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Gantz Vol. 2

Release Date: March 8, 2005
Released By: ADV Films
DVD SRP: $17.98 – 50 Minutes
Video: Widescreen (Anamorphic) – 1.78:1
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo) & English Subtitles

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Introduction
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The second installment of Gantz continues in much the same hyper-violent vein as the first: limbs are severed, blood spurts and entrails dangle. Indeed, the only thing missing likely to mar the average viewer’s enjoyment is bouncing bosoms — but never mind, you can’t have everything. Based on a manga by Hiroya Oku serialized in the weekly magazine Young Jump, Gantz is a characteristically Gonzo show, which is to say that it has an intriguing enough beginning, fetching visuals (although an unwholesome amount of CG-effects), and watchers fervently hoping it won’t fall apart at the end.

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Story – Rating: (8 out of 10)
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After a deadly encounter with Greenonion Alien Sr., Kei and co. find their numbers drastically reduced. In an attempt to calm the overwrought extra-terrestrial, Kato tries his hand at mediation, but as this consists mainly of empathetic blubbering, his efforts prove painfully ineffectual. Ever the practical one, Kei decides there’s only one thing to do: run. Turns out he’s had a lifetime of practice too. As he flees through monotonous, 3D-rendered neighborhoods, a half-clad Kishimoto in tow, we catch revealing glimpses of his past.

Ignored by his family, Kei spent much of his youth getting out of scrapes through a mixture of intrepidity and athleticism (he once escaped a gang of adolescents by jumping from an overpass onto the roof of a passing truck below). When he’s finally cornered by the growling scallion, he suddenly recalls that he was once in a similar situation: He faced a bully nearly twice his size and beat him, not with his fists but with his feet. Using himself as bait, he draws the lumbering alien after him, and in a rush of adrenaline, launches himself over a flight of concrete stairs — a feat that parallels another childhood incident. Only in midair does Kei discover that besides being formfitting, his bodysuit has another, alarming property.

Meanwhile, a bruised and battered Kato stumbles to his feet just in time to witness this impressive display. Kei has been the object of Kato’s hero-worship since their grade school days. In fact, the long-haired delinquent has patterned himself after the plucky Kei of his boyhood memories – a Kei who no longer exists, his can-do spirit effaced by apathy and cynicism. Being reminded of his old self however, rekindles Kei’s forgotten fearlessness. And he needs it, not only to go mano a mano with his alien pursuer, but to handle fellow “roommate” Nishi’s revelations about the sphere and their deaths.

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Animation – Rating: (8 out of 10)
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With its dark but vivid color palette and consistently well-done character designs, Gantz continues to be