Home > Deadman Wonderland, Episode Reviews > Deadman Wonderland Episode 8 – Past Scars

Deadman Wonderland Episode 8 – Past Scars

Deadman Wonderland continues to advance at a rapid pace, with every plot revelation of last episode having an immediate impact. Tamaki learns of the Warden’s death, Makina starts overt countermeasures against him (although we still have only gotten hints as to what these might be), and Scar Chain not only gets a fuller introduction but also reveals and implements an escape attempt. Unlike several other shounen series—not to be named—that have been going on for the past decade, this series never feels like its stalling for time, or even for breath.

That’s mostly a good thing, although I suspect that certain character relationships (and characters, such as the Warden himself) could have stood a little more examination before being shuttled off to the side. Even here, Deadman Wonderland manages to keep the focus on the themes that matter to it—in this case, justice and revenge.

Tamaki, tasteless as always, goes bowling with the warden's severed head. Given by the reactions of the warden's two retainers, I'm guessing Tamaki will have cause to regret that later

Both justice and revenge are core concerns for Ganta, although his young mind has distinct trouble separating the two. Really, even Ganta’s desire for freedom is bound up in his desire to seek out and kill Tamaki and the Red Man. He’s not inclined to murder people just because, which makes him a moral exemplar compared to most of the cast. But alongside his righteousness is rage for past wrongs—justifiable rage, but still rage.

Of course, the dark irony of this is that his closest friend, Shiro, is actually one of the people on his hit list. Shiro, who has saved his life multiple times (including from Genkaku, just at the start of this episode) is also a cause for him being here in the first place, with a body count that would put anyone to shame. Ganta’s desire for revenge will force a conflict with Shiro’s other personality, which means fighting Shiro herself. And there’s no way that won’t be messy.

Trying to fall asleep, all Ganta can think about is killing those who hurt him. It's not coincidental that Shiro is sleeping next to him

This is all the more interesting as Ganta comes to know about the leader of Scar Chain, Owl, (real name: Nagi Kengamine). Both Owl and his wife were infected with the Branches of Sin after the Tokyo disaster and brought to G block, where his wife later died in an escape attempt. Like Ganta, he’s lost someone precious to him and has been falsely incarcerated in this madhouse. But as much as Ganta rejoices that he’s finally found someone like him, the two have completely different outlooks.

For Owl, what’s important is not vengeance, but freedom, and freedom for everyone. He times the escape attempt during the prison’s annual inspection, not simply because everyone will be distracted, but so that the hidden brutalities of Deadman Wonderland can be revealed to the world. He wants the system taken down, because it’s the right thing to do. But there is little malice or anger to be found in him.

Owl is sufficiently charismatic and popular to have gathered perhaps a majority of the deadmen under his leadership. Pity he's about to get a decent chunk of them killed

Owl might get a bit angry when he realizes that the escape attempt is compromised: Bundou Rokuro, introduced this episode, is his main hacker/information specialist, who is secretly reporting to the authorities. (He also conceals the fact that Genkaku and possibly others of the elite anti-Deadman unit can disrupt Branches of Sin users.) Even without that treachery, the escape attempt looks to be going a bit pear shaped, with another cliffhanger ending involving mortal peril.

Personally, I’m curious if there is a deeper reason why Scar Chain is permitted to exist and the escape attempt was allowed to get off the ground. As a general rule, the prison seems to have rather lax protocols for prisoners, but knowing about a resistance group—complete with regular leaks from an inside man—and doing nothing to stop its activities seems just odd. Perhaps Tamaki has a plan to completely discredit Scar Chain or use the attempt to wrangle most support from the inspectors. But it seems an unnecessary risk regardless.

Rokuro seems a shady character to begin with. Every other two-faced character in the show, from Tamaki to You to Minatsuki, at least worked at pretending to be likable before twisting in the knife

The comparative freedom that Ganta and the other deadmen have to act, however, at least gives room to keep the plot interesting, and moving forward. An endless stream of Carnival Corpse battles would have been a way to stretch the series out for months, but a sloppy, uncreative way. I’ll take plot holes if the plot itself stays in motion. I’ve been given little reason to worry about that.

In fact, I’m a little impressed how the show is calling attention to the self-destructive nature of Ganta’s desire for revenge. Making Shiro and the Red Man one and the same came off as the show’s twisted sense of humor; Owl and his backstory provide a deliberate study in contrasts. It’s one which points to the distinction between justice and the righting of wrongs, and revenge and the desire to hurt those who hurt us. If the series can further explore those concepts within its narrative, my opinion of the show will probably be revised upward. Again.

After accidentally tripping an alarm, Ganta's group gets attacked an acid-spewing robot. There's surprisingly little censorship this time

You can watch the episode here.

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  1. March 22, 2012 at 1:29 am

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