After a particularly rough day at school, Kurono Kei is fed up with the world and everyone around him. When he arrives at the train station, a drunken, old man stumbles and falls onto the tracks. With a train approaching, Kei’s longtime friend, Katou Masaru, jumps on to the tracks to help without hesitation. Suddenly, Kei does the same, but just after rescuing the old man, both Kei and Katou are killed by the train… or are they? Though they both remember the accident, they find themselves in a mysterious room with several strangers and a large, black sphere called Gantz, which displays the words: “Your lives have ended. How your new lives will be used is up to me”.
summary by Keitaro
Highs: Unpredictable story; insightful; truly tense moments
Lows: Erratic pacing; almost nothing is explained; dull art and character designs
The most common criticism of Gantz is that it is a travesty when compared to its manga counterpart and the content has been edited drastically for television. Because I have neither been exposed to the manga nor the unedited DVDs, I cannot comment on just how true that is, but I do know that this anime is clearly missing something. After the first episode I was confused yet equally intrigued. After the eleventh episode I was absolutely baffled.
I have watched countless anime with lackluster endings, but I found this one to be particularly disappointing simply because it boasts such enormous potential. Every twist and turn in the story presented a chance for some kind of deep insight, or at least an explanation of what the heck just happened, but from beginning to end the plot continues to open new doors without closing old ones. Another issue I have with the plot is pacing. Chalk it up to poor direction on Gonzo’s part, but some dialogue were ridiculously long, and unrealistic, and tedious.
So what makes this anime so intriguing? First are the fascinating themes on human nature. They are not articulated as clearly as I would have liked, but it is not difficult to grasp a message about the self-centeredness of individuals. Another great aspect of Gantz: The First Stage is its complete and utter unpredictability. At no point during the series could I guess what would happen next, much less speculate where the show would be by the finale.
Putting aside the stylish CGI, I have some serious problems with the show’s aesthetics. The uninspired character designs do nothing to give personality to the cast, and the dull colors just make the show feel shoddy, if anything. Then there is the music, or lack thereof. Though the opening and ending themes are catchy, the background music is far too underwhelming. In terms of the technical aspects as a whole, I was not the least bit impressed.
With such an interesting concept, it is really a shame that Gantz: The First Stage does not live up to its full potential. Even so, there is a great concept behind the plot, and the show definitely gets commendation for daring to go where others wouldn’t. If for no other reason, watch Gantz to see something truly original, albeit not particularly well executed.