What it’s about: The police arrive at a school to find a classroom full of dead children, with only one survivor – a young boy named Ganta. The evidence of his guilt is overwhelming, despite his protestations of innocence, and the verdict is both swift and decisive. Death. The sentence is to be carried out at Japan’s only private prison, Deadman Wonderland, where inmates must participate in death games for the amusement of tourists.
Why you should watch it: This is an action show through and through. It pulls no punches, with deaths, fights and assorted ultraviolence in nearly every single episode. The conflicts and threats that Ganta faces are continually ramped up, and every time he begins to get a handle on his current situation, a new wrench is thrown into the works. The characters are entertaining in their insanity (and Shiro is adorable), and there’s a mystery to be solved under the surface of the story, but it’s the fight choreography and the fluid animation of the action scenes that are the major draws for the show.
Caveats: This is not a show you should try and watch with a 480px pirated stream; there are a *lot* of dark scenes – not thematically speaking (though that’s true too) – but in a literal sense of having the screen mostly black. Watching it on BluRay helps with the contrast but, annoyingly, there doesn’t seem to be a single release without some degree of gore censorship. Finally, the series ends quite abruptly. While it settles all of the immediate conflicts, it feels a lot like the first half of a story than a solid conclusion. But there’s always the manga to turn to if you want more.
Themes: Typical shounen fare with the power of perseverance and friendship,