Beware of the black ball known as 'Gantz' because if you see it, that means that you are already dead and are about to partake in a series of tasks. The tasks involve donning a black suit and taking up weapons to fight aliens which cannot be seen by the naked eye. You might be able to regain your life if you complete the trials of Gantz, but more than likely you will die and this time it will be permanent.
Sounds like an intriguing story enough, right?
Gantz is the kind of series that makes an earnest attempt at social commentary and thought-provoking characters all the while losing sight of those goals by overindulgence in cheap thrills. However, it does have enough interesting aspects to warrant it a viewing—if you can handle the content that is.
Gantz is a bloodbath, literally, with some very disturbing scenes of gore that even made me—A seasoned viewer of violent anime—feel a tad bit queasy. Characters are torn up, disemboweled, decapitated, maimed, shot and just about any other type of violence that can be imagined. Needless to say, this is an anime that is not for the squeamish and should be avoided by anyone who has a sensitive disposition.
Other than gore, Gantz does attempt to reach for the stars visually but suffers from some sloppy visual work by the studio which produced it; Gonzo. Gonzo is notorious for making anime that teeters between lazy animation that is on the cheap side, or skilled animation that is some of the best that the industry has to offer. Gantz exudes this weakness of technical flip-flopping strongly. Gantz is a mixed bag with its animation, featuring some very ill-placed computer animation and character design that lacks vibrancy. Where Gantz's strength lies is in its action sequences that are rough-necked and gritty, fitting in nicely (better yet, nastily) with the despondent nature of the show. Musically, the series also does well, especially with the catchy little opening theme.
Another thing Gantz bombards the viewer with is sex. There is not a episode in Gantz where sex—or at least nudity—is not being flung (no pun intended) in the viewers face. Every female character in this series has at least D-cup sized breasts and is shown sporting a tight black cat-suit. Gantz also has a habit of portraying every male character in this series—with exception to Kato and a few others—as either a potential rapist or a sex addict. Either way, gender stereotyping is prevalent in Gantz, and so is the use of sexuality, which is implemented so much that it becomes desensitizing.
Gantz also has a very despicable lead for a main character; Kei. Kei is one of the most self-centered, egotistical, misanthropic leads that has ever been put on film. Despite the fact that he does make positive changes as a character later on in the series; it is too little, too late. If the series had his best friend Kato as the focal point--who was much more of a noble character--it would have fared better.
Director Ichiro Itano has stated in an interview that he wanted to make an anime that would not only challenge censorship in Japan but also provide commentary on how desensitized society has become to human suffering. To be fair, Gantz does touch on some of these issues and surprisingly enough, does it well. Characters are given opportunity to develop as believable components to a story that does discuss the topics of death and violence. The concept of being stuck in a purgatorial state, only to act as a servant in fighting alien forces is fascinating enough to keep viewers watching, and character development does improve as the series goes into its later episodes. As with a lot of anime, Gantz has a sort of religiosity to its plot and uses quasi-religious elements to enhance the story, such as fate and redemption. In hindsight, Gantz had a lot of enticing ideas, but the execution is less than perfect. This anime has a morally questionable ending, gratuitous violence that would make a horror fan raise an eyebrow, and a lead character that is worthy of scorn, Gantz loses sight of the supposed moral commentary that the creators were trying to convey.
I have been told by fans of this series that the manga is much better. Admittedly, I have not read the manga, so that will be a future project of mine. Hopefully, it will be a better piece of work than it's anime counterpart.
Always bloody, and always hyper sexualized, but at times surprisingly deep and intricate, Gantz is worth at least a rental but only for those with a cast iron stomach. Gantz is not for everyone and warrants a strong two stars, stay away at all costs if you dislike gore or strong violence. — Dallas Marshall
Recommended Audience: A hard R for extreme violence, sexual content, and very mature themes. Not for the squeamish - you almost have to be a sick, twisted individual to want to watch this, thanks to the main theme of the show.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Gantz © 2005 Hiroya Oku / Shueisha • Gantz Partners
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