Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Gantz by Hiroya Oku

Hiroya Oku

Gantz tells the story of a teenager named Kei Kurono who dies in a train accident and becomes part of a semi-posthumous "game" in which he and several other recently deceased people are forced to hunt down and kill aliens. The missions in which they embark upon are often dangerous. Many die--again--on each mission, but they are replaced by others in the same manner as Kei Kurono's appearance.

Alternative names


Manga reader sites (free)

Rosy's scrawlings on Gantz
Gantz is an odd one. It is one of those stories where at the beginning nearly every element, when taken by themselves, is unpleasant or disturbing but you end up addicted, needing to read on and engaged. Few characters are likable - actually, only one is, there's sexism throughout, there's more naked chicks than female characters playing any significant role, sex and love are twisted in nearly every circumstance, there's a tendency for people to let others die in front of them without care, there's bullying and enslavement (when you get down to it) and so on. From the very beginning the story was rather repellent, with only the artwork to go for it.
But, and here's where things get odd, the pace of the manga is fast enough that you get sucked into the action, the stakes are high enough that you're left wondering if anyone could survive, the main characters slowly grow into ones you'd like and a few more likable characters join them. There's also the building of solid relationships under stress, an unbelievable enemy to be defeated and many a complex theme on war and surviving against incredible odds. They play or die theme mixed with play and die situations also keeps you guess as to what's next and who's going to even be around to fight. Through these points and more it is highly likely you'll become so engaged in the story you'll start to enjoy being able to tear apart characters, expand you're understanding of right and wrong and wonder if you'd have survived in the same situation.
It isn't, however, one for girls or women if they want to see female characters fighting, winning and surviving for long periods of time, all while being fully clothed. There's too many teary bouts, too much calling for some male or another, little characterisation other than beautiful with big tits or homely with small, too much hanging back and letting the men fight or running away, too much sacrificing of life for 'love', too many declarations of love and too much obsession over men. Not to mention the constant threats of rape and assaults. Also, there's way, way, way too many graphic pictures of naked girls bending over. Basically, it is over the top on sexuality with not nearly enough personality and gumption. This is rather frustrating for female readers as there's no one to identify with or support whole-heartedly. In fact, sometimes you're just hoping the females will die to stop all the blubbing and "I love you" babble.
Despite all this, it seems I am not the only one who became addicted to reading Gantz. It has been converted to anime and is quite popular. Even "quite popular" could be taken as an understatement. I'd rather expect the fan base to have a high boy factor as even many men would be fairly irritated by some of the above points (not all though as some boys never grow up in their hearts - sometimes good, sometimes bad). Luckily, the action really makes up for it, as does the sci-fi alien colonisation attempts element, so that Gantz doesn't appeal solely to boys.
The art of Gantz is created, using computers in some part, with an eye to accurate 3D representations of everything. In this it is really well done and because of this it is easy to get sucked into the story through the art more than the writing. There's a fairly high emphasis on balancing dark and light too, making the manga rather easy to look at. The lines are smooth and flowing, drawing you into the fight scenes, while the creatures portrayed are suitably outlandish to grab your attention. Expressions are fluid and variable, easily portraying the character's thoughts and emotions. The artwork of Gantz is unique for the amount of detail and the constant effort towards realism, even in the most unimaginable circumstances.

I'd recommend this manga to: boys mostly but otherwise anyone interested in alien attacks, teleportation, regeneration and all things violence. 

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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