Gantz is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hiroya Oku. Gantz tells the story of a teenager named Kei Kurono, among others, who die but find themselves brought back in perfectly healthy bodies and forced to participate in a "game" where they hunt down and kill aliens. Those who die on missions are quickly replaced by others in following missions. The series is known for its graphic violence, sex, and action.
Dark Horse Comics started releasing the manga in English in June 2008.
A pair of high school students, Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato, are hit by a subway train, after saving the life of a homeless drunk who had fallen onto the tracks. Following their deaths, Kurono and Kato find themselves transported —alive and well— along with a number of people who have also just died, to the interior of a Tokyo condominium. They are unable to leave, as the outside door and all the windows can not be opened, and cell phones do not work. At one end of the room is a featureless black sphere known as "Gantz".
The series regularly introduces new characters. Most of them are killed off almost as quickly as they appear, though after a time, a stable cast of veterans forms.
After some time in the room, music is played, and the Gantz sphere opens up, revealing a bald naked man with a breathing mask and wires attached to his head, and three racks protruding from it, that offer various items for them to use. These include the custom fitting black suits Gantz makes for each of them, giving them great strength, speed, jumping ability, and some level of protection from harm, a controller which act as a radar and stealth unit, and three types of guns.
When the Gantz sphere opens, green text appears on the surface of the sphere, informing those present that their lives have ended. The following words appear on the black sphere's surface: "Your lives have ended. What you do with your new lives is entirely up to me. That's the theory, anyway." (The ADV translations have it as "Your lives are over, you bastards. What you do with your new lives is for me to decide. So there you have it.")
A picture and brief information is shown of some of the Gantz targets, Gantz ordering them to go and kill them. All but one target shown thus far, have been aliens living on Earth, which take on a wide variety of forms(dinosaurs, robots, statues, etc.) After a period of time which varies between missions, everyone except Gantz are transported to the location of the mission.
Those sent cannot return from the mission until all enemies have been killed, or the time limit has run out. If they survive a successful mission, each individual is awarded points for the aliens they have killed. They are then allowed to leave, and live their lives as they see fit until Gantz summons them back again for the next mission.
When someone gets a hundred points, they are presented with the hundred point menu and given the option of being set free and forget about this, get an extremely powerful new weapon, or revive someone from the databanks who has died.
Hiroya Oku first thought of Gantz's story when he was in high school. The inspiration of Gantz started from the Jidaigeki television program of Hissatsu series. He remarks being inspired by the Robert Sheckley's novel Time Murderer while developing the idea that dead people are transported to a place in which they are able to be revived. However, he still was not decided to make Gantz until writing the manga Zero One; Zero One had a similar setting to that of Gantz, but Oku ended the series, noting it was not very entertaining and that it was too expensive to develop.
When creating the chapters for the manga, Oku starts with a thumbnail of the pages. He then creates 3D models of the characters and backgrounds on his computer. Once done, Oku prints the characters and backgrounds he made in 3D, adds tone and color to the pages, and finishes with sound effects and dialogue. This style was already used in Zero One, but for that title, there was little work in hand drawing; Oku decided to add more hand drawing to give Gantz a more realistic tone as well as reduce the budget. However, he still notes that such a method is time-consuming and that he has to work quickly in order to finish the chapters on time.
Oku tries to incorporate realism into Gantz and adds that some of the events occurring in the story are based on his opinions regarding the world. During violent or erotic scenes, Oku makes sure to not make them very long to avoid reducing the series' realism. However, he has mentioned that he does not autocensor and that all the drawings he has ever illustrated have been published in the manga. Some plot twists are meant to go against common events that happen in several manga such as the deaths of the major characters like Kei Kishimoto and Masaru Kato. Before the series started serialization, Oku told his assistants that with Kurono's exception, all the major characters from the series would die.
Written by Hiroya Oku, the manga chapters have been published in the Japanese language magazine Weekly Young Jump since July of 2000 and has since be finished and fully published as of August 19, 2013. Gantz is divided into three main story arcs referred to as phases. After the completion of Phase 1 the author put the series on hiatus for a short time to work on the second Phase. Phase 1 consists of the first 237 chapters. On November 22, 2006, the first chapter of Phase 2, chapter 238, was released. This phase ended at chapter 303 when the alien invasion began. The third phase began at chapter 304 and lasted until the final chapter of the series, chapter 383. The individual chapters are collected by Shueisha in volumes; the first volume was released on December 11, 2000. The last volume was released on August 19, 2013. In total 37 have been released in all, selling way over 10 million copies as of 2009. Chapter 365 states that over 19 million copies have been sold.
