The Story…or as much as can be said.
More so than most other plotlines, the enjoyment of Gantz relies quite heavily on how little you know about what’s going on. Discovering the rules as the characters do is the highlight and thrill of what makes Gantz, Gantz. It’s all in the not-knowing.
That said, I can probably summarize things by describing the Gantz plot as follows: Two main characters, Kurono Kei and Kato Masaru, (through unfortunate events) find themselves in an unwillful situation where they must literally fight for their lives against ever increasing and alien enemies. At the center of all this, literally, is the black ball, Gantz.
The manga from whence it came…or how things have changed.
The live action film is an adaptation of the best selling and still ongoing manga (Japanese comicbook) of the same name. At latest count the manga is up to around 27 collected volumes and 331 issues. This first of at least 2 movies is based on the first 8 volumes of the manga, but even so only covers a fraction of the story content.
For those who’ve read the manga, the story covers 3 main missions including Onion alien, Bird robot alien (manga picture right) and climaxes with the really deadly Museum alien battle.
There are many exclusions even with those three missions, most of which are understandably budget related. Some of the obvious differences from page to screen are, using the image to the right taken from the bird robot mission. There is no secondary bird transformation for the alien. So, excluding that transformation pretty much eliminates the excellent battle from the manga where said transformation comes into play. Don’t think you’ll miss it though, the scene as filmed is still exciting and actually surprisingly funny. Something I think exists in the manga though played up more for the film.
There are other considerations and changes made by the filmmakers in this first film, for instance. Some of the revelatory information that we don’t get in Gantz until much later is either hinted at or given right out and very early in the film. Other examples are that some of the character actions or motivations are either switched from one character to another or in some cases completely different, but not in a bad way.
In general, the changes and decisions made by the writers of this adaptation are clearly coming from an honest and well thought out place. The only real change that I miss (besides the battle scenes as portrayed in the manga) is the character of Tae Kojima. The character is in the film and even retains some of the key personality traits of the manga, but physically she’s far more mature looking compared to the manga character who I’d describe as more of a Dawn Weiner. The actress they cast in the movie is actually as attractive as the actress who plays the role of Kishimoto Kei. For those who’ve read the manga, you’ll immediately understand what I’m talking about. I’d love to go into detail on why I think this change was a shame, but I’m trying as much as possible to stay away from spoilers. As I say, the less you know going in the better.
So, in the end what to think about this first of at least two films…stick around after the credits for a preview of the second film btw.
With a tiny budget and not a lot of time, the filmmakers have managed to translate highly chaotic source material that up until now (330+ issues) has given no real answers to what is happening. They’ve taken that and managed to distill it down to a coherent narrative that keeps you engaged and wanting more by the time the titles roll. They’ve created a film that works not only for the uninitiated audience, but retained just enough of what makes the manga special and as a result keeps both new and existing Gantzers interested.
It’s unclear how wide this film will be available to western movie audiences, but it’s safe to say that this is a film worth tracking down to watch. Can’t wait for part two.