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Gantz #1: Game of Death PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Thursday, 30 March 2006 00:00
Volume 1 (Cover Art)Gantz is one of those series with a lot of controversy behind it - US fans really didn't like ADV's 2-eps-per disc release pattern for the first season, while the high blood-and-guts factor repelled as many fans as it attracted.  MVM's UK release corrects the release pattern problem - 4-eps-per-disc for us - but the gore's just as gruesome and the characters just as unlikeable as they've always been.  The first time I watched Gantz, I didn't make it past episode one - how will I survive when I've to watch a whole volume?!

1 - It's the Beginning of a Brand New Day
It's turning out to be a particularly bad day for Kei Kurono, after he gets run down by a train while helping an old friend save a drunk man who had fallen onto the tracks - although he's such an inconsiderate, negative-minded asshole I doubt anyone will miss him.  Just when it appears he's died, though, he & his friend Masaru Kato find themselves in a Tokyo apartment with a group of other people who have just 'died'.  In the room is a black sphere, with a message:  "Your lives have ended.  How your new lives will be used will be up to me.  That's the rule."  It seems they've been given a second chance at life - but at what price..?

Impending DoomNot a good way to meet

2 - They Aren't Human
The sphere has a request: there's someone it wants killed, and along with a description of the target it's got all the weaponry needed to complete the job.  A few moments later, everyone in the room is transported to a location out in Tokyo.  A few of those in the room are smart enough to pick up weapons before they're transported, and they're soon glad they did - one of them has done this before, and explains that they're job is to hunt down and kill alien criminals who are living on Earth.  Back in the apartment, the sphere is ticking down a 1-hour countdown, so time is running out.  At least one of the group doesn't believe the story they've been told, but soon finds out that refusing the sphere's requests isn't an option...

Open up...In need of protection?

3 - Kei, You're Awesome!
The clock continues to count down, and in only a matter of moments only Kei, Kato and Kishimoto are left alive.  Despite seeing everyone else brutally dismembered, Kato's unwilling to take a stand against the alien responsible - and when it comes to pulling the trigger, Kei can't find it in him, either.  The resulting chase gives Kei time to realise that the only thing left in his future seems to be what the sphere has planned for him, though - and once that little bit of reality sinks in, he finds a new determination to come out of the battle alive...

Angry alienJump!

4 - Now Then, Here Are Your Scores
Kei's got his opportunity to finish the hunt, but again we're back to him not being able to pull the trigger.  Fortunately, Nishi's on hand to finish off the alien, after which it's back to the room - where the sphere, or Gantz as it's called issues the survivors with scores for their performance in the hunt.  From Nishi's score it's clear that 100 points is the target & that he's been doing this for a while - but he's still refusing to be direct about what's really going on...

Kato to the rescueEnd of round one

Nice little comedy moment when the Gantz is handing out the scores, with Kishimoto's scores raising a definite grin: "0 Points.  Your breasts are too big.  You wander around too much with no underwear on."  Hardly her fault - that's the way Gantz copied her - but it seems it's going to take a while for her to reach the 100-point target.

Oh yes - "copied".  There's one little bit of information that Nishi did hand out, that the people brought to the room by Gantz are just copies of their deceased selves.  That's not news that would do your self-image a lot of good - in most shows I'd be pegging that as a point for character development (and believe me when I say that most people in this series really need some development), but I'm not sure if Gantz is going to turn out to be that sort of show.  Certainly from these episodes it's looking like an all-action gorefest - which is fine as far as it goes, but can a 26-episode series really carry such a simple premise, especially with characters as inherently unlikeable as Kei?

The general animation style takes a bit of getting used to, as well - being a GONZO series, there's heavy use of CG graphics and stylish pans across scenes, but somehow they don't quite feel right.

There is some good stuff, though.  The OP/ED themes are great and fit the tone of the series perfectly, while the setting definitely has potential if the writers want to stray away from the gore now and then - the mystery behind who/what Gantz is, who sent it, the emotional issues the players may have from being manipulated the way they are and so on.  Watching past the first episode did persuade me Gantz isn't a total loss, but there's still a lot work to be done if it's to become essential viewing.

Rating - ***

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