Gantz Season 2 Complete Collection (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Dan Barry
Review Date: Monday, February 05, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, July 04, 2006



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? Get ready for the body count to go through the roof, because nothing has prepared you for the second season of Gantz!


The Review!
With the exception of some ancient, fittingly forgotten OVAs (like, say, Violence Jack), Gantz is quite possibly the most offensive anime you can get outside of the hentai section. Certainly it's the most transgressive made-for-TV anime to emerge in recent memory: its broadcast run in Japan was heavily edited for gore and nudity. No, really. Heavily. ADV seems quite happy to capitalize upon this reputation, with promotional materials calling it "the series that shocked Japan." Let us be the first to tell you that everything you've heard is true, including ADV's own pitch "Gantz is nasty. But if you cut through the scandal, Gantz is also an excellent action series rife with social criticism. With a plot that reads like a cross between a sci-fi shoot-'em-up, a reality TV show, a black comedy, and a dating sim, Gantz may be total guy anime, but it has deeper themes and mysteries that the thinking crowd will appreciate, too.

Audio:

Sharp and crisp. There's good panning across the sound stage, and it makes the action scenes in this series shine.

For this review, I began listening to the Japanese language track, but after taste-testing the English dub track, I found myself going back to it more and more. The dialogue of Gantz is incredibly foul-mouthed "comparable to the amount of swearing you would expect to hear from real-life delinquent high school students. Thankfully, the English voice actors brook no hesitation in letting their potty mouths rip. They don't overact their swears, and they don't underact their characters' more serious or introspective moments in order to play up the show's "shocking" content. The cast understands that the individual lines aren't meant to shock "it's the inner attitudes of the characters which make them despicable and magnetic at the same time.

The opening theme, "Super Shooter" by Rip Slyme, is a good song in its own right: it features the popular Japanese MCs rapping in both Japanese and Engrish over a catchy drum 'n bass beat. It may seem a little light given the morbid tone of the first episodes, but once the series settles into its dark humor, the tune fits just right.

Video:

Not quite as polished as the first box. Inconsistencies in character rendition begin to show from scene to scene as the studio was under pressure to finish out the series. The third battle arc is the last gasp for good CGI before Gantz lapses into its poorly-designed final battle. The cookie-cutter characters introduced for the finale only add to the feeling that something good has been smudged. Still, the colors are as vivid as always, and the transfer is flawless and artifact-free.

Packaging:

The box is just about as good as you can ask for: it's a slick, durable cardboard affair with an open face so you can take individual DVDs down straight from the shelf. The box art features main characters in their uniquely-designed jumpsuits. The DVDs themselves are thin-packed, which is a nice space-saver. But even the thinpack cases are no cheap affair: the plastic itself is tough and glossy, and each volume has the original Japanese cover artwork, which is detailed and wonderfully reprinted. Visually, the artwork doesn't clog the box or the DVD covers, and (unlike most boxes), there's not an image competing for every square inch of space. Short of attaching "freebie" bells and whistles, this is the standard that thinpacked anime packaging should try to meet.

Menu:

Straightforward, if a little unappealing: you just select which episode you want against a background of the black Gantz sphere. The intro theme plays as background music, but it's looped at an annoying point in the track. The menus are designed to get you to the show, rather than act as an extension of it.

Extras:

Each disc has a little something "and I mean "little." It's usually an interview with a voice actor from the show. As such, they're not very enlightening, and offer more in the way of backstage anecdotes than they do secrets or insights about the show. You won't learn anything here you can't glean from the series itself. However, it's worth noting that some of the seiyuu (Kurono's, especially) are pretty interesting and charismatic people "often with an eerie real-life resemblance to their characters.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Although Gantz never reaches Evangelion levels of philosophy (and it's clear from the start that, taken in a different direction, Gantz did have that potential), it certainly makes a salient point or asks an uncomfortable question for every head it explodes. Box two contains the third and fourth battle arcs, which represent the best and worst of the series, respectively. In battle three, a group of seasoned veterans square off against huge aliens from a Buddhist temple. Not only is the battle truly creepy, but Kurono actually gets laid, which in many ways is even creepier. However, by the time the animators were producing battle four, they were further along in the storyline than the Gantz manga "which meant they had officially run out of published source material. Left to their own devices, they cooked up an awful plot with a completely irresolute ending. There's really no excuse for a finale this crappy in a series so ripe with open-ended plot devices. The studio clearly wanted to stick a nail in it and move on.

Which is why box 2 gets a B for content where the first box got a slightly higher B+. In the post-Evangelion anime world, it's ok if you don't answer every single question "but it's still not ok to leave the viewer holding the bag and wondering, for example, who the guy is that you've named the friggin' series after. Gantz was designed to be developed over a huge number of installments "in other words, as a manga. Without a clear directorial vision of what all the sex and violence is for, the series ends with a whimper.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba 34HF81C (16:9, 32", HD-ready), Sony DAV-C700 5 DVD Changer (5.1 DTS) w/ Sony speakers



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: A+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 17 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 69.98
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Gantz