I went to the book store last week and picked out a few mangas. The first one was Deadman Wonderland Vol 1. This book is written by Jinsei Kataoka and illustrated by Kazuma Kondou. Vol 1 was released in Japan in 2007 and came to the states in 2010.
Plot: Ten years ago an earthquake hit japan and sank about one third of the mainland. There is only one prison left in area and it is know as Deadman Wonderland, a very fitting title. The main story starts with Ganta, the main character, in school with his friends. Ganta looks out to see a figure and then suddenly the figure appears in the room. The figure, named the Red Man, kills everyone except Ganta. He shoots him with a red crystal. When Ganta looks around he smells blood and sees everyone of his classmates dead. He is the sole surviver. He than is sentenced to Deadman Wonderland on Death Row. Which we find, technically everyone there is on death row but I will explain that later. Upon arriving to the prison Ganta slowly learns the twisted rules DW has. He also learns that he must compete in intense life or death challenges to earn CPs, the currency here. He meets too fellow Deadmen, Shiro and Yo. There is a link between Shiro and Ganta. They were friends when they were little, but outside of maybe two brief flashbacks, this substory line has not been developed yet. The red crystal seems to give Ganta powers to launch projectiles when he feels his life is endanger.
Setting: The setting so far has been my favorite part of the series. The prison uses the money it raises to help rebuild Japan. All the prisoners have a lethal poison in them which they must eat a piece of candy to neutralize. The candy has the antidote in it. The candy is sold at high prices throughout the prison. So if they want to live, they must compete in challenges to earn CP. Ganta gets a taste of one of the events, the dog race, which forces the players to try to make it to the end of the race alive. I am really looking forward to learning all the ends and out of the prisons as well as seeing all the challenges it holds.
Characters: I like most of the characters so far. Ganta is pretty cool and is only getting cooler as the series goes on. Shiro is a nice mystery that I cant wait to see explored. Yo is not my favorite character and hasnt done too much, but Vol 1 ends with me believing he will play a much bigger role for later Vols. Some other characters worth mentioning are Makina, a the chief guard of DW, she is pretty legit.
Score: I am giving vol 1 an 8. It did what I want a manga to do, not make me want to put it down. You will really pull for Ganta who is making the best of his situation and you will be dying to learn more about the characters and the prison itself. It definitely has me ready to go buy vol 2. I recommend giving it a try and seeing if you like it too.