Archive for March 1st, 2008

I’ll kill you, cut you up, and cum in your formaldehyde!: Deadman Wonderland is pretty twisted

I have blazed through the 2.5 volumes of Deadman Wonderland currently available, this hit new manga from the author and artist pair of the Eureka Seven manga (Kataoka Jinsei and Kondou Kazuma, who seem to both do story and art collaboratively). The flaw with the Eureka Seven manga, or so I’ve heard, is not the actual storytelling or art, but rather the changes made from the anime timeline. And I can definitely feel the Eureka Seven influence in the designs for Deadman Wonderland–Ganta looks suspiciously like Renton, and Shiro looks suspiciously like Anemone–as well as the overall art style. Most of the other characters don’t resemble Eureka Seven characters, though.

The actual plotline runs something like this: Ganta, a normal high school boy, is thrown into a public prison called Deadman Wonderland, a sort of theme park/circus where the public can be entertained by nasty criminals. The reason he’s in prison? He killed his entire class, or, rather, a mysterious entity killed his entire class, and then he got accused of the crime. So, of course, like any wrongfully imprisoned person, he must fight to prove his innocence, but (of course) there is a Mysterious Conspiracy afoot that he has been ushered into.

The problem is, however, is that Ganta has been “infected” by something titled the Branch of Sin: a mysterious power that allows him to use his blood to form bullets. Many others in Deadman Wonderland have this ability (hence the “Deadman” in the park’s title, as this is what they are known as), and the powers seem to be stemming from a mysterious earthquake that sank 70% of Tokyo ten years ago. The backstory reminds me a bit of Scryed, except less Taniguchi Goro and more…twisted.

The fun thing about this series is that it’s a balance of cute elements and dark, twisted violence. It’s much more effective at being disarmingly cute/violent than Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, in the sense that neither side is amped up to ridiculous levels. For instance, you have Ganta’s mysterious childhood friend, Shiro, who talks in some kind of weird Yoda version of Japanese and is very childlike and disarmingly cute–until later, when she reveals her true nature and desire to protect both herself and Ganta. I shall have to remain silent about most of the rest–this manga is a bit like Narutaru in that if you have certain elements spoiled for you, the series as a whole could be ruined. Let’s just say that the part of the manga where the title of this post comes from is a bit, shall we say…devious. I will say this, though: that particular fight showcased some interesting depth of character.

The manga’s still serializing, and hasn’t been licensed yet, but it’s already pretty good. I think I need to read something less…horror…in a bit, because, well, I’ve read two seinen horros series in close succession (this and Parasyte), which is pretty impressive for someone who doesn’t really like horror all that much. Although, Japanese horror tends to get it right rather than be grotesque without a reason, so I guess I just like it more. Who knows.

Ookiku Furikabutte: Beware of Wild Momokans, For They Are Deadly and Quick to Anger

Once one grabs hold of you, you are through. End. Owari. Finito. So tread carefully.

Halfway through the little-seen but much-lauded Ookiku Furikabutte, I think I’ve finally gotten a grasp on the style of the series. It is a sports anime, of sorts, but the focus isn’t the actual sport, it’s the players of the sport. It’s definitely bringing back echoes of Princess Nine to me, doubly so because the manga is authored by a woman, although Princess Nine was shoujo, and Oofuri is seinen. The original manga actually ran in Afternoon, so for anyone who knows their manga serials, that’s a good sign, as I don’t think there’s been something I’ve read or seen that ran in Afternoon that I’ve disliked. From the soft and gentle Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, to the rather less soft and gentle but still in the same sort of mindset Parasyte, it’s all been great.

In the case of Oofuri, it’s a fun series to watch. From the ever genki and cheerful Momoe, the coach, to the interplay between the nine members of the team (the names of which I can never remember, too many of them are regulated to bit roles in the face of the major focus, Abe and Ren, but they’re all fun). The series is about embracing teamwork in one sense, but in the other, it’s the story of a very personal growth of Mihashi Ren from his timid, low-self-esteem roots to a much more sociable person. It’s sort of a tale of recovery from bullying.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t actual sports in this sports anime–it could hardly be called sports anime if it didn’t have actual games, but so far we’ve only had one, a scrimmage match against a team which contained most of Ren’s former teammates–the same ones who begrudged him for being the ace pitcher and who cost their middle school most of their games (or so they think). And even then, that game wasn’t about the tension of whether or not they were going to win, but the tension came from a combination of the characters’ own actions and the actual game itself. And, hey, if you ever wanted to see what Lelouch would look like playing baseball, Fukuyama Jun plays a bit character in that game, with a quite similar voice. It certainly amused me.

The non-game episodes are spent training, having impromptu birthday parties, making jokes about masturbation (it must be a sports manga meme to do sex jokes; Hajime no Ippo had plenty of “Ippo has a big ol’ one” jokes strewn liberally throughout the series), and having science lectures. The last of these amuses me greatly, because you’re sitting there watching a baseball anime, for chrissakes, and all of a sudden all these complicated psychology terms crop up and the teacher sponsor for the club makes them do some weird activity to boost their brainpower. It’s strangely surreal.

The series certainly isn’t for you if you have some kind of weak main male character allergy, although Ren is far from most characters who get termed “weak” main characters (he does not, for instance, ever accidentally brush against Chiyo’s bosom. Not once), but, then again, we live in a world where people hate Renton Thurston, so it’s a toss up.

And speaking of Shinooka Chiyo, she is the greatest thing in sports anime ever. She gets tragically short screentime, but every time she’s on screen, it’s mega-cute. She’s just there for relief from the male-overload, like Momoe, but that’s okay. She’ll be a love interest later in the manga, I just know it. Proof of cuteness:

She is truly dedicated to baseball. She will even wear herself out watching bad videotapes of baseball tournaments to collect data on opposing teams’ players. That is hardcore.


I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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March 2008