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 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 was published in English by Dark Horse Manga from June 25, 2008 to November 17, 2015.
The series has been adapted into two live-action movies which released in Japan on January 29, 2011 and April 23, 2011, respectively. A TV movie titled Another Gantz was aired before the second film was released and is an alternate telling of the first film.
A Japanese teenager waits at a train station, reading a trashy magazine featuring an idol enticing the reader with her big boobs. An elderly lady approaches the teenager, asking for directions. The teenager quickly mumbles a non-informative reply while thinking to himself what an annoyance the lady is, why should he give a shit about her? Oh look, a drunken tramp just fell onto the tracks and no one is going to help. Why should they? It’s none of their business, just look away and pretend you didn’t see it happen.
This is Gantz. Hiroya Oku's exploitative, violent and cynical depiction of the Japanese and their behaviour when confronted with moralistic situations. There's also a bunch of ever-increasingly ludicrous battle royales with aliens and vampires that destroy various parts of Tokyo and other cities, but that all comes later.
Back to that train station and that teenager: Kei Kurono. Instantly unlikeable, but oh so real. You either know kids like him, or you recognise your own traits in his character. You'll probably be lying to yourself if you don’t see yourself in some of these characters, its human nature to recoil from awkward situations. Gantz seems to gain great pleasure from thrusting its many random characters into awkward situations, sometimes involving nudity, usually violence, usually spontaneously.
Gantz is about a room somewhere with a black ball and a very infantile presence who gives out childish nicknames to unfortunately-recently-dead and usually unwilling participants in a 'game' that requires them to kill aliens in a kind of real-life recreation of a First Person Shooter. The brilliance is in the mystery and its ridiculousness.
People die and are transported to the room to pick up their suits and weapons, and if they survive the subsequent battle they're free to wander off and return to their lives...until they're transported back to the room for another battle, and so on until either they reach 100 points and are released from the game, or they die for real. Author Oku continually ups the stakes, regularly throwing bigger obstacles in characters' paths, and it becomes a case of “can he top this?” The answer is always: "yes he bloody well can!”
There is a massacre in Shinjuku, Tokyo that beggar’s belief in its astounding ambition to shock the reader with its scope, creativity and viciousness. Once I read this sequence, I knew any anime adaptation would either fail completely at bringing to motion what this manga gets away with, or it would follow it faithfully and probably be banned/censored. Obviously at the time of writing this review, the answer is the former, there aren’t many anime studios in the world that are as crazy as Oku.
This is Gantz's best asset, its secret weapon, the reason for why it's so memorable. It's outrageous. Because it's happening in such a familiar world. Oku's attention to detail, the way people behave and react, either as individuals or as a collective, or even on the internet, is spot on. Whether it's a massacre on a street or in a school, or a small squabble in an apartment or a train, the tension is reminiscent of real life, because the dialogue and body language is grounded in reality, no matter how out there the action and sci-fi ideas are.
The art of the manga is economical and precise; computer aided graphics help keep the locales detailed. The costumes, props and weapons design is a nice deviation from the typical 'dress the characters in black leather' trend that The Matrix seemingly rejuvenated in entertainment media. Kudos to Oku for using his imagination and not dragging the manga down with anything generic. It’s one of his many traits, taking existing ideas that are ripe for generic rip-off but putting his own spin on them. In this case the battle suits are humiliatingly tight, and regularly attract scorn and mockery from bystanders.
The action sequences in this manga are some of the best I've ever read. Oku has a real eye for framing the action from the right angles and positions. His action pay-offs always bring a smile to the face, the audacity and enormity of what occurs on the page, is a sight to behold. The destruction to urban property gets exponentially bigger throughout the manga, no structure or vehicle is left spared. My review is intentionally vague to save the surprises for the reader, but if you like guns, swords, urban environments chopped, sliced and blown up to bits, then you're going to have a blast with Gantz.
The ideas in Gantz are to do with the narcissistic state of 21st century living, the materialism of the masses, human relations in the face of ever disturbing circumstances. There is almost a Hitchcockian vibe in the way ordinary people are pushed into extraordinary situations and thrash around desperately trying to get out of them. The great mystery of Gantz is a sci-fi conspiracy that is always just bubbling under the surface. In the forefront of the story is the cast of lowlifes and nobodies. School kids, street punks, idols, yakuza, tourists, businessmen, random passersbys, random aliens and vampires.
