Okay, so when you die, what happens? Odds are, you wouldn’t think you end up in an alien hunting ground where if you kill 100 aliens, you come back to life. Or are you really dead? Or just abducted by sadistic aliens that make you hunt for entertainment in high-tech battle suits? But, you keep flashing back to high school. And there they think you’re dead. This is Gantz, and it’s a 26 episode anime with more plot twists then I just described and plenty of over-the-top action.
Kuruno gets hit by a subway train after school trying to save a bum from the tracks. Everybody thinks he’s dead, including Kuruno himself. But he awakes in a strange hotel full of people who’ve just died. There’s a big black ball in the room that calls itself Gantz. Gantz tells them that their lives are over, and what they do with their new lives is up to him. The fun starts when Gantz shows them all pictures of “Target aliens” and gives them all strange guns and battle suits. And explains nothing. Kuruno and his friends have to piece together what’s going on all alone. Yes, lots of people die. Or are they already dead?
As with most adult-oriented anime, everything is over-the-top as to be almost laughable. Gallons over blood are spilled in one shot, the language is filthy (but incredibly realistic.) the alien battles are fantastical (I wouldn’t be giving anything away by saying one actually turns out to be a giant ghost chicken.) and the romantic encounters are not for the squeamish. All this adds to a heightened emotional experience, as the crew battles aliens, struggles with life and death, and deals with high school problems. I loved the flashbacks as much as the hunting!
Along the way, Kuruno and his assorted teammates try to figure out what’s going on and why this keeps happening; and are they dead? Who is Gantz anyway? Oh, crap! Here comes a giant monster made out of green onions! Bam! Wait, how does this gun work? As soon as one question is answered, another one comes up or an alien pops out. They can never get too comfortable. They have to survive the game to get to the next one: maybe even to live again.
For me, the action is Gantz is fantastic, and it does attempt to answer philosophical and cultural questions (But, does it matter anyway? Aren’t we dead? Let‘s kill some aliens!) interspersed with over the top alien battles and crazy situations. So, I recommend Gantz to anyone who likes crazy animation, and heavy sci-fi like I do! But, don’t get too comfortable. An alien is just around the corner! Just get on to the next game.