Sunday, 24 April 2011

Deadman Wonderland - Episode 2

With the appearance of superhuman powers saving him from a fate equal to death at the end of episode one, Ganta has lived to fight another day in his new "home" - but can this kid really last much longer, especially given that last week's "accident" was anything but?

For starters, young Ganta could really do with learning the rules of Deadman Wonderland - something he does during the course of the episode, from the "candy" that he has to eat to counteract the poison which seeps slowly into every inmate from their collar, or the requirement to enter events to entertain the public in the hope of winning the required prison currency to buy food and the like.

Ganta learns a lot of this information via Yoh Takami, the lad who was slashed across the chest mercilessly last episode but who has somehow lived to tell the tale... although it appears that there's more than meets the eye even to his character.  On top of all this, Ganta's first event is the "dog race", a lethal affair (especially when the organisers decide to turn up the difficulty) which puts him head-to-head with Kazumasa Kouzuji, a former athlete who is enjoying a new career as a nutter and prison bully.  With the dog race proving to be literally a matter of life and death, only Shiro's antics manage to save Ganta's bacon on numerous occasions, leading to him returning the favour and saving Shiro at the end of the game rather than taking victory for himself.

Perhaps the biggest problem facing this second episode of Deadman Wonderland is that its shock tactics didn't work quite as well as I would wager they were intended to - we've seen the "literal game of life and death" template used numerous times both within anime (Gantz et al) and out, which makes the whole affair less horrific than it perhaps should be; a situation not helped when characters stop to have a chat or long-winded conversation in the middle of what is supposed to be an incredibly hostile environment.

In fairness, this wasn't particularly a show-stopper for me in enjoying this episode - I'm still interested in its concept and where it's headed, and indeed in its characters and their histories, so on this occasion I can put some slightly clunky delivery to one side.  That said, I hope we move away to more intriguing prospects than simply dangerous fairground games soonish, as even at this early juncture this feels like a story that needs some more flesh on its bones to live up to its billing.

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