Gantz: A Retrospective

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I started reading Gantz around this time four years ago. For me, Gantz has been everything I love about manga – brutal, intense, and not afraid to pull a few punches, and it seems I’m not alone. With two hit live action films, the first based off of the initial arc of the manga and the second an original ending, three games and two novels, it’s clear this series has more than a few fans.

There’s good reason for its popularity too. Gantz is a seinen manga, targeted towards an older, more mature audience than shounen manga, and the author Hiroya Oku has definitely used this to his advantage. This manga has some of the most incredible gore I’ve ever seen, and its relentlessness makes it all the more harrowing during some of the key plot points of the series. This is routinely used as a plot device to toy with the readers, making the series extremely intense. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

Gantz tells the story of Kei Kurono and Masaru Koto who both die in a train accident only to awaken as part of a game where the player must kill aliens and earn points to get a chance at escaping alive. To aid in their mission, every player is given a suit providing them with super strength and the ability to leap across buildings.

Gantz features a unique style of artwork, all of the aliens and backgrounds are rendered in 3D before being overlaid with character cels. This style was also used for Gantz’s predecessor Zero One. This technique definitely has its advantages – Gantz features an incredible display of artwork. From giant buddha aliens to mutated human heads, there’s definitely more than enough variety for the reader.

Behind all of the gore and action, there’s a love story. Early on in the story, Kei falls in love with a girl he meets at school – Tae. They’re kept apart by the enemies that Kei opposes, but this only gives Kei more determination to win. The story routinely follows Tae’s escapades, providing the series with a more human and down to Earth perspective amongst all of the over the top violence and carnage.

Gantz has had a troubled past. Its anime was a complete disaster, making a mockery of an otherwise incredible manga, and more recently Gantz has had several delays in releasing new chapters in Japan over the past year, leading some to believe it may end up getting cancelled like its predecessor, which got unceremoniously cancelled due to budget concerns. Fortunately Hiroya Oku has done right by the fans and finished the series.

If you haven’t seen Gantz yet, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s everything a manga should be, and it’s a thoroughly good read. We’re still pretty far behind the final chapter here in the UK, but be sure to check out the new chapters as they’re released – knowing Hiyoya Oku we’re in for a wild ride!

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