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by Rebecca Silverman,

Deadman Wonderland

GN 13

Deadman Wonderland GN 13
Deadman Wonderland is crumbling around him, but the madman in Toto's body still isn't willing to let it go. As the group fights to take him down, Ganta admits that he knows the truth about his relationship with Shiro and comes to understand just how damaged her psyche really is. As the rest of the story of the past is revealed, Ganta weighs his choices – does he destroy Shiro, or is there a better way to end the nightmare?

Ever since his classmates were killed and he was framed for their murders and sent to Deadman Wonderland, Ganta Igarashi's life has been a nightmare. Forced to fight for his life in twisted gladiatorial matches and later against the forces that put him in the prison in the first place, he's become a stronger person than he was while still retaining his basic humanity. This last idea is what ultimately proves to be the cornerstone of Deadman Wonderland's finale – despite all that they have been through at the hands of the unscrupulous villains, the so-called Deadmen have managed to remain “human;” they've kept their sense of compassion intact. Senji's care for Ganta has been proof of that for several volumes now, and we can see that compassion backfire in the case of Mitsuzaki, whose inability to comprehend that her friend Toto is gone and that Rinichiro Hagire occupies his body instead ultimately leads to her downfall. But where this idea of human compassion is most important is in Ganta's relationship with Shiro.

In previous volumes we learned of Ganta's mother's involvement with Shiro's creation, and in this book we finally get the gaps filled in in terms of her relationship to the great earthquake and Hagire's present condition. While it isn't nearly as gut-churning (or heart-wrenching, or whatever strong feelings the previous information instilled in you), in terms of how Shiro came to be the Wretched Egg, it's fairly powerful. Her emotions have been warped beyond repair even as she occasionally appears to surface from the morass of anger and confusion that drives her, and she's come to see Ganta as the one person who can end her torment. This may not be a false assumption on her part, given how Ganta's mother structured the mechanical aspects of Shiro's system controls, but it fails to take into account how he will feel about it. That's really the heart of the whole twisted story – even when she learned to love him, Ganta's mother never really thought about (or was capable of thinking about) what interactions with Shiro and the part she set him up to eventually play in the saga would make him feel. Therefore we can see Sorae Igarashi as lacking that basic compassion that sets Ganta's fellow Deadmen apart from the villains, even though, before her death, she showed signs of reformation.

Unfortunately not all of this comes across as clearly as it might, largely the fault of the way the flashbacks and characters' point-of-view moments are jumbled together. Shiro also never quite comes together as a character, and it seems almost too sweet the way that Ganta can call up and act upon childhood memories of playing with her in order to do what he needs to (or wants to) given that she killed all of his friends, destroyed his life, and very nearly got him killed to boot. While it's nice that Ganta can look past his own issues to see how miserable Shiro has been, it also stretches credulity to the breaking point, robbing the ending of some of its sweetness and power. There's also the sense that the larger resolution – taking down Hagire – goes by a little too quickly as well, especially as pertains to Mitsuzaki, although the Toto part is decently handled. Likewise the very end, at least a year after the events of the story, doesn't offer a whole lot of explanation as to how the characters came to be where they are. Granted, that might have been a lot of clerical red tape, but surely there was some sort of inquest into Deadman Wonderland that we could have heard about or been shown as a means of wrapping things up?

Rushed finale aside, this is a nicely tied up conclusion. The wrongs Ganta suffered appear to be righted, along with those of the other surviving Deadmen, and the prison's ruins have become the stuff of urban legend. The artwork, despite its issues with the female body, is easy to look at and effective when it needs to be, although fight scenes can feel very messy, and the last three pages are beautiful. The characters will never be truly all right, but they've made as much progress towards that as they can, and in a story that never had a guaranteed happy ending, that's nothing to sneeze at.

Overall : B
Story : B-
Art : B

+ Story wraps up pretty well, last few pages are beautiful and surprisingly hopeful. All the pieces are at last revealed.
Finale feels kind of rushed, Ganta's final actions don't quite ring true after what he's been through. Shiro never quite comes together as a character. Some issues with female bodies in the art.

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Production Info:
Story & Art:
Jinsei Kataoka
Kazuma Kondou
Licensed by: Tokyopop

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Deadman Wonderland (manga)

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Deadman Wonderland (GN 13)

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