This anime forced its way onto my list last year. It had came out a few years previous, but I did not get around to watching it until I located the uncut version. I went into this knowing little to nothing about it at all, other than I had heard it is a must watch from a few friends. WHY it is a must watch though I was never told. I was not told what genre it was or even what the story as about. So I went into it with no real expectations, and honestly my hopes were not high since there had been a LARGE amount of bad animes being released. Or animes that I held no interest in at all. For those who do not know, in a period of a year in Japan there is typically 100 new anime series introduced. Sometimes many more, sometimes a couple less. Only a few are actual gems. Most are just the same ole thing with different characters.
Soo number 9: Gantz. The first thing that drew my attention when I put on the first episode of this was the quality of the artwork. It was exceptional. The animations on the characters were smooth, the backgrounds were detailed, and the whole theme and coloring of the anime had a much more realistic tone than most animes I had been seeing lately. It was not bright and colorful at all. The anime started with a run through a subway to what looked to be a high school student. As the anime passed people it showed what they were thinking about other people in the subway, mostly complaints or people worrying about being somewhere quickly.
At this point it went to the high school student and told his thoughts, he pretty much saw everyone as lesser than himself, as greedy or pathetic people. As it is telling his thoughts a drunk hobo passes out and falls onto the subway tracks. It flashes to everyone’s thoughts again as people look at the guy but no one goes to help him. People do not think good things for this man, nor do they wish to help him, but instead think things such as, “God he smells awful.”, “Good riddans”, and “I have always wanted to see what a real death would look like.” A second main character enters at this point seeing no one is going to go help the man and goes down onto the tracks to try to get the man off them. He asks for help from people but no one is willing to go down onto the tracks and assist him. This character then notices the original high school kid and recognizes him, he convinces him to come help him, and as the first kid is heading down to help he has no idea why he is doing it, his mind is telling him this is crazy but his body just goes. Both of them manage to get the homeless man up off the tracks right before the subway train arrives. Unfortunatly they can not pull themselves up, so they decide to try to outrun the subway train and get far enough ahead of it so that it stops before it hits them.
Wonderful idea but the main problem that arrises is that this is an express subway and it is not stopping. This ignites the main storyline. Both boys get hit by the subway train and get ripped apart. The people above watching take photos with camera phones and such. The anime now flashes to the two waking up in a hotel room filled with about 8 other people of vastly different lifestyles. Two yakuza members, a politician with a heart problem, a dog, a famous musician, a rich stuck-up eccentric kid. In the center of the room is a huge black orb. They all try to get out of the room but find a barrier blocking their way. At this point the third main character arrives, a nude woman starts to mataralize in the middle of the room, blood dripping from her wrist but no cut present.
The yakuza proceed to drag her into the back room before she can gain any idea where she is at or realize that she is still alive. Before she can be raped the second of the two main characters stops them and covers her up. The yakuza are about to retaliate when a song plays loudly from the black orb and a message appears on the orb. It tells everyone their old lives are over and their new lives are not theirs. It then displays a alien and tasks everyone with eliminating it. The sides of the orb open up and suitcases with everyones names on them are inside, inside each suitcase is a dark black full-body suit. In addition there are futuristic looking guns for everyone. No one really believes what is going on or that their lives are over, but everyone in the room does recall that they should have died one way or another, shot, stabbed, ran over, or suicide. Each person in the room is teleported out with or without their suits if they didnt grab them quick enough and put near the vicinity of the first alien. The eccentric kid convinces most of the people this is a governemnt experiement and that whoever kills the alien first will be given 1 million dollars, which is enough to intice almost everyone to go. One person tries to leave and when he gets a certain range away from everyone else… POP goes his head.
I am going to leave what else happens to those who want to watch it, and continue with my review. That is a small rundown of the start of the very first episode. Click on the image below to see a actual clip of the anime so you can see what the style is like. I reccommend watching just the clip even if you do not typically watch anime, just so you can see a style of anime different than what is normally portrayed and displayed in North America.
Total Number of Episodes: 26
Year Aired: 2004
Genre: Horror/Action/Science Fiction
Things I liked about the anime: I loved the animation for the first 13 episodes which was the first season. It drew me in with the details. The character development on the main characters was fantastic and drew you in to actually care for or at least think about how they think. You can see the characters actually grow as they go through different life altering events. This anime is quite brutal in what happens and what the characters go through but it allows for some amazing storytelling. The detail put into making this is second to almost none. Being able to see what the characters actually are seeing allows you to get a better understanding of the fear they feel and helps draw you even more into the anime. The different aliens are also portrayed well and you even feel for them at times, though all of them are sinister in one way or another.
In addition to the conflicts with the aliens there is also exceptional inter-character conflict between the different people who appear in the room each time, and with the people who survive. The anime covers just enough backstory for characters to make you feel for them and the starting episodes to the later episodes makes it clear the writer had a detailed understanding of what he wanted to happen. The characters from early on to later have relationships that are masterfully weaved together.
The soundtrack, characters, story, and just about everything overall are top of the notch and make this fit into my top 10 list. The number one dissapointment I had with this anime was that it ended way too soon.
What you might not like: This anime is not for the weak of heart. If you have a problem seeing nudity, severed limbs, blood, or seriously demented people you might not like this. This is the equavilant of a rated R movie. The nudity and violence is not just spread around just to be there though and every time it is present it is used perfectly to enchance the story. If you are looking for closure in an anime as well this will not be for you. I leave it at that. One little qwirk I had was with the animation at the start of the second season. One of the main aliens they fight I feel could have been done a bit better. They used a combination of what looks to be real life footage + animation combined into a unique art style. I did not prefer it very much compared to the style in the first season and the end of the second season, but it is still not bad. I have had multiple friends love the style. Just was not my taste.
After actually thinking about this anime It may deserve to be higher in my top 10 list. I shall see after I do the rest of my reviews.