At first glance, Gantz seems like it’s made out of two pieces. The first piece is a discordant dissection of the human mind, examining the private thoughts and emotions that run through the heads of society. The second piece is an alien-hunting game, Men in Black style. Combine the two and you get a series that leaves you in awe the entire time. Each individual scene seems disjointed and bizarre, but like the pieces of a jigsaw scattered across the floor, everything eventually comes together in an all too fascinating show.
Right from the start, viewers know that they’re in line for a whole new ride. Kei is introduced as a disdainful high schooler who has a bad habit of getting an erection every time his mind wanders onto girls. As we follow him into the subway station, we see for the first time the aspect of this show that will snare viewers from the beginning. Instead of being told in the third person like most stories, Gantz is told from an omnipresent point of view. The thoughts in the heads of everyone on the screen are voiced so the focus of the story is split between that of the main character, and society as a whole. Already, this provides the perfect opportunity to take a snapshot of society and show how the creator views humanity. Humans are portrayed as selfish and judgmental pricks, living only for sensationalism and cheap thrills. This sets the stage for the events to come.
When a drunkard falls onto the subway tracks, no one is willing to help him except a high schooler name Katou. With the help of Kei, who was a childhood friend, they save the old man but get crushed by the train in the process. Mysteriously, they find themselves still alive, but transported to a room in Tokyo along with a few other people who also recently died. Just when things start settling down, the audience’s attention is drawn to a large black ball in the middle of the room. Words appear on it, telling the room’s occupants that “a new morning has come.” From then on out, a tale of conspiracies and extraterrestrial criminals unfolds, adding action to the already eclectic mix.
What really sets Gantz apart from other alien slaughter fests is the way that it’s presented. The atmosphere is aided by a pumping soundtrack, ranging from a catchy hip hop intro to creepy background music. It’s just as variegated and disjointed as the show, which really brings out the flavor of the story. Switching lightly between generic “Action! And Adventure!” guitar riffs and eerie chanting, followed up with traces of trance, the music is absolutely fascinating.
Add into the fact that the animation is powerhoused by the renowned Gonzo studio, what results is a masterfully crafted series with a solid storyline, intriguing characters, and something that’s as appealing to the senses as it is to the mind. After all, what better way to get fanboys to drool over a property than throw in the Gonzo name, wrapped up in a shiny package of pseudo-psychoanalysis? The characters are just as pleasing on the eyes, and all-around, it’s just a show ready and waterproofed for fandom drool.
Insights into the human psyche, lightened up with the occasional naked girl... Gantz is one of the best shows to come out this past year. There’s so much there to tease your mind that it’d almost be a waste to let this slide by.