Thought your life was bad? Sometimes, death is worse. There is no salvation, peace, nor god waiting to receive you into their care. But wait, a god? Maybe you are talking about that big black ball stuck in the room with you. Now you are thrown into a game, fighting green aliens and robot monsters for the chance to survive.
When Kei Kurono is killed, he thus finds himself caught in such a game—a test of his skills, morals, and will to survive. His life is not his own; his death is spat and trampled upon over and over again. What happens if he does not listen? God knows.
A word of warning: Gantz is not for the faint-hearted, but neither is it as simple as it looks. Gore, rape, and violence is rampant, as are portrayals of greed, violence, and all the ugliness that one sees in society today.
Gantz is gritty. Gantz is gruesome. Gantz is a show where a bunch of people who have died essentially become the Japanese MIB, only with a Battle Royale twist.
Now that may sound like an intriguing premise, but let me continue. I'm a pretty easy going guy and I can tolerate more nonsense than most people. For instance, I've actually watched (and in some cases enjoyed) Ikkitousen, Elfen Lied, Mezzo Forte and even some hentai, so I know tasteless when I see it. Gantz is many things, but someone would have a hard time trying to defend it as tasteful. Everyone, including old folks, kids,
and women, get treated like utter crap. They are either getting humiliated and/or abused (physically or sexually). What I'm trying to say is: Gantz is pretty F'd up.
The funny thing is I don't even really dislike Gantz, but I'd be lying if I said Gantz had any kind of depth. They do a lot of talking, but they don't really ever say much. The plot could be described in a paragraph but is stretched out over 13 episodes where you only get two encounters with Gantz/aliens and lots of discussions about whether to shoot or not.
Let's start with the easy part, the pros:
1) So where does Gantz go right?
Well... I suppose the idea behind the show is interesting? Guys with special suits and secret missions caught up in some bizarre intergalactic excursion. The opening theme isn't bad, at least at first, it starts to get old pretty fast though. The sectioned layer teleportation was kind of cool. There's quite a bit of funny "engrish" like "You can be RIDER powful" and "hear are your skores" that amused me. I also enjoyed the Dragonball Z, Fist of the Northstar and possibly Akira references. If you like violence with a lot of nudity mixed in, Gantz has you covered. I guess there is a certain level of... honesty(?) in Gantz's sadistic depiction of humanity. Kato is the only real trace of decency and dignity in the whole show. Gantz is probably the funniest/best part of the show, you bastards.
At best Gantz is a cutting criticism of the dark side of human beings and a hard look at the many flaws that can make people detestable. As such, people are mostly portrayed as weak, cruel, manipulative, inconsiderate and degenerate. Now to some extent I suppose one could consider this seemingly realistic, but more likely, Gantz is the cynical machinations of a misanthrope with deep seated resentment towards the world and some deviant wish fulfillment. Now I'm not passing judgement here, if that's what you are into, then... ok... but let's call it what it is.
2) So what does Gantz do wrong?
First, the main character (Kei) is, to be blunt, an insufferable, lecherous prick who doesn't know that he's an unlikeable, pathetic prick. Almost every other character is as well, or they are gullible and naive. As if that's not bad enough, the show seems to actually attempt to glorify or sympathize with Kei's adventures in douchebaggery. Now, I'm not allergic to douchey characters, I've liked both Light from Death Note and Lelouche from Code Geass. I liked Light's perseverance and determination, and Lelouche's cunning and bravado, but Kei... he's cowardly, perpetually perverted, selfish, and kind of stupid. I'm not just "hating" or saying this out of some kind of predetermined bias, in all honesty, he really just doesn't have a single redeeming quality to speak of. I didn't think this character could get any worse, but, the dub somehow manages to make him sound like even more of a shameless creep.
Then there's the animation. I'm not like some people who gripe and complain about the use of CGI in anime, and I don't even mind it here either, but some of the actual animation is so lazy and terrible...
There are scenes with random pixelation and (intentional?) ghosting and plenty of still/pan scenes where it looks like they were cutting corners in order to afford preserving the CGI to animation ratio that makes up half the show.
Lastly there's the female main character. Her method of death was apparently suicide (bathtub cutting). So we are introduced to one of Gantz dubious and faulty premises. Let's be serious for a second. Does this girl even seem like the suicide type? The reasons they give for her "motive" aren't very convincing. She's not ugly, she's well endowed (i.e. HUGE breasts) and she shows none of the trademark signs of mental scarring. It's not like she would have trouble finding someone willing to employ her or a boyfriend. I think we can all admit someone like that is not in living hell just because of some bad grades. So we are forced to conclude that the whole bathtub scenario is merely a contrived device just to have an excuse to throw in a big boobed girl completely naked.
