Monday, September 14, 2009

Manga Mondays - Gantz Vol 1

Welcome to another edition of Manga Mondays, my weekly manga review column. This week sees my review for the manga, Gantz, which was recommended to me by a friend. After being told what it was about, I decided to give the series a try. Hit the jump to see what I thought of the first volume.

Written by Hiroya Oku
Art by Hiroya Oku
Adaptation by Matthew Johnson

Gantz is about Kurono Kei and Kato Masaru, two high school students that are killed while trying to help a man who fell onto some subway tracks. Mysteriously, they end up in an apartment after dying. There, they encounter more people who have also recently died and, after a short time, are given a mission of sorts to track down and kill an "onion alien."

Although most first volumes, issues or trades are introductory in nature, Gantz seems to take it an extra step further with it's first volume. The author, Hiroya Oku, spends a lot of the volume introducing the characters, concepts and setting up some questions that will obviously be answered as the story goes on.

The volume isn't terrible or boring because of that, but it does feel like not much happens storywise. Kei and Kato 'die', they meet the rest of the cast, they spend a good deal of time trying to figure what's going on and then they go off and hunt the onion alien. I think what contributes to this feeling that stuff doesn't really happen is that they spend of a lot of time talking about it all, which is perfectly reasonable since they are trapped in an apartment for a while and are not really sure what's going on. I didn't find it uninteresting since Oku uses it to work on the characters, but it does leave the volume feeling a little light, content wise.

Gantz does have an interesting concept behind it though. As said before, a group of people who have all apparently died end up in an apartment with a black orb that tells them that their lives as they knew them are over. Eventually, they learn that they are part of a game where they have to hunt down aliens who hide on Earth. Oku is coy about it all which helps to create a nice sense of mystery around the whole thing. There are also some nice surprises that he works in as well. It's a solid concept and it definitely got me interested in checking out the second volume because Oku did a good job of getting me interested in it all.

The volume does spend a good deal of time with the characters and they are a pretty good cast. Kei is probably the most interesting of the bunch. He's your average, self absorbed high school student who is also kind of a jerk, which is probably why I like him. He isn't the typical heroic type you would normally see in this kind of story. He does have some good intentions, but they tend to also be based on his self absorbed nature. Kato is definitely a lot more noble though he seems to have problems with it at times. The two are definitely a good pair and they work well together, being opposites and all.

Oku also does a good job of introducing the rest of the cast and giving the reader a good feel for their personalities, but he doesn't really focus on them that much either. They are a pretty diverse group, personality wise, but there isn't really much conflict between them. They all go for the game show aspect of the story pretty enthusiastically and don't really question what is going on after that. Overall, they are a pretty good cast, but I don't find them that interesting.

I found the art to be pretty good, but there was nothing that really stood out to me either. Oku is competent with things like storytelling and his character work is good as well, but it all seems pretty average. His designs for the weapons and suits are pretty good though. The violence and gore are also handled well, even though there isn't that much of it. He does a good job conveying a sense of the violence without making it too graphic though there are one or two instances that could have been toned down a bit. The art does a good job of conveying the story but is nothing special in it's own right.

Verdict - Check It. Although the first volume is mostly introductory and a little on the slow side, the concepts and characters are interesting and Oku does a good job of building some intrigue around them.

Like this review? Interested in Gantz Vol 1? Buy it on and help support the Weekly Crisis!

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Anonymous said...

are you going to be reviewing complete series volume by volume or just introduce series with a volume 1 review? I saw that Black Lagoon has already 2 volumes, but there are also other great series to go through. A good starting point would be short by Osamu Tezuka.

Anonymous said...

manga... pass.

Eric Rupe said...

Anonymous 1 - Well, until recently, I only followed a couple of series so I have a lot of first volumes of series that I've been trying out but as time goes on I'll be covering later volumes of the series that I am following.

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