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Anime Review: Gantz

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Language: English Dub version
Episodes: 26 episodes (2 seasons of 13 episodes each)
Gantz Online: IMDB 
Genre: Action, Psychological, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror

Gantz is a series featuring high level violence, gore, sex, death and adult themes.

When sex-obsessed student Kei Kurono is killed by a train after reluctantly helping an old school friend save a homeless man that had fallen upon the tracks, the two are transported to a room with various people that have also been digitized and reformed moments before their death. A large ball manifests nearby and informs them that they must dispatch a specific alien target within the time frame otherwise they are dead. The stakes are high, and there will be many corpses before the final curtain is drawn. Who will survive?

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

First up, this series is not for kiddies. The bizarre nature of the world and the creatures that the Gantz assigns the participants to fight pose a genuine threat to each participant, though many find out too late the extent of the threat that they are up against. The psychological nature of the Gantz often pits each person up against each other as well, though much of this is an extension of existing selfishness, saying a lot about human nature in the process.
The game has numerous rules. The first one is obviously the need to kill or capture the target before the timer runs out. There is also a game zone, in which people have their heads explode if they walk out of the area before the current game concludes. If the target is dispatched, then the surviving members get to go home until they are called up again.
Equipment is customized for each participant, and if they leave it at home, such as Kurono did in the second battle, then they are in deep shit. Given the limitations of the equipment though, such as limited number of activation during a match, each person does need to pick their moments to use it. The various equipment assigned also requires members to work together.

Kei Kurono is a difficult protagonist to like for the most part. He is out for himself and tends to expect the small and selfish gestures that he offers other people to make the females desire him sexually. That being said, he has a strong sense of self and high survival instinct that go well with his physicality and long-suppressed daredevil tendencies. We do see some character growth during the series, but this is weighed down heavily by the shitty situation that Gantz’s game puts the participants in.
In comparison, Masaru Kato is a lot more admirable, but even Kato has his own issues. Kato cares for others, but is contending with a crappy home-life where his aunt who has taken Kato and his little brother under her roof. She is both mentally and physically abusive. As such, Kato tends to deflect his anger towards his aunt onto the bullies at school. Kato has always admired Kurono, but tends to view Kurono as being more heroic than he is.
The third of the main protagonists is Kei Kishimoto, a girl that attempted to commit suicide. By some odd twist of fate, she also has a double out in the real world as her other body was revived at the hospital. Kei Kishimoto cares about people as well, but tends to be subject to sexual harassment and bullying from other participants. In our first sequence, she is rescued by Kato from an attempted rape by a member of the Yakuza that was in the first batch of participants. We see some character growth for Kishimoto during the series, but she often falls back on old, destructive habits. She is the constant damsel in distress with martyr tendencies.

The series was a difficult one to watch because the content was so confronting. That being said, it did get me to consider character traits across the wide spectrum of humanity. We got to see people attempting to protect others, whilst several latter competitors manipulated and picked other participants for no other reason than they found it enjoyable. It is often only in times of testing that we get to see how well our convictions hold up to scrutiny.
In conclusion, this series is for mature audiences that can deal with difficult subjects and stomach the violence. It also deals with issues of life after death, which some folks might find difficult to deal with due to existing beliefs and worldviews. There is a certain level of dark humour as well, the idea that each participant is connected because of ethical weakness. Note further that some questions about the game will remain unanswered, though this leaves things open for the audience to discuss and/or future installments.

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Author: keikomushi

Reader, Writer, New Media Buff, Anime Fangirl, Gnome Hunter, Last Action Femme Fatale, Appreciator of Nature, Jack-of-all-trades.

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