know, is going to become an ally of Ganta and a “good guy.” That may not happen overnight, but it will happen. And given her intensely negative response to the loyalty and goodness shown by both Ganta and her brother, the only way it will happen is by author fiat. If we take Minatsuki seriously as a character, and accept that her past trauma made her who she is, Ganta shouldn’t be able to undo that. Minatsuki’s response to a childhood betrayal was to try to wipe out the remaining members of her family. That’s a degree of psychosis you can’t just kiss and make better.
What impressed me with how the show handled Senji is how it preserved the dark, gritty atmosphere of Deadman Wonderland while keeping the essential elements of a shounen action show intact. Senji was and is an honorable, if ruthless, opponent. Minatsuki’s introduction went so far down the dark and gritty path that I don’t see how the writers will pull her out without doing violence to her character. Then again, I also think it went so far down that path such that she doesn’t have much character to speak of.
Next time, though, it looks like the focus will shift back to Shiro, who is now under the watch of the warden. Unfortunately, nearly all the scenes with the warden were blackened for reasons I have yet to figure out, but it looks like he is moving against Tamaki behind the scenes, and Shiro is a big part of that. And I’m still eager to see how those machinations play out, as I am to learn about Shiro and Ganta’s past history.
I’ll admit that I’m not eager to see Minatsuki appear once again on screen, as I know she will. I suppose my hope (if I am allowed to have one) is that with her introduction, Deadman Wonderland just won’t be able to top that degree of craziness and won’t try. If the show makes the habit of introducing sick bastards who are magically redeemed by our hero’s honorable lectures—that is, if it starts straying into Index territory—then I really will rethink my coverage of this series.
You can watch the episode here.