Gantz, The Complete Series – DVD Review

Review by: Eduardo Zacarias

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 650 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Action
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: Available Now

There will be blood and dismemberments as well as aliens.

I should confess that I wasn’t a big fan of Gantz as a manga series and not because of all of its overblown violence and fan service but because there are instances when a series is just so much better in animated form and I found this to be the case before I finished the third volume of the manga. The Complete Series of Gantz is a shocking, thrilling and downright fascinating in ways that blow the manga away and makes this a series you will not forget anytime soon.

Taking up four DVDs, the 26 episode series introduces us to Kei Kurono, a self-centered and rude high school student whose raging hormones makes him fantasize even in class. One day, on the subway waiting for the train, a drunken homeless man takes a nasty tumble down on the tracks. Nobody is willing to save the man except for another high school student and Kurono’s childhood friend named Masaru Kato who recognizes Kurono. Kato asks Kurono to help him save the man, the young man reluctantly does so, and while they save the homeless man, the two boys are ripped to pieces by the train.

This isn’t the end of their story, however, as both boys are teleported to an apartment where a group of people are sitting around a mysterious black orb. Suddenly, a beautiful (and impossibly busty) young naked girl named Kei Kishimoto is teleported into the room and it causes a furor among the collection of men including a Yakuza thug who wants to take advantage of the girl and would have if Kato hadn’t stepped in to save her. Then there’s Nishi, a young man who tells them that they are all dead and the orb he calls Gantz is about to give them a message.

Gantz does come alive with a message that they have no choice but to do as it says and what they want them all to do is kills aliens that live on Earth undetected. The orb opens up to reveal tight black power suits and a variety of futuristic guns. Feeling they have no choice but to carry out their first assassination hit, they group heads out to eliminate strange alien beings in hopes that Nishi’s word that if they reach 100 points during their many hunts they could live once again.

While most of the series concentrates on this twisted “game” where the players must kill or be killed in the process, we are also given a glimpse into the lives of the survivors that include Kurono, Kato as well as the beautiful Kei; it also gives us a look at the lives and deaths of the replacement players. Most interesting is Kurono who falls for Kei who finds herself living with him for a very surprising reason. Unfortunately, for Kurono, Kei has fallen in love with Kato who quickly takes up the role of leader during each hunt. We also come to witness changes in Kurono who started off as a selfish jerk to a brave and strangely heroic hero.

It is clear that Gantz does not discriminate as it sets up players that range from a biker thug, two psychotic killers and there’s even an elderly grandmother with her spoiled grandson. The hunt even becomes more dangerous as the aliens they hunt get bigger and the rules have all players remain within an area or risk having their heads blown off. Plus, not everyone is a killer so eliminating each target isn’t easy either.

The story takes many interesting turns along the way as Kurono and the others try to make sense of the mystery that is Gantz. What is it and why does it want these strange aliens (some living in strange human body suits) dead? Who is the sleeping man inside the orb? Why is there a naughty dog among the group? These are all questions that make this situation an intriguing one.

There is also plenty of action and gory deaths as players of this deadly game are slaughtered by the various aliens. Really, there’s no shortage of scenes where somebody loses their head or other limbs and there’s even a scene where a character (and his cute/creepy) stalker are sliced in half. Then there is the profanity – particularly the English dub where the F-word is heard throughout the series. Oh yeah, there’s graphic sex in the series as well not to mention the fact that Kei is often grope or exposed.

Even with all of this, however, Gantz manages to grab a hold of your attention and keep you glued to your screen. There’s more to the series than just the violence and sex as it also happens to make the lives of each character interesting as well from Kato’s dilemma of getting his little brother out of an abusive household to a biker trying to juggle his old biker gang lifestyle and married life.

Then there is the finale that is one of the most unpredictable plot twists you’ll come across in a show like this. I’d get into it but that would ruin the surprises this series throws at the viewer. It’s actually refreshing to find an anime series that surprises and shocks at the same time but Gantz pulls it off beautifully.

The Complete Series of Gantz is a trippy, bloody and complete absorbing sci-fi anime classic that goes beyond its guns, big boobs and gore exterior. There’s a solid story here that is both mysterious and exciting and Gantz manages to hold your interested from the opening frame to the very last second of the final episode. For my money, this anime is a lot better than the manga series itself and if you don’t mind the F-bombs, dismemberment and sex, you will find yourself really loving this anime.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A+
Having saved a drunken homeless man who fell on the subway tracks, Kurono and childhood friend Sato are killed by the train only to find themselves transported to a strange room where a mysterious orb called Gantz has them and other chosen individuals assassinate aliens scattered throughout the city. As the “game” progresses and players are killed, Kurono and the others find themselves not only fighting aliens but also each another and, finally, Gantz.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
This is a visually striking series with ultra violent scenes, nudity and sex as well as decent visual effects. The animation is solid throughout and this series looks great on DVD. If dismemberment and excessive gore is not your thing then you may want to stay clear of this series. If it is then you are seriously in luck.

AUDIO QUALITY: A-
The voice action for both the Japanese language track as well as the English dub contains some good performances, especially by both Chris and Greg Ayres. The original score is intense and truly cinematic and the closing theme song by Bonnie Pink is perfect. Personally, I think the opening theme song is annoying but then again I’m not a big RIP SLYME fan.

EXTRAS: B+
There are trailers and the clean opening and closing theme songs but the real extras come in the form of two separate interview sessions with the first one being a short interview with Director Ichiro Itano and the second one being with Itano as well as Yasuhiro Kato (the 3D Director) talk about the show‘s overall design.

OVERALL: A+
Gantz is an ultra violent thrill ride that is disturbing and utterly awesome in ways that you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen. Sure, the violence, sex and big boobs is one of its selling points but there’s more to this series than meets the eye and if you give it a chance you will find yourself totally invested in this deliciously twisted sci-fi tale.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

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