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Deadman Wonderland: Volume 1    by Jinsei Kataoka & Kazuma Kondou order for
Deadman Wonderland
by Jinsei Kataoka
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2010 (2010)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

You will find many odd dystopian futures in manga, but maybe none as strange as Deadman Wonderland - its story by Jinsei Kataoka and art by Kazuma Kondou. This future holds a privatized prison where the prisoners are attractions whose continued existence depends on winning games and getting candy.

Days before an upcoming field trip to Deadman Wonderland, the great privatized prison attraction in Tokyo, Ganta's junior high classroom is decimated by the Red Man with only Ganta surviving. Convinced that he killed his classmates, officials hand him a death sentence to Deadman Wonderland. Inside as an inmate not a visitor, Ganta begins to learn the dark truth about the prison. Races and contests are set up to entertain visitors as the inmates compete for Cast Points which allow them to buy luxuries such as steak and sushi, as well as the candy the death row prisoners must consume every three days to counteract the poison slowly being fed to them through their collars. Through these trials, Ganta makes a few friends and alliances, but the Red Man still seems to be after him as Ganta's powers awaken.

Kataoka has created one bizarre future. The story is only helped by Kondou's shonen artwork that hides much deeper and darker secrets. Ganta himself is a completely sympathetic character as he has ended up with the worst sentence possible in the worst place possible for a crime he did not commit, yet he cannot prove his innocence. Volume 1 is obviously only the tip of the iceberg as conspiracies still lie in darkness and odd friendships are newly formed with some symbolism lurking on the edges. It will be interesting to see what Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou's futuristic vision holds for subsequent volumes of Deadman Wonderland.

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