It's hard to describe Deadman Wonderland. It's definitely not a Naruto or an FMA or a Vampire Knight. It's much better than all that- but only for the right kind of person. Because the biggest caution about the series is the amount of gore involved, and despite the brilliant and innovative story, if you get queasy easily- I don't recommend it.
Deadman Wonderland is a brilliantly crafted, innovative, and fresh story that breaks away from all the other manga out there. It's dark, morbid and creepy, and it won't try to delude you with false happiness. There is no "joy". There are only people trying to make the best of a horrible situation. Because the setting is at a prison, which happens to be Deadman Wonderland itself, and dually serves as an amusement park of sorts for the public. From there on the story evolves to center around the protagonist, a young boy named Ganta, the odd people he meets, how they survive, and the day to day life of the living hell of Deadman Wonderland.
There are loads of twists in the story, which usually takes action because of the characters that trigger it and drive the plot. Everything is very dank, very depressing and very psychological- and if you're interested in that type of story- it'll probably be right up your alley.
In a quick statement, the art is fantastic. It's by the same artist and author of Eureka Seven, so it's very crisp and clean, but detailed at the same time. Gore and backgrounds are done intricately and believably, the character designs are beautiful, but their expressions are by far my personal favorite. You can see the pain in each character's expressions, and they're all extremely vivid. Sometimes it's not pretty, but neither is their pain.
Characters in Deadman Wonderland are perhaps the biggest gem of the series. All of them are severely flawed in different ways- and they have every right to be, considering their surroundings. Ganta, the protagonist, is simply a young boy. It's understandable that he's likely to get on the nerves of many readers, but he has every right to act the way he does. He's been thrown into turmoil with trauma that comes one bit right after another- and think about it for a minute. If you were the sole survival of a mass murder of all your friends and classmates, if you were framed with said mass murder, and then thrust into a prison that holds no boundaries on violence where no one will listen to you, and more? In less than a month? He's an ordinary boy who has lived a peaceful life before this. He never got into fights. And now every second is a fight for his very life. He struggles to understand this place and these intimidating criminals,
But it's not only Ganta. This series has Tamaki- the main villain, and never before have I seen such a hateful antagonist. He gets delightful and sadistic joy out of what he does, and doesn't show remorse. It's quite a good break from many other villains out there in manga today. You can't help but hate him, no matter how you try.
And apart from our main two, there's a dozen other easily memorable characters included in Deadman Wonderland (Shiro; the strange girl who speaks in third person and appears to know Ganta, Azami; an oddly normal woman who supplies advice to Ganta on his first day; and so forth.) All of them witness trauma, and all of them suffer severely from this environment- but they evolve. They grow and we learn more about them. We see what makes them tick. There have been multiple times within the story that it was the characters themselves that honestly caused me to cry.
I enjoy Deadman Wonderland a great deal, and I get excited with each development and new chapter. However, I also enjoy the well-done gore, which if you perchance don't like that sort of thing, it will definitely hinder your experience with the whole series. But if you are looking for something substansial, something different and fresh, something that breaks out of the normal- it's a perfect series to try.
Like I've stated, it's not a perfect series, but it's pretty close for the right type of person who can appreciate it. And once again, if you're looking for something happy- don't look here.