Case Number 06457: Small Claims Court

GANTZ: GAME OF DEATH (VOLUME 1)

ADV Films // 2004 // 50 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // March 24th, 2005

The Charge

No one knows where it came from. No one knows who sent it. And it chooses who lives and dies.

The Case

Several strangers find themselves resurrected by the Gantz, a mysterious black sphere. The Gantz brings them together in an escape-proof Tokyo apartment and forces them to undertake execution-style missions. Failure to carry out these missions will result in a second death for each of the captives.

The first two episodes of this anime series are featured on this release. Here's a rundown of the plots:

* Episode One: "It's the Beginning of a Brand New Day"
High school student Kei Kurono is sitting in his math class, bored out of his mind. He starts visualizing the women in the room (including the teacher) in various stages of undress, and one of the female students taunts him over the erection he suddenly sprouts. While waiting on a train platform later that day, Kei is accosted by an old woman. Not wanting to be bothered, Kei yells at her. A bum walks along the platform and falls onto the tracks. No one takes the initiative to help him, so Masaro Kato, one of Kei's former childhood friends, hops down and attempts to save the man. Masaro recognizes Kei and asks for his help; Kei, who had hoped to remain anonymous, reluctantly agrees, and they manage to lift the bum up to the platform. A train then comes roaring down the tracks, killing Kei and Masaro. Their bodies vanish, and the two somehow find themselves in a room populated by a handful of strangers (including one dog) and the Gantz. A short time later, the Gantz comes to life and reconstructs the body of a young, nude girl, an apparent suicide victim. One of the other men in the room attempts to rape the girl, but Masaro steps in and stops him. Music begins emanating from the Gantz, and text begins to flash across the surface of the sphere.

* Episode Two: "They Aren't Human"
The message on the surface of the Gantz informs the captives that the sphere now controls their lives; any disobedience will be punished by a violent, painful death. The Gantz opens, revealing several weapons and uniforms, as well as a man who is hibernating inside. The Gantz commands its prisoners to hunt down the Green Onion Alien, a dwarf-like creature with a vegetable obsession. A clock appears on the surface of the sphere, indicating that the mission must be carried out within an hour. The Gantz then transports its captives to the street outside, whereupon they set off to find the alien. One man decides to ignore the Gantz's warning and attempts to return to his home, but he quickly dies. The Green Onion Alien is soon found and cornered; Masaro attempts to prevent the others from killing the alien, but he is unsuccessful. A large creature, possibly the father of the Green Onion Alien, appears and begins assaulting the Gantz's captives. Meanwhile, back in the apartment, the Gantz continues its countdown.

Gantz apparently caused quite a stir when it first aired in Japan, despite the fact that each episode had been edited before broadcast, with much of the violence and sex excised (ADV's releases present them in unexpurgated form). With everyone so concerned about its more prurient elements, I'm wondering if anyone noticed just how awful -- and pointless -- it is. In fact, it seems to exist for no other reason than to present scenes of sex and violence, including plenty of exploding heads and dismembered limbs, several naked women, the aforementioned failed rape, and a dog attempting to perform oral sex on a hapless young woman. Oh, yeah, all the characters come across as vile misanthropes, so there's no one to care about or root for. Gee, what fun. These episodes raise more questions than they answer, but I don't care to stick around to see what happens.

The only good thing about this release is its technical quality. The transfer is excellent, with only a small amount of edge enhancement preventing it from being perfect. The 5.1 English dub makes excellent use of the entire soundstage, although the voice acting itself leaves much to be desired. The stereo Japanese track is mostly screen-centric, but it does its job well enough. Extras include credits-free opening and closing animation, a preview for the second volume in this series, trailers for other ADV releases, and a brief interview with director Ichiroh Itano (it's so brief he doesn't even get a chance to finish answering the last question), who uses it as an opportunity to talk about his struggles with Japanese censors. Ho-hum.

I can't see any reason anyone would be interested in this release. Gantz is boring and pointless, and the retail price is a bit steep considering that the disc's contents total less than an hour. You can certainly find better ways to spend -- or even waste -- your money and time.

Review content copyright © 2005 Mitchell Hattaway; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 40

Perp Profile
Studio: ADV Films
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)

Subtitles:
* English

Running Time: 50 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Clean Opening/Closing Animation
* Volume 2 Preview
* Interview with Director Ichiro Itano
* ADV Previews

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0434685/combined