It’s time for a manga that’s so dark, it makes Black Butler look light at times. What makes this series even more extreme than Black Butler is that the dark plots never stop. There’s never a moment of happiness for any of the characters as they just move from tragedy to tragedy without a break. Plot twists continue to occur to make things even worse. You can’t trust anyone in the series and the only certainty is a world of pain for the characters. Lets get started.
The story starts with Ganta going to school as usual. Everything was nice until a man ran into the classroom and blew everyone up. He left Ganta alive on purpose to stick the crime on him and Ganta was sent to a max level prison where they store people with powers. Unfortunately, Ganta has no experience using his powers so he gets bullied all of the time. All powered individuals manipulate their blood in one way or another so they have to be careful not to let the fights drag on for too long or they’ll get dizzy. This prison is also run as an amusement park by night and they have prisoners fight each other to the death or just til limbs start flying. Ganta wants to get out of here, but it’ll be tough. The general public doesn’t even know that the prison exists and the cops have all been paid off. Everyone in this arena is evil for some reason or other so if Ganta wants to get out, he’ll have to get stronger.
One thing you’l notice about the series right away is that the deck is stacked against the main character. There is a plot twist by the end which explains this. The mastermind has a personal vendetta against Ganta so the kid is always placed in a rough spot. Usually you only have to survive seeing your friends get destroyed once right? it happens to Ganta twice and he still had to put up with a lot of trouble after that. His allies aren’t exactly the typical friends that you would expect. His team includes a liar, a delusional old man, a girl who likes inflicting pain, and a few other suspicious fellows. None of them are actually good guys and it just so happens that their goals coincide with Ganta’s at the moment. It’s not guaranteed that this status quo will stay either so Ganta has to always be careful.
Naturally, death isn’t the thing to fear in this series. The villains always opt for fates worse than death to make the whole thing even more dark than it already was. It’s just a very toxic atmosphere throughout the prison and while that may make some feel as if the series did a good job for making it so “realistic” it also means that the series is no fun to read through. It’s just incredibly violent and sinister all around with no light at the end of a tunnel. After a while, you can only read so many tragic backstories until you start wondering what’s for supper or when your next exercise coupon will come in the mail.
Ganta is the main character of this series. He starts out as an ordinary kid who is blown away by how crazy the world is. Gradually, Ganta “realizes” that he has to allow himself to be corrupted to an extent in order to survive. He becomes willing to murder and do what he has to in order to win. For the most part, he’s still considerably more heroic than the other characters though and at least tries to find a positive way out of the situation. He’s just placed into a lot of futile situations. You can’t help but feel bad for him most of the time because his adventures are extremely painful. He did somehow get a decently happy ending so that’s more than you can say for a good chunk of the cast. He’s still essentially broken by the end based on how many traumatizing events he went through though.
Shiro is the main heroine and she’s one of the most twisted characters in the series. The audience becomes aware of the twists right away even if Ganta doesn’t so I wouldn’t really consider this a spoiler. If you do, skip this paragraph as I am about to explain her true form. When Shiro was a kid, she hung out with Ganta a lot of the time. Unfortunately, she was then used for experiments and after a lot of gruesome operations, she developed a split personality and turned evil. She is now two people. One of them is still Ganta’s best friend and tries to protect him. The other one just wants to make his life as bad as possible. She destroys all of his friends twice and really makes the situation as bad as she possibly can. So, you have to decide whether she is truly evil or not. Shiro was clearly brought to this point by the scientists, but it doesn’t change the fact that she is now a person who hungers for violence. Shiro is completely insane by the end, but luckily we do have a big of friendship power left in the series. I know, it’s hard to imagine that in this title of all things, but it managed to survive.
Toto is the big boss of this series and his backstory is also very twisted. Needless to say, he enters into a twisted partnership with another villain. She’ll destroy him at some point so he can’t destroy her until she finished the job and he’ll destroy her some day. Needles to say, he gets the last laugh since he’s the main villain, but it was a very weird dynamic. It’s hard to call him the meanest villain in the series because after a while, they’re all so evil that it’s hard to say who is the worst. Regardless, he takes down as many characters as possible. He has quite a lot of abilities at his disposal so it’s very hard to defeat him. He’s memorable, but certainly not likable. I barely even need to add that last part though because none of the villains are likable since they’re so over the top insane. From all of the characters, the only one who is actually likable is Senji. Ganta’s on the brink of being likable I suppose. I just didn’t care much for him by the end. It didn’t help that in one of the twists, he knew what happened to Shiro and just blocked it out of his mind which caused him to forget. That’s convenient for Ganta since he can sleep well at night again, but it didn’t help Shiro get out of her jam.
