Home > Deadman Wonderland, Episode Reviews > Deadman Wonderland Episode 7 – Child’s Play

Deadman Wonderland Episode 7 – Child’s Play

Last week I was a bit annoyed at the clash between Deadman Wonderland’s shounen battle series roots and its desire to offer greater levels of violence, depravity, and despair. This episode avoids such a conflict, not be smarter writing, but simply by moving too fast for any possible plot holes to get noticed.

And the narrative is on full throttle: after three or so episodes of introduction, the show gave another three to Corpse Carnival battles that looked to define the rest of the series, only to move on again this episode. At least, so it seems: Many of the new characters and plot hooks offered this episode point to the Battle Royale trappings being dropped, if not immediately, then at least very soon. Compared to shows like Bleach or Naruto, with can spend over a season’s worth of introductory episodes before even suggesting the main plot, Deadman Wonderland is in a hurry.

One sign the show is in such of a hurry is how little attention Makina has gotten. She's ready to go on a warpath, if only she had enough screen time to do something

Nowhere is this more evident in how the show deals with Shiro. Ganta is already regaining memories about young life with Shiro, when his mother was a project lead on the experiments that made Shiro into what she is. It’s strongly implied that the incident that leveled Tokyo can all be traced back to those experiments, when Shiro eventually snapped and infected who knows how many people with the Branches of Sin.

Apparently the only person left alive who knows this is the prison’s warden, who has concealed the Red Man’s identity even from Tamaki. For reasons I have yet to understand, the warden chooses to suicide himself against Shiro this episode, when the latter’s alternate (and psychopathic) personality is dominant. Not only is the show not hiding the mysteries lurking in the background of the setting, it’s not beating around the bush with plot advancement either.

For being on life support, the Warden is a spry old man. We don't get to see the fight where Shiro literally takes him apart

A part of me would actually appreciate it if Deadman Wonderland slowed down for a little bit; the Warden barely has enough screen time to feel connected to the story, much less an integral part of it. Perhaps flashbacks will make his involvement and motivations clear, but right now, he only existed as a reason for Tamaki to be in the dark about certain parts of the prison.

On the other hand, revealing so much about Shiro to the audience looks to be an inspired move. Other series might wait to unveil a secret like that until near the end of the show’s run, but this way, there’s a greater sense of dread and foreboding. Every time we see a flashback to Shiro and Ganta’s childhood, every time we see the two cheering each other on in the present, we know that a climactic confrontation is waiting down the line.

Adding to the ironies: The Red Man's appearance is modeled after "Ace Man," a cartoon hero whom Ganta idolized as a kid

Ditching the Corpse Carnival, if that is what is happening, will also likely be a good change of pace. It was important to establish the reason for Tamaki collecting so many Branches of Sin users, and for showing where the various cast members developed their fighting skills, but there’s only so many fights Ganta can will without killing his opponent before the audience’s sense of realism catches up to object. Instead, Ganta is introduced to a resistance group within G block, Scar Chain, who are trying to bring the fight back to Tamaki.

Obviously, Ganta is completely on board with their mission, but what they can do seems limited. They manage to spare Minatsuki from some of the more brutal repercussions of her loss, but between the control collars, the cameras, and the guards, doing anything overt looks like a losing proposition. They function only because Tamaki doesn’t find their antics troubling enough to justify losing valuable money-makers and research subjects.

The prison's doctor is notably frustrated that the punishment game for Minatsuki didn't let her claim anything important. By "important" I mean painful to remove

Tamaki’s calculations on that score might be changing, as he dispatches a special agent named Genkaku (a bizarre cross between a Shinto monk and a rock star, one of those crazy characters that only exists in shounen manga) to reign in their antics. He seems particularly annoyed at Ganta’s public defiance in the ring, though, which is why after handily disabling the other resistence members Genkaku turns his full attention on the little guy. The preview indicates nothing too bad will happen, but that’s not the impression as the episode ends.

Deceptive impressions are a continual aspect of the series, however; it’s just that normally it’s a cheerful impression masking a darker truth. Tamaki’s continual smile and inviting, toy strewn office disguises his twisted mind, Minatsuki’s innocent act hides her inner malice and rage, and seemingly friendly You was willing to send Ganta and Shiro to early graves in pursuit of his objectives. Even Shiro’s childish loyalty is counterbalanced by second personality with a far more malevolent interest in Ganta.

In addition to using his guitar as a sonic weapon, Genkaku appears able to disrupt the abilities of Branches of Sin users. That makes him a natural policeman for them

But Ganta might not be so innocent himself; his life has been built a crooked foundation. In  other circumstances he and his class might have been happy spectators taking enjoyment from the abuse and murder of Deadman Wonderland’s inmates. Now we learn that his family history is tied up with human experimentation (on children!), supersoldier research, and the deaths of countless people in the Tokyo disaster. It would be perfectly in keeping with the tone of the show for Ganta to have been directly responsible for the last of those.

Ganta is doing his best to live honorably in an insane and brutal world; perhaps the last cruel joke the show will drop on him is his own guilt for everything that has happened. Deadman Wonderland the park is a place where a Disney exterior hides blood sports worthy of Rome; Deadman Wonderland the series is a show where even the games children play have far darker significance.

Scar Chain is led by "Owl." He and fellow member Karako seem friendly enough, but here, you never know

You can watch the episode here.

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  1. February 5, 2012 at 8:50 am

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