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Gantz Omnibus vol 1

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Hiroya Oku


Page 45 Review by Jonathan

"Tokyo teens Kei and Masaru are killed by a subway train but awaken in a room with an ominous black orb that gives them weapons, suits . . . and orders. Fighting bizarre alien monstrosities in a deadly game, will they win their freedom or die for the final time?"

That, my comics friends, is a publisher warbling that can't possibly even begin to come close to encapsulating the excitement of one of the most celebrated and gloriously confusing hot messes of a science fiction manga series that there has ever been.

Well, actually, it does begin to describe it, I suppose, because it does indeed all start with school acquaintances Kei and Masaru taking a fatal header under a train, before being resurrected atom by atom in a strange room, surrounded by equally perplexed strangers and staring at the titular Gantz.

Taking a massive thirteen years, and 37 single volumes, for Hiroya Oku to complete, this is one of the most intense series I have ever read. It's ultra-violent, well, ultra-everything, frankly. Sure it takes some bizarre inexplicable plot diversions at times, cul-de-sacs really, including one that never gets explained, but always upping the danger ante ever further for the characters. Those that survive, that is, or those get killed and promptly resurrected. But it all ultimately concludes in the most spectacularly satisfying and ultra-surreal manner. I don't mind mentioning I shed a tear or two during the concluding chapters.

Is it perfect? Artistically, for a relentless sugar buzz sci-fi manga, certainly. No doubt. Oku is a master mangaka. The action scenes, which probably comprise three-quarters plus of the series are mind-blowingly brilliant. Plot-wise... I realise I keep coming back to this... it isn't perfect, though not far off, but I don't think it actually matters. By his own admission Oku never expected GANTZ to be so successful (including spawning the inevitable anime, but also two live-action films, a video game and a prose novel series) and felt under extreme pressure to keep the series going. I suspect at times he was plucking new plot devices from the increasingly thinning air.

Which almost certainly explains the detours... Also, without getting into spoilers, well, one super-huge spoiler in particular, there is one central aspect of the whole Gantz set-up that never made sense to me at all. But... without it... no GANTZ... However, I'm being churlish now, because frankly I didn't care one iota. I devoured each volume of GANTZ as it came out, frantically flicking the action-packed pages over like an adrenaline junkie, consuming each volume in a matter of minutes, before having to wait months for the next one...

And... I'm hopeful the, well... what do you call a subsequent series that is set at the same time as the original? Not a sequel, a parallelaquel perhaps? Anyway, I am hoping GANTZ G: (just one volume out so far!) might just answer at least that one particular burning question for me and millions of other Gantz devotees.

For people intending to commence hostilities with these reprints, I can see three major advantages. Firstly, it looks like they are on a four-monthly publication schedule, so presuming they wrap the 37 volumes into 12 omnibi, you only have to wait for roughly four years to get the lot. Plus they work out at about two-thirds of the price. Also, you will be able to read GANTZ G: simultaneously for double the insanity and perhaps twice the comprehensibility!