The live action adaptation of Gantz is finally here, based on the popular manga that has already spawned an anime adaptation that has proven hugely popular all around the globe. It was only going to be a matter of time before a live action version became a reality but does its episodic format translate well into a two-hour film or will it be another jumbled mess of entrails?
If you have read the manga or seen the anime then you will know exactly what to expect from the story as the film covers all the events from the anime with the exception of the final story arc. While waiting for a train Kei Kurono recognizes a friend from his childhood who he has not seen in years, Masaru Kato. When a drunk commuter falls on the tracks Kato takes it upon himself to rescue the man from his impending fate as an express train heads toward the station. As Kato struggles to save the man Kurono reluctantly joins his old friend, while they save the drunk commuter Kurono and Kato are unable to get back on the platform and meet a grizzly end under the express train.
At the instant of their deaths Kurono and Kato find themselves in a bare apartment with only several other people and an ominous black sphere. Soon after they arrive in the room they are joined by Kei Kishimoto who materializes naked, while a Yakuza tries to have his way with her Kato protects her and the two begin to form a strong bond. After coming to the realization that everyone who is gathered in the room has just died the black sphere springs to life explaining that their lives are now forfeit and they must play a game that has them hunting down strange aliens to earn points. Once they earn enough points they can either escape the game and have a second chance at life or they can resurrect someone who has already died in the game.
The story is a fairly simple concept and it is not fleshed out any more in the live action adaptation of the film than in the anime. The simple story does allow the emphasis to remain on the action if you have ever wondered who or what Gantz is then you won’t find your answer here. The characters do get more back story a bit later in the film but it seems a bit too late as most of them end up dead shortly after. The main character, Kurono, is still a largely blank canvas by the end of the film but then again in previous versions of the story Kurono was not exactly known for being the most interesting of characters so it remains faithful to its source material in that regard.
Japanese films are not always known for their high production values but Gantz is one of the exceptions, the production looks very lavish with good cinematography, special effects and costume design, it all looks very high budget which makes a change from the “home made” feel that plagues many Japanese films in recent years. All of the alien hunts are filmed on location and will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has seen the anime and the aliens also remain largely faithful to the way the should be getting more complex and bad ass as the film progresses starting with the onion loving aliens that begin the hunt to the boom box loving Tanaka Alien which is one the strangest looking things ever to the final hunt for the ill-tempered alien that takes on the from of a giant statue at Ueno Park. The special effects are very high quality especially during the many fight scenes and seeing the characters materialize inch by inch never gets old. If you have seen anything of the anime then you will know that Gantz is extremely gory and as expected this has been captured in full detail in this version, it seems that in the world of Gantz no one can die and ordinary death instead there is nearly always decapitated limbs or exploding entrails involved and it never looks cheesy either thanks to the films big budget production.
There are plenty of plot holes that are left open but with the sequel already due for release in the UK next year fans will be hoping for a conclusion to the story that poses more questions that it gives answers but in all Gantz has been successful in its transition to live action and still remain very faithful to the manga and anime.