I recall a summer back in 2005-2006 when I picked up Gantz the first time. Little did I know that late evening and my sleep would be gone instead dedicated to Gantz the moment I read the first chapter. Before I knew it I was over the first 100 chapters into a story of personal survival, to save the earth, unspeakable monsters, and ultra tight black suits. My mind filled with contents I wouldn’t wish to others unless they’d agree to it. I confess that this is not a rare experience as many who have picked up Gantz reacted in a similar way – they can’t put it down. Much like those freakishly bizarre aliens. That’s because Gantz is an experience on its own. Everything has to end at some point. If there is any team of people who has earned their rest in the manga story, I’m sure Gantz would be up there.
The good, the bad, and shit that just happened
Things I and many didn’t care about
Final volume, final chapter, end of the story. Getting things out of the way. I speak for the big majority that didn’t give a damn for Tae. Tae is dull. Not as talented or smart. Not hot or pretty. Not even part of the Gantz team. Hold on, that sort of makes me sound like a jerk for not siding with the author’s decision, doesn’t it? Still it’ll be fairly inconclusive to not mention one of the reasons the latter developments in the manga didn’t live up to expectations. I didn’t like Tae for multiple reasons which can be anything from her lack of characters to poor status in the series save making Kei a more “normal” man. Can’t he be a normal man with someone else? Case in point, if you didn’t care for Tae or similarly for Tae x Kei then all those several several chapters about rescuing Tae were a waste of ink. Sorry, Tae lovers.
You know that you are screwing it up when lots of readers want your destined to be final (and only remaining) girl to be killed by one of the incoming four-eyed aliens and get it over with so the story can move on.
The whole Final Arc
Statues, Buddhas, dinosaurs, aliens, Yes! ALL THAT GOOD STUFF we fondly remember. Remember when they fought those crows? Amazing. Remember when they kicked and punched -dinosaurs-? Incredible. Remember when they fought those Buddhist statues. Glorious.
On one hand we have these amazingly executed creative battles we won’t easily find anywhere. On the other hand, we have the final arc. All these cool battles were replaced by gigantic machines and LASERS destroying world. They were not up to part with any of the previous cool battles. The stakes might be the highest but damnit, I couldn’t get hyped by any of it as I was before when the Gantz teams fought them with their guns and their bare hands. That shit was the real stuff. Gigantic robots of doom are surely-fucking-not. Not even the art was as good. It really kills me I’m not showering Gantz’ ending with praise in this final entry because I would very much would like to be doing that.
Great characters that just didn’t make it
Speaking of killing. It pissed me off so much that they killed off Reika in the last volume. Color me mad. Moreover, what pissed me off more was that her final battle did not even get its own chapter! Of course, she dies by coming to rescue clone Kei as it was prophesied by long hair dude. And she saves Kei. Think about it. The one female character that stood up the most in Gantz does not even get her own screen time or proper farewell. Really? What could be more important? Spin-offs? Pages of cliff-hangers about rescuing dumb Tae? No, author, noo..
There was also Sakurai, the ESP dude with amazing powers, that died after he used up all his powers to destroy as many damn aliens as he could to avenge his girlfriend and teacher. Shit, he didn’t deserve to die. A lot of Gantz characters didn’t deserve to die. Like many of those not mentioned. Like those that died trying to down the aliens’ national hero. Except, maybe Nishi, he was kind of a consistent jerk.
Ideas and characters that were questionably handled
Samurai host, Kei’s brother, etc. What their objective was and why they were relevant to the plot, we mean really relevant to this final arc. The thing is that many characters showed up in Gantz then later disappeared. What happened to them? Why couldn’t more of them be part of the final epic battle? Oh forget it. Even the main characters didn’t get enough as the final chapters and its conclusion were approaching at an inhuman speed. Not that Gantz tried to do a lot through these years and not always was able to handled all the stories properly.
