Thursday, March 4, 2010

Manga Review: Deadman Wonderland, Alice


Chris Zimmerman
MIAMI (CBS4) Deadman Wonderland - Volume 1

Set in a dystopian future, a massive earthquake has leveled Japan, sinking nearly 70 percent of Tokyo. In its wake, a new prison/tourist attraction was installed known as Deadman Wonderland. Those who are unfortunate enough to be sent there must fight for their lives as well as for the pleasure of the park attendees.

Deadman Wonderland follows the exploits of 14-year-old Ganta Igarashi. His life is turned upside down when a red cloaked figure shows up at his school and systematically slaughters everyone but him. When he comes to, Ganta finds himself being charged for the horrific crime and sentenced to death which set to be carried out at Deadman Wonderland. Once inside, Ganta is subjected to barbaric inmates, malicious administrators, and brutal games of life and death.

When Ganta begins praying for death, a mysterious young albino girl named Shiro arrives to grant it. After second guessing himself, Ganta decides he would much rather live, inspiring Shiro to become an ally of sorts, protecting him from the dangers lurking within the prison walls even if it means putting herself in harm's way.

From the surreal psycho fantasy setting to the Disney inspired character designs, the artwork is outstanding. The characters appearances are cartoony and create a wonderful contrast with the grim and gritty atmosphere. Imagine Hayao Miyazaki directing a film with Zack Snyder.

This is a title aimed at older teens. With the occasional rough language and hints of gore dispersed throughout, Deadman Wonderland doesn't have to try hard to earn its mature rating.

One of the joys that come with reading Deadman Wonderland is its unpredictability. Who was the Red Man that attacked Ganta's school? Why is Shiro fascinated with Ganta? Will Ganta survive Deadman Wonderland? While all of these questions go unanswered, none of them are ignored as several hints are dropped for later on. The author does a brilliant job of juggling the many story points while throwing several curve-balls the reader's way.

Deadman Wonderland is akin to a roller coaster ride, racing through page after page plunging readers right into the action. Despite its morose setting, themes of friendship and Ganta's struggle to overcome adversity make the story all the more captivating. The first volume is layered and filled with enough intrigue that it will sustain reader's interest until the next one drops.

Alice in the Country of Hearts - Volume 2
The mystery of Wonderland is expanded on as Alice continues to explore her new surroundings. This time more attention is paid to the supporting characters, some of which undergo complete flip-flops in terms of personality, some more so than others. After spending more time with the residents of Wonderland, Alice herself begins to notice the subtle shift in personalities. Later she discovers a terrifying secret about Julius, her landlord, that grants her and the reader greater insight into the true workings of Wonderland.

Despite this, Alice displays a greater comfort level than one would expect in her position as she attends tea parties with the Mad Hatter and continually dodges Peter Whites relentless pursuits all the while discovering valuable clues that pertains to Wonderland's origins.

Even though this is based on a game, it never feels as such. The story's progression feels natural and although some of the character's personality shifts appear unnatural, one has to remember this is Wonderland and everything is fair game. Alice continues to be a likeable protagonist among the villainous lot she is stuck with. Even with all the conspiracy and treachery surrounding her, she never gives in to despair or panic.

At least one major mystery introduced in the first volume is expounded on, demonstrating why Wonderland's characters are the way they are. The revelation is both surprising and somewhat terrifying and will almost certainly play a larger part later on down the road.

Alice in the Country of Hearts continues to be one of the most enjoyable new series to hit stateside in quite some time. With substantial revelations, thematic tension, and a fair amount of character building, the series maintains a level of quality that puts it a notch above other adaptations of the fabled children's novel.

1 comment:

誇張 said...