When I saw the first episode of “Gantz” I only had two things on my mind: This may be one of the smartest sci-fi shows within the genre of anime and this little asshole better not be our protagonist. Throughout all 26 episodes of this anime my mind was on a constant binge of sci-fi goodness coated with heavy spoonfuls of sex and violence. Yet, the sex and violence are necessary for a show like this because sci-fi is known for taking regular individuals and putting them in extreme situations. This anime takes that concept and gives it a kick in the pants with a unique cast of characters and a theme so irrevocably mind boggling that you will be glued to your seat despite the lows this anime tends to sink to.
What the Hell Is This?
“Gantz” begins with two teenage boys, Kei and Katou, who die after trying to save someone’s life. They both wake up in an apartment with a group of recently deceased people and realize they cannot leave the apartment. It is empty except for a giant black ball (named Gantz) that knows who they all are and tells them that they have to kill aliens wandering around the streets of Tokyo with the aid of some fancy high-tech weapons and gear. Gantz tells them they will be graded for their kills and each character must come to grips with having to kill in order to get enough scores to get their freedom (some more easily than others).
Ok, Here Are Your Scores
This anime is something to behold simply for the fact that is so gritty, yet so entirely engaging. The protagonist Kei is just a detestable little shit that you want to reach through your screen and punch him repeatedly in the face because of how apathetic and selfish his character can get; yet we follow his character around the most and we immediately begin to realize why this is the case. Every single character that ends up in the apartment is a bad person (either from doing one insurmountably bad deed or multiple bad deeds). However, just like Kei, they are all being given a second chance at life by competing in this game. This anime does a really great job of adding a strong sense of irony and social commentary regarding the idea of whether or not a person who has done wrong in their past life deserves a second chance and the show handles this concept in a very unique way. Kei and Katou are the perfect foils for one another and their actions really contrast with each other’s beliefs regarding society, philosophy, religion, family and the afterlife. Their moral struggles help to flush out the events of the show and the final episodes will really make you question whether or not Kei’s character arc has come to an end or if his character is doomed to repeat his selfish tendencies.
This anime has a lot going for it. The writing is very solid and the themes of the show regarding second chances and the afterlife are really intriguing. However, a lot of things could have been tweaked and fine tuned in order to make it a little more engaging. The pacing of this show is equivalent to having your wisdom teeth pulled out; a pain to sit through and will leave you disoriented for hours. Some elements of the show may also leave a lot of people feeling uncomfortable; some episodes contain scenes regarding rape, stalking, gratuitous violence, and sex scenes bordering on levels of fan service. This anime is the textbook definition of a theatre of cruelty and it may end up turning off a lot of squeamish people. The sci-fi elements tend to lack with weak alien designs that looked that they were designed by a petulant thirteen year old and a lot of the jokes tend to fall flat, which can lead to plenty of awkward moments.
“Gantz” has the unfortunate tendency of suffering from some awkward moments and uncomfortable situations. However, the science fiction elements of the show create some interesting philosophical constructs and debates despite its tendency to go off the rails with macabre imagery and despicable characters. I recommend watching this anime and allowing yourself the opportunity to debate the questions that this show presents to you. “Gantz” is certainly a mind trip so be prepared to suit up and start hunting.
My Rating: 7/10