Gantz is a Sci-Fi Seinen Thriller anime based on Hiroya Oku’s manga of the same name. Directed by Ichiro Itano and produced by studio Gonzo in late 2003, it first aired in spring 2004, spawning later 2 live action highly acclaimed movies, and a CGI movie recently.
The story begins with a young student named Kurono Kei who ,on his way back to school, sees his childhood friend Kato Masaru whom he haven’t seen in a years. Kato Masaru was trying to help a homeless man who got his leg stuck in the subway rails but fails and both men end up dead.
After their death, the two open their eyes in a locked room in Tokyo where they find a bunch of people gathered around a giant black ball called Gantz. While each of them tries to understand how and why they got there, everyone else seems reclusive and silent, giving the impression that they know what’s happening and won’t be sharing. Suddenly, lasers spawn from the black ball and start creating what becomes the fully naked body of an unconscious girl named Kishimoto Kei. After a certain argument breaks between Kato and another person present in the room, Kurono, Kato and the girl create their own group.
So far, none of this is considered spoilers because these are events that only occur in the few first minutes of the anime and are needed as an introduction.
From that moment, the story revolves around this group teleporting into different random places in town, given elastic suits and weird futuristic looking weapons and asked to terminate certain queer looking creatures in a given time span, all of this as a game for Gantz’s amusement. As a concept of post-mortem life, Gantz is certainly one of the very first works to introduce such concept in anime, let alone make it into a death game for some higher mysterious omnipotent beings’ amusement.
For me, this is was the starting point of such concept, something very new, very unusual to me. I couldn’t help but get excited for what comes next. Gantz is filled with futuristic Sci-Fi gadgets of multiple purposes, from the almost indestructible flexible suits, to the big supersonic timer guns. But what really gives charm to Gantz is the psychological profiling aspect of it. Very rarely have I seen animes that present a human being’s personality to such realistic degree.
As the protagonist, Kurono Kei is expected to be brave in this battle royale type of a death game, being the true hero and savior of his friends. Whether from the horribly violent death of Kurono and Kato, or the naked body of Kei being spawned into Kurono’s lap it is clear that this anime is a Seinen. Compared to a typical protagonist, Kuruno is very typical teenager. Kurono is a pervert, coward, mildly attractive but very obnoxious to girls, he is also an otaku of anime and games making him anti-social. Some of you reading this might be ashamed you relate to him, but I did, in every aspect mentioned, which helped me fix some of those flaws about me and that’s the brilliance of Gantz. Kurono doesn’t change instantly but you get to feel every flaw about him get erased, and it is by all means not an easy feat for him, and one of the best changes he experienced is his self-loathing for saving himself on the expense of leaving a friend face death instead of him.
It is worth mentioning that due to constraints, the 26 episodes feature only 3 stages of the anime (adapting only the 10 first volumes of the manga) and an alter ending, because at the time the manga was far from being over (actually ended in July 2013) and so they made due with what I consider a decent ending, featuring side characters not included in the equivalent arc in the manga.
All in all, Gantz is an excellent Sci-Fi anime, with good quality animation style and coloring for a 2007 anime. It thrills to no extent, it freaks you out of how accurate it can feature the human imperfection and perversion, it shows hard-to-earn alterations, and I’ll not forget to mention it’s packed with action.
I recommend the Gantz manga the anime, it is longer and more detailed with more stages than the first 3 and bigger revelations, among other things, but that’s a matter for another article.