I have a soft spot for Gantz. The manga, for all its flaws and shortcomings, is a fantastic piece of entertainment. This film manages to capture a nugget of that, and while it is objectively lacking in detail and plot for audiences unfamiliar with the source material, it nonetheless presents some semblance of story and progression, albeit paper thin, with exciting visuals that capture the unique aesthetic of its namesake. It’s at least a step up from certain other film tie-ins of manga, which forgo all substance for fan service.
Adapting one of the major action arcs from the manga, the CG animated film is fast, frantic, and balls-to-the-wall nuts. The manga is a high concept sci-fi, in which certain people are given a second chance at life following their demise, where they’re reanimated, but are forced to partake in the extermination of aliens who have taken residence on Earth. The film captures all of this in essence, with the CG aesthetic replicating well the manga’s crisp artwork, which was itself drawn with the aid of 3D models, utilising programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator.
However, the allure is skin-deep. In the afterword for volume six of the manga, author Oku Hiroya wrote about the films that inspired him. He expressed a dislike for The Lord of the Rings and stated that the story sucked, favouring instead films such as Die Hard, The Thing, and Independence Day. Reading the manga, it’s clear to see how those latter films have inspired and influenced his own work, and Gantz:O retains the same sort of feeling on a much more rudimentary scale.
It’s an extended set piece that prioritises entertainment and action over any sort of mythology or profundity. Unfortunately, the manga is sprawling and the Osaka arc which this film (quite faithfully) adapts is smack bang in the middle. It’s a hugely entertaining scenario, but totally lacks explication.
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