Gantz Vol. #03 (of 10) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, April 05, 2005



What They Say
The first game is over, but will the horrors committed be forever burned into the souls of those who remain? As new shocking developments rip the survivors’ "real" worlds to shreds, the sins of the flesh grow and spread like cancers, festering until the line between good and evil ceases to exist. In a world where the laws of life and death have been overturned, what other forbidden passions remain?

The Review!
After all the action, violence and then revelations, it's time for the characters to settle down and figure out how they fit back into the real world between missions.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The Japanese track has a pretty decent stereo mix to it which is mostly really active during the action sequences. There is some good directionality to various dialogue scenes when there are a lot of people in a given area and it shifts nicely with some of the ambient sound effects. The music makes the most use of the stereo channels though and uses it well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The transfer is also of the uncut version of the show that wasn't fully aired in Japan but used for home video. The shows design is similar to a number of recent Gonzo shows where it has a lot of bright bold colors and has a very digital feel across the board, from the layered look of the characters on top of the backgrounds to the camera movements. The transfer is essentially free of problems and looks really good though there is some noticeable color gradient issues but that's just inherent in how this is animated.

Packaging:
Using some of the character artwork from the Japanese releases, this cover gives its space over to the female Kei who of course fills out the uniform really nicely as is intended. The mixture of the blacks and reds in the background and the Japanese logo for the series gives it all a rough and raw feel. The back cover provides a number of shots from the show around a circle in the center that holds the summary of the premise while most of the background is similar to what's on the front cover background. The discs features and technical information are easily found along the bottom along with the production credits. The insert replicates the front cover on one side while the reverse side lists the two episodes titles and… that's it. This is definitely one of the biggest wastes of space for an insert.

Menu:
The main menu layout uses a lava lamp like background with murky blacks and reds while the bulk of the menu is given over to the round black orb from the show where the menu selections reside. A brief bit of the opening song from the show plays along before looping back. This is one of those where using just the first 30 seconds really doesn't work out well at all and leaves you with a highly annoying menu. Access times are nice and fast and the layout easy to navigate. The disc also properly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The first volume has a couple of extras, such as the expected standards of the clean opening and closing sequences. Continuing what we got with the previous volume, we get a full Cast Talk section this time where the three lead Japanese voice actors sit back and talk about the show with a small audience that's shown up for the event. This is listed as the first one so there should be more.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After all that's happened in the first four episode, the next two provide the breather where the remaining characters have made their way back into the real world but find things aren't exactly as they left it. It's quite different for each of the three we do get to follow and it leads to some interesting situations for a couple of them.

With Kato, we get to see what his life has been like for him and his brother since they lost their parents some time ago. Living with their aunt who doesn't like the fact that she had to take them in, it's a rough existence as expected where the younger and smaller brother gets himself regularly roughed up by the aunt. But in typical Japanese fashion, he's cheerful enough and willing to take it since he understands where she comes from with it. It infuriates Kato but they have so few options as it is, but seeing those wounds on his brother and taking the various verbal abuses he is quite close to hitting the breaking point.

For Kurono, since he lives by himself he easily moves back into his daily routine and returns to school and goes about things, though he grapples briefly with wondering if it was all a dream. His thoughts continue back to the events not only of the night before but also from when he was younger and much more of a risk taker and we get the same repeated visuals that showcase what a daredevil he was. Unfortunately, he lingers a bit too long and finds himself getting wrapped up in a shakedown by an upperclassman for about a hundred thousand yen. The entire thing just goes badly as another upperclassman gets involved to stop it but is more bark than bite and gets his ass handed to him. When Kurono refuses to pay up even after viewing that, the thug enforcer starts whaling on him. But just like Nishi said, he's very much like him and while he's getting roughed up badly, his mind wanders back to the naked flesh of Kishimoto and he gets very aroused by it, which in turn gets him into the mood to fight. Lucky for him he's still wearing his skinsuit and is able to extract revenge easily.

For Kishimoto, hers is the worst and the most disturbing as she is proof of the fax concept. Returning home, she gets a message that her body is in the hospital and is shifting between life and death. Since she was trying to commit suicide, she knows full well what's going on but the realization that she herself is a copy and another her is dying in a hospital is too much to handle so she ends up running to Kurono's place once she realized she had his student ID. Having no place to go, she decides to use a curious way of asking Kurono if she can stay by asking if he can keep pets and if he can, could he consider her one. Suffice to say, Kurono's vision of her as a pet is pretty standard but with this being the DVD version it's certainly more than the TV viewers likely got.

All three of them are having to deal with the way reality isn't feeling the same as it did before. Along the way, there are moments where they catch a glimpse of the TV where a news show is continuing to run material on the two boys disappearance in the subway and the investigation that they're running to find out who they are and what happened. Little clues continue to show up that they use in tracking them down, such as the umbrella with the AK initials on it or the girlie mag that Kurono had bought. It's an odd tangent in a way to have keep coming up but it puts thoughts in the back of the two boys heads that there are people out there looking for them and trying to discover what happened. Combined with finding out about the deaths of the others in real time as well as things they caused during their fight, it's almost like an overload for them..

In Summary:
Gantz provides an interesting couple of down episodes that helps expand the mythos of the series but at the same time it's a couple of down episodes where it's easy to lose interest in what's going on as there's no action here in a series that's very much billed on its over the top violence and action sequences. It's made up for somewhat by the sexual nature of things when the Kei's get together but in the end it's something where we're left wanting more and just not having it. Like the characters at the end of the second episode where they're looking out their respective windows wondering when they're going to get the call next, you find yourself wondering the same in a sense in anticipation of another volume and hoping that it has a bit more action to it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animations,Cast Talk

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 17 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 17.98
Running time: 50
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Gantz