Gantz is a science fiction seinen with undertones of theology and philosophy that meld together to form a wildly absurd, and action packed book. The main characters Kurono & Katou are childhood friends whose paths cross fatefully in a subway after years of estrangement. The two pals boldly attempt to save a homeless man from the clutches of a Tokyo subway train, and then the unthinkable happens. Both main characters are gruesomely killed within the first issue in gouts of blood and hyper violent gore.
The manga has been in circulation since 2000 and just recently ended about a year ago. The series was notorious for its uninhibited nature with regards to pushing boundaries in: gore, sex, and ultra violence. This smartly written manga cuts to the core of what it means to be human as It shows multiple sides of humanity from the self-righteous all the way down to the cowardly + everything in between.
some things that worked. The dynamic of being sent out on missions through Gantz suddenly stops to set the stage for an invading group of aliens. The creation of the Gantz suits become clear. The strange missions had a purpose all along, to prepare humanity for the alien invasion. But would they stand a chance against an enemy that is vastly superior to humanity in every way conceivable? From a climactic ending to a series stand point, the alien invasion to end all alien invasions seems to work.
As the story escalated through the years Gantz was never afraid to kill major characters off. Even going as far as killing several groups of characters within the first couple moments of introducing them to the readership. Running parallel to the insanity of the book was Kei’s selfish nature, and ultimately how he came to understand it through conflict and war. He started off as a punk kid who walked around in a lull. But when he died, it was as if he transcended. The world wasn’t the same for him anymore. Incrementally he would continue to change until what mattered the most to him was friends and family. But it did take a while for him to grow that way.
Another interesting component to the Gantz phenomenon is the little to no backstory regarding the aliens until nearly the end. As far as the story is concerned for many chapters, the teams do not realize they are prepping for an otherworldly invasion. That is until nearly the very end when huge alien ships appear over every major capital city. The tone of the story does not necessarily change because of its depictions of hyper violence and gore, instead multiple teams of Gantz teams all around the world are forced to defend their world.
The author gave a very well thought out perspective on the aliens inside the mother ship with the invasion of Earth as the backdrop. The extraterrestrials and their seeming nonchalance to every day life, and how eerily similar they were to us human beings was a sight to behold. Especially since up until this point Gantz had not revealed why they were running around killing aliens in the first place. All the sudden there was colour and perspective to the opposing side as they too struggled to maintain normalcy in a war time scenario. The fact that the aliens considered the humans as nothing more than food akin to that of cattle was interesting and harrowing. I believe the author was shining a mirror for the lot of humanity, and what we see isn’t so pretty. The brutal absurdity of this alien race is just one of the interesting quirks of this highly imaginative series. It posits a moral and perhaps even a socio-political dilemma, what if we as human beings were able to traverse the stars, would we be similar to these aliens?
Now, there are some plot holes that detracted substantially from the main story. The first and arguably worst examples included a group of vampires that magically show up, meddle in the affairs of the main characters, and then completely pull a houdini shortly there after.
The other hole came with the final arc of Gantz. What I found a little odd was how quick the author threw out the connections between the aliens already on her who were being used as a means to fight the Gantz teams and the actual invading aliens themselves. The author leads the reader to believe that these aliens already on earth have a similarity to the ones in Men in Black in the fact that they are simply immigrants trying to find a place hiding amongst the humanity. I was convinced before the invasion arc that some how this plot point would be tied off. Instead, the invading aliens were one race of giant aliens.
Another inconsistency was when the humans find “The Room of Truth”. Basically, this is some sort of a computer node with an artificial intelligence that houses a seemingly endless amount of data/knowledge. The room essentially through hurried writing becomes a magical eight ball where all the Humans can find out anything they have ever wanted to know like for instance the meaning of life. Theology comes into play heavily here. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone but the results of their questions are pretty startling. The answers to these questions aren’t so much the issue I have with the book. It’s the execution of such. It comes off as lazy writing to a series finale where truth be told could have ended in a number of more creative ways.
I believe that the ending was completely rushed. As the last few chapters neglectfully lead us to the end of the series. Also there is no afterword from the author himself, and thus leaves many questions unanswered.
The Arsenal gives Gantz a 8/10 for:
– hyper violent action/nudity/gore
– kick ass super suits
– main characters die more than once