“Fight against the aliens.”
I’m an huge fan of Japanese cinema, and the film Gantz (2010) is at the top of my list.
If you thought that Hollywood was the only one tapping into comic books to gather their inspiration and material for films, you’re highly mistaken. Japan has a rich culture in manga and have created many adaptations that have been shown on the silver screen.
Gantz is an action, horror, sci-fi fiction fantasy film, based on the original work by Hiroya Oku. It has been well adapted to the silver screen, using the manga’s initial concept successfully – characters get transported to a room and are confronted by an unknown sphere that commands them to fight strange creatures… even after their own deaths.
The film was released in 2010 and was directed by Shinsuke Sato (The Princess Blade 2001). The manga was written by Hiroya Oku and the screenplay written by Yûsuke Watanabe. The movie stars Kazunari Ninomiya (Letters from Iwo Jima 2006), Kanata Hongô (Attack on Titan 1 and 2) and Kenichi Matsuyama (Death Note 2006).
The story begins where two teenagers, Masaru Kato (Matsuyama) and Kei Kurono (Ninomiya), meet by chance in a subway. They attempt to rescue a man who falls onto the train tracks, but get killed in the process. After their deaths, they are immediately transported to a mysterious room with a group of other teenagers – all having one thing in common… they all recently died.
There are no true origins of the sphere called Gantz, but it is the center of the plot since they owe their second chances at life to the orb, and no matter how temporary their current status is, they have to fight to remain alive. There is some confusion in the beginning as to whether they are alive, have been reborn or whether they really died to begin with, but you soon come to realize that they are in a limbo state, providing them a second chance to return to their mortal lives.
In order to fight for survival, they are given weapons and an exo-skeleton suit which enables them to power up and kill the creatures in order to survive and reach the next stage or level. It’s like they are in a sort of parallel universe on earth where they can only see these creatures, and once they’ve accomplished their tasks, they can return to their own plane of existence.
Inside Gantz is a comatosed man. His only means of communication is via a console on the orb, which is displayed to those in the group. Each mission achieved allows the player to live another day, but if you die on the mission, you remain permanently dead. There is a twist however, as each player has the option to return to their lives or gain enough points to wipe a player’s memory and resurrect them from the list of mortalities.
Being Japanese cinema, you’ll be pleased with the blood, violence and gore throughout the film, which stays true to the manga and anime. In regards to the cinematography – there are plenty of futuristic weapons and action scenes with the creatures, who vary from robots to mythological creatures to aliens, to massive, godlike statues. The scenes are fast paced and action packed with plenty of wire acrobatics and choreography, as well as the concise directing that you’d expect from Japanese cinema.
The plot is fluid and keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. When watching Gantz, be sure to watch the sequel, Gantz 2: Perfect Answer, which is more sinister and dark with a bigger budget.
My favorite quote from the movie:
“I’ll give you an onion.”
I would highly recommend Gantz and Gantz 2. They make for an excellent choice in your Japanese cinema collection.