Gantz Vol. 2

A few weeks ago, I laid into the first volume of Gantz pretty strong. A show whose advertising copy drips with promises of violence and naughty bits, I found the first two episodes gruesomely unimpressive. Since the show is being released two episodes at a time, I barely had a chance to really get into the story. Since ADV Films was kind enough to send me the second disc, I decided to see where it would go. Did it improve? Well, yes and no.

In the third and fourth episodes, we finish off the first arc that was left hanging at the end of disc one. Kei, our anti-hero, learns about his strange bodysuit that gives him some unique abilities. He along with Kato and "Naked Girl" (now in a long overcoat) survive an ordeal with the big green man who appeared to kick butt and crush skulls at the end of episode two. We get a few more pieces of information, including the fact that the black ball that gives orders and cracks off-color jokes is actually Gantz. A bit of blood, a bit of action, a bit of self-discovery...this disc slows down on the "isn't it cool we can do this on TV?" junk and starts developing a plot. Most of it is still a mystery, but we can now say that this show actually has one. I don't want to go into more detail for fear of spoilers, but it's safe to say that viewers are not left quite in the lurch they were before.

So what's the bad? Well, first, there is no doubt that the first four episodes should all have been on one DVD. This isn't because I have to have four episodes on a disc; I've bought my share of three-episode DVDs. But the show doesn't really make any sense at all until the fourth episode plays out. I wouldn't say that it is unfair to review it as released, but you can't judge it well without completing the first short story arc. As is, you will be spending $30 to see if you like this show, which is a bad deal in my opinion.

Second, the animation is still a bit strange. It's not terribly appealing, though again, these two episodes focus more on development rather than action, and so there's less to look bad. The digital effects in these two look a little more polished and refined. Nevertheless, it's in your face and not all that great.

Third, if you don't like violence, just step away. There's still plenty of disgusting stuff on display. Though if you've seen any of the first disc, you probably aren't reading this review anyway, and this doesn't bother you. Better safe than sorry.

So what does the second disc of Gantz do right? Most importantly, we finally feel like there might actually be something going on behind the carnage. I can't tell you what yet, but it's there. The violence, though still grotesque, is much more understandable...we may not understand why the villain is a villain, but the playing field is now leveled, and we aren't dealing with the torture of the innocent as we were in the first volume. We are in a world of "kill or be killed." Though still over the top, I no longer found it all repugnant.

Second, the growing mystery of the show is not based around a cliffhanger; instead, the core question (who/what is Gantz and why the heck is it doing what it's doing) become more focused. I was pretty angered with where the first disc left off. At the end of the second, I still have questions, but they are the kind that leave me wanting to see more rather than cursing ADV Films for their freakish release schedule for this show.

Ultimately, the difficulty of reviewing a disc like this is that it wraps up a story arc begun in the last disc. It takes its sweet time doing so, and if you aren't patient, you might actually find it a little boring. All of this means that there's not an incredible amount to say. I will venture this: if you loved the first volume of Gantz, you'll find this one even more intriguing. If you hated the first one, this isn't going to change your mind. I'm going to put this one on the lowest rung of my "recommended with reservations" list for the sole reason that it has gotten me interested in seeing more. It's not a great show by any means, but I doubt few viewers will watch this disc and not be engrossed at some instinctive level.

Gantz Vol. 2 -- graphic violence, strong profanity -- B-