Would you jump onto the tracks and drag the drunken tramp back onto the platform? Oku's humorous retort to that is a train decapitating your head for your troubles. Welcome to Gantz.read more
Here we have a manga that I cannot help but loathe and love all the same. Gantz being a thrilling Seinen, Sci-fi, Action manga that would take the reader on a gory rollercoaster ride, featuring amazing battles for survival. Yet it also happens to be riddled with poor dialogue and spontaneous plot developments that may stem one's enjoyment.
It all begins as two young Japanese high school boys, meet their end by a homicidal underground locomotive. And that would have been the end for them, if this wasn't a manga. So having been semi-posthumously transported to an apartment, along with others in the same situation; they are now forced by some giant black ball, to partake in missions and kill random aliens, in what seems to be some kind of sick game.
And that is Gantz in a nutshell... a manga that can be both straight-forward and random. The plot, revolving around people forced into these high mortality mission, is simple at its core and honestly it is a bit too simple that those who yearn for more substance in their reading material, may initially be turned off by Gantz. I know I was and it wasn't until a particular mission that I got completely hooked; onto the graphic, gory, intense, vulgar manga that is Gantz. And since Gantz is so good at grabbing the readers by the balls and never letting go, it can easily get away with having some glaring issues with its story. Like how so often it seems there's little to no direction in the storyline and how readers had to journey through over 30 Volumes, to understand and get some sort of explanation regarding the overall plot of Gantz. Unfortunately the basic reasoning given, simply could not fill up all the plot-holes that were left unattended.
Yet even when littered with the kind of issues that could greatly lower the score of some lesser manga, Gantz still remains as one of my all-time favourites. Kei Kurono is a large factor in all this, which is somewhat remarkable given how much of an annoying prick he is at the start. As the story progresses, so does Kei Kurono, along with a lot of the other characters that aren't basically cannon-fodder. And that is where the mangaka does a good job. In creating perilous situations for these characters to develop and also knowing how important it is to utilize the downtime for some more character development. However even though the mangaka tries to provides us readers with an interesting collection of characters, I can only give him an A-. Simply because a lot of the dialogue he had these characters spew could be mind-numbingly stupid at times.
At least it doesn’t completely affect the overall enjoyment of the manga and it is the artwork that contributes a lot to this. The artwork can be described as a technical masterpiece, since Hiroya Oku does a fantastic job of utilizing 3D renders to create a uniform look to the world. So that both the real life & sci-fi elements look like it's all part of the same manga. Not to forget the attention detail, where even the odd blemish or decapitation looks as though at lot has been put into it. However artwork is largely a subjective matter, so what I like may not be the same as what you like.
In the end Gantz is a violent, gory, lewd but overall an enjoyable manga. However in order to enjoy it, the reader must do one simple thing, turn off their brain and accept Gantz for what it truly is... some lengthy piece of mindless entertainment. Kind of like a Michael Bay movie. If you cannot do that then you simply won't be able to ignore the numerous plot holes and the various plot elements that were shoved in, because Hiroya Oku must have watched some Western Movie/Show, which inspired him at the time (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer & 2012 comes to mind).read more
Gantz is kind of awesome, but in a weird way. A really weird way. Not "weird" because of any kind of originality, but because of how it manages to be awesome.The plot is extremely lazy with blatant holes throughout. It's mostly about the overblown/unrealistic action, and holy mother of god, is it overblown/unrealistic. Ammo clips are infinite, when actual guns are used. The masses are weak, brainless, and easily influenced cannon fodder, to an absurdly exaggerated degree. "The masses," of course, including just about all side characters. In the world of Gantz, gangsters hang out in toilet stalls and collect people's teeth like baseball cards. Characters lose limbs and just joke about it without bleeding to death. At one point, the crew fights off an army of massive evil Buddha statues. No societal or theological commentary there, just shits and giggles.
