Gantz Manga

It feels like the end of an era – I started reading the manga almost a decade ago when the (disappointing) anime came out. It was pure seinen: violence, gore, nudity, sex, a gritty view of human nature, cool-and-disgusting sci-fi technology, lots of surprises, and situations that kept its short-lived cast members fighting to stay alive (and away from each others’ throats), let alone make sense of a senseless situation. Oh, and a flawed protagonist struggling with adolescent anxieties and filtering everything through wild mood swings between empowerment and disempowerment. The terribly-paced (stretched out by filler thought-processes and forced drama), censored anime (with a made-up ending) could not compare. There were two live-action movies as well (I liked the first, while the second had no idea how to end things).

Anyway, Gantz is best enjoyed as a sci-fi action thrill-ride through Japanese locations and Japanese social issues, in which anyone can die at any time. Like the TV series and the movies, the manga ultimately doesn’t know what kind of end would fit its themes, so it concludes rather abruptly without any big reveals or revelations that aren’t already strongly suggested. The storyline serves to pump up the emotional state of the characters and connect the flashy battle arcs together. While there are many emotional moments, it’s hard to say that the narrative serves the character development arcs; characters grow, and bad things still keep happening, and maybe they die. It’s kind of like life, where a personal revelation doesn’t mean a “happily ever after” and the end of the story.

Despite eventually realising that Oku Hiroya didn’t know where he was taking the manga and was just throwing in the most unexpected things he could come up with, I found Gantz to be one of the most consistently gripping series in these last 9 years.

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