Publishing company Dark Horse Comics currently has licensing rights for the release of English translations of Gantz. The first volume was released on June 25, 2008 and they have now released the first 29 volumes. The series is also published in Spain by Glénat and in Germany, Italy and Brazil by Planet Manga. In the Dark Horse English translation, the artwork is the same, but the dialog has been changed somewhat: "That's the theory anyway" becoming "That's the way the cookie crumbles."
Stand Alone Chapters
Besides writing the 383 chapters of the Gantz Series, Hiroya Oku has also written three stand alone chapters. Two of them dealing with the Osaka Gantz Team (Osaka 1 and Osaka 2) and the third of them dealing with Nishi's life before he met Kurono and Kato (Gantz Nishi).
Two Gantz Novels have also been published. The first being Gantz/Minus, which was published in July 2009 by Young Jump. This series is almost entirely text, with a few pictures mixed in. The stories take place before the start of the Gantz series. It describes itself as a "hyper solid action novel". The second is named GANTZ EXA and takes place during the series and features Kei Kishimoto as one of the main characters.
Two Gantz Manuals have also been published. The first being Gantz/Manual, which was published in December 2004 by Shueisha as a companion volume to the series featuring episode summaries, character overviews, and additional background details on the Gantz universe. The second was rehash extended edition of the first called Gantz Manual Remix it was published on January 2011 by Shueisha.
Gantz no Moto
Hiroya Oku aslo published Gantz no Moto a nine page long manga wherein he stars himself and tells us how he was influenced by various films and how he got into the manga business.
The Gantz anime is divided into two seasons: The first season is known as "The First Stage", while the second season is known as "The Second Stage", which is a direct continuation of the first season. The anime has been licensed in the United States of America by ADV Films. However, the rights to the series have been acquired by Funimation Entertainment after ADV's collapse and were re-released.
On March 17, 2005, Konami published a game for the PlayStation 2 based on the Gantz series. It was named simply as Gantz: The Game. It features the characters and plot up to the Buddha Alien mission (though the vampires and the Shorty Aliens are present). The game may be classified as a third-person shooter, although it does have a few Role-playing game elements put together. More information can be found on the game's website. The game also includes extras including Free Play mode, a Mini Mode, Magazine Browser mode, Gantz Rankings, a special preview movie and the scenario completion statistic.
Additional manga series
Japanese sales from the Gantz manga have led several of the volumes to be featured in lists of best seller volumes from Japan. As of November 2010, the Gantz manga had sold over ten million units in Japan, while during January 2011 the sales increased to over fifteen million volumes. During 2008, Dark Horse Comics informed that the Gantz' sold 175,000 copies in America. Volume 4 of the manga has appeared in The New York Times's "Manga Best Seller List" ranking at 8th. About.com's Deb Aoki listed Gantz as the best new seinen of 2008 along with Black Lagoon.
The first season, known as the "First Stage", was heavily edited on Japanese TV, but the second season ("Second Stage") remained uncut. The Gantz anime is often criticized for its ending and pacing problems. The anime was made while the manga was still in early production, and thus Gonzo had to produce episodes at an irregular pace, and end the series in a manner a number of fans found unsatisfying—a common occurrence when an anime is made from a manga that has not finished its run.
DVD sales of Gantz however have been particularly strong. According to Anime News Network, Gantz volume three surpassed DVD sales of its predecessor, volume one, by a significant margin. Owing to strong DVD sales, ADV films has continuously released successive volumes and was one of the most successful anime franchises of 2005.
The Gantz anime has also received praise and has been critically acclaimed as being extremely "violent", "gory" and "sadistic" and yet is also very "addictive", even when it was censored during broadcast.
The characters in Gantz change fairly quickly at first, as many die on the missions, only to be replaced by others, but eventually a regular cast seems to have formed. Five characters have been revived after death, when someone used a 100 points to bring them back.
Additional character information can be found at:
A list of every mission, and every hunter that was there at the start.
A list of every enemy Gantz selected as their target thus far.
A list of the known Osaka team members during the mission the Tokyo team was with them.
A detailed list of every single character ever featured, no matter how insignificant.
In addition to the manga, anime, and Gantz video game, there are also Gantz action figures.
Many characters in Gantz are based on people; for example, the Vampire Chiaki which Gantz has nicknamed Kill Bill is based on the character Gogo from the movie Kill Bill.