Oh GANTZ, I love you, but I’m not quite sure what to do with you.  Your storyline, graphics and characters are produced with such creativity that I only had to read the first issue before I knew that this could become a regular thing.  But you are not without your faults.  I know full well that you were not made for the likes of me; I can tell by the fact that for NO REASON WHATSOEVER you choose to put half naked women on every single cover!  They don’t even have anything to do with the plot. They’re just there, with enormous jugs!  Though it is truly bothersome to my feminine sensibilities, I will take you as you are, because real love is never having to say you’re sorry and, if anything, you are one unapologetic bastard.

A word of warning, this is the single most explicit manga I have come across, not counting the ones classified as porn but I generally steer clear of those as a rule of thumb.  Shinyswoots, who apart from co-founding this site and being a good friend, reads more comic books than any other human being on the planet Earth (if you don’t believe me check the Guinness World Book) (Editor’s Note: Flonz exaggerates a bit), and even she had to concede that GANTZ takes the cake as far as sexually graphic content goes.  But if you’re not totally opposed to nudity and violence then this manga should be the next one that you read.

It begins on a platform in a Tokyo train station with the two lead characters, Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato.  While trying to save a drunken homeless man who falls onto the tracks, they are hit by the train and killed.  Or are they?  Somehow they are teleported to an empty apartment in Tokyo.  There they discover a giant black orb in the center of the room and a group of strangers all claiming to have had similar near-death experiences.  Green lettering appears on the outside of the sphere informing everyone that they’re lives have ended and now belong to GANTZ.  They are then told that they will be sent on a mission to discover and kill the “onion alien”.  At first the group isn’t sure what is going on.  Are they dead?  Is this some kind of new game show?  Without knowing the answers, they are transported one-by-one to the location of the mission, where they quickly learn that this is not a joke or a show, and though they are not dead yet, they will be if they don’t start fighting.

 

As the mission plays out, the group learns some of GANTZ’s basic rules.  Number one, while on missions neither themselves nor the aliens they are hunting are visible to humans, however, they are visible to each other.  Second, the mission area has a strict boundary around it; cross that boundary and a bomb implanted in their brain goes off.  Third, the suits provided by GANTZ give the wearer superhuman strength and agility, without it you are FUBAR.  Fourth, if they die in the game they die for good.  And lastly, the only way to end the cycle of being sent out on missions is to earn 100 points by killing aliens.

GANTZ is one of those mangas that pulls you into the story so that you can’t put it down, just the way any good novel does.  You start to love the characters and really wish for a happy ending, only to see them brutally killed.  I was somewhat surprised by how unafraid the author is to kill off main characters (don’t get too attached) and in really terrible ways.  I can’t quite figure out which of the two leads is supposed to be the hero: Kurono or Kato?  Kurono is more of an anti-hero, an unlikely soldier if you will.  He doesn’t think of himself as a fighter or even a good person, but that is what makes him such a good character.  Kato wants to be the good guy, he risks his life to save as many people as possible, but ultimately I find him to be a less capable warrior and leader.  Where Kato tries to find a peaceful resolution, Kurono tears motha’ fucka’s up!  It’s a dilemma, but I think I’ll give my heart to Kurono.  He had me at hello.

Like all good manga, GANTZ has just been turned into a movie and I’m really excited to see it!  They cast Kenichi (Cutie Pie)  Matsuyama as Kato which kind of bummed me out because I would’ve enjoyed seeing him as Kurono.  That being said, the guy who was cast as Kurono really looks like the manga character.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed on this one.  It’s such a great manga and it would make an awesome action movie, if done right.