Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Deadman Wonderland Episode One Impressions

Deadman Wonderland was a show I had high hopes for heading in. A very basic plot summary and an awesome opening sequence was all I needed to anticipate this show. I’m typically not a big fan of gory shows, but some shows, such as Blood+, have been able to click with me in the past. That said, I can confidentially say that if the remainder of Deadman Wonderland is as good as the first episode, this is going to be an awesome series.

Ganta Igarashi is a typical student in high school. He has a best friend named Mimi and the entire class is anticipating a school field trip. I really enjoyed how they started this episode because if you knew nothing about this show beforehand, it would look like a typical high school anime. That changes very quickly.

Seemingly out of nowhere a mysterious man in red flies up to their classroom on the third floor. Next thing you know, the man causes a huge explosion and kills everyone except Ganta. This was incredibly well done. You barely had a chance to get to know these characters, but I can honestly say I felt some real emotion during this scene. It was graphic but not excessive. The whole exchange was believable and actually made me care about their deaths. Things get worse for Ganta when he is framed and convicted for the murders and is sentenced to Deadman Wonderland; a prison where inmates perform for tourists in order to earn candy. If they don’t eat a piece of candy before the timer on their collars reach zero, they die.

The reason I love this episode so much is because it did an incredible job of establishing the beginning of a story as well as ground rules for future episodes. It didn’t feel the need to explain everything that happens. Just by watching the episode, you can easily figure out what’s going on. You don’t need for them to explain that Ganta’s been framed for murder or that his lawyer obviously set him up. You don’t need them to explain how the candy works, because they show a person dying from a lack of candy and then they show what happens when an inmate does eat a piece candy. It’s a very simple concept that Deadman Wonderland does very well.

I also like that the episode left plenty of questions open, including the story behind Shiro, a girl who looks like Mimi and immediately befriends Ganta (after trying to kill him). On a quick side-note; Shiro isn’t naked. She’s wearing a skin-tight suit. She wasn’t episode for long, but I already want to know more about her.

As for the Toonami broadcast goes, I was disappointed to find out that the show’s opening doesn’t air until episode two, but it’s for the best as the opening contains episode one spoilers. As for the show’s ending, I couldn’t tell you. Adult Swim cut the ending song. That said, I like how Funimation included the credits with the final scenes of the episode. The sequence fit in quite well and avoided the need of a shorten credits sequence similar to how Viz handles the TV version of Bleach.

I actually enjoyed the dub quite well for this episode. Greg Ayres’ voice for Ganta caught me off guard at first, but as the episode went on I felt like it was a really good fit for the show so far. Monica Rial as Shiro did a solid job of playing a character who is both interesting and slightly psychotic at the same time. Overall, I felt like this was a very solid dub job by Funimation. It felt like there was some good emotion coming out of the characters. Hopefully this keeps up.

Deadman Wonderland manages to do exactly what a good first episode should; make me love it and have me coming back for more. The entire episode had me invested in the story throughout and had me wanting to know more about these characters and their motives. I’m really interested in seeing how the games in the prison work and if Ganta can eventually clear his name. In a couple of week, I’ll report on my latest feelings about this show and if I’ll still be watching it. I hope the show continues to be this good. Toonami was the bait to get me to watch Adult Swim on Saturday night. Deadman Wonderland is the reason I’ll keep coming back for more.

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