Gantz is a Japanese comic book (known in the trade as a manga) written by artist Hiroya Oku. Aside from penning Gantz, Oku is also credited as having created the busty Soul Calibur fighter Shura and according to Wikipedia has an intense dislike for girls with cat ears?!?? Gantz is titled after a mysterious black sphere, situated in an unassuming Tokyo apartment, that plucks deceased humans (and one dog), equips them with state of the art weaponry and forces them to battle with a host of aliens that are covertly residing on Earth.
Volume two of Gantz, brought to us by indie publisher Dark Horse, collects chapters eleven to twenty two of the ongoing series. The book follows on from the aftermath of the first alien hunt. Kei, Kato and the rest of the group, assembled by Gantz, have just finished disposing of the scrawny Onion Alien. The spikey haired, child like, extra terrestrial didn’t put up much of a fight, but unfortunately for Kei and co their execution was spotted by the alien’s burly dad. Needless to say, papa is not pleased and wastes no time in using his sharp claws to slice and dice most of the resurrected alien killers.
This action packed volume sees Kei run for his life after the majority of his companions get slain. He is however eventually forced to confront the new alien after the green skinned horror captures his childhood pal Kato. Thankfully for Kei the skin tight suit, which he procured from Gantz back in volume one, endows him with superhuman strength allowing him to go toe to toe with the beastie. I knew that garb had more benefits aside from leaving little to the imagination for anyone eyeing the costume’s wearer.
Once the alien hunt concludes we learn a few more details about the mysterious Gantz. Firstly it is revealed that Gantz instantly heals up any injuries a survivor may have suffered during a hunt (much to the relief of Kato who was on the verge of death after tangling with Onion Alien senior.) Readers also discover that the participants are being awarded points for executing aliens, with the goal being to hit one hundred points. The scene were Kei and chums get ranked points is probably the highlight of the book for me. It sees Gantz mock the remaining humans using text speak. Some comedy comes as a relief after the pages of horror that preceded it.
If you liked volume one of Gantz this second installment will be right up your alley. There’s plenty of gory action to enjoy, showcased on large panels that sometimes take up an entire page. If the sight of entrails plastered on a wall makes you hurl be sure to avoid snacking whilst reading this book! Unfortunately the narrative itself is rather sparse. A lot of the characters we got introduced to in the first book have already perished without us knowing anything about them. There are very few character moments to make us feel any sense of loss whenever someone is brutally killed.
In terms of character development all we have got thus far are some flashbacks suggesting that Kei wasn’t always the selfish teen he appears to be. From the remaining group Kato appears to be the most likeable. He’s a gentle giant who has no qualms about sacrificing himself to protect his friends. It’s hinted that he may be a pacifist given how he initially tried to save the aliens and flat out refused to kill them, no matter how bad the situation got. One can only imagine that his compassion may become a liability in future hunts.
Despite being a fan of the Gantz anime I am still on the fence as to what to make of the manga version. The story is great, but the content doesn’t feel sufficient to justify the asking price of a tenner. The events covered in this manga took several twenty-minute episodes to tell in the anime, but the book itself can be consumed in a mere thirty minutes. It’s a concern that, in the long run, could see readers with budgetary constraints abandon the series. I myself will persevere with it as a twist at the end has me curious to see how things will pan out in volume three.