Review for Gantz: Movies 1 & 2 Collection
This harks back to a painful time in UK anime. Blu-ray had been established as a successful format for a few years, having buried HD-DVD, and anime was beginning to toy with the idea of releasing on the format, especially as more and more TV anime in Japan was being animated in HD. Beez gave it a tentative try with shows like Freedom, but with Manga the biggest cheese on the UK anime block, they were expected to do big things. But the customer base just wasn’t ready yet. Far too many releases were truncated, shows like Casshern Sins, and Xam’d, and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. Many were announced, but never saw a release at all. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood eventually got a complete Blu-ray release, but for the others, I had to look abroad to fill those gaps.
This is the last of those Manga Blu-ray gaps that I have long wanted to fill, although it’s live-action, not anime. MVM did release the Gantz anime, but it’s a story with Manga written all over it, lots of exploitative and gory violence, and a fair bit of sex as well, just the sort of content that Manga made their name with back in the early nineties. So when a live action adaptation of Gantz was made, two feature films shot back-to-back, it was perfect for Manga, and they announced Blu-ray releases as well. But in the end, while the first film was released in HD, Manga obviously didn’t sell enough, and the sequel was released a few months later as DVD only. It’s a shame as I quite liked the Gantz movies, and even found them better than the anime. I wound up scratching that HD itch by importing the Gantz Movie Collection from Australia, which gathered both movies into one BD Amaray case.
It was just another normal day, as college student Kei Kurono stood on the underground platform, preparing for a job interview. But then his childhood friend Masaru Kato walked past, and then decided to help a drunk who had fallen onto the tracks. Feeling obligated to help, Kei went to assist Kato, but got pulled onto the tracks just as the express train arrived. They suddenly appeared in a strange apartment, empty save for a large, enigmatic black ball, and a host of similarly confused people.
Suddenly the ball sparks into life, with a rousing if distorted anthem. Characters and images appear on its surface, telling the occupants of the room that their old lives are over, that their new lives are its to do with as it wills. It then shows them an image of a comical looking alien, and tells them to find it and kill it. The ball suddenly opens up, revealing cases containing close fitting, black shiny latex looking suits with odd circular attachments, and racks of futuristic looking weapons. There is also a naked comatose man crouched inside, on a ventilator and somehow hooked into the machinery. The next thing they know, they are outside and the hunt is underway. The ball is Gantz, and their lives, should they survive the next 20 minutes, will never be theirs again, unless they can somehow score 100 points in Gantz’ sick, twisted game.
Gantz: Perfect Answer (145:02)
Now five months later, Kei Kurono is the skilled leader of a band of veteran Gantz players, working their way to 100 points so that he can resurrect his fallen friend. In the real world, he’s working his way through college, and supporting Kato’s orphaned brother Ayumu (telling him that Kato is away on business and will be back soon). Helping him is college friend Tae Kojima, although his secret life is preventing their friendship from developing into anything deeper. But the Gantz game is about to go horribly wrong, and the world according to Gantz isn’t playing by the rules anymore.
For one thing there’s a cop investigating the rumours and whispers behind the Gantz game, the mysterious people who die in accidents only to appear hale and hearty the next day. A famous idol receives a miniature Gantz ball, and is issued a mission to find four keys, four people of which Tae Kojima is the fourth, that will get her into the Gantz room. Underground, a group of mysterious men in black also watch over the Gantz game, and are determined to obtain this miniature Gantz ball. And Masaru Kato is actually still alive!
Both films get 1080p 1.85:1 widescreen transfers on these Blu-ray discs. While the Blu-ray format does offer the films added clarity and definition, these aren’t the finest Blu-rays I have ever seen. Much of that is probably down to the typical film-stock used in Japan, which tends to offer flatter colours, a higher level of grain, and washed out dark detail, all of which is apparent on this disc. You won’t find that trademark 3D pop that everyone looks for on Blu-ray, but on the whole the Gantz movies are a pleasant enough watch. What’s worth mentioning is the quality of the special effects, usually what lets Japanese mainstream cinema down. Here the effects are as good as anything that Hollywood can come up with, the Gantz teleport effect is stunning, while the various aliens are brought to life with vivid clarity and realism, with only the Japanese sense of humour in the CG designs marking them out as quirky and unexpected. Most importantly they do still look better than the DVD.
While the visuals may not be the mega sharp and super-clear Blu-ray acme that we are used to, there’s no worry about the audio, thunderous DTS-HD MA 5.1 Japanese tracks that kick ass. The action sequences in this film are so powerfully represented, so well designed and realised that you may find the audio jolting your posterior off your couch at certain moments in this film. Certainly you will be nudging your volume control downwards if you have any respect for your neighbours. The dialogue is clear throughout, while the music drives the pace of the films, without being particularly memorable. There are also a PCM 2.0 Japanese tracks if you’re still not HD audio capable, while the subtitles are timed well and free of error on both films.
You get two discs in a BD Amaray case, one on a centrally hinged panel. The inner sleeve also offers some nice movie artwork. The discs boot to animated menus. The extras on each disc are as follows.
The Making Of Gantz (18:00)
Teasers (x3) and trailers (x2), as well as the TV spots (x3)
Gantz: Perfect Answer
The Making of Gantz: Perfect Answer (32:39)
Fight Choreography (6:20)
Eastern Eye Trailers for Ip Man: The Legend is Born, Space Battleship Yamato, and A Million.
My opinion on the movies hasn’t altered that much, so I’ll simply link at this point to my earlier review of Gantz, and my review of the DVD of Gantz Perfect Answer if you want to know more about each individual film. But nothing provokes my OCD as much as having a series in two different formats, and once I’d experience Gantz on Blu-ray, there was no way that I was going to downgrade to DVD so that it would match with Perfect Answer. Fortunately this Blu-ray twin pack from Australia solved my problem with a Region B release for both films.
This is one instance where the film adaptation of a manga does better than the anime adaptation. Gantz the anime certainly could be a lot bloodier, and could get away with more sexual content thanks to its medium, but it was annoyingly inconclusive, and the pacing of the thing was pretty much its downfall. The films have none of that problem, flowing quite well and developing the story in a compelling way; although live action means that the sexual content is almost non-existent.
And while the first film conforms to the manga/anime storyline to an extent, the second film resolutely does its own thing, with maybe the odd hint of the manga/anime here and there, but developing a story that leads to a far more satisfying and conclusive climax. The Gantz movies entertain and they feel complete within themselves. Also the quality of the effects work, and the vividly choreographed action all helps the films stand up well against most of mainstream Hollywood, even now, some ten years later.