Interview with Deadman Wonderland Creatorsby Theron Martin,
Anime News Network had an opportunity at this year's Anime Central to sit down for an interview with Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou, the married co-creators of Deadman Wonderland, who write and draw the series collaboratively.
NOTE: This interview does contain some spoilers for Deadman Wonderland.
ANN: How did you come up with the original premise for Deadman Wonderland?
Kataoka: “The offer for the series came up right after our previous work [the Eureka 7 manga adaptation] ended, so of the ideas we had in mind, we drew out the most usable one (laughs) and that became the plot of the story. The idea of the prison came out later in discussion with Kondou.”
Kondou: “One of the ideas I put in was that the story would take place in an amusement park, and together, those two ideas formed the basis for Deadman Wonderland.”
ANN: To clarify, did the prison or the amusement park come first?
Kataoka: “The prison came first.”
How long did it take to boil the premise down to what we see in the manga? Did you have to work through a lot of potential scenarios or did the story come easily?
Kataoka: “It didn't take long to come up with the premise. What took long was incorporating the characters and settings into the story.”
Kondou: “It took about two months to come up with the premise and the details got finalized as the series went on.”
ANN: Which works and artists do you most admire and which do think had the biggest impact on Deadman Wonderland?
Kondou: “We have many manga artists that we respect, but ones that we have in common are Kazuhiro Fujita (Ushio & Tora), Masamune Shirow (Ghost in the Shell), and Ryōji Minagawa (Project ARMS). For me, at the root of my experience would be a lot of Shonen Jump titles like Dragon Ball and Ultimate Muscle.”
ANN: You previously worked on the adaptation of Eureka 7. Can you tell about the major differences between working on an official adaptation and an original story?
Kataoka: “When you work on an existing source material, you're essentially just remaking something that already exists, so it's actually a very stress-free process. This is because, I believe, the expectations for us start pretty low. We just need to follow the original source material and stay true to what it is. There are guidelines we have to follow, but otherwise we just concentrate on making a good product. However, when we were drawing Eureka 7, we were doing that concurrently to the production of the anime, so we were not fully told how the story would develop. We only got a gist of how they would run the anime, so the process might have been a little different than you imagined.”
ANN: For creating the original work, how does the editorial process work differently?
Kataoka: “We actually had less freedom with our original story. Higher expectations equals higher pressure to be different from our previous work.”
ANN: Do you have a favorite scene from the Deadman Wonderland manga version?
Kondou: “This would be the death scene for the character Tamaki. It was my idea to have him commit suicide with a gun, and when the gun fires, have the dancing flower starts dancing.”
Kataoka (laughing): “Can I say pass? Everything!”
ANN: How did you feel about the Deadman Wonderland anime series as compared to the manga version?
Kondou: “I was worried how all of the gory depictions would actually make it to the screen, and my concerns ended up being well-founded. To clarify, this was based on our viewing of the broadcast on TV.” (NOTE: The broadcast in Japan was censored by darkening some parts out.)
Kataoka: “In fact, the anime was already in production when the 2011 earthquake [The Great Tohoku Earthquake] took place. The opening of the manga has a great earthquake devastating Japan, but that was switched out because of the real-life earthquake.
ANN: What was your reaction to the news that it would be shown on American television?
Kondou: “It was hard to believe that Deadman Wonderland would be animated even for a Japanese audience, so it was even harder to believe that it would have an American broadcast. And it was very impossible for me to imagine Ganta speaking English. I have not heard the English dub yet but would like to watch it!”
ANN: Deadman Wonderland is very gritty and violent. Did you ever struggle with how dark it was, and was it hard to write/draw?
Kataoka: “Actually, the darkness was not an obstacle to drawing. It was all of the details, the time-consuming task of having to depict all of the grotesqueness, that was the harder part."
ANN: So it was the technical aspect rather than the content?
Kondou: “Actually, I have a hard time handling grotesque material. I can't even watch horror movies. So I had a hard time figuring out how to even depict grotesque content. I couldn't even stomach looking at the reference material. At first it was difficult to even draw, but I eventually decided to treat it like drawing anything else that I don't like, so I did end up learning some techniques.”
Do you have a message for Deadman Wonderland fans in the West?
Kondou: “Deadman Wonderland is complete at volume 13. It's most rewarding to us if readers say that they enjoyed the material. I don't know what we'll be working next, if it will be enjoyable for the exact same readers, but that's what we strive for.”
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