July 19, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Gabbing Geek Manga Review: Deadman Wonderland Volume 4

Ganta joins a rebel gang attempting to smuggle incriminating evidence about the prison/amusement park to the outside world.

Of the various manga series I read from time to time, Deadman Wonderland may be one of the most violent and depressing.  A young boy, Ganta, was framed for the massacre of his classmates and sent to the title location, a private prison that doubles as an amusement park.  He’d like to gain revenge on the mysterious Red Man, the actual killer of his classmates, but he’s being shadowed by the childlike albino girl Shiro who seems to be out to protect him whether he wants her help or not.

Oh, and he developed a mysterious power over his own blood, and as such, the prison is tossing him into an underground arena to battle similarly-powered prisoners for the benefits of various gambling spectators.  That Ganta has survived this long is maybe a minor miracle, but there’s some hope now since a rebel group recruited him.

Yes, there is a rebel group called Scar Chain deep in Deadman Wonderland’s bowels.  These people are others like Ganta, the Deadmen with the Branch of Sin, a power that allows them to manipulate their own blood for a variety of purposes.  Tired of being used for the entertainment of the underworld, these folks are looking to escape the prison.  Escape by itself is difficult, so really it comes down to passing a data chip full of details on the way they are being used and abused to a government inspector during an upcoming inspection.  That doesn’t sound too easy even in the best of circumstances, but there’s a twist.

See, the prison employs a group called the Undertakers, people whose weapons can neutralize the Branch of Sin, and that actually makes Ganta a potentially great recruit since he somehow survived an encounter with one without knowing it at the time.  Sure, Shiro probably helped, but all Shiro wants out of life is to stay with Ganta, eat snacks, and maybe ride the Ferris Wheel.  That’s it.  Anything else and she tends to either check out or lose focus.  It’s to the point Ganta has to ask her to stay behind during the mission.

Now, this being a sci-fi sort of story, and an action story at that, there have to be some twists.  Notably, the rebel group Scar Chain has a traitor in their midst working with the Undertakers, and a lot of the people who head out on this mission won’t be coming back from it.

Writer Jinsei Kataoka gives us some more information about the prison, what it’s really doing, and how the Branch of Sin works here.  Let’s just say that it seems that when the powers kick in, it isn’t that hard to justify taking someone away to the prison for life.  However, Ganta’s powers didn’t kick in before his arrest and trial, and while most of Scar Chain has simple plans for an outside life–the leader just wants to hold his son–Ganta still wants revenge against the Red Man, whoever he is.  No one seems to know.  Furthermore, we learn a bit more about Shiro, and it’s not exactly comforting information.  As for artist Kazuma Kondou, there’s a lot of creativity going into the looks of the Undertakers, the way Branches of Sin manifest, and the overall aesthetic of the prison itself.  There’s a lot to like about Deadman Wonderland, even if it is one of the more violent manga series I’ve been working my way through.  It’s also the one I seem most likely to forget about when I restock manga books, so we’ll see when I get back to this one.

9 out of 10 calculating men.