To start with, I have to warn you that Gantz is the darkest version of seinen. It’s not intended for children, nursing mothers, over-sensitive and emotional people, and people with unhealthy state of mind. As long as Gantz refers to guro manga, all the stuff is depicted with enjoyment and relish. Obviously, the author does love his work.

The illustration from Gantz

The illustration from Gantz

I think it won’t be a problem if you are familiar with the titles that are noted for violence, for example, Battle Royale or Claymore. You can have a look at the following illustrations and decide whether you’re ready to read THIS kind of manga or not:

Illustrations from Gantz

Illustrations from Gantz

Illustrations from Gantz

Illustrations from Gantz

If your nerves are strong enough, welcome to the world of Gantz with violent “games”, mad bastards and sadists, rapists and drug addicts.

The plot of Gantz

Of course, I’m not going to tell you the entire story. I’ll provide a short description. Let’s start!

Two high school students, Kei and Masaro, are hanging out in the subway and notice a drunk homeless man on the train tracks. They move the man off the tracks saving his life and after that they are hit by a subway train. Looks like the end of story. However, instead of being dead the students find themselves in a closed apartment with other people who have also been in the accidents but aren’t dead now. In the room there is a large black sphere called “Gantz”. From time to time the Gantz sphere opens up and green text appears on its surface: “Your lives have ended. What you do with your new lives is entirely up to me. That’s the theory, anyway.” From this moment Kei, the main character, and other survivors are forced to participate in a dangerous and cruel “game”.

The pluses of Gantz

What is positive about the manga? Let’s see!

1. Story (the first part of the manga)

This manga is a real page-turner! The plot is so offbeat that I can’t compare it with anything else. It will catch the fancy of those who wants to experience something they’ve never tried before.

Unfortunately, the thing is the plot changes eventually, and I sort of divide it into two parts for convenience. At the beginning, the level is high but then it gets worse. In the list of pluses, I’m describing the story before the turning point.

2. Artwork

The artwork really impresses. A picture is worth a thousand words:

Spectacular artwork in Gantz

Spectacular artwork in Gantz

Seriously, look at this! For example, the author masterfully draws different types of girls’ appearances:

A curvaceous girl compared to an ordinary-looking girl

A curvaceous girl compared to an ordinary-looking girl

Of course, it’s not only about the fair sex. Surely, depicting human anatomy is one of the main elements of the artwork in the manga.

3. Style and atmosphere

Definitely, I can say that you are completely absorbed in the atmosphere. Altogether, everything looks so real that sometimes it gives me the creeps. Seems like something disgusting will jump out of the screen and get its claws into my throat.

The most fascinating thing is that when you see cool, tough guys, you feel powerful, you are calm in the presence of danger. On the contrary, when you see a scared little girl or a sick old man, you are frightened together with these weak people and you think: “I only hope they won’t notice me!” And you find yourself in the depths of despair together with the characters.

4. Characters

That should be the most “delicious” part of the Gantz. The author portrays the characters as if they were real people. However, there is the difference: these personages, who may have been average people, or even losers, are tired of everyday routine and do the things an ordinary man would have never given a thought to do.

This manga exposes all sorts of human vices and mental deviations. You’ll see what a harassed student is capable of when he is allowed to kill and get off scot-free. Moreover, there are dope fiends that are always high on drugs and out-of-control rapists having sex with aliens. There is a total lack of restraint.

Drug addicts and rapists in Gantz

Drug addicts and rapists in Gantz

Drug addicts and rapists in Gantz

Drug addicts and rapists in Gantz

Drug addicts and rapists in Gantz

Drug addicts and rapists in Gantz

Nevertheless, there are also heroes who eventually discover such qualities of nature as fortitude, courage, and selflessness, whereas in ordinary life they would be just mousy people.

After all, the characters demonstrate their abilities in extreme situations. And here you’ll find situations as well as characters suited to every fancy.

5. Action

Actually, I’ve already given some illustrations with the examples of action scenes and I just want to add that battles and action are at the top level. You won’t be disappointed for sure.

6. Originality

That’s something Gantz can boast of: being fresh and unique. Although we’ve already read such stories where the main character gets into another world, or turns into a robot, or acquires superpower, the whole concept is entirely different from any other titles of this genre. However, I should note that I refer to the first part of the manga.

7. Narrative organization

Concerning the development of the storyline, the plot of the manga moves swiftly and it’s absolutely breathtaking. To tell the truth, sometimes the narration starts sinking in the main character’s intense sufferings and spiritual torments, and you think it’s too much.

Overall, the narrative organization is at high level.

The minuses of Gantz

Now let’s get onto the negative sides of Gantz.

1. Story (the second part of the manga)

Talking about the second part of the manga after the turning point, the plot changes completely and we get the same old cliché good-and-evil depiction of opposing parties with a cluttered-up ending. Everything is great until the purpose of the large black sphere comes out. That’s really disappointing!

Although the manga made me facepalm many times, I read it to the end. Oku Hiroya, why did you ruin your wonderful work?


2. Not a scintilla of humor

On the one hand, I understand clearly that Gantz is a kind of horror manga and it’s not supposed to be funny. But on the other hand, a portion of hearty humor wouldn’t be out of place.

3. Drama

Personally, I think there is too much drama in the manga. It’s wearisome. Yeah, of course, the characters are stuck in a strange scary place, they see deaths, horrors, and monsters, and it’s quite clear that they suffer in the beginning. Their morals are fighting with the brute and dirty desires. But do they really need to self-analyze all the time? Moreover, each personage on whom everything hinges has one and the same thought like “Whether I am a trembling creature or whether I have the right?” (the quote from Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky).

4. Logic and balance

Maybe, I forgot or missed something near the end of the manga, but did anybody bother to explain what on earth had happened? There is an alien invasion, mass trainings, and some other things. Where did all of it come from? And yet the earthlings got super technologies and managed to win. How? Flat nonsense!

Conclusion and Scores

So, I’ve had a view of pluses and minuses of Gantz. Now let’s sum up.

Сriteria Scores
Story 7/10. I’d give it a higher score, if the ending wasn’t cluttered-up. Everything was great at the beginning. What a pity!
Artwork 10/10. Undoubtedly, the artwork is at high level.
Atmosphere 10/10. You are completely absorbed in the atmosphere.
Characters 10/10. The author elaborated the characters perfectly well. Personages are suited for every fancy.
Drama 2/10. The story was turned out into sheer nonsense.
Logic and balance 7/10. There are some problems but the things are not so bad if we ignore the black sphere.
Action 10/10. That is worth it!
Originality 5/10. The first part is incredible. The second part is really bad.
Narrative organization 6/10. For the most part, you can’t put it down but there are some boring moments.
Humor 7/10. If there is humor, it’s mainly black.
Final score

What is your attitude towards guro manga and the manga Gantz, in particular? Drop your comments below.