Deadman Wonderland Episode 11 – Cutting Corners
This episode, as we all knew, Deadman Wonderland would take the usual path for shounen action shows: spend some time having Ganta learn new attacks and otherwise train to be stronger. Shounen action shows just love incrementally upping the power level of their protagonists so as to throw every more powerful villains at them.
Shounen action shows also like stalling, however, but Deadman Wonderland has never had much patience for that. So Ganta’s training barely takes up half the episode before he’s back in the fray. I’m of two minds on this. On the one hand, I’ve always liked this show’s tendency not to waste our time with filler. On the other, shortcutting the training process and upping Ganta’s power level so quickly really grates against suspension of disbelief.
And it is obvious, willful shortcutting: Ganta trains with Senji to find a way to fight against Undertakers. To do this, he needs to get his Branches of Sin ability to break the sound barrier (as Senji’s can), so that happens, by dumb luck. After Ganta stretches himself to the breaking point and can only muster a small amount of blood for a shot, he discovers that he can shoot tiny drops much faster than his larger bolts.
It’s a wonderful discovery; now he can shoot off more projectiles before running low on blood, and he can face Undertakers and possibly win. But figuring this out after one abbreviated training session is self-advancement on the cheap. Ganta gets the abilities he needs, just at the time he needs them. How convenient.
Of course, Ganta still remains stupidly headstrong, which is why he charges into the Undertaker headquarters while still anemic. Just as he’s rushed through training, Genkaku has rushed through the process of breaking Owl’s will, and Karako rushed through her rescue attempt only to be captured. Everyone’s on a deadline here; next episode is the finale for the season (although certainly not the series, which I’m betting will get a second season a year or two from now) and we need to hit some proper stopping point.
As I said last time, it’s foolish for Genkaku to think he can get Owl on his side, but as it happens that’s not his intention. He simply wants to turn Owl in a one man weapon of mass destruction, and he succeeds. Alongside various drug treatments and the like, Genkaku takes advantage of the fact that Owl is already insane. Having lost his wife, Owl formed the delusion that his unborn daughter survived and lived outside the prison. When that, his sole source of stability is taken away, he just can’t process the grief and tries to kill everyone and everything.
Genkaku’s mad enough to be happy with this outcome, even as his own Undertaker colleagues become Owl’s first victims. (Oddly enough, Genkaku himself remains untouched; I would think he’d be the first target.) He wants to see the world burn, and delights in having made Owl an instrument to that end. There’s not much more he can ask for than to see wanton carnage unleashed.
The final arc will thus likely result in Owl being neutralized or killed; Genkaku may or may not survive, but the show keeps Tamaki and Wretched Egg around as long term villains even if he and the rest of the Undertakers fall. We already had the extraordinarily creepy Mockingbird introduced, who despite his attempts to make nice with Shiro and Ganta clearly has his own agenda. He’s also extraordinarily powerful, so I’m guessing Ganta might get another training session or two sometime next season in order to face him. Here’s hoping it won’t be as easy next time.
Despite all the bad things that happen to him, Ganta is living the charmed life of an anime protagonist. He continually survives in situations where he should die (including at least twice this very episode), saved by others or by the capricious whims of the writers. The one major flaw of the show is that Ganta continually acts like the classic shounen action hero (honorable, headstrong, and far too impulsive and unthinking for his own good) in situations where that should get him killed. Yet he’s continually protected from the consequences of his actions.
Maybe the show is afraid to have Ganta suffer from a lost match punishment game or the like, but it’s not afraid to show that happening to anyone else. Deadman Wonderland is all about having horribly unfair things happen to people, physically as well as psychologically. Ganta has yet to be maimed, seriously tortured, or even subjected to a prolonged beating. At this point I take it for granted not only that he will survive, but that he won’t even suffer from a permanent scar. And the loss of that threat, in practice if not in theory, diminishes some of the tension this show could otherwise have.
Despite all the time I spent complaining this review, I’m still enjoying the series. The briskly moving plot has its advantages, and there are still plenty of mysteries and hidden agendas that I will look forward to seeing resolved in a future season. Even the seemingly inexplicable behavior of villains like Genkaku has typically been resolved to my satisfaction. Barring a major catastrophe in the finale, this will still be one of my favorite shows of the season. But I wish it wouldn’t make threats when it’s not willing to follow through with them.
You can watch the episode here.