'Deadman Wonderland' premieres on AS: Episode One, 'Death Row Inmate'

If you had been bored by the repeats of "Durarara" and "Kekkaishi" on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim / Toonami anime block on Saturday nights, you were in for a treat on Saturday, May 26, as finally the network debuted a new anime series, "Deadman Wonderland."

It's fairly typical of Cartoon Network to play repeats of a prior completed anime series once it has ended, until it brings in a new one. This time, it seemed to take a lot longer than normal for a new series to emerge. In addition to "Deadman Wonderland," the network debuted "Casshern Sins." immediately following it as part of its revived "Toonami."

As you'd expect from the Adult Swim anime block, "Deadman Wonderland" is quite graphic, and not for kids. This isn't your Pokemon type of anime. The show focuses on Ganta Igarashi, a seemingly harmless, ordinary middle school boy who is framed for the slaughter of his entire class.

As episode one began, Ganta and his classmates were discussing a class outing. We learn that Tokyo was mostly destroyed in a huge earthquake about 10 years before. Then, Ganta sees someone floating in the air outside the window, floating because the classroom is on the third floor. The "Red Man" as he is dubbed, massacres the entire class, save Ganta, with what seemed to be some sort of energy discharge. Ganta awakens, shaken, to see his friend Mimi. Only it's not Mimi, it's the "Red Man" holding Mimi's head.

The "Red Man" approaches Ganta, saying "Kishi," and pointing the energized palm of his hand at the boy, throws some sort of red energy "blob" onto Ganta's chest, after which the boy collapses. Ganta awakens in the hospital.

There is his questioned by detectives (although, you'd wonder why he was a suspect at all, wouldn't you?). 29 students were kiiled, with Ganta the only survivor, immediately arrested. He talks about the "Man in Red," but is ignored. But when he tries to show them his chest wound, there is no wound.

Ganta is easily convicted in what seems to be a sham trial and sentenced to death. As he proclaims his innocence, footage of "him" speaklng to his court-appointed lawyer and declaring his guilt as well as his scorn for the system emerges from a dropped cell phone. Ganta, of course, is mystified. No one, of course, asks how a single boy could kill all those students, or checks for forensic evidence that should have shown energy weaponry.

Shift to "Deadman Wonderland," where we see a young albino woman with long white hair singing atop a tower. Shiro is clothed only in a skin-tight bodysuit and large gloves, which help conceal her heavily scarred skin. She says "He's here. Ganta."

We next see Ganta on the prison transport. It turns out that Deadman Wonderland was built on top of the sinkhole (the Red Hole) that enveloped Tokyo 10 years prior. Inmates pay their debt to society, the warden says, by "lubricating the tourist trade." It's Japan's only private prison.

Every inmate wears a tracking collar. As the warden is about to explain more about the collars another inmate pushing a cart runs into Ganta. Accusing the second of stealing goods, the warden slices him open without a second thought. "This is life, boys. Your life."

Cut to the warden speaking to Ganta's lawyer. The pair discuss an "accident" planned for Ganta.

We see Ganta and others doing hard labor, as Ganta drifts into a reverie of his past life, asking for "Somebody (to) please just kill me."

It's then that Shiro shows herself, offering and attempting to kill him. After she realizes he was "fibbing," she tells him they met before, and that "Ganta and Shiro are bestest buddies," although he has no idea what she is talking about.

After a short scene involving bullying of both Ganta and Shiro, we see Tamaki, Ganta's lawyer discussing - to himself - the "man in red." He says, "few people witness the 'wretched egg' in action and live to tell about it." He feels that if Ganta does not "give in," he will become a new plaything for Tamaki.

At this point, we go back to the beating, and the "accident" occurs, as an explosion on the building sends tons of rubble raining down on everyone. As the rubble falls in slo-mo, we see the area where the "Red Man" had touch Ganta glow bright red. As a huge globe descends on Ganta and Shiro, he thinks "I want to live" and suddenly lines of blood emerge from his body. Almost like a weapon, they shatter the globe.

This, is obviously what the "Red Man" did to Ganta. It is also what Tamaki hoped for.

Then, cut to another death row inmate "resisting execution," with a hostage situation in progress; The warden shows, asks about the "data on his collar," and says "he doesn't have much time."

We see a display on his collar suddenly say "Dead," and the hostage holder is just that: dead. It's the other purpose of the collars, aside from tracking. Strangely, the prisoner had been asking for candy, and we see many prisoners eating pieces.

Cut to Ganta, lying in the broken rubble of the globe, alive. We can now see a red crystal embedded in his chest. Unlike many anime shows, the credits roll over the last scene, which is basically just Ganta checking on Shiro's condition. She repeats "Bestest buddies forever and ever," as an announcer says "Welcomd one and all to Deadman Wonderland."

The previews for the next episode fill us in on the candy. Death Row inmates must eat the candy every three days. In order to "earn" the candy, they must participate in a gladiator-like game. Next episode: "Antidote - Candy."

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