This was clearly the product of a creative mind, at least at the outset, but a lazy one as well. It falls apart towards the end, it's full of terminated sub-plots and forgotten characters, and it constantly re-writes its own rules. So why was it not bad? Well, it is self-aware to an almost hilarious degree. Okay, it is absolutely to a hilarious degree. I can't imagine Oku (the mangaka) wrote this stuff with a straight face. The aliens are often ridiculously comedic in their odd design, although they got less so as the series went on. They have zero personality besides some funny quirks and rage buttons. Gantz plays with the idea of "hey, what if they're just misunderstood," and then, for the most part, tosses that idea out of the window along with all possible ambiguous morality or subtlety. Gantz first dons a façade of depth via things such as cynicism and death, but it acknowledges this and subverts it over time as if its playing a joke on you. This is actually enjoyable if you have the right attitude and observe it like you would an Ed Wood film or something of that ilk. The amount of tropes it ultimately evokes may be record-setting, and this is, in a way, impressive in and of itself.
Terminated subplots are probably the biggest issue. At one point vampires are introduced. They are never explained, their exact abilities and motives are unclear, they just look like humans, and their whole diabolical vampire organization is forgotten. At one point psychics are introduced. Their abilities are never explained and the limits vary, the origin unclear. Things in this same vein happen again and again throughout the manga. That said, it's somehow a bit refreshing to have a poorly written series that just does not give a fuck about silly little things like "plot," if only in that it harbors no illusion as to its quality and just focuses on delivering good action and fanservice instead. The series is actually near-pure fanservice, in one way or another. At a certain point, if the plot gets bad enough, the author would be better off just not trying anymore. Gantz knows this. It knows where to focus its energy and how to play to its strengths. I wish manga like Bleach were more like that. Hilariously enough, the attitude the mangaka had while writing this manga epitomizes the nihilistic themes surrounding it far better than anything within the work itself.
Unfortunately, the action is marred by inconsistency. Really, the entire manga is, but I think we've established that. The way the weapons and suits work changes inexplicably from chapter to chapter. Hell, even the way Gantz beams people in varies, in more ways than one. Not to mention all of the rules and limits. As the combat lacks proper consistency, it consequently lacks proper tension. It can be pretty entertaining, like some cheap Hollywood popcorn blockbuster, but it doesn't offer much in the way of substance or emotion. Tension is further reduced as more plot points are introduced that make fatal injuries and even death negligible. There is the whole "what if the world is destroyed" thing, but the general populus in Gantz is so stupid that you kind of like it when they die.
The characters are all either one dimensional or they ended up having development that was completely contrary to everything we had learned about them previously. They sometimes work as semi-clunky plot devices, but they are hit or miss overall. Any development they experience is to serve the plot, contrived, and spontaneous. They all invoke the "parents do not exist" trope to some extent, because Oku considered the prospect of writing more characters and was all like "dude, fuck work" and then I imagine he smoked a joint or two and had a marathon Idolm@ster watching session with Kentaro Miura and Yoshihiro Togashi. That said, a lot of the characters do manage to be entertaining, and, due to the high body count, only a few of them overstay their welcome. The few that do, I want to stab, but I also get some kind of masochistic pleasure out of watching them succeed and I imagine Oku bestowed plot armor upon them for this very purpose.
The art is, surprise, surprise: inconsistent. Some faces are far too similar, or just generally not well drawn. Early on especially, they often looked really wonky. Landscapes are usually lackluster in terms of scope, and creativity during battle. I remember in a scene that took place in Italy the art was just chaotically beautiful, and repulsive simultaneously; the atmosphere was incredibly unique as well and I found myself wishing it was like that all the time, but alas, it was not. The different settings were usually not disparate enough, atmospherically. The aliens are mostly creative and detailed, with some exceptions, such as the entire final arc. The action is sometimes a bit hard to follow, but is generally fluid and well executed from panel to panel. The fanservice was generally alright, albeit forced as all hell, but I found myself thinking that Oku believes all titties are identical and are all the size of basketballs. I was gonna fly out to Nippon with my porno collection to teach a nigga about the vast spectrum of areolas and give him a tit diversity tolerance course and shit, but he eventually learned the concept of "DFC" and I was reasonably satisfied.
The rushed ending and drawn-out final arc is where Gantz went completely wrong. Expect to hear a lot of name-yelling by tragically separated lovers, expect the concentration of plot armor to reach unprecedented levels, expect one of the least subtle manga ever to get even less subtle, and expect to watch the only truly interesting character in the series turn into an annoying and generic Hollywood hero. Every single character morphed into a complete cliché, for that matter; even if they were somewhat cliché before, they still had some individuality. In the end, there isn't a single compelling character.
