Gantz is one of my favourite manga ever. It’s from the seinen genre – the target audience 20-30 year old males, and hence contains much graphic content.
Gonzo did a poor anime adaptation back in 2003, which suffered from far too much reaction-filler instead of action: characters would spend ages freaking out and making faces instead of running or shooting, or anything really. This sapped the episodes of dramtic tension and emotional credibility (“Just shoot him already!”) and made the characters whiny and passive. No doubt the reasons for this were financial (witness similar techniques and the endless recaps in both in Naruto and other morning cartoon shounen fare), but I would have far preferred a strong 13 episode series than a barely tolerable 26 episode series.
This 2010 live-action Gantz thankfully reduces this flaw, even going so far as to eliminate a number of disputes, awkward encounters, and even action sequences in order to fit things into the 130 minute running time (on the long side for this kind of movie). Kurono Kei has been moved from high school into University, a much prettier Tae (more eccentric in behaviour to compensate) makes a very early appearance and Akira is mentioned.
Kurono Kei was suitably flaky, though his awkwardness with Kishimoto Kei was downplayed. Katou’s tearful pacifism (so common in Japanese productions) was pretty irritating: I’m sad to say that his actor just wasn’t able to pull it off.
Despite somewhat dubious CGI, the aliens’ style came through strongly: the plastic alien had stupid faces, exaggerated poses and cartoonish motions; the multi-armed alien’s movements were continuous and flowing. It was great to see the Gantz suits in real life, with glowing lights, oozing when damaged, bulking up when providing strength.
It’s likely that those uninitiated to the series would find the movie utterly impenetrable, even though the manga really isn’t any more expository.
I’m looking forward to the second movie.