Pop Culture Gadabout
Thursday, August 19, 2010
      ( 8/19/2010 06:24:00 AM ) Bill S.  

PRISONER 5580: In the second volume of Kataoka and Kondou’s futuristic youth-in-cages battle royale, our small-but-spunky hero Ganta is made privy to info that the reader already learned in volume one: that the lawyer responsible for the framed youth’s incarceration is Deadman Wonderland’s smarmy warden, It appears the powers-that-be knew about our hero’s incipient abilities. Ever since the Great Tokyo Earthquake, people with the ability to manipulate their own blood and use it as weapons have begun cropping up all over the country. “That’s the whole point of this facility,” we’re told: to keep these powerful figures -- also known as Deadmen – captive while they’re both studied and exploited for entertainment. If the whole set-up seems more needlessly elaborate than necessary, well, that’s just the cost of futureworld entertainment.

Thus, our hero finds himself pitted in another violent contest, this time against an opponent named Senji who is capable of turning his spilled blood into a scythe. First time Ganta tries to cut himself and use his own precious bodily fluid in defense, he nearly passes out from anemia. Some super-powers can be pretty damn inconvenient.

As “reward” for showing what he can do (“He has disturbing power,” Makina, the full-breasted chief of security says, “or at least, the potential for disturbing power”), the boy gets hauled down Ward G, the double-secret underground facility housing the other Deadmen -- including the mysterious Red Man responsible for the death of Ganta’s classmates. This imposing figure is “the epicenter of evil here at Deadman Wonderland,” but he doesn’t make an appearance in the second volume. Also disappointingly shunted off to the sidelines through most of this entry (even though she’s given book cover prominence): childlike mystery girl Shiro, who mainly provides the cheerleader function during Ganta’s moments of gladiatorial glory -- at least until the book’s final pages where she’s given a chance to wreak bloody havoc on some unfortunate guards. The final panels of her smiling innocently in a smoking mound of the dead and dismembered has me hoping we and Ganta learn something more about this Frankensteinian girly in the next volume of this well-wrought and kinetic dystopian entertainment.

(First published on Blogcritics.)


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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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