Deadman Wonderland Episode 10 – Only the Strong Survive
Well, everything I was worried might happen this episode happened. Ganta is enraged at Shiro for destroying what he considers his one chance of freedom, and Shiro isn’t bright enough to explain herself properly. This leads to a falling out between the pair which still hasn’t been resolved. Meanwhile, Owl survived, although this is partially explained by the fact the Undertakers give him medical treatment I wasn’t expecting them to provide.
Worse, Rokuro shows up to both gripe (about the bomb he planted in the data chip not killing anyone) and gloat (about how Scar Chain is powerless before him). We get basically no insight into why he’s a traitor or psychopath, and are instead treated to megalomaniac ranting that makes Hummingbird look well adjusted by comparison. The series is perfectly capable of giving us hissibly evil villains who don’t need to overact to express their depravity, with Tamaki being a great example. But occasionally it crosses the line into camp, and it’s a disappointment every time.
That having been said, this episode begins to lay the groundwork for Ganta’s next major development. And, perhaps more than anything else in the series, it does so in a way that is remarkably true to life.
As I said, Shiro fails to tell Ganta that the data chip was actually a bomb. She still insists she is protecting Ganta, but he is left thinking she’s protecting from from putting his life at risk by attempting to break out. Her only explanation is that Ganta is weak, which is something no guy ever wants to hear, particularly from a girl, and especially if it’s true.
That weakness is hammered home to Ganta again and again. The mission Scar Chain entrusted him with? Failed because he couldn’t stop a girl from stealing a chip from him. His ability to aid Scar Chain when they were attacked? Zero: Ganta panics and goes into shock, only surviving because of the support of the other escapees and some degree of dumb luck.
The worst part is when Rokuro comes with a bunch of Undertakers to execute them one by one. It’s meant to encourage Owl to cooperate with the Warden’s demands, but Rokuro insists on making sure Ganta dies first as the example. Again, Ganta finds himself absolutely powerless, and it is only a perfectly-in-character-but-still-deus-ex-machina-in-timing appearance by Crow who saves him. By rights, Ganta should have died several times over by now, and he knows it.
He also knows he’s in no position to help Scar Chain. He needs to become stronger, and the only question is whether he’ll find the resolve and the ability to do so. He doesn’t have much choice on the matter. Deadman Wonderland and Corpse Carnival and insane places filled with insane people. I just wish Ganta will internalize this and move on, rather than having to rediscover it every few episodes.
Almost as interesting is how everyone else adapts to it. Crow, for example, helps out Scar Chain by killing off a bunch of Undertakers, but laughs off their attempts to recruit him. He likes his prison perfectly well, as a place he can fight and kill without consequence. The idea of escaping or taking the place down is without any interest to him. He’s strong, and here that strength makes him important.
The Undertakers also respect strength, which is why they are trying to recruit Owl. It seems silly on a variety of levels, given his intense hatred for their organization, but Genkaku thinks a combination of drugs and threats to his friends might change his mind. After Owl’s wife was killed, he went on a rampage killing a few dozen junior Undertakers (this was before they developed tech to block the Branches of Sin). He might have blocked the memory out, but Genkaku hasn’t, and the ability to cause that amount of mayhem is too enticing for him to pass up.
Of course, I though the entire point of Undertakers was that they weren’t Branches of Sin users, and ensuring Owl’s continued loyalty would require a level of brainwashing much stronger than Genkaku seems capable of. But the point is that the strong do well in Deadman Wonderland, when being able to slaughter people is the best way to continued job security.
Scar Chain knows the group will need stronger people to continue to function, which is why they think to recruit both Crow—who declines—and Mockingbird (Toto Sakigami), whose prowess in fights is legendary. Mockingbird himself, however, is at that very moment consoling Shiro in the Warden’s destroyed office. Like Shiro, he seems to have access to parts of the facility he shouldn’t. Unlike Shiro, he knows her as the Wretched Egg, something even Tamaki has yet to realize.
Something about Mockingbird seems off, and not just his appearance and fight title. Continually switching up his pronouns (Japanese has four words for “I” based on gender and other factors, and he corrects himself more than once), he seems to have trouble remembering his own name, yet he has more knowledge than anyone about what’s really going on. He also tipped off Shiro about Owl’s warning on the data chip, so he’s not in league with the Undertakers. But I doubt his intentions are completely benevolent.
With only two episodes left in this offering, Deadman Wonderland won’t have a chance of completing the full story. But we can hope it will come to an appropriate break point, which both completes the current story arc and points to how Ganta, in the next one, will have gained the skills he needs to survive. It’s sort of a cliche in shounen action series that the protagonist much train to become stronger and develop new skills. Rarely has such a development been as necessary within the logic of the story itself.
You can watch the episode here.