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Translations: Gintama 507 (2)
I was disappointed with Gantz Ending so here I would try to reflect on what make Gantz story work for me and what didn't and why and maybe speculate on an alternative ending that would have been more meaningful.
Storylines / themes:
From its first arc Gantz deal with several story themes that made it interesting and worth following beyond the action:
Kurono Kei's Story: Kei's evolution from a cynical rogue character who hates everyone to someone who believes in being a hero and wants to love and save people .
This is slightly different from the archtypical manga protagonist because the protagonist doesn't start as weak or unaccepted, Instead he starts as average and his conflict to overcome is mostly his superficial attitude and lack of faith in society that places him somewhere between the Sociopathic Nishi and the Heroic Katou.
This story seems to be at the heart of things and worked nicely along the first part where Kurono is still struggling with accepting that he cares and feels responsible for people for all the trouble it brings while in contrast also having to deal with loss, lust and the cynicism it brings in regards to other people.Human condition: Survival ,Responsibility, Hate, Pragmatism, Innocence , Love, Loss and Guilt and Regret :Escapism and Criticism at Society norms:
Character die , throughout the first arc it still seems happen with a purpose that explores a conflict between needs and wants and where they compromise the human condition and turn people into monsters.
The major events that trigger this are mostly centered around Kei and the people he is forced to interact with in the Gantz Room and scenarios.
Survival in particular is examined both when characters are better off alone and others are a burden about them or vice versa and in contrast also when the team thins out and has to relay on each-other to survive.
It is epitomized and made 'real' to the reader by the results when characters do not survive due to choices they made.
This was explored by looking at the characters in their life outside of the Gantz room.
For every protagonist character this conflict of realities consistently brings one to ask if the cruelties of the Gantz room outweighs the cruelties of the character's mundane existence.
This is also used to show that everyone come from somewhere and why they act the way they do and how would they continue to act when the constraints of the civilization that created them are removed.
Maintaining of the story throughout the Post-Buddhist temple arcs:
The Gantz team are copies yet their lives still matter and we as readers probably care about them more than the people they protect.
What is the ultimate goal of that existence, what drives them to want to carry on with it and what if they cease to exist.
Katastrophe + Post Katastrophe + Final.
After the Buddhist temple Arc and the Shorty Alien Arc we got a new cast of characters,
I think we started to see more focus on strong suppor characters like Kaze, Izumi and Sakata and Reika that were very cool and popular.
They are different from the other characters in that their background is not that important and they are there to play a role that support the main characters in the Gantz room:
Where most of the supporting characters mentioned above are ideal for what they are Most of the new protagonist characters are underground and start of a place of weakness and some of them are largely under-developed so (with the exception of Sakurai) they come across less strongly than the above and perspective characters like Takeshi probably have as much personality as Hoi Hoi..
Kaze is a role model for Takeshi
Sakata is a mentor for Sakurai
Izumi is a rival for Kurono and poetically is probably the embodiment of a fusion between the contrasting Nishi and Katou characters that died in previous arcs.
Reika is a rival to Tae and a Temptation for Kurono since she is the embodiment of the ideal he thought he wanted (Reika is later developed into an actual standalone character)
Story-wise at this point we see a slight shift in direction the theme and conflict of Escapism intensifies with protagonist characters like Sakurai and Takeshi who seek escape from abuse , Izumi who just finds normal life too boring and easy and Kurono who has to choose between Tae (real) and Reika (An Idol he met at the Gantz room) that likes him for his Gantz Shooter skillz and probably would be unattainable for him otherwise..
Escapism is taken to the point where it becomes the center of the story with the Vampires antagonists brought fourth to represent the cost and dark side of surpassing mundane existence.
The later arcs in this phase change Kurono's initial conflict , his story was more about struggling with his connection to others and dealing with the 'Human conditions', now changes to more about 'Escapism' and 'Reality altering'.
(This change would pose a problem in the final arcs where Oku-sensei seemingly wants to turn the wheel back and contrast the First arc 'Uncaring scumbag' Kurono with 'Heroic Savior' Korono as if that contrast remained the main conflict all along.)
Alternate Ending : its easy to analyze but I wonder what an alternative ending would look like . I think that if I had the chance to write one I would cut after 'Nurarihyon Alien' or even after 'Buddhist temple' and begin from there while adapting some ideas from later arcs in a manner that would make them meaningful and purposeful.
Katastrophe and post Katastrophe arcs introduce new themes:
Conspiracy Theory, the conspiracy theme was previously alluded with the vampires and musings about the origins of gantz but here it is taken out and laid bare to solve many of the mysteries.
World War+ Post Apocalypse This explores the morality of war including its byproducts of terrorism, discrimination, Anarchy, mass murder, dehumanization and propaganda. it practically dwarfs the losses the Tokyo team incurred in previous arcs and make them seem insignificant by comparison both due to the revival and the amount of casualties.
Reverse perspective : This is something that has been to a lesser extent in 'the Short alien' and 'Nurarihyon Alien' Arcs and is expanded on in the Alien invasion arc to reflect that to the Aliens the Gantz team are just as much aliens or killers that pose danger to their otherwise peaceful existence.
The story exploring some these themes is definitely interesting, but this become more about the global perspective which clashes with the individual perspective and reason of previous phases which becomes a problem:
1) Change in genre: Gantz started as a story of a group of individuals and presented with themes that are harsh for a science-fiction or cyberpunk genre, including death of characters and a measure of realism..
However when the Alien invasion started , Gantz seem to transition into something of a fantasy genre with Kurono becoming this legendary world savior despite the fact that there are so many people around who are as or more qualified for the position.
