Comic: "Gantz"
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Written by: Hiroya Oku
Artist: Hiroya Oku

Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Posted: 3/11/2010

Plot: High school student Kei Kurono and his friend Kato are struck and killed by a subway train after helping a homeless man off the tracks. Instead of waking up in the afterlife, they find themselves in an unfurnished apartment with a group of strangers and a large black sphere called the Gantz. The Gantz claims that their lives now belong to it, and that it will do whatever it wants with them. It distributes some equipment to the group, then teleports them away to find and kill an alien for some unknown purpose.

Review: What if life were more like a video game? It sounds like it could be a lot of fun. But what if life were more like a video game where you didn’t know any of the rules, and the penalty for failure was a gruesome death? Less fun to experience, sure, but fun to read about.

That’s more or less how I would describe Gantz. The people involved in the story are sent out to do battle with aliens, all in the hopes of scoring enough “points” to presumably escape the clutches of the Gantz and return to normal life. After each “mission”, the survivors are free to go about their normal lives until such time as the Gantz summons them back to undertake another harrowing mission.

A big part of the comic is the fact that no one really knows what’s going on, including the reader. In their very first mission, Kei’s friend, Kato, wonders why it is that the Gantz wants them to rain death upon a seemingly benign alien who enjoys green onions. Does the Gantz want these aliens gone because they’re a threat? If so, why are all the participants given a load of guns and equipment, but no explanation of how to use any of them?

As a result of not knowing what to do or expect from these missions, about half the characters in each group wind up at the very least horribly dismembered a few minutes into the mission. That’s where you start to see one of the big selling points of the comic: the graphic violence. The series is pretty much founded on the stuff, beginning with Kei and Kato being blown to pieces after being hit by a subway train. And once the Gantz has sent them on a mission, they’re using guns that cause spontaneous combustion while their teammates are rent asunder by vicious aliens.

Amidst all the sci fi stuff, the series has a definite horror vibe going for it. Each mission that Kei and the others embark on almost invariably devolves into the team being stalked by aliens who are set on the idea of killing them, if for no other reason than because they killed the harmless alien the Gantz instructed them to kill. Moreover, we learn that the survivors of each mission are returned to the Gantz exactly as they were when they began a mission, regardless of the injuries they suffer in the course of the mission. This lends some real tension to each bout, as not even the heroes can escape completely unharmed, but what’s a missing limb or two if they can get the job done?

Also in line with the horror motif is the ample amount of nudity in the comic. Gratuitous, almost baffling amounts of nudity. Early on, we’re introduced to Kishimoto, a depressed high school student who appears after an apparent suicide attempt, when she is teleported in by the Gantz completely nude. She then spends the next fifteen or so chapters fleeing in terror au natural, to the point where the Gantz gives her the nickname “Titz”. It’s not that I’m against nudity in comics, and Oku Hiroya is definitely no slouch when it comes to drawing nudes. It just gets to be a little over-the-top, particularly when Kishimoto encounters a butter dog (look it up, kids!).

My only real complaint is that the main character, Kei, isn’t much of a main character. Not more than a page after he’s introduced, he manages to distinguish himself as an unlikeable, self-absorbed piece of shit. Later (much later), he starts to develop into a more genuine person, but for a good while, he’s just a jackass saying and doing things that almost make you wince as you read them.

Still, it is a horror comic, and jackasses tend to be among the first to go in a horror movie. Maybe he’s made up that way to convince you that his number is just around the corner. The only other problem with the comic is that during the action sequences, you could wind up reading a 200+ page volume of Gantz in around half an hour due to all the pages with just grunts and groans written in them. Of course, the flip side is that you’ll be dying to know what happens next, so bravo for getting me so hooked, Gantz.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Mar 12th, 2010, 03:05 PM
I love Gantz. I've read all of it so far, and it just gets more and more intense and gruesome as it goes. Stay away from the anime though.
They're also making a live action adaptation about this.
Gix Gix is offline
Mar 13th, 2010, 10:02 AM
they make a live action out of every manga and/or anime...case in point Death Note..But Gantz is awsome,it just gets better and better
Mar 13th, 2010, 01:05 PM
And the guy who plays L in the death note films is going to be Masaru katou in the Gantz films.
Mar 13th, 2010, 06:44 PM
Gantz rules. The only fault is that the author clearly makes up a lot as he goes along. Sometimes he'll get bored and be like "Hey look, vampires!" and then forget about them for several chapters. A great read though.
Forum Virgin
Mar 14th, 2010, 01:11 PM
This book is badass. And it only gets better the further you go.
Mar 15th, 2010, 02:07 AM
You made this sound so bad ass that I had to look it up and read it for myself. Thanks!
Mar 15th, 2010, 04:15 PM
I know that there is a pretty ok abridged series on youtube for this series, a lot of the jokes fall flat, but its alright.
Shining Beacon of Virtue
Mar 18th, 2010, 10:47 PM
I've seen the anime many times, but I've yet to read the Manga. It sounds different enough from the anime that I may go read it. I'm glad you gave it a good review, the anime is one of my favorites.
Shining Beacon of Virtue
Mar 18th, 2010, 10:57 PM
(Sorry for the Double Post)
In responce to what boogie says about Kei... He's defidently alittle annoying during the first few missions. I can't vouch for the manga as I haven't read it, but in the anime Kei becomes cool over time (I assume they're similar in this aspect). There are four missions- during the first he's a jackass. During the end of the second and the third, he does some awesome things, driven purely by the will to survive. By the end he's driven by the will to save others (though to a lesser extent than Kato). He's actually pretty well developed, like Kato describe Kei during his teenage years as brave and heroic, and Kei slowly (emphasis on slowly here) become that again. It shows that he was corrupted as he grew up, which makes him alittle more interesting.
guts beer + metal
Mar 22nd, 2010, 09:49 AM
I loved it in the beginning but it really starts to be silly after the first 10 books or so. Maybe because it is way too over the top then in the bad japanese way and/or it is getting tedious (Dragon Ball syndrome).
Forum Virgin
Mar 26th, 2010, 02:46 AM
I considered this my favourite manga until the vampires showed up at which point I lost interest pretty quickly. It still makes me sad.
Freelance Product Tester
Mar 28th, 2010, 05:52 PM
Oh, hey, where's Tadao? I'm sure he would be in here making fun of all the people who read this and then go to jerk off to pictures of bunnies.
Mar 28th, 2010, 06:28 PM
Someones butthurt. However you are not very memorable and I doubt you ever will be.
Mar 30th, 2010, 11:19 PM
I enjoyed the whole series. It definitely starts to fall flat towards the end, though.
guts beer + metal
Apr 2nd, 2010, 04:07 PM
I agree with the vampires. I think it pretty much started to go downhill from there.