Also every character you don’t remember can be attributed to how long the series has been running and the innumerable number of times it was put on hold then picked up again when more chapters were released.
The Truth Room : Piss off guys
But, fuck everything. If you’ve read Gantz you know a lot of characters are going to die.
I confess I have some level of respect how Oku Hiroya took for how he took risks to kill off characters, no matter how important they were in the past and managed to continue this amazing story. But this is the final arc. You expect not the great characters to die. You expect the recently introduced and the temporary characters to be the ones to fall prey to the aliens, especially when they can’t be revived again seeing the story is over and all.
When you write a story as intricate and outrageous as Gantz you take tremendous risks to give it all some level of meaning, comprehensible to people before sooner or later you have to explain how things, in this case Gantz’ world. There were too many questions since the manga started. What is Gantz? Its purpose, what are these alien creatures, and why do they have to fight them. All surprisingly not as badly answered as one could imagined by explaining the reasons behind Gantz’ technology and the aliens. So, the aliens were pissed at the other aliens thus helped humanity (they’ll call it keeping the equilibrium) though they could care less.
The aliens’ overall attitude and killing Reika, Angelina Jolie, and in the process clone Kei was like a big “fuck you” if you ask me. Call it a way to conclude those subplots but my opinion remains. Was that really necessary? As a reader, I say no because the finale could have easily lived without it. Story-wise, as maddening as it was it is consistent with the theme aliens are assholes.
Out with it: Well then the ending was pretty sucky
One things that all manga authors need to understand is that: You need to properly build up to the finale. Page by page. Panel by panel. You don’t need to dedicate a full volume to the final moments of the story but you need to provide enough chapters so the ending never feels rushed. You do this is by not spending time on events that don’t contribute to the finale, by not introducing new elements to the story, by answering unanswered questions, by creating a proper climax. More importantly, you don’t end your whole story in one or two chapters like this was. The ending sure could have used two or more chapters
I know there is a theory out there says the final scene was a dream. I’m not buying it. That would actually make the ending worse. The ending is exactly as it happened. The actual ending is better than that rushed as it was.
And to the Protagonist
One of the greatest feats of Gantz aside from its battles and story was creating this hard to like, selfish, coward, awkward young main character named Kei who grows each volume until he becomes this incredible character and also unstoppable machine that destroys any alien who stands in his way and handles impossible scenarios emerging victorious. Kei changes from selfishly trying to survive to one who willingly returns to the game to save his dead friends and girlfriend. Ultimately, Kei’s character proves to be and truly feels as *the* protagonist, and only one, of the story. One detail impossible to not mention is Gantz, as a story, continuing after having killed the protagonist and passing the baton to another protagonist.
There are many decisions made that I strongly disagree with regarding the directions the story took. The way I see it the final arc was more about Kei than the world (or the story) as the original Kei chooses his path and ultimately unselfishly throws himself into danger becoming once again who he used to be in the beginning – fearless.
If this comes across as a semi-rant is because it is. It should also come across as reminder of Gantz’s history through these years. The final arc of Gantz doesn’t compare to the surreal magic of the first half of the series. If there is one apparent flaw to the second half of the series is the direction it took after so many twists and the execution of the final arc. Gantz could have ended greatly or poorly as it tried to do so much. As one of my favorite manga all of time donning an impossible “masterpiece” statue, you expect a lot more from Gantzb’ finale. The conclusion was not nearly as satisfactory or as fun as these long years were but if I could do it all over again I’ll read Gantz again.
This marks another long running manga that ends. Gantz makes its way next to Mirai Nikki when the manga ended as there won’t be another title that is going to replace it. I am going to miss it after so many years and for those who picked it up when it first came out in 2000 even more. Miss old those impossible missions, those aliens, and really “what Gantz was”. My one final thought concerning of this madness is that years later I’ll re-read Gantz again not for the great ending but simply for the insane developments and outrageous battles as it was king went it came to this.
My other thought is again, “I can’t believe Gantz is over.”