While waiting to catch a subway train home from school, 16-year-old
Kei Kurono sees an old childhood friend, Masaru Kato, on the
railway platform. Suddenly, a drunken homeless man falls on
to the tracks. Despite the number of witnesses who could help,
only Kato goes to his aid. Recognising his former friend,
Kato calls for Kurono's assistance in rescuing the man. Together
they manage to get the man to safety, but in doing so they
are hit by an incoming express train and killed instantly.
Seconds later, with no idea of how it has happened, Kurono
and Kato find themselves in an unfurnished apartment in Tokyo
in the company of several strangers, a dog and a large, black
spherical object they are told is the Gantz...
on Hiroya Oku's comic, originally serialised in the weekly
magazine, Young Jump, Gantz is the controversial
anime series that, even in its heavily censored TV broadcast
version, shocked Japan with its splatter-punk violence, explicit
profanity, stark eroticism and unerring tendency to challenge
the limits of acceptability for a primetime animated TV show.
1 contains the first four episodes in the series and neatly
introduces viewers to the world of Gantz. As our two
heroes are killed, they suddenly find themselves in a room
with a number of other people who are also dead. All the people
in the room have recently died and have been given a second
lease of life, "resurrected" by the Gantz. As Kurono and Kato
are trying to come to terms with their situation, they witness
the transference to the room of a naked girl, the victim of
an apparent suicide. It is soon revealed that a new life comes
at a price. Their reprieve from death's clutches is dependent
upon one thing - to remain alive they must follow the Gantz's
instructions to seek out and destroy alien life forms known
to be hiding on earth. Failure to comply will result in a
second, permanent death.
is bound to be compared to The Matrix, but that is
an insult to the intelligent writing behind this animated
This is certainly not the sort of Japanese animation I remember
from my youth. Gantz is a hard hitting, adult-based
series which sets out to entertain and shock the viewer. And
it works - on both counts. The series is part shocking (there
is a rather harrowing attempted rape scene as well as the
rather graphic death scene of Kurono and Kato), part humorous
(Kurono's voice-over is fantastic as his body is torn apart,
and his constant erection problems are laugh out loud funny)
and part social commentary (the thoughts of all the individuals
on the subway platform in the first episode illustrates what
a cold way most of us live our lives).
American soundtrack is fantastic - no forced acting or corny
dialogue anywhere to be seen. And the opening and closing
music tracks for the show are fantastic. This series oozes
quality from every pore.
include the opening and closing credits without the rolling
credits, and an interview with director Ichiroh Itano and
Daisuke Namikawa (who voices Kurono on the original Japanese
great to see that 30-something's, like me, can enjoy a modern
animated series just as much as we did those '80s animated
shows - although I can't imagine this been broadcast on Saturday
morning kid's TV. Thank goodness that animation has matured
with us. Everyone
who is alive should be collecting this series.