Gantz Vol. #2 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, January 12, 2006
Release Date: Monday, January 16, 2006
What They Say
The brutal game continues but only one half of the original players remain alive. As the Gantz clock counts down and the body count continues to rise, the only way to survive is to join the cycle of death. To kill or be killed.
Trapped between monstrous foes and their inhuman master, the survivors only hope is to unlock the secrets buried inside their alien weaponry and combat suits but will they live long enough to use them?
The series that shocked Japan will cut your senses to the bone in the second mind-blowing volume of Gantz!
5. That Means At The Time
6. All Right!
7. We're Afer You
8. Uh Oh!
The series that shocked Japan is unleashed! Directed by Ichiro Itano and produced by GONZO Digimation (Chrono Crusade, Full Metal Panic, Macross Plus) 'Gantz' is based on the ultra-violent, totally twisted manga series. The series had to be heavily edited for broadcast on Japanese television but this DVD has been restored to its original, uncut form!
Gantz returns with more sex, violence and a bit of inanity as the cast try to figure out what is going on after the first game ends.
For this review I listened to the disc in Japanese with subtitles. The stereo track is your standard mix, and I noticed no dropouts or distortions during regular playback. The voice acting is actually quite good, with the principal cast performing quite well. The actor for Kei portrays his selfishness and conceitedness with the right amount of emotion, and Kato's actor is likewise pretty spot-on as well. I was also impressed with how Kishimoto's actress portrayed the different sides of her.
I briefly sampled the English 5.1 mix, which adds a bit of directionality to things, and I noticed no problems with this track.
The four episodes on this disc are presented in anamorphic widescreen, and look excellent for the most part. There are a couple of moments of aliasing, most notably during some of the pans, but they're less frequent in this volume and didn't really affect my enjoyment of the disc. Colours are vibrant and the show generally just looks very good.
Subtitles are in a nice yellow font and I didn't notice any major grammatical or spelling errors.
No packaging was included with this check disc.
The menus are pretty simple but fit the tone and style of the show. The show's logo appears taking up most of the screen before it shrinks and becomes a part of the main menu screen. This features the cover image of Kato to the right, with episode numbers, and links to the setup and extras menu down the middle. A section down the left has movies from the show looping round beneath a red silkscreen. The opening song plays over this menu. Sub-menus are static and silent, just providing their selections in the same theme as the main menu. It's simple but fits the tone of the show, and access times are nice and quick.
The main extra here is the Cast Talk Show featurette, which is two parts, both almost 20 minutes long. The first features Daisuke Namikawa (Kei Kurono), Hitomi Nabatame (Kei Kishimoto) and Masashi Osato (Masaru Kato). The three of them have quite a laugh up on stage as they discuss various aspects of the show and their characters, including their thoughts on the whole censorship issue (in Japan on the original airing of the first season, a lot of footage was cut out as it was 11 episodes long as opposed to the DVD release's 13). The second part features Nabatame and Osato again, as well as Rakkyo Ide, who plays the Suzuki Alien and a schoolteacher. This is another great extra and again the cast really seem to enjoy themselves. We also get the usual clean opening and closing again here.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second volume of Gantz continues right on from the first, but things are all change in terms of the setting. Whereas the first volume focused on how the characters adjusted to being abducted by Gantz and started fighting for their lives (with many of them dying various gruesome deaths), this one is a bit different in tone with Kurono, Kei and Kato all readjusting to their lives as they're re returned back home. The change in setting doesn't exactly alleviate all of the series' problems though, as there are still some pretty ridiculous moments, plenty of gratuitous violence and little explanation of what is going on. And yet the series remains quite compelling and I can't help but want to continue until the end credits roll on the final episodes.
For Kei, things are more than a little strange. He's back at his place, but still has vivid memories of the game he was just involved in, and wonders how the other characters are getting on. Everything smells and tastes as it did before though, as he remembers what Nishi told him before about everyone playing the game being copies. He goes about his regular life, but one of his friends is being hit for money and he ends up getting involved. His only way out is to use the suit from the game to give him the strength to help him against the thugs. For Kishimoto (the female Kei) on the other hand, things aren't so bright. She returns home, remembering how she committed suicide before being taken into the game. Back home, her mother phones, and thinking she's talking to Kei's sister, she says how Kei is in hospital but she is alive. For our Kishimoto, this isn't good as she struggles with her true identity.
