Gantz Vol. #05 (of 10) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, June 13, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, June 14, 2005
What They Say
The violence erupts as the second game not only pits the resurrectees against aliens, but against each other as well! As the new group of players fight amongst themselves, a newer and deadlier alien menace is thrown against them. Against the sonic screams and ever increasing numbers of their new opponents, the enhanced power suits and weapons provided by the Gantz are no guarantee of survival... and for the unsuited Kurono the likelihood of survival is almost non-existent!
As the action picks up and the diversity of the crowd becomes critical, Gantz finally picks up some momentum again.
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.
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.
Using some of the character artwork from the Japanese releases, one of the new members of the hunting party gets the cover and he's fully decked out in the skinsuit as well as carrying one of the bigger armaments to be seen so far. 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.
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.
While the previous volumes had some good extras to help flesh out the time here and make it feel like you got something, this volume drops down to just the clean opening and closing sequences and some TV spots.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The next hunt is about to start and now that we've seen some of the basics for each of the new participants, they're thrust into the room where Gantz is and forced to deal with the new situation. And unlike previous volumes, it's more than just mostly talk as things get moving and the new hunt is on.
The arrival of everyone in the Gantz room is something where you could see it as an interesting look at the social dynamic of how vastly different people interact in a strange situation. Those who had been there before, such as Kato, Kei and Kei are mostly in the mode of talking about what needs to be done and how to do it, unlike Nishi who just doesn't give a crap about anyone else. Just like before where we had yakuza involved, this time we get a bunch of biker punks who fill in that role of pure aggression and lack of interest in everything that's going on. And even better, the dog returns once more. I'll admit that I find it very amusing that someone helped him put on his uniform.
With this kind of social dynamic, it's almost nothing but arguing and aggression coming from the three bikers whereas their leader, Tetsu, tries to keep them in line but asserts himself without taking direction. He seems to want to know what's going on but showing any interest around these people will lead him to lose face with his gang friends which is something he's trying to avoid. His statute has obviously gone down over the years especially since he got married and has a kid, but it's something that's gnawing at him to listen to some of what he's hearing the others say. The back and forth between the various people here goes on for quite a bit of time, though with a nice focus given to Kishimoto and her changing into her uniform.
The strangest pair to be brought into this group is a grandmother and her grandson, a spoiled boy who isn't quite over the top as one might expect of someone so spoiled but the two have their own back and forth that shows exactly whose boss. Like Kishimoto, you can see them being the reliant types and it's something that comes up with Nishi finally explodes about all the talk and crap going on and he lays it on the line as to how useless each of them is, from punk garbage to spoiled brats and weak people. Nishi's no different than he is before and once again is the first one to draw blood before the hunt even begins.
The hunt itself, this time over some kind of funky looking robot with little birds that it buys and hatches, is of course much more powerful than it initially looks and it reminds the lead characters of exactly what happened before where they went after the tiny alien but had to deal with the big mean one as well, so they're more cautious going into things this time. Nishi just wants the points though as he's getting closer and closer to being done but that need is what starts to draw him into failure as the fight is all over the place and his cockiness starts to cost him.
While the show is fun to watch as an action piece that is done with plenty of violence to it, watching it as a commentary on today's society is the other angle we're supposed to take from it. Or at least that's the presumption based on how they introduce everyone and then force them into a situation where they have to deal with an extreme issue. Unfortunately, the way these characters are written very few of them are actually believable in how they react to all of this. The kids fascination with things is right on the mark but at the same time you expect him to grab one of the guns and just start going at it, regardless of what situation Nishi gets into. He just wouldn't care. The biker punks are also fairly standard material but even they just seem like they don't know how to be written. Tetsu's control over them is minimal but in a situation like this it's easier to imagine that they'd gravitate to a known rather than haul around the "toy guns" that they have now.
Even watching the leads in action, you wonder what's going through their head that even when it's revealed, you still roll your eyes. Kurono in particular hits this mark as he comes across the alien first but has fears of a repercussion like the Green Onion man again that what he discovers about the robot guy practically paralyzes him. His loss of a uniform gives him some extra credibility in being a wuss, but watching all of them standing on the bridge as Nishi gets attacked just doesn't even seem like it'd happen. It's easy to imagine the bikers ignoring him and maybe some of the others, but the overall urge among the bad guys here to want to use their guns even at the risk of hitting Nishi should have been overwhelming. These guys have a blood lust but are more interested in heading home rather than getting a little knowledge of how to use the gun and their situation to their advantage.
While I don't like Nishi as a character, I wish he'd just eliminate everyone else in this group and start fresh with the dog again. This set of episodes moves things ahead nicely into the next hunt scene but there's still a billion unanswered questions that I'm guessing will be left like that for a good chunk of the series at the least if never answered at all. This twisted version of the Running Man would probably be something interested to see as "reality TV" if society ever gets that far and I have no doubt that it would be much more violent – and faster – than what we get here. I'm almost tempted to say there's simply too much dialogue and not even simply acceptance that causes all of this to just feel unnatural.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation,Original Japanese TV spots
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with, 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: C+
Age Rating: TV MA
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 50
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2