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Sullen, resentful teenager Kei and his estranged buddy Masaru die in a train accident, only to be apparently resurrected in a mismatched team of similarly unfortunate individuals, including a suicidal beauty, luckless gangsters, a baffled teacher, and a creepy schoolboy. Subject to draconian control by the Gantz, a mysterious black sphere, they are handed X-ray guns and told to hunt onion-based alien life-forms or die again.

Like Battle Royale crashed into Wings of Desire with courtesy breasts, Gantz throws everyday people into a life-or-death conflict, but focuses on their humdrum musings-what to wear, how to impress girls, who gets the rocket launcher. Based on a manga by Hiroya Oku, the brains behind the soft-core jailbait fantasy Strange Love, Gantz is a black comedy of manners. Its leading men have learned how to be heroes from anime, comparing themselves to characters from Dragon Ball and Fist of the North Star-"Oh wait! I'm already dead!" proclaims a joyous Kei as he attempts a death-defying leap. It also reveals internal thoughts, affording snatches of personal inner monologues, warts and all. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the early train scene, where commuters studiously ignore a drunken tramp who has fallen on the railway track. Kei only offers to help because he is shamed into action by personal contacts, a rather British form of control through embarrassment that also afflicts his bickering, lustful associates in the afterlife. The voice-over exposition is also a handy aid in getting around primitive lip-sync in a cash-strapped animation budget.

The agents are also made to wear fetishistic skintight collars specially reinforced to protect the neck-if the aliens break an agent's neck, death is real and permanent. When the chosen agents return from each mission, Gantz displays another message showing their "score," as if Tokyo was a vast arcade and the battle was some grotesque shoot-'em-up. They pass the time between missions watching TV, which is how Kei and Masaru learn their bodies have never been found. They've been registered as missing ever since the subway accident. They decide to try and get their ordinary, boring, problem-filled high school lives back, leaving the battle to save the Earth to others.

Gantz seems to be one of the first TV anime to have been intended less for a broadcast experience than for TiVo or DVD viewing in larger chunks. The ticking time limit on missions extends across several 25-minute episodes, and the content was something that even director Ichiro Itano, no stranger to controversy after Angel Cop and Violence Jack, did not expect to make it onto TV. In a candid interview included in the DVD extras, he reminisces about the good old days when bones snapped on prime time in Tiger Mask, and intelligently identifies Gantz, nihilism, lack of affect, voyeurism, and all as a touchstone for understanding modern youth's obsessions; in that regard it is worthy of comparison with Paranoia Agent. Episodes 1-11 were broadcast, heavily censored, on Fuji TV beginning in April 2004. The so-called Gantz: Second Stage began with episode 14 and aired uncut on satellite TV network AT-X. Episodes 12 and 13 only appeared on the DVD release, for a total of 26 episodes. Gantz becomes increasingly erotic in the second half, as the agents start to take advantage of their virtually indestructible status, although Kei remains frustrated with his feelings for a girl who does not realize that he has saved her "life." LNV
Series Credits
Person Name Episode Count
Yasuharu Takanashi
Ichiro Itano
Masashi Sogo
Takashi Yamana
Hiroya Oku
Matt Greenfield
Masaki Hyuga

To edit the cast, go to an episode page.

Original US Poster Art

General Information Edit
Name Gantz
Name: ガンツ
Romaji: Gantsu
Publisher Gonzo
Start Year 2004
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