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Afterworld Violence

What will undoubtedly be the most controversial anime of the year has finally been released. Come join the game...GANTZ.

by Chris Istel

What if death wasn't truly death at all? What if immediately upon death you were put into a small apartment room, thinking you were still in the normal world, only to find out that you were a mere pawn in a game of death and violence? This is the story of GANTZ. People of all walks of life are unexpectedly thrust into this dark game, uncertain of what their "future" has in store for them.

Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato are ordinary high school students. Kei is the token angst-filled high school student, concerned only with himself and obsessed with porn. On his way home from school one rainy day, he is unwillingly forced to help someone off of the subway tracks, and is consequently taken down by an oncoming train. Masaru is the exact opposite of Kei, selfless and kind. The train killed him as well, but only his heart was truly in his actions. The two were childhood friends, but as they grew older Masaru was forced to move away and raise his younger brother due to the death of his parents. Up until just before their deaths, neither had seen each other since they were very young.

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After all of the "participants" in the game are present in the apartment, the game truly begins. They receive a message from the mysterious black orb in the center of the room, vaguely explaining the rules of the game and the target which they must kill (accompanied by Japanese calisthenics music). The orb then expands, providing them with weapons and black form-fitting body suits. They are then once again repositioned, this time outside in Tokyo. Their mission is to kill "the Onion Boy". Those with the most kills will score the most points. As the story continues and the participants are forced to kill more and more, how will Kei and Masaru's relationship change?

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This is the nature of GANTZ, a game of killing where violence takes center stage. In fact, the show was so gory that it had to be heavily edited before it was allowed to be broadcast on Japanese TV, and Japanese TV is far more liberal than American or even European TV. It had to be censored as well for its occasional moments of relatively strong sexuality and even rape. However, this is not to say that there is no actual content within GANTZ. The violence is heavy here, and as a result, so are the relationships between the characters in such a dark environment.

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And it's certainly an imaginative show. The participants have a number of weapons of varying uses at their arsenal, from a high-powered rifle to the "Transporter Gun" used to capture the target in a net. In addition to the weapons at their disposal, they also receive the "GANTZ suits", which give them added resistance to physical harm, as well as speed and agility. Similar to the collars worn by the competitors in Battle Royale, the characters in GANTZ are implanted with "Bomblets", devices that explode when a player steps out of the boundaries of a particular mission. The final device is the "Radar Terminal Device", a gadget that pinpoints the targets' locations, displays the remaining time for the current mission, and it can make the wearer temporarily invisible. All of these gadgets are given to the players through the mysterious black orb in the center of the apartment...

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Because of the dark content of the show, the environments are also decidedly gloomy looking. However, gloomy doesn't mean ugly, and this anime's art is quite the opposite of that. Nearly all of the art in GANTZ is computerized, giving it a sort of gritty, atmospheric look that might be unattainable in conventional hand-drawn animation. Additionally, the high amount of technology and weapons presented in the show might be difficult to convey in anything but computer animation, as well as the constantly panning and zooming camera. The CG animation adds a sense of dark realism to the show, making it even more hard hitting. Make sure you have a good sound system when you watch GANTZ, because the subtle yet effective soundscape of the show is incredible.

Indeed, GANTZ has high production values. Produced by the well known computer animation studio Gonzo (Chrono Crusade, among many others), controversy was expected from the moment the deal was signed for the original manga version to be turned into an anime. Not a bit of violence or mature content was left out of the conversion, and no expense was spared either. It was of the best looking and sounding anime of 2004, as well as one of the most popular among the fansubbing scene because of its controversial content.

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As if it is not already apparent from this article, GANTZ is a rather hardcore show. ADV intends to keep it this way by releasing only the original, uncensored show the way that it was meant to be shown. It is not a show for the faint of heart, but what a roller coaster of violence and emotion it is!

Volume 1 of GANTZ, Game of Death, is expected to be one of the biggest releases of 2005, if not the most controversial mainstream release. The ADV-produced DVD will be released on February 8, and not surprisingly, it will carry a 17+ rating.

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