(Being a sideways response to Noah’s review of Monster Volume 1)

Synopsis: Ordinary Japanese are being snatched from the jaws of death by an alien force (Gantz) which puts them to work hunting down extraterrestrials prowling the streets of Tokyo. Armed with cybernetic suits and devastating guns, their lives are constantly on the line in this video game made flesh. Limbs are sliced off, heads explode and aliens are blown away. Girls take off their clothes, smile and then lean forward. The reader ejaculates into his warm sweaty palm.

***

In his review of Monster, Noah advises us that he would “rather pursue the trashier Gantz, which manages to be a lot more thoughtful and truthful about morality by the simple expedient of not idolizing its central characters.” Having read a few more volumes of the series, I would suggest that Noah mistakes base instincts, unfiltered onanism and self-indulgent stupidity for those more virtuous attributes.

I first came across Gantz sometime in early 2000 (a few years before the Dark Horse editions came out) at my local manga shop where a member of the sales staff enjoined me to purchase the latest hot tittie from the shores of Japan – all prominently displayed and soaked up by an adoring male audience. The first volume left me rolling my eyes and the latest ones I’ve read (on Noah’s “exhortation”) have merely confirmed my suspicions.

Gantz is 4 parts action and 1 part titillation. The boring parts first. There is little which differentiates this title from your average shonen manga in terms of action (see Naruto and Bleach). Gantz being a seinen title, there are more decapitations and dismemberments on display but the routine is established and time honored: enemy of the day, technique of the day and boss fights. Deaths and mutilations are frequent and uninvolving. I suppose that some might call Gantz a brilliant evocation of the loneliness of the long distance video gamer but I’m not listening.

In the comments section of Noah’s review, “Subdee” suggests that the series is a “moral black hole” but my disappreciation of Gantz has nothing to do with morality. Unlike Noah, I’ve generally found morality to be troublesome (though not totally ineffectual) as an aesthetic yardstick. Rather the essential nature of Gantz can be addressed in much more organic terms – it is, quite simply, a cesspit of raging hormones.

It would be easy to imagine this manga being put together by a bunch of sexually deprived nerds huddled around a computer screen but, no, I’m going to be kind here and just call them a group of over-sexed wankers. Gantz is clearly aimed at young males with a history of gaming, buying gravure idol magazines and indulging in H games. Nothing particularly unusual or pathetic here. Everyone can do with a bit of interactive porn now and then, but let’s not mistake this for great entertainment much less great art. Artistic dedication in Gantz can be narrowed down to the use of CGI to churn out as much dreck as possible. The creator’s idea of high drama is the schoolyard bully as tooth collector, reimagining educational institutions as prison yards (people who can’t stand anal overtones please look away) and auditorily frying a grandmother and her grandchild’s innards. Can we really be surprised that Gantz reviewers are so often reduced to talking about bosoms, guns and bursting flesh?

Tucker Stone would have us believe that “Gantz is fucking mean, gnarly shit” and that “it’s yet to reach the point where the shocks don’t bring surprise” but he’s wimping out here. These guys probably wanted to do Guido Crepax’s version of The Story of O before deciding they preferred to make as much money as possible. Or maybe they just didn’t have the balls.

Instead we get a cute dog licking the heroine’s pussy (no medical terms required here since this is pornography) not a Doberman viciously penetrating a reluctant female. Gantz is a limp dick in the violence department, exactly the kind of thing you expect from gentlemen who prefer adorable mutts to large angry canines. It’s the popcorn of transgression, the missionary position of entertainment.

I don’t care to read any interviews by the team behind the manga but I imagine their idols must be Buronson, Koike and Ikegami. Those guys had more style when it came down to the blood, sex and misogyny. Gantz, on the other hand, is manga as masturbation and my only advice to those who can’t do without Gantz is to engage a high class call-girl or to go out and shoot some small animals for a change.

Don’t waste your time on this one, Noah.

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