Senji is the closest you’ll get to a main rival in this series. He starts out as a mini boss and after Ganta beats him, he decides to be more heroic. It’s not as if he ever became a hero, but he does like fighting and doesn’t care for the plans that the villains have. Unfortunately, this is all after he already lost an eye so he is a little weakened for the rest of the series. Nonetheless, he is crucial in taking down the villains and it’s safe to say that Ganta would have been completely doomed without his help. Senji is very experienced in fighting and his blood abilities are well suited for combat. His eager personality is also perfect for a rival character. He’s still a little more intense than other rivals, but that comes with the territory. At least he aimed his aggression at the villains.
Then you have the rest of the peanut gallery. These guys talked a good game and were good at beating up Ganta, but didn’t do much besides that. Minatsuki uses sharp blood abilities to stab at her opponents for a while before finishing them off. She’s not all that powerful next to some of the other foes, but she makes up for that by being the most sarcastic member of the whole group. She is always ready with the insults and keeps it going for as long as she can. Her brother started out as a pretty corrupt guy who eventually realized that he was no match for the Deadmen and pretended to become a good guy. Everyone bought into it so that worked out for him.
I got to give a shout out to the Deadman wiki for being so terrible. It does a good job of being accurate to the series because it’s hard to navigate it at all. Seriously, you’re just going to wonder what’s happening the more you browse. Either way, those were most of the main characters. You’ve also got the old man who has an identity crisis, but he never really does much. There was the leader of the resistance, but he certainly didn’t last long. Ganta’s only friend met the same fate as she simply wasn’t going to last long in such a mean spirited series. Aside from the main boss, there was also the director, but he spent too much time rolling heads across the bowling alley and not enough time preparing himself for the inevitable threats.
This series is also one of those titles that tries to convince you that humanity as a race is inherently evil. Just about everyone can be bribed or corrupted in this series. As mentioned, there are no heroes. You can’t really trust anyone and the fact that nobody knows what is happening in this prison is pretty sketchy. It’s all to further the narrative that this author is going for
There is quite a bit of fanservice in the series as well. (As if the title needed any more negatives right?) One character’s design was made only with that purpose in mind and in case you don’t figure it out, the author has everyone comment on it nonstop. Another one has a costume that is made to look as if it’s just skin and other characters comment on that as well. Some of the sob stories involve pretty iffy plots and just picture the darkest plots you can think of. Since every character has a dark origin, they really start to add up by the end and the series covers all of the bases. It just gets darker and darker as the series goes on. I can’t stress enough just how over the top violent and dark this series is. You just want to avoid it at all costs. I don’t even remember if there is any animal violence here although almost definitely. I think at least a bird probably dies. The series is already at a 0 so it’s not as if it hurts it any more, but at least it throws some insult to injury.
The art isn’t all that bad although it can be really cluttered when the fights start. A lot of stuff is always happening on screen and the author just isn’t able to fully capture it on screen most of the time. You can follow what’s happening well enough though especially considering that most of the fights in the series are one sided massacres or have a lot of splash pages for shock value.
Overall, This is pretty much the definition of a series that you want to avoid. Who wants to read a dark and dreary title like this when you can just pick up a volume of Dinosaur King or Prince of Tennis and be thrown into a world of excitement? It’s rare to have manga titles that are a 0, but it’s not completely unheard of. Black Bird certainly earned that rank and Skip Beat was the latest to achieve it after jumping the shark. Ideally Deadman will be the last series for a while to get a 0 because it is really hard to get that score. There was just nothing redeeming about this adventure though so it couldn’t go any higher. At least the volume covers and the title are pretty good giveaways that this title’s not going to be good though so I like to think that a lot of people never started in the first place. Avoid the series and you’re gonna be golden.