Kishimoto ends up moving in with Kurono, who can barely contain his excitement (literally). She tells him to treat her like a pet, and he almost obliges. Then there's Kato. He and his brother live with their aunt, but she doesn't treat them well and often hits Kato's brother. In addition, at school, some bullies decide to come after him (a gay boxer, in particular) because he hangs out with the geeks. Given what's happening at home, Kato really takes it to the bullies and gives everyone a reason to be scared of him.
We're also introduced to some new characters as well. A biker who has just settled down and had a baby with his wife, but gets into a spot of bother along with his gang against some of their rivals. There's also another young boy who's being stalked, who we see for the first time in a shop where the two Kei's are, and finally a grandmother/grandson pairing who end up getting caught in an accident. What do they all have in common? They're the new competitors in the next game, which is about to begin...
It's hard to watch these four episodes of Gantz without feeling a little bit depressed. The picture of the world the show paints here really isn't particularly fun, as everyone, even the new characters, have good reason to be down when thinking about their lives. With them all reintroduced to the real world though, there are a few strange moments throughout the disc that leave the feeling that things just aren't quite right. You know they're going to go back to Gantz's game eventually, and yet the world is a little strange even as it is. Certainly nothing's really been given away yet, and the true nature of what is going on is something that's really keeping me intrigued at the moment. The cliffhanger at the end was nicely done as well, and leaves our boy Kei in quite the predicament.
Speaking of Kei, one of the things I found both disturbing and yet quite realistic in this episode was the interacting between the male and female varieties. Kurono is essentially a pervert, but really his actions and thoughts are pretty much the same as any teenage boy's would be in a similar predicament. Put a well endowed girl nearby, and any man would struggle not to have... thoughts... let alone a teenager. Despite that, the way he actually reacts to his thoughts can be a bit disturbing at times, especially when Kishimoto shows her reluctance. But her story itself is disturbing anyway, as she questions what she is since the "real" her still exists and has returned back home.
With all the talk of the characters being equivalent to faxes of their true selves, you can't help but wonder if the series is going to touch on the philosophical side of things and explore exactly what that means. They touch on it to a degree, mainly through Kishimoto and how she thinks of herself as an object, acting as though she should be Kurono's pet, but there's plenty more room for exploration as the series continues.
Kato is an interesting one as well, because he seems like a god guy most of the time but certainly shows he won't take being intimidated from anyone. He dishes out quite the beating and it's a bit disturbing as well when he's pounding away at the boy's face and starts seeing his grandmother. He tries to take a leadership role when everyone returns to the game, and it'll be interesting to see how the characters other than Nishi react to it, and how it develops. The new characters all have their interesting aspects. The boy being stalked seems like he could be a bit of a spoiled brat who thinks way too much of himself, the gang are pretty stereotypical though their leader, who we get to see the most of, seems like an interesting character. And I'm all for seeing a grandma/grandson team running around kicking rear-end.
Perhaps it's the characters, then, that I find most intriguing about Gantz. They're ridiculously flawed at times, but that only makes them more appealing, and I've definitely got past the point where I find them all totally annoying (now it's just a little annoying). It's hard to explain exactly what it is about the show that I find compelling, making writing reviews of it a bit difficult. But as silly as it can get at times, and as over-the-top violent as it is, it all hangs together quite well and keeps me wanting more. They've even managed to get rid of one thing that annoyed me in the first volume; there're much fewer head panning shots where we hear everyone's thoughts. They're mostly restricted to Kurono and Kato now, and aren't done in nearly as annoying a way as they were.
The animation still looks a bit awkward at times, and it often looks a bit too digital, but in general it's not bad. I really like a lot of the background music as well; I probably wouldn't usually but it really fits the "in-your-face" tone of the show quite well, and the opening theme in particular rocks.
While I'm still not totally bowled over by the show, there is a lot to enjoy here if you can get past the gratuitous blood and over-the-top violence that is particularly evident throughout this set of episodes. The storyline is interesting, and often throws up some interesting ideas that will hopefully continue to develop as the series draws on. I'm not entirely convinced on the execution of it all, but I continue to hope the series will keep improving as it goes along. I can only be thankful, too, that we're spared the US-style release schedule, as I think if I was only seeing two episodes at a time I'd probably not be enjoying it half as much as I am at the moment.
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1),English Subtitles,Cast Talk Show Parts 1 & 2,Clean Opening & Closing
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2