The only speculation that I think of that might seem reasonable is that for Oku-sensei the idea represented a complete full circle transition from the anti-heroic Kurono we seen at the beginning but on the other hand the delivery of the final didn't allude to that and If it was meant to I would have liked to see a final struggle for the protagonist that really epitomize that choice *(standing in front of a screen and being peer pressured to do an ultimatum battle is just confusing and doesn't represent real choice)
2) The ending doesn't really deal with Gantz's or its character's conflicts, it simply solves the war conflict that wasn't at all about the characters.
I'll check this out later. Always interested to see what people think about the series.
I think this was a great analysis for the series as you did dive into detail with many of the themes that were featured. After the fans had to deal with this anti-climatic ending I believe we forgotten what the series brought us during the pre-katastrophe arcs.
As for the katastrophe arc, I personally feel like the ONLY story that did the original series justice was Cherry's side-story. After Cherry recently losing Sakata as his sensei and then his girlfriend, this caused him to go on a mass killing spree on the entire Giant species. I think this was a good adaptation related to the "human condition" theme but only this time it tackled the idea of morality and reverse perspective.
As for an alternative ending, I would personally focus on some things.
Most of us readers felt that these villains that got build-up were just thrown out the window. In fact, I think it would of been better to get rid of the Roman Statue mission or the mission where gantzers started invading the spaceship. Replace it with the final Vampire arc where they would be the big focus. If these are "Gantzer Hunters" then should of there been more of them on a global scale? Maybe Host Samurai wasn't the strongest vampire. Just a bloody battle like we had with the Roman Statues but only with vampires.
2. Development on the new Gantzers.
Even if it was just a little bit of backstory, it would of been much better than what we got out of them. Kaiji was an uber badass throughout the battles but....that's it. I felt like we could of gotten more character out of him and everyone else. Takeda seemed interested in Reika, I wouldn't have mind exploring a bit of love drama for the kei2-reika relationship. Sekine, no one remembers him because he was quickly killed off after one battle by that weird alien mutation-thing. Mary, I'm very disappointed. I'd like to see more personality other than "OMG BIG DUDE, WE LIEK R FIGHTERZ AND STUFF. LET'S MAKE OUT!"
3. Reverse Perspective/Morality
I already mentioned Cherry's story, I'd like to see THAT kind of development on our bigger characters like Kei, Katou, Kaze, hell even Nishi. Kei had a similar conflict when it came to saving the giant tower from being destroyed by Nishi but I'd personally get rid of side-story for something bigger. Nishi saving Takeshi, maybe we could see something more along those lines for his character. Maybe some development between him and the girl from the Nish Special chapter. I think it's better than just straight-up going "HAHAHA WORLD DOMINATION!"
4. Post-Katastrophe Arc/World War 3?
Remember what Nishi had been talking about when he wanted to destroy the tower? He would become a war hero if he were to destroy the tower, what would that look like back on Earth? What about all the Gantz technology? What will be done with that? Come on, they aren't going to get rid of the technology at all....in fact, I could see a war break out between Gantz teams all over the world. Maybe the Zaibatsu could end up being the ultimate threat?
Those are just my thoughts on what could of been done with the series to make it more successful. I'd expect some kind of bittersweet ending overall.
Last edited by Coolperson1145; August 13, 2013 at 10:04 PM.
It's interesting that you bring up a change in genre during the Katastrophe arc.. The truth is it really didn't have to go that way and it's fascinating to me that Oku stumbled into this new direction when all he had to do was continue the trend from first 3/4s of the series.
For some strange reason he had it in his head that HIS characters had to save the day. He's no stranger to having events play themselves out 'off-screen' so it was weird that he basically steamrolled his main character into the centre of the stage when he really didn't belong there...
"The ending doesn't really deal with Gantz's or its character's conflicts, it simply solves the war conflict that wasn't at all about the characters."
And that was one of the biggest problems with the ending. You had Kurono Kei and Cherry bouncing around and getting things done, with everybody else basically floating behind them whenever it's time for a fight.. imo this was a huge disservice to what was quite an interesting cast of side characters with motivations that really didn't suit a suicide mission on the mothership.
I look at the Katastrophe arc as a time of missed opportunity. So many great ideas with the potential to shake up the cast both emotionally and physically in whole new ways and he kinda blew it.
I don't know.. they didn't really need to make it about stopping the giants. It would have been fine simply to have the battle between the Americans, Chinese etc. and the giants going on in the background while the Tokyo team gets up to their own mischief.
The other less likely possible reason might be that he was coaxed to turn Gantz into this 'Heroic One Story' by some popculture management who think they know all about what people like to read.
I also didn't like all the explanations about how Gantz was manufactured, or where it comes from, that felt like a huge plot hole because the 'Why it was created' was very loose; Before then, everyone wanted to know and had their own theories but I think that it is something Oku should have kept to himself until the very end because evidently the theories people had were more interesting than the solution he presented.
Kurono had already become the hero long before Katastrophe.. and even during it he was able to make some really tough decisions to help out a lot of strangers.
By all means, let him be a hero.. but he should not have been the one to save the human race. It didn't fit with the established narrative imo.
One possible way to do it would have been to have Kei1 do his thing with Tae for most of the arc while someone like Cherry flips out and willingly joins the war effort with America and stuff. Or even just Nishi watching everything from the sidelines, possibly helping people out or hindering them using his laptop. That way you get little mini-arcs that stay true to the characters, yet we still get an overall perspective on the war that should have been operating in the background..
So... since the war was won off-screen, the heart of the Katastrophe arc should have been the personal struggles of the main cast in their role on what was pretty much the sidelines.