A teen is sent out to defend japan against an invasion of monsters by a mysterious sphere in a real life game of death.
Ganzt:O is a Japanese, CGI animated, science fiction film based on the manga series Gantz. I have no previous experience with the series and freely admit to not being the biggest fan of anime. I’m not sure if it’s because of cultural differences, but some trends I see in anime I find annoying. I could probably dedicate a whole post to my problems with the majority of anime out there, but it’s a genre, when done right, can generate some of the most inventive and resonant fiction.
Within the first few frames of the movie, I had to pause and change my audio settings from English to Japanese with English subtitles. Some people might prefer it the other way around, but the English voice acting just grated on my nerves. The opening scene of the movie makes it very apparent what kind of experience you are in store for. Explosive action and gore is the name of the game. Characters are donned in fetish like leather while sporting sci-fi, neon-lit baubles and insane technological weaponry.Creature design is imaginative and rooted in Japanese mythology. Everything oozes cool and genre fans will find a lot to like here.
While the movie gets an A+ in style, there are several things that keep it from ascending to greatness and its was sad to see because I genuinely wanted to love this movie. Gantz:O suffers from most of my pet peeves about anime, but the most distracting problem had to do with the female characters. It didn’t matter if a woman took two steps or jumped across a rooftop, her tits were always bouncing. The first time I noticed, I laughed, but I kept noticing it over and over again. As much as I like boobs, the jiggle effects are applied a little too liberally. A small annoyance among many, but it took me out of the movie multiple times.
Later in the film, a woman would go on to profess her adoration for our protagonist and tells him they should move in together. I don’t care how much I find myself liking a woman or how gorgeous she might be. If she asks to move in with me during the span of one night, I would be running for the hills, not nodding and smiling in agreement like an idiot. That’s how you end up marrying Dexter. Little things like that are distracting and chipped away at the awesome time I was having.
The biggest problem comes in the form of the narrative. Killing people and resurrecting them to compete in a real-life monster slaying contest is a really interesting premise, but the movie never fills in all the blanks. A little mystery to a plot is not a bad thing, but when key points are missing, their omission becomes glaringly obvious.
Why are there seemingly random monsters in the middle of Japan? Where did they come from and what do they want? Why aren’t people losing their shit when they see a monster invasion on the news? Wouldn’t the whole world be freaking out? Where did “Gantz” come from? What is the point of this monster slaying? Why are “dead” people chosen for this game? How are they brought back? None of these questions are answered and that annoyed me. It felt like I got half a story when I was so down to be enveloped by this world.
Characters are defined by demographics in this film. This girl is a model, this guy is a middle-aged coward, this guy is a dreamy teenager taking care of his younger brother, this girl is a young, single mom, and this guy is an emo teen who’s played one too many video games. We’re never given much of a backstory for any of the characters, we just know this group of people has been dropped into this fucked up situation head first and we never learn why. The main characters do end up fairly changed by the end of the movie so there is character development of some kind and your typical hero’s journey, but it feels incomplete.
Tack on an underwhelming, predictable, and poorly executed ending and you are left with a fun movie stuck in the mud of mediocrity. I compare it to a one night stand. Its an enjoyable experience, but how much fun you had will dictate whether or not you’ll be giving it a second go-round. Gantz:O is now available on Netflix.