Here is where Gantz shows its true colors. As if it's not bad enough that 99% of the show seems to be populated by complete jackasses, within seconds of Kishimoto's introduction we are treated to a scene where the girl is very nearly raped, by MULTIPLE people AND a dog. The rest of the show either flashbacks to this or comes up with new ways to have her naked and/or molested.
Classy, and this is just season one. This is pretty much all you need to know to make a decision on if Gantz is the kind of show you'd be interested in watching. Did I mention this show is also kind of gay? Like, literally.
All that aside, the character motivations and plot development are erratic. Characters ask stupid questions and have to repeat the same answers continuously over multiple episodes. They also do very stupid things. Such as, doing nothing and just gawking like dumbfounded idiots. The best was the genius plan of inviting yourself into someone's home, offering yourself as a pet, getting in their bed, and then expecting it to NOT lead to sex... yeah, that makes a lot of sense... wait, no, IT DOESN'T.
It's kind of hard to like Gantz because it's a very dark and absurd show. There really aren't any likable characters other than Kato and maybe Kishimoto. The worst is how deliberate everything is. Characters take FOREVER to make a decision about ANYTHING. It's really kind of deceptive that way. They look like a bad-ass action squad, but in actuality they're a way-too-chatty and indecisive INACTION squad. For example, in this one episode they spend the whole time arguing over whether or not to put on their super powered suits. Sheesh. The only things one can really take away from watching Gantz is maybe appreciating it for its harsh depictions of reality or basking in its scattered brutality and rampant depravity.
NOTE: This review is intended to cover Gantz in its entirety.
Gantz is about as close as you�ll ever get to a love it or hate it anime. It�s littered with so much gore, profanity, nudity, and sex that it�ll either immediately turn you off or immediately glue your eyes to the screen. Being a person from the latter group I have to say I absolutely loved Gantz right from the start. Well, okay, not exactly right from the start. Gantz starts out in the life of Kei Kurono, an angst ridden teenager who has nothing better to do but think negatively to himself and get
boners in class. He�s always worrying about something, and doesn�t care about anyone else except for himself. To put it simply, he�s like an emo kid on acid. He complains about everything, but mostly dwells on the fact that he�s never gotten laid. Hmm�wonder why. Ten minutes of listening to this punk whine and cry while so eloquently squeezing in the occasional F-word and I dare anyone to not want to turn this anime off and forget all about it. Thankfully things pick up from there, albeit with all the whining and crying still intact.
After we get acquainted with our main protagonist we get to meet Katou. Katou is an old time friend of Kei�s who used to look up to him. You see, before Kei was a whinny little punk he was actually a really cool and adventurous kid. Lack of character development doesn�t exactly show why Kei went from hero to zero, but Katou tries to emulate the Kei he once knew throughout the series, starting with attempting to save a homeless guy who fell on the subway tracks, with the help of Kei of course. Here is where the feces (and blood, guts, and various other nasty things) really hits the fan. Kei and Katou successfully aid the drunk homeless guy to safety, but soon realize that a subway is coming their way. Their plan of avoiding it? Run up the tracks passed where the subway should stop. Bad plan? You bet. I don�t know about you, but I�d much rather try my luck at climbing back onto the platform rather than outrunning a damn subway train. But that�s just me. It turns out that Subway isn�t going to stop at the station after all, and both Kei and Katou are royally screwed. They get hit, and heads go flying.
Welcome to the true start of Gantz. Here is where things go beyond the boundaries of typical anime. Here is where things get fun. Kei and Katou wake up in this room with a number of random people who all seem to have died. They can�t leave the room, and trying to make sense out of it all is only a waste of time. Introduced into the story next is who I like to call the third wheel. Her name is also Kei, but like everyone else in the series I�ll just call her Kishimoto. Kishimoto serves little to no purpose other than for Kei to obsess and angst over, and as fan service, but with her flakey and often times clueless personality I don�t think she�s doing anyone a service. Luckily Gantz isn�t about character depth; it�s all about violence, nudity, and all that juicy stuff. That�s where the true main character of the anime comes in: Gantz. Gantz is probably one of the coolest anime characters to come around in years, and he doesn�t even have to say a word. He�s psychotic, yet fully in control. He�s evil, yet lovable. He�s the gears in the machine.
Gantz is a game of survival that you can�t help but love. Everyone in the room is soon transported to an area of town and can�t leave until they have eliminated the targets selected by Gantz. These targets are as wacky as they are terrifying, and while many of them look harmless or relatively easy to dispatch of that is rarely the case. Part of the excitement of watching Gantz comes from not knowing what everyone will have to go up against next. It�s also worth mentioning that this isn�t your typical �bad guy of the week� series. Each time our reluctant cast is forced into battle it usually lasts for a lot more than just a single episode. This is good, because Gantz is one anime that will probably have you thinking �So many characters, so little time to kill them all.� Gantz sets its characters up like dominos. Very few of them are ever developed, and very few survive long enough to see the last episode. There is a lot of death in Gantz and plenty of gory scenes to cringe at and watch over and over again, trust me.
