Not long ago I reviewed the first stage of Gantz. There were only two reviews between the two series of Gantz, Baccano and Black Lagoon. I was far less than impressed with its mostly dull/moronic cast and its story that had more holes than your average slice of Swiss cheese. That being said, it was far from one of the worst anime I’ve ever seen. Naturally, this means that people want me to look at the second stage claiming that “it’s better.” Being a cynic, I doubt it, but let’s get our red pens ready and take a look at Gantz: Second Stage to see whether or not those claims hold true. They might.
Okay, now that I’ve finished, let’s compare. The second stage has the same setup as the first. A giant magic eight ball copies people at the instant of their deaths and sends those people to fight aliens for no adequately explained reason and he either picks those people carefully so that they won’t be smart enough to ask questions or just gets really lucky. The second stage does do a few things differently. The first is that they eliminate virtually all of the moments intended to build character in favour of mindless violence and sex. Honestly, the first stage was better. The character moments may not have contributed much since the execution was pants and most characters were just introduced for the sake of acting as fodder, but at least it tried to have development. This one does give some motivation to Gantz, but it’s really really lazy. Basically, they imply that Gantz is doing it for laughs. Is it better than no explanation? Not really, Gantz is still like a silver-age comic villain. Evil for the sake of being evil. At least no explanation had the potential for something interesting. One thing that is better is that they actually do have some genuinely evil threats in this one, at the very end, anyway. This one also doesn’t suffer from continuity errors… Well, not in the plot anyway. They also get rid of the horrible working girl joke. Unfortunately, they replace it with several horrible gay jokes, all in the span of a few episodes. Yeah, that’s not a real improvement. It’s just trading some of the misogyny for more homophobia. They eventually do start questioning Gantz, which really needed to happen earlier, they do it in the last few episodes so it’s really too little too late. There is one other issue with Second Stage, and that’s the ending. It’s a complete anti-climax.
The characters were pretty bad in the first stage. So, surely they improved them here, right? Wrong. They’re actually worse. None of the major characters from the first stage develop any further. Male Kei is still an insufferable prick Female Kei doesn’t get any more good scenes and goes back to being quietly supportive. Kato remains the only decent character, but doesn’t get any further development. The rest of the cast is still very much composed of bland, one-dimensional figures. So, how is it worse? Here’s the basic thing. The first one didn’t have deep characters, but at least they were consistent. In this one they take the guy who had the semi-important speech about the sanctity of life in the first series, and the first thing he does is murder someone in cold blood. Great continuity.
The art is about the same. It’s pretty strong with strange looking eyes and really bad gore effects. Actually, these gore effects just get silly. There’s a guy who gets punched and his head stretches like a rock em sock em robot. There’s another scene where a guy gets flattened and you just expect one of those cartoony “splat” sound effects because of how absurd it looks. There are several death scenes that should be intense, but the ridiculousness of the gore just ruins it. There isn’t as much fan-service, but there’s still quite a bit. The fight scenes are about the same. They’re pretty interesting and unique. They actually might be a little better since there are fewer characters who stand around and watch.
The voice acting and music are the strongest points, just like the first stage. The actors do really well and the music is nice and atmospheric.
The yuri factor is a 1/10. Again, there’s not much interaction among the female characters.
So, is it an improvement? In a few ways, yeah. There’s less fan-service and the fight scenes are a little better. Overall, it’s not as good, though. Yeah, the first one was sloppy, but at least it tried to have some depth. This one just says “screw it” and takes the mindless sex and action route and its flaws are just all the more obvious because of it. The Second Stage gets a 3/10. My one consolation is that there isn’t any more to the anime. I can only imagine what they would do with a third season.