Gantz volume four collects chapters thirty-five to forty six of Hiroya Oku’s ongoing manga comic book. The series follows the exploits of resurrected high schoolers Kei, Kato and Kishimoto who are forced by the spherical entity known as Gantz to hunt down aliens who are secretly residing on Earth. To assist the trio, with their extra terrestrial busting endeavors, Gantz provides them with an assortment of weapons and skintight costumes that augment their physical prowess… as well as flattering the series’ well-endowed ladies. This fourth volume sees the three unwilling participants take part in their second alien hunt joined by the sadistic middle-schooler Nishi, a group of unfriendly bikers, a crybaby youngster and the child’s doting grandmother – not exactly the allies you would want in a life or death struggle.
The book starts right where volume three left off with Kei in a tense face to face showdown with the current hunt’s target known as the Tanaka alien. Kei is at a severe disadvantage given how he left his combat gimp suit at home, but he thankfully manages to escape the encounter unscathed, as the mechanical Tanaka alien doesn’t appear to be hostile. The Tanaka alien’s pacifist ways don’t last long though as Nishi angers it by inadvertently squishing one of the small birds marching behind the automaton. The resulting battle shows that the Tanaka alien is no pushover. Despite being a veteran of Gantz’s hunts, Nishi struggles to cope with the avian loving robot as it can see through his cloaking device as well as being extremely nimble, rendering the time delay blaster Nishi wields ineffective.
Eventually the group is able to subdue the Tanaka alien, but not without first suffering a fatality. Any hopes that the ordeal would end, with the Tanaka alien’s defeat, are short lived when the party discovers that there are several more Tanakas roaming around town, which need to be eradicated within Gantz’s strict one-hour time limit. The subsequent clashes between the aliens and hunters deliver on the gory action that fans of the series have come to expect whilst the cliffhanger finale will have readers clamoring for the next volume eager to see what happens next. It ends pretty much as it started with the poor unarmed Kei finding himself in yet another tight squeeze, after stumbling into a building packed with aliens who are eager to avenge their fallen brethren.
After the slower paced third volume, book four of Gantz reverts back to the format of the first two installments. The pages are packed with visceral action interspaced with fan service shots of Kishimoto in various states of undress. Those seeking dialogue and character development will leave disappointed, but those thirsting for blood and guts will be satisfied by the manner in which the Tanaka aliens emit a high-pitched screech that can burst eyeballs. Although it’s fun while it lasts I much prefer wordier comics as you end up getting more bang for your buck. The artwork does a good job of conveying the action, but with some pages only displaying two picture panels and a scant amount of text it’s possible to read through the entire book in no time at all.
The rapid pace of the narrative can be a hindrance as there is no respite to dwell on what is happening. There’s little impact to the gruesome deaths the humans suffer, as you aren’t given enough time to get to know the characters. Overall I think the anime adaptation handled the subject matter much better. If you are familiar with the cartoon you may want to save your cash and skip ahead to the later volumes which were not animated. By the looks of it you won’t be missing out on much as the anime seems to have covered the events of these early chapters verbatim, with the lack of surprises possibly explaining why the series isn’t wowing me as much as it has other readers.