4 out of 5
Directed by: Keiichi Sato (chief director) and Yasushi Kawamura
Attention to boob physics; male adolescent power trip personas; plotless blood and guts: these are not story elements I admire. I’ve turned off anime with just whiffs of these, and Gantz: O has, admittedly, more than a whiff. It’s a barebones spin on isekai: Kato (voiced by Daisuke Ono) dies and wakes up in a real-life video game, run by mysterious HAL-like overlord Gantz, and is told that he has to wipe out monsters before the clock runs out, winning points for prizes or his freedom. Oh, his teammate happens to be a large-chested supermodel. Oh, Kato is our typical “I must save everyone” gold-hearted hero, supporting his brother back home, willing to toss himself in to any fray, even if weaponless. Oh, that 23 year old girl he runs in to (also sporting boob physics) falls instantly in love with him.
Gantz admittedly has the interesting wrinkle of layering its isekai setup: the monsters actually appear in the real world, meaning they can harm the actual humans in the Osaka in which they’ve landed. Reporters cover the invasion; police have no idea what to make of the black-suit clad figures hopping around and blasting said monsters. The creature design – essentially bloodied up yokai – is fantastic, and the weapons, which seem to be variations on different types of gravity guns, are equally imaginative.
And then there’s Keiichi Sato’s and Yasushi Kawamura’s direction, which keeps all of the action magnificently clear and well-paced – the flipping about and slo-mo dodges and showers of blood are spaced out amidst the dribbles of plot – and the little touches that’ve been put in that somehow manages to add back in the humanity that’s 100% lacking in the description mentioned above. Little beats of character acting; small interactions with the environment that are very mundane but feel true to life. This is supported by our actors, who make those thin, connecting moments somehow rather rich and affecting, even if the dialogue is rather of the pick-and-choose-from-cliche type.
So, dammit, it works; it really, really works. Gantz: O is full on erection fantasy stuff, where you get to play the manly hero who wins the babe with all your good morals and shootin’ skills, and breasts jiggle with meticulously animated precision, but I didn’t outright catch the movie wallowing in any of this. It’s all there, but then it’s blanketed by awesome quality animation, the design, and the immersive direction and acting. It’s a damn good popcorn flick. Now who can tell me if I’ll find that same balancing act in the manga…?