If you want answered questions, then this is not the place to go. The plot points that were resolved (most were not) were all resolved with a ridiculously random deus ex machina evoking the age-old maxims of "it was [more] aliens" and "don't read too much into it." The ending itself is not only a complete shift from everything that came before in the manga, it is completely devoid of all logic to an extent that I had never seen before this manga. Trust me, no exaggeration, wait until you read it.
If you want mindless—and I do mean mindless—action, then you're in luck, because that's all Gantz really delivers on. That said, it delivers on this somewhat well and with a sense of humor. It is actually at its best when it's overblown, unrealistic, exploitative, and absurd. If you go into it knowing what to expect then you should end up enjoying it somewhat. I have to admit, the only other manga this length that I have reread as many times is probably One Piece. The final arc and horrendous ending drag the final product down pretty significantly, but it's still not bad
I said "Hollywood" three times in this review, but don't get me wrong, it isn't really like any Hollywood film. There are just some similarities in the intent. read more
If you are looking for a series that is 'good' in any way, i urge you to avoid Gantz like the plague.
I should clarify that i'm not necessarily offended by violence or sex; i'm a huge fan of other violent seinen such as Berserk and Vinland Saga. However, the author's main goal seems to have been to shock the audience as much as possible in order to give the illusion of quality.
In Gantz, people who die are faxed into a room by a black ball that hands out weapons, talks in 'leetspeak', and tells them to kill aliens. That is literally all the story you need to know or will be told.
The first 100 or so chapters of Gantz are nothing less than loathsome, and this begins with the characters. The main character Kurano is an unlikable douchenozzle, and that's his only character trait (besides his misogyny, which we'll get to); his friend Masaru is equally shallow but is instead a 'white knight' to contrast with Kurano. The worst example is Kei, whose appearance is as a naked suicide victim and is shamelessly exploited by both the author and by the other characters. Kei is seems more like the author's blow up-doll than an actual character; she is constantly being molested or threatened with rape, and each of the early chapters is preceded by an official drawing of her in an explicit pose.
Characters don't have to be deep for a series to be good, but Gantz goes out of its way to make each character as shallow and unlikable as possible. Most of the minor characters that come to the Gantz room are gang rapists, and the main characters aren't much better. Somewhere around chapter 120 the main cast becomes somewhat interesting and likable, but at that point the series is caught in a vicious cycle between being really dumb and really offensive. The only character with a real arc is Kurano, and it can be summarized by 'got a girlfriend and became slightly less despicable'.
By far the worst part of this series for me was the way the female characters are treated. Even after the 100 chapters of exploiting Kei have ended, each female character introduced after that is completely defined by their crushes or codependency on one of the male characters, who treat them like garbage. This trend only gets worse as the series goes on.
Almost as bad is the relentless, naive cynicism at play. Every person who isn't a main character is portrayed as mean, stupid, and pointlessly cruel, especially the teachers (gives some insight into the author's life, possibly). Horrible things happen in this series for no reason other than to shock the reader. When a mass shooting occurs, it's because the author wanted to draw a bunch of people being machine gunned to death, not for any narrative reason (it is barely mentioned later on). In short, the world of Gantz is one that is frankly not worth saving, and this becomes tiresome to read.
The sole high point of Gantz are some of the intriguingly weird alien designs, especially early on, and the level that the art gets to later on. I personally found the art to be uninteresting, but you can't complain about its overall quality.
Against all of these criticisms, the other nitpicks i have seem irrelevant. The lack of any narrative flow, the poor pacing of each chapter, and the out=of-place story elements (there are vampires and psychics introduced that have nothing to do with the aliens, without any explanation at all).
If you want to read violent schlock, go read Hellsing (which is REALLY GOOD violent schlock). If what i just described sounds like your cup of tea, then god help you. If you like story, character, or investment on the part of the author, then find something else to read. read more
Hiroya Oku is an alchemist of storytelling. He closely studies theories behind storytelling in every popular media, imbibes them, and somehow transforms them into a truly original story that no one has ever seen before.