Reviews of Gantz (2004) and related work

Gantz (2004Moving picture, 11 hours)

A number of people who happen to die are copied into a weird game of survival horror, where they receive high-tech weapons and superpower suits and are teleported out to kill absurd creatures who are nominally “aliens”. In between rounds, they return to the normal world. Several of them bring pieces of equipment back and one of them appears to have been copied rather than actually killed.

Bizarre SF set up as a bad video-game shooter, inverting the “stuck in a game” trope of Hack Sign (2002) et al. The dialogue is annoyingly stylized (everything is yabbee), the characters are poor (especially a vapid woman who fortunately manages to fall in love with somebody other than the main character), the visuals are unimpressive and it quickly becomes clear that the many questions simply won’t be answered.

moving picture animation Japanese production fiction series

Gantz: O (2016Moving picture, 95 minutes)

Seen in 2019.

A showdown against yōkai in Osaka.

A visual upgrade. 3D CGI is a good choice for the franchise, aided by 15 years of technical development since Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001). The Gainax bounce and general sexism are shameless. The writers don’t pretend to have a story. Episodic battles against photorealistic allegorical medieval fantasy creatures preclude a story. More than the earlier adaptation, this is openly a fantasy of more-or-less ordinary people being forced to act out a video game. All the weight of exposition falls on the character of Suzuki, but he does a good job.

As in Patlabor 3 (2002), the public reaction is largely limited to someone in an online chat saying 「本当かな」(“I wonder if that’s true”), which is a bizarre trivialization given that dozens of huge monsters are roaming downtown Osaka with real-time TV coverage. Surprisingly, one character initially speculates it’s the US military causing trouble. The JSDF actually shows up, which is even more surprising, but the result is predictable.

References here: Ghostbusters (2016).

moving picture same source material animation Japanese production fiction