ANIME MINOR JEWELS SERIES
Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
The French may have said “Make love, not war” but then Gantz appeared and said “Why not do both”…
Gantz is a cool manga that did the mistake of asking from GONZO to turn it into an anime. It has a very violent and mysterious story that can easily glue you just to see what will happen next yet at the same time has a very slow build up that ends in a very confusing and almost unsatisfactory way.
As many will probably tell you, the anime is covering just the first three arcs of the manga, while the fourth is an anime original, done on the run to wrap the story. That move disappointed many, since anime originals are always trying to abruptly end a complicating story with poor reasoning.
Beyond that, the anime was still going slow just to stay away from the manga while at the same time had to last for a full season and not end out of the blue. The result was for a big portion of the excitement being lost at characters standing frozen and talking about irrelevant things in the most inappropriate moments. Although that was present in the manga as well, the time spent there definitely didn’t last that long and most of it felt like internal dialogue than chatting in the middle of a massacre.
Many disliked the characters for being too unmoral and carnal, violent and devoid of sympathy which further damaged the image of the anime. Well I can only blame GONZO for that since that was the intension of the mangaka from the start; to create a setting that made a contrast to all the shonen shows out there. The cast is indeed a bunch of miserable cowards and horny creeps instead of idealistic super-powered kids. Most of the magic of the story is how these bastards need to find the guts to get active and cooperate against their deadly adversaries instead of being apathetic idiots, waiting to be slaughtered like sheep. It was a social commentary around the modern way of life of sorts and I must say it was brilliant. GONZO unfortunately is a company completely incompetent at depicting human emotions in their characters and thus failed to use the proper aesthetics to make the viewers feel what I mentioned above. To most, the cast was indeed a bunch of nobodies, talking idiotically in the middle of a massacre and waiting to be killed. The lack of proper emotional depiction and music BGM just ruined it.
Another thing that felt bad for most is the complete lack of an objective. Why are all these things happening in the story? For what purpose? Again, this is a very unorthodox approach to storytelling as most people want a clear goal early on and yet all they saw here was a bunch of unsympathetic people being ordered to kill stuff. What for? The penalty for not obeying is death. The penalty for not playing right is death again. Ain’t they all dead already? So what is the point of fighting? Yet the series plays along in a way to not offer anything clear. Not even the rules of this game are explained at the unwilling players. Many need to randomly be killed just so the rest can figure it all out on their own. There are even some who have played the game before but refuse to reveal everything and just use the rookies as cannon fodder, distraction just so they can flank the enemy themselves. All that create a very aimless and seemingly pointless premise that leaves the average viewer at a complete disarray. And that is the beauty of it.
Imagine your average moe show that lacks an objective, other than to make you feel fuzzy inside with its easy going plotless stories. Gantz is probably the only anime that tries to do the exact reverse. You don’t understand the ulterior motives of this continual bloodshed yet you need to endure it. That actually works as means to think of stuff on your own and give your own interpretation of what is going on. So besides mindless action it was also a mystery that was asking from the viewer to solve it himself, without nothing be spelled for him. That of course can look as if the scriptwriter is too lazy to think of a story and just makes everything cryptic just to make it look cool. Sure, you can say he is. It also works fine because I was constantly thinking of possible reasons for all this mess.
The experienced eye can also figure out fast enough that everything is basically a social criticism of the modern way of life. The aliens in the story all represent various negative aspects of life, such as immigrants, NEETs and religious fanatics, all are in fact extensions of human folly that the average Joe needs to fight even if he doesn’t want to. Why? Well, because he is forced to do it, in the same way we are forced to spend decades in schools and workplaces. What is the ulterior motive of all that? Why, to survive in an industrialized world that cynically treats you as an expendable peon. There is no ulterior motive other than that. That is also what the show is all about, dressed with extreme doses of violence and sex. Because down to it, our most basic desires drive us no matter how idealistic we think we are and most hobbies, wars, studies, work hours end up being pointless time, existing just to keep us occupied. Even the dead can’t rest and are thrown to survive a second time in a perpetual on-going struggle for the most basic of all needs: Survival. The purpose is not to win but to stay alive. Indefinitely!
Even if you don’t think so deep, the show is still violent and sexual enough for you to just mindlessly stare at it… assuming the dreadful GONZO presentation doesn’t kill you first. It is exaggerating a lot in terms of gore and in depicting everybody as idiots and bastards as means to make you angry or disgusted with all that. And they do have some cool suits and weapons to break havoc if they ever manage to figure out how to use them properly. All that create potential for a numerous possible outcomes and it hardly feels it is predictable. I mean, in an average show you know early on how everything will end. The heroes will survive and beat the monsters and get married or something. Gantz is not like that since you don’t know who the main villains are. Plus, anyone can be killed at any given moment. It is its unexpected, violent, sexual formula that makes this anime extremely special.
Again, GONZO messed a lot at making all that clear and ended the show in a confusing and disappointing way. But beyond that, the production values are good and for once, the cold 3D models and the heartless music this company so much loves to ruin all its shows with for once worked nice since this is a show of pitiful people and no real goals.
Gantz is one of my favorite dark sci-fis and I gladly suggest it to everyone who likes this sort of themes. Just make sure to read the manga version as well, since it continues the story further ahead and offers far more material, as well as far more gore and sex.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (well-made)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (trippy)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 7/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 2/2 (rich context)
Plausibility 1/2 (so-so)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 6/10
Historical Value 1/3 (still remembered by some as an interesting retro title)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of the very slow plot)
Memorability 4/4 (extremely violent/sexy to the point of forever remembering it)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10
If pacing and ending were better, this would be a blast.
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