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Gantz, Vol. 1: Game of Death (2004) – DVD Review

Gantz, Vol. 1: Game of Death DVD


Written by Masashi Sogo, based on the manga by Hiroya Oku
Directed by Ichiro Itano
Character Design by Naoyuki Onda


  • Director interview
  • Clean opening & closing animation

Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:

  • Attempted rape
  • Murder game
  • Anti-heroes
  • Bloody violence
  • Female nudity/male partial nudity

Released by: ADV
Region: 1
Rating: Mature, for violence and suggestive themes
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Rent it for now; buy it if the series delivers on its promise

[ad#longpost]Gantz starts with Kei, our “hero,” who seems much more interested in negatively judging everyone around him and in thinking about naked women than in helping a vagrant who fell on the train tracks. We get to hear the real thoughts of everyone around him, showing that they’re not at all what they want people to think they are. While helping a childhood friend, Kei seems simultaneously beheaded by the oncoming subway and rescued by a mysterious black sphere that teleports them to a waiting room filled with others, including a couple of Yakuza and a naked suicide, who all think they’re dead. The sphere, known as the Gantz, seems to have resurrected them to track down rogue aliens, and if they don’t, they’ll die again and this time for good.

It’s interesting that the “heroes” are not really very heroic at all, including Kei, the main character, who is our main way into the story. Only his childhood friend and fellow captive Kato seems to have any morals or courage. If these people are truly representative of humanity, good and bad, then this is one show with a truly depressing view of human nature. It will be interesting to see how their bizarre situation makes the characters grow and change.

The audio is quite good; the rock-rap theme song by Rip Slyme should appeal to most fans, as should the accompanying scenes of the show, which prepare the viewer for action and mystery. Dialogue in both languages is clear of problems, and the casts are into their characters already. For example, Kei’s voice in English is a great balance of clueless and angry young man. The artistic style is realistic and attractive, and the bloody scenes of violence are handled, if not with taste, then at least with style. It is important to note that the DVDs contain the complete and uncut version of the show, above what was shown originally on Japanese TV.


The extras list includes the usual clean opening and closings, which is nice, along with a set of credits and some ADV previews. The real star of the set is the interview with director Ichiro Itano, revealing that the feels that Gantz is about the reality of “the human essence,” even if that reality is “inappropriate.” Itano is fighting what he sees as censorship, led by America, in a cultural trend towards limiting violence and eroticism in manga and anime; because of this, he wants his show to push the envelope and aim for a higher reality with regard to the base brutality and baseness of human nature.

This series has an interesting premise and some promise, but it’s not for those who can’t handle gratuitous violence. While other titles are obviously more violent and/or sexual, (notably Kite, Perfect Blue, and many others) this one has a brutality rooted in the basic baseness of humankind, and is therefore more chilling for its awareness of the frailty of human virtue. The depth of story might redeem the series, but with only two episodes to go on, it’s hard to tell at this stage. Itano and his belief that humans are thinking creatures is intriguing, and this is one show that definitely causes viewers to think about who and what they really are, what the true is beyond the surface, and how we should live our lives.

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