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Anime DVD Review: Gantz, The Complete Series


It’s a girl!

What is Gantz?  Gantz is a large black orb, sitting in an empty Tokyo apartment.  Gantz has poor grammar.  Gantz will give you weapons, and points if you are good.  Pray you never meet Gantz.  If you see Gantz, you’ve already died once.  But, the next time you die, it’ll hurt more.  And you won’t come back again.

High school slacker, Kei and his childhood friend, Kato are sent to Gantz after dying in a gruesome subway train accident.  They find themselves strangely alive and intact, locked in a small apartment with a group of similarly confused strangers.  Gantz plays some music and the game begins.  A drawer with cases slides out of the mysterious sphere.  Each case contains a skin-tight suit, fitted to each person, increasing their strength, defense and agility.  Strange weapons also slip out of Gantz and players grab what they can.  The mission?  Kill aliens for points.  Anyone who survives the alien hunt can return to life at home until summoned by Gantz for the next mission.  Get enough points and go home for good.  Oh, and don’t try to run from the mission, your head will explode.

For those who love fast-paced action anime with hearty helpings of violence, gore and sex, Gantz is one of the best series in recent years.  Filled with cliffhangers and unending WTF moments, it’s hard to stop watching Gantz once you start.  The animation is sleek and shiny, with a fitting amount of CG.  The human character and background designs veer toward the realistic (no gigantic eyes and gravity-defying, pink hair here), making gory scenes extra intense.  Most main characters are visually appealing, especially Kei’s crush, the busty and suicidal Kishimoto.  As for the aliens, they are often freaky, sometimes humorous Japanese cultural references, but always random and damn deadly.  Gantz also has plenty of meat behind its visuals.  Kei’s self-centered nature and disregard for others adds a disturbing yet refreshing dark humor to the story.  It’s wonderful to watch him reluctantly help his fellow players alongside his heroic, selfless foil, Kato.  Further, Gantz presents an intriguing interplay of each character’s moral weaknesses, their effects on each other and how they reflect society’s selfish  need for violence as entertainment.

Special Features

Funimation’s latest DVD release of Gantz: The Complete Series collects the entire 26 episodes in a 4-disc, single shell case with slipcover.  This compact version is a space saver and the SRP is decent.  (Check out our Amazon link below for an even better price!) The DVD extras are minimal -director interviews, music video, trailers and textless songs- but the series is brilliant, it doesn’t need fluff. 

Audio

Dolby Digital in Japanese 2.0 and English 5.1 options, with clear English subtitles.  For Gantz and the majority of anime series I prefer subbed, however this dub is tolerable and at least the voices are age appropriate for the primary characters.  The series’ opening song “Super Shooter” by Rip Slyme is upbeat and catchy, complete with odd lyrics.  As far as soundtrack, eerie hums, vocals and techno beats accompany the action when needed. 

Video

Studio Gonzo delivers gorgeous visuals in Gantz.  The backgrounds are often chockfull of fluid CG, but never to the point of obstructing the story or action.  Expect fan service from scene one and plenty more throughout the series.  More delicious than all the bounce is that it has a purpose –whether demonstrating Kei’s personality or holding up a mirror to the audience’s own perversions.  Also expect a wonderful attention to anatomy detail in human gore scenes.  That and lots of fun alien splatter.

Overall

The only drawback for Gantz is that there is no solid end to the story.  The anime series is based on Hiroya Oku’s manga (English version published by Dark Horse and also highly recommended) which is still ongoing.  Like other great anime series with incomplete endings, i.e. Berserk, the reward is in the journey and Gantzis one hell of a trip.  As you watch the series, any time you think Gantz can’t get any weirder, Oku outdoes himself in his exploration of the surreal.  I encourage everyone to buy and watch the Gantz anime, get addicted, then find your next fix with Oku’s fabulous manga.

ComicsOnline gives Gantz:  The Complete Series 5 out of 5 Yuzo-kuns!

Get your copy of Gantz: The Complete Series on Amazon now!

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