Gantz is a manga written by Oku Hiroya. It enjoyed quite a bit of success getting two anime series, a novel, a video game and two live action movie adaptations. Of course, popularity doesn’t equate to quality and this is the guy who’s known for random fan-service and gore. Of course you can’t judge a person’s works just by their reputation. So I guess I’ll actually have to watch the anime before I make any judgments. Let’s take a look at Gantz: First Stage.
There’s not so much a story in this as there is a concept. An electronic bowling ball known as Gantz creates copies of people as they die, somehow getting rid of the original bodies in the process. Gantz then sends the duplicates to live their lives, assuming that they can survive fighting aliens. Okay, this is an interesting concept. There’s a lot of room for intrigue and plot but, like the anime I reviewed last week, it squanders most of its potential. The first major issue is the aliens. They don’t seem to be causing any problems, hell they aren’t even hostile until provoked, but the only one who ever questions whether or not it’s okay to hunt them is Kato and he quickly forgets about his objections. Are these characters all morons? How could you not question the morality of this situation? Look, it’s a child-like alien standing there with a green onion, kill it! You don’t know the situation. Maybe Gantz just hates aliens and you’re helping it in a genocidal rampage. Stop blindly following the bowling ball with an annoying sense of humour and think for yourselves, Idiots. Another issue is that there are a ton of continuity errors. They’ll end an episode with a scene, open the very next episode with that scene but done differently for no apparent reason. Or they’ll close an episode with several characters unarmed and in the next one they’ll have pulled weapons out of their bags of holding off screen. That’s just inexcusable. How do you screw up continuity from one episode to the next? Did they just forget how the previous episode went? Another issue is that the anime moves really slowly. I wouldn’t mind that much, but a lot of what they show is completely irrelevant to the important characters or its a different angled shot of things we’ve already seen or its showing a scene that we already know everything about that we need to. As an example, female Kei’s suicide scene. You know right from her introduction that she committed suicide in the bathtub. They don’t need to show it. The images add nothing except for the information that she cut her wrists wrong. Dammit Kei, you cut vertically along the vein, not horizontally across it. Kill yourself properly next time. This is what causes you problems, you don’t think. Another thing that bugs me is the humour. There’s a repeated “joke” where the dog tries to lick female Kei’s crotch and someone inevitably comments that he must be owned by a working girl because we all know that women with jobs can’t find romance. After all, who would want a significant other with ambition when you can have someone worthless? Or maybe the implication is supposed to be that the “working” girl is a sex worker. Because sex workers don’t get their genitals stimulated enough, they need help with that from their pets. Wait… what? They also end the final episode with a gay joke. It’s funny because…………………………….. gay people exist?
Let’s waste no time in looking at the characters. How do they fare, aside from the “being too stupid to ask basic questions” thing? There are really only three characters worth mentioning. The rest are either one dimensional side characters or fodder. Let’s start with our hero, male Kei. I will admit that there are some good things about him. He’s pretty courageous and he has a lot of determination. However, he’s also a jerk who has no objections to harassing female Kei. To be fair, he never goes over the line into outright sexual assault but he does come pretty close. How are we supposed to sympathise with the guy when he’s a terrible person? Kato is by far the best character. He’s got a lot of rage but he also tries to keep it under control and cares about helping others. He’s a good guy but he also has a darker side. It makes him an interesting character. Why doesn’t the anime just keep the focus on him? Then we’ve got female Kei. I don’t even know where to start with her. Her main purpose is to provide fan-service and to get rescued from rape threats. Yeah, that’s pretty bad. She has very little personality aside from wanting to support Kato. To be fair, she does get a few good scenes in the very last episode, but it really is too little too late. Come to think of it our only major female characters are her, a stalker with barely any dialogue and an old woman who spoils her grandson. I get the impression that Oku Hiroya has a bit of an unenlightened attitude towards women. Okay, that’s a pretty massive under-statement.
The art is mostly pretty strong. The characters look fairly realistic, except for their eyes. The eyes in this are just bizarre. They’re almost always drawn so that they’re looking in two different directions or staring blankly. The gore just looks silly. It’s like watching one of those low budget independent films where they include obviously fake gore effects, except that this was drawn looking like a bad effect so it isn’t so much a matter of budget as the artists apparently not having the slightest idea of what actual blood and guts look like. Another thing that bugs me is the ridiculous amounts of fan-service. Female Kei gets nude scenes in virtually every episode and a lot of them drag on. You know, in case you forgot what breasts look like and need to study them. To the anime’s credit the fight scenes are pretty interesting and unique. Even if a lot of them consist of one person fighting while everyone else just kind of watches like a lazy moron.
The voice acting is really strong. Yamaguchi Megumi, Nabatame Hitomi and Namikawa Daisuke all do really well in the main roles. The music is also really good. If you weren’t actually watching the screen you might get the impression that afro robots asking for Yuzo is actually dramatic.
The yuri factor is a 1/10. This anime doesn’t even pass the Bechdel test, of course it doesn’t have yuri.
So, how does Gantz fare? Well the concept is really interesting, there’s one really good character, the art is pretty strong even with the bad gore effects and bizarre eyes and the voice acting and music are really good, but the execution is beyond sloppy most of the characters are twits, there’s quite a bit of unchecked misogyny and there’s just a huge number of flaws. Maybe the second season fixes them somewhat, but the first season definitely has more flaws than positive factors. It isn’t bad, but it’s certainly not good. It’s a sub-par piece. I have to give it a 4/10.