Gantz

In order to create a good story, one needs more than just a good idea; you could only get so far with nothing but an interesting premise. You need to be able to develop decent characters, themes, and most importantly: a plot to carry out all of the aforementioned. You can’t build a car with only the frame, and you certainly can’t build a story with only a good idea. I suppose nobody told Hiroya Oku this when he began publishing the manga entitled Gantz. But I digress; I honestly have no idea how amazing or how horrid the original manga is. I’m only here to tell you about the failure that was Gonzo’s adaptation of Gantz into an anime.

Airing from 2004 to 2005, Gantz totaled 26 episodes over the course of two seasons, dubbed the First and Second Stages. If it tells you anything about this series, just know that I didn’t bother with the Second Stage— I may or may not get back to it sometime in the future. Anyways, here’s my review/beating of Gantz, the show that would be king.

Kei Kurono is your typical high school guy; he’s self-centered, judgmental, and comes off as an ass. One day, while on his way to school, he runs into an childhood friend, Masaru Kato, at the subway. Kurono pretends not to notice him, but when a drunken, homeless man falls onto the track, it becomes very clear that Kato noticed Kurono. While everybody in the subway did nothing to help the fallen man, Kato jumps down and tries to help, calling for Kurono for assistance. Left little choice, Kurono helps Kato lift the homeless man off the tracks. However, the two both find that they themselves can’t get out and are killed by the passing train. Death is not the end, it seems, as they both appear in a room with a small group of other posthumous civilians and one giant, black ball in the middle of the room that has much in store for this group of people.

The first thing people are bound to notice is that the lead is a huge asshole. This I actually like. Far too many shows these days portray the lead male as a kind and caring, yet cowardly boy, that simply needs to man up a bit and develop some courage. Kurono is just an apathetic, perverted and unlikable person, and that’s what I like about him. However, apparently Oku had the intention that Kurono would be easily identifiable with his audience, which couldn’t be any more off the mark. While I like that his personality is different from most lead characters in anime, he really isn’t identifiable. Oku must have a pretty low opinion of his intended audience, or he just failed to create a character with appeal. Either Kurono is a mirror of Oku, his opinion of his intended audience, or both.

The second thing you’re bound to notice is that Oku must have a lot to say about society with some of the issues he emphasizes. This may or may not go hand-in-hand with his opinion of his audience, but he has a very pessimistic view of people and society. In the subway scene, as the homeless man is unconscious on the tracks, we get a look into the thoughts of the people on the platform. They’re thinking thoughts like, “Maybe we’ll see somebody die,” or, “somebody really ought to help him, oh, but not me.” Oku really emphasizes the extreme apathy people have, and at this point is becomes blatantly obvious that he’s delivering some sort of sociopolitical slant. The problem with this is that he doesn’t really seem to go anywhere with this. He gives us all these different problems with all these different characters, and most of them just end up dying. This would be a great opportunity to say that bad people get what they deserve, but even the lead characters exhibit these same problems and they’re presented as the heroes.

Another problem I have with the show is how misogynistic it comes off as. The lead female, Kei Kishimoto, is very much objectified by both the lead and side characters. She’s nearly raped at every opportunity, and she’s presented as too empty-headed to do much about it. The audience receives pointless nude shots of her, which goes beyond being fanservice and starts becoming porn. The primary perpetrator behind Kishimoto’s objectification is in fact our lead, Kurono, which goes back to what we have already defined Kurono as a mirror of: Oku and what he thinks of his intended audience. In other words, Oku is a misogynist, which is nothing surprising.

The animation is another thing that really bugged me; it’s very inconsistent. And I don’t just mean from episode-to-episode, which is a common thing as many shows have different animation directors from episode from episode, which can result is drastic changes. No, I mean that, within a single episode, the animation is highly inconsistent. It’s also laughable at times, especially with the gore; when Kurono and Kato are hit by the train, their heads literally just fly off. As far as I can tell, everything else remains intact, and their heads fly off into the platform for everybody to see. Talk about bad.

Lastly, I just have to say that the development is terrible. Measly attempts at symbolism and back story are used in order to try to give depth to the characters, and possible make them more identifiable, but it literally does the opposite and makes them more and more fake. The plot seems to come and go as it pleases; it’s as if the writer didn’t know what he wanted to write or which direction to go in, so he went in all directions regardless of whether or not each decision actually went anywhere. This results in unnecessarily long arcs, which makes the plot convoluted and boring; what could have been done easily in two episodes is instead prolonged into eight episodes— similar to Dragonball Z, but less comedic. I think the reason I couldn’t stand to watch the second season was because of how slow the plot went and how much interest it failed to build up in me.

In conclusion, this is just a terrible show. The characters suck, the plot sucks, everything sucks. Hiroya Oku seems to have skewed perspectives of society and even of his own audience, and can probably be psychoanalyzed to be a pessimistic, misogynistic bastard who couldn’t decide whether or not to make a hentai. It was unnecessarily, yet laughably violent, even when the characters weren’t in danger, and, despite the large emphasis on violence, it was poorly animated. Overall, I give this show a poor score of 4/10, simply because the basic premise was pretty interesting; a shame it was wasted on such a horrible production. Until my next beating, this has been another review by The Geek With Taste!

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