Deadman Wonderland plays like a bad Battle Royale fanfic, except the only thing said writer “got” when it came to BR was “exploding collars are awesome!”
Wonderland’s lameness comes down to its basic premise. It desperately wants to be some sort of Battle Royale/Escape from New York sort of dystopian story. Dude gets framed for a murder and is sentenced to death, and the “prison” he goes to is some sort of theme park where criminals fight for the amusement of the public. Yeah, OK, that’s cool and all I guess. But the way the series sets this up is pretty damn stupid.
The problem is that the series’ set-up doesn’t go far enough. We know the main dude is innocent, and we also know that there’s no way in hell that he’s gonna die, so the whole “exploding collar” bit doesn’t have the same impact it should. With Battle Royale, all of the kids were innocent. Even the kids that started killing off their classmates were only doing so out of the desire to survive (Save for that one transfer kid, but he was the exception to the rule), so when one of the kids kicked it there was some degree of what the fuckness to it. That grew to comedic proportions as the movie progressed, but the deaths actually had some sort of impact.
Deadman Wonderland’s set-up doesn’t have that intrinsic dread. The main dude ain’t gonna die, so he may as well not have a collar around his neck. As for the rest of the inmates, well, they’re fucking criminals. Unless everyone in this prison is innocent of their supposed crimes, why should we give a damn if these murderers might drop dead at any given moment? And if all of the eventual main characters end up being innocent (Or at least not guilty of something worthy of the death sentence.), that’d be even worse since we’d have an entire cast made up of “Exceptions to the rule.”
So yeah, the very premise of the series robs the story of any real tension. I guess it could make up for that by having some extra-cool stuff happen, but as it is the series has all but lost me.
And did the series really need to insert a magical girlfriend into the mix? As far as I can tell her only purpose is to attain the series’ “friendship speech” quotient, since the main dude’s best friends were murdered in the opening scene. Much like my post on the wasting disease conspiracy, I’m seriously thinking that anime and manga creators have collars strapped to their necks that ensure they insert these clichés into their stories. If you don’t have one of your characters talk about the value of friendship in a manner tailored to people who have never had friends, then KABOOM! It’s the only logical explanation, folks. No way any self-respecting writer would find that shit interesting.
Maybe if the series forgets about all of this stupid shit and turns into some crazy Running Man-like contest it’ll end up amusing. Then again, Deadman Wonderland doesn’t have the former host of Family Feud as its main villain. There’s another strike against it.