Directors: Yasushi Kawamura, Keiichi Saitô
Starring: Chris Jai Alex, Saori Hayami, Mao Ichimichi, Shûichi Ikeda
Genre: Anime, Action
A dude gets brought back to life and recruited to defend Tokyo against a demon attack. Also, this is Anime so things get WEIRD…
Surprisingly well done CGI and world building mixed with incredible action mixed and great wish fulfillment for any gamers out there.
Typical overt Japanese sexist archetypes and WTF-ness.
What Else You Should be Watching:
I haven’t seen too many anime so I’m gonna cop out with The Matrix.
I’m typically not a huge fan of anime, though I do go through my phases (most notably Dragon Ball Z and Gundam Wing in high school), but this caught my eye while I was browsing through Netflix for some reason. This movie somehow managed to remind me why I love and hate anime simultaneously.
The premise isn’t necessarily anything new but I do think that they managed to execute it well. There’s a machine that’s capable of bringing people back to life after they die in order to help fend off demons in the real world…
Did I mention these demons were super Japanese?
The not-dead-anymore humans are equipped with special suits and weaponry in order to give them a better chance, but every ‘invasion’ has a boss and they only have a limited time to finish the ‘level’ before they lose and everyone dies for good. At the end of the ‘level’ each person is scored, and if you get 100 points then you can either A) get some sweet ass weapon upgrades (big ass guns, vehicles, giant robots, ect) B) resurrect a fallen player or C) have your memory wiped and leave the game, essentially coming back to life in the real world. So, right off the bat, we are firmly in video game territory, which I found quite pleasing.
The CGI itself was done surprisingly well and I was completely drawn to everything that was happening for the first half of the movie. It does a great job of world building, firmly establishing how all of the weapons work (each one is uniquely AWESOME but they also all have HUGE drawbacks) as well as the rules of the ‘game’ that it never deviates from (a giant relief since it feels like most content these days only establishes rules in order to break them for shock value).
But. We then see the boss and go from ‘very tame, interesting anime’ straight to ‘HOLY SHIT, WHAT THE FUCK, JAPAN’ in about 6 seconds.
You see, the boss of this ‘level’ is a super old, super short guy who just kinda drunkenly dances around. Ok, yeah, nothing too crazy here: from the anime that I HAVE seen, the ‘old master’ seems to be a pretty common trope. He’s essentially a combination of Pei Mei, from Kill Bill: Vol 2, and Bobby Lee’s character from The League.
One of the characters goes at him with a sword, only to find that it’s completely useless against him. So, naturally, he drops the sword and grabs the boss with his bare hands in order to crush him to death. We then see a closeup of the boss’s eye between our hero’s fingers and, as he squeezes, it starts to bulge… into a boob. And then we just see naked lady bodies duplicate over and over and OVER until the camera zooms out and we see a giant naked lady comprised of a bunch of normal sized naked ladies. Oh, and then this monstrosity spits out the guy’s head.
WHAT IN THE HOLY FUCK, JAPAN!!!!!!
I mean, I know that Japanese culture has always had a weird relationship with women, but THIS!?!?! How terrified of women ARE you??? “Hey , kids, every time you see a naked woman I want you to picture a GIANT KILLER NAKED WOMAN made up of duplicates of her. Good luck with ever having a healthy relationship EVER!”
This bizarre relationship with the ‘fairer sex’ is peppered throughout the entire movie, though that part takes the cake hands down. It’s constantly pointed out that the main female protagonist has giant boobs, which would be fine if her primary characteristic wasn’t ‘afraid to do anything cause her boyfriend died’; the closest interaction between the main male character and his love interest is her standing a few feet away from him and saying “Let’s live together platonically once all this is over”; and, dear GOD animators, would it kill you to give these poor women some bra support in their ultra high tech killing suits???
Part of me is just shaking its head while muttering “Oh, Japan…” (I recently started watching The Seven Deadly Sins on Netflix, where the main male character gropes the main female character at least once per episode)…
…while another part is screaming “C,mon! Get with the times! This stuff is NOT ok!” But I think trying to change Japan’s mind on how it views sex needs to be addressed outside of this article…
Even ignoring the social commentary, I still ultimately found the message of this movie somewhat lacking. Yes, I really enjoyed all of the action and the gadgets, but I don’t think it’s going to transcend into the pantheon of anime classics like Ghost in the Shell or Akira because it doesn’t really have that much to say. The truly great anime that I’m aware of all have incredibly deep themes and morals. The only thing I took away from Gantz:O was ‘You should help other people’ and ‘Teamwork, yo!’
All in all, I’d say this would be a pretty good ‘starter’ anime for anyone interested in seeing what the genre has to offer. It’s not going to change your mind if you already have a preconceived notion of what anime is, but if you go in with an open mind then you may find that this is the beginning of a fun little rabbit hole. Even though Gantz:O isn’t packing anything that would make it truly exceptional, it’s still got a lot of great action supplemented with typical anime fare such as giant mechs and crazy monsters while also giving you a glimpse into the sexist pitfalls and true insanity that accompanies most anime.