Gantz does suffer from one major flaw, or at least I thought it was major: the ending. For an anime that is so straight forward and brutal right from the start it sure did have a weak and vague ending. Maybe the writers just didn�t know of a good way to end it. The movie The Cube had a very similar ending and plot, so I must wonder if that is what inspired Gantz in the first place. I would have liked to get a little background info on Gantz before it ended. Like where did he come from, and what was the purpose of these �games�. Either way, there is a lot to love (and hate) in Gantz. It�s lack of character development, almost completely unlikable protagonist, and strict R rating is sure to turn many viewers off, but if you�re a fan of the brutal and nasty stuff I see no reason why you won�t like the fun little rollercoaster that is Gantz.
The anime had potential, the concept was well thought up and creative, but the story was AWFUL. Everything was so slow and boring i had to force myself to watch it. Too much talking and preaching its so annoying. The characters are a bunch of cry babies and most of em annoyed the crap out of me. ii wanted to shoot 3/4 of the characters personally. the episodes are all epically slow. i swear for like a whole 3 episodes it was like "im gonna do it! im gonna shoot, im gonna do it. yeah im gonna do it now, im gonna shoot now, oh
no i cant shoot oh no but i have to oh no i cant okay im gonna do it now." just dreadful. This is the harshest review i have ever written. but i have to say, this is the worst anime i have ever seen. i wanted to shoot myself. you still thinking about watching it? ha go ahead. waste your time.
Good guy A: I'm gonna shoot it!
Good guy B: Shoot it now!
Alien: *kills random guy*
Good guy B: Shoot it already!
Good guy A: I will for sure!
Alien: *kills another guy*
Good guy A: Okay, I'm serious, I think I should shoot it right now...
Good guy B: Yeah, sounds like a good idea...
Alien: *kills nearly everyone but good guy A and B*
Good guy A: *finally shoots the alien*
Fun aside, but this is mostly what this anime felt like. It's not that it's bad at all (the story is quite interesting and offers great potential to make this show an awesome anime), but there's still so much that
made me feel uncomfortable watching this show. But let's start with the good thing:
The main characters die in the very beginning and get kinda reborn in an appartment in Tokyo. They receive some super cool weapons and a suit, that offers superhuman strength, as well as the mission to use this equipment to kill some aliens, that are hiding in town, within 60 minutes. Why they got to do that remains unexplained, but I didn't mind that.
That actually seemed to be a pretty cool concept to me, and I did enjoy the first episodes.
The characters are cheap... like... really cheap. We got the generic loser, that fell for a beautiful girl, we got the generic beautiful girl, that fell for a tall, muscular guy, and we got the generic muscular guy, that's not interested in the girl at all. Besides that we have a lot of annoying side characters, that are mainly used to be crushed by some aliens. Also there's no bit of character development in the course of the anime, which would be necessary to make the characters even a little more interesting. So long story short: The characters aren't really bad, but they're also far from being special or at least interesting.
The anime looks alright, no more, no less, a 5 out of 10, the least you could expect but nothing better. I'm really struggling how to describe what the show looks like, but I think "alright" just describes it perfectly well. There's a lot of splatter and a lot of nudity; fans will like it, others won't. The design of the aliens is alright aswell (an onion-frakenstein's monster-hybrid and birds without wings). Nothing to get excited about, but they're okay.
The soundtrack is actually pretty good. It fits the whole scenario and accompanies the action scenes as well as the not-so-action-scenes. The opening's still stuck in my head right now by the way.
First of all I did enjoy most parts of the show, because I like the idea and the way the story is told. BUT! Now we get to the big minus, that made some of the episodes a pain in the ass: The fighting scenes are sooo drawn out. I heard a few people comparing it to Dragonball Z, but Gantz is completely different (in a bad way). In DBZ both the hero and the villain stop fighting for hours just to talk about how much they hate each other, but at least they're as fair not to attack their enemy while he's still talking. In Gantz the "heroes" stop fighting to do nothing, while the aliens keep crushing them. It sometimes felt like they didn't even want to kill these monsters, and I personally really do hate that. It even made me fast forward some scenes because I just couldn't handle it, and eventually it's the reason I rate this anime not as good as I'd actually like to.
Don't watch it if you can't see blood. Don't watch it if you don't like sex scenes. Don't watch it if you get worked up over characters standing on the sidelines. Watch it if you're into sci-fi/aliens/mystery/superpowers/whatsoever, and you'll be having a good time.
When our protagonists in these Survival Anime are thrust into extreme - often life-or-death situations - we get to see desperate fights for survival and morals being put to the test. Any fan of the survival genre needs to check this list out!