Deadman Wonderland Episode 9 – Selective Brutality
After having its third episode closing cliffhanger in a row (although this one doesn’t have the same feeling of imminent danger as the previous too) it doesn’t look like Deadman Wonderland is inclined to slow down its narrative in any way. For a variety of narrative reasons, its obvious that the escape plan is doomed to failure. The trick is keeping the important players alive for round two.
One problem is that this process occasionally feels a bit too predictable. Although the escape plan keeps dancing the Charlie Foxtrot and the body count starts piling up, Ganta and a few other main characters continue to show off their plot armor. That plot armor doesn’t apply to everyone—once character I wasn’t expecting to bite it gets mortally wounded this episode (at least, he better be)—but it applies to enough people to lessen the tension. And knowing that extras exist to get brutally slaughtered can diminish the emotional effectiveness of their deaths just as much as knowing the main characters won’t get axed.
Now that we’re past the cut, I can divulge some spoilers: Karako survives her encounter with the acid-spewing robot, only suffering the indignity of falling with it Gandalf-style into a bottomless pit. Even if we didn’t see her in the next episode preview, though, it’s obvious she would survive it.
Meanwhile Owl, making the mistake of accompanying the traitor to the main control room, gets hacked apart by another Undertaker, the anti-Deadman unit that can negate Branches of Sin abilities. As each Undertaker leader must be as unique (and twisted) as possible, this one is an elementary school girl who wields a snake sword larger than she is. Her improbable weapon and her equally improbable skill in wielding it is hardly the most disturbing thing about her.
All Undertakers, supposedly, are selected from the most violent of the criminal population and put through a training program that kills all but a handful. Hibana Daida made it through that program as a kindergartener, having come to the prison for dismembering several of her classmates. She explained to the authorities that she was only punishing them like her mother had taught her too.
The anime wisely only implies, rather than shows, the various torments Hibana’s mother put her through, or the deaths of her classmates. (Such restraint is lacking in the manga, although even there it’s limited to single panels.) Even as this episode vies the last with some of the most ultra-violent uncensored scenes so far, we don’t see Hibana or any other child hurt in anyway. It’s a selective form of censorship, but I won’t fault the show for it.
I will fault the show making it a bit too obvious that Ganta is the main character. The undertaker ambush that slaughters most of his escapees leaves him completely untouched, save psychologically; he’s about to be ventilated by Genkaku only to have the latter get recalled at the last minute. Moreover, everyone decides to place all their hopes in him, making him the designated carrier for the flash drive—that is, the one everyone has to protect—even through he’s a brand new member of Scar Chain.
Genkaku’s retreat makes the least amount of sense. I accept that Tamaki let the escape attempt push forward as far as it did because of his own perverse pleasure in seeing the dashed hopes after it utterly failed. But (as it is very likely the traitorous Rokuro swapped the incriminating data with someone that would discredit Scar Chain), why not just let them proceed all the way? And if Tamaki just wanted to see how far the group could get, why pull punches?
I’m also worried that next episode might have another conflict surface between Shiro and Ganta. Shiro, tipped off that the entire escape attempt is one prolonged trap, intercepts the surviving escapees and destroys the flash drive. Ganta, having no explanation for this, is understandably shocked, but if his anger at Shiro for “ruining” things gets dragged out longer than five minutes, I’ll be calling foul on account of cliche.
I’ll also be calling foul if Owl survives his encounter with Hibana. Between the blood loss, the cut off hunks of flesh, and, oh, the arm being hacked off, he’ll only survive if the author really, really, wants him to live. And if the author had such strong opinions on the subject, he shouldn’t have let Owl get that hurt. There are good limits to Deadman’s violent over-the-top edge (like minimizing depictions of children being tortured) and bad limits (like making all characters with both first and last names immortal). Letting Owl die will be a good way of pulling back from the latter category.
Despite my complaints, the show is keeping up the rapid narrative, and has provided reasonable explanations to most prior plotholes, so I’m willing to forgive quite a bit. If this is your first time reading my Deadman reviews, I’d suggest not using this one as a baseline for my opinion. It will take greater problems than the ones here to keep me from following through with the series.
You can watch the episode here.