Gantz Vol. #07 (also w/box) (of 10) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, August 05, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, August 09, 2005



What They Say
The fragile bonds that hold the survivors together are frayed to the breaking point, but in Gantz’s game, survival is impossible without a warm body guarding your back. As the Gantz reaches into the “real” world and a fresh batch of resurrectees is offered up on the altar of slaughter, Kurono finds himself partnered with a new lady killer. If looks could kill, he’d already have died a second time, but will she be his salvation or his death?


The Review!
A new arc starts off and a new batch of walking bulls-eye's enter the game as the aliens get even more powerful and less campy.

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, Sei gets the cover and it's no wonder since just like Kishimoto, she's all about the lean figure and big breasts in a skin tight outfit combined with high tech deadliness. 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 four 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:
After some minimal extras with the last few volumes, things pick up again this time around. The clean opening and closing are here as well as a series of commercials for the video game release. It's a fun looking game and the show translates very easily to it as you play out the lead characters minus the wuss factor. There are also a pair of interviews included. The first one is with the series director and the CG director as they talk about the show but there are potential spoilers in their conversation so we didn't get too deep into it. The other interview is with the manga creator and an actress named Chiaki Kuriyama. This suffers from the same problem as the other interview but look to be material worth revisiting at the end of the series since that's when these interviews were done.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Considered the second season by some, the second half of the Gantz series kicks off here and the cover art has an amusing tagline of "The first 2 games were only a warm up." It certainly sets the right kind of mood for it and after watching the four episodes here, it definitely seems like the people behind it wanted to kick things up a few more notches. The flow of having four episodes also worked rather well in that we got both the character moments and the start of the new game.

Since Gantz alternates easily game and non-game episodes, the breakdown is pretty clear in what's going on. In the non-game episodes, things change considerably across this volume as some of the characters from the last event undergo drastic changes based on how they're dealing with what happened. I'm glad to see that they brought some resolution into the problem of these people bringing the weapons back into the "real" world and at the same time reinforcing that almost anyone can get killed at any time. Kato's world changes a lot as well as he finally reaches his breaking point when his aunt starts smacking around Ayumu again when he was asking for some breakfast. They finally move out and get their own place after Kato throws her around a bit due to how angry he got over it. This makes the game even more critical for Kato now since if he dies, Ayumu is completely screwed.

The best part of the down time in this volume is that the producers finally figured that they needed to do the sex up just the same as the violence. So with the Kei's, we get lots of fun this time. His frustration over living with a hot chick and having been key in saving their lives the last time around is almost comical since she's so oblivious to it and keeps talking about how great Kato is. This eventually leads to him snapping and saying too much to the point where she's ready to run out of the place. Kurono then has a great little dream sequence where he gets what he wants and bam, Gantz goes from violence-porn to porn-porn. It's not often that you get the voice actors having to do this kind of role outside of actual adult anime. Even better, this happens again later but for real when Kei sizes up a woman who gets involved in the game.

When the game does begin anew, we get the new batch of people as well as those that survived before, as well as surviving the downtime from the game. The new batch of people is a bit more mixed than before but at the same time you almost don't feel like wanting to take the time to talk about them or get to know them since you realize that the bulk of them are fodder. Unlike the last round, none get their heads blown off before exiting the room to go on the alien hunt but some head does get blown. One of the new people is an attractive if dark looking woman named Sei. Kishimoto had come across her in the real world before but while in the Gantz room, she ends up hooking up with Kurono and the two go at it like mad while everyone in the other room tries to deal with the situation.

Watching them deal with the situation is the interesting thing, since it's a good part of the character study before they really deal under duress when they hunt the aliens. A rather talkative and annoying fellow this time is a popular TV Buddhist priest who claims to know exactly what's going on and tells everyone to ignore everything and just pray. Which almost all the new people do instead of realizing what Kato and the others are trying to tell them. I was really glad to see Kato and even Kurono try to take on something of a leadership role now that they're really aware of what's going on, but they do so in such a poor manner that again you wonder just how cultural it is for them to be like that. Kato ends up imparting only a bit of useful information and misses out telling them about a lot of other things but does manage to push the importance of the suits.

The game this time around looks to be more challenging since the aliens are monstrously tall and the game has an additional thirty minutes given to it. I've heard that this is where things deviate more from the manga but so far this arc is much more interesting than the previous one since the familiar characters are slowly being more proactive instead of deer in the headlights reactive to things. I just wished someone had killed the priest in the Gantz room right from the start so that I was saved from hearing all of his ranting.

In Summary:
Gantz picks up some steam as the second half of the series gets underway both in terms of the violence and the beautiful gratuitous nudity. It's simply unfair to have one without the other, right? The start of the new game has some interesting new additions to it and plenty of quick and easy kills but the real fun is watching how the more veteran players start to act and feel more like Nishi the more they survive the events. While the show hasn't won me over, these episodes are definitely more enjoyable than the past ones and I'm looking forward to seeing how this arc will play out and who survives.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Interview with director Ichiro Itano and CG director Yasuhiro Kato,Interview with Gantz creator Hiroya Oku and actress Chiaki Kuriyama, Japanese TV commercials for the Gantz video game,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, 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: TV MA
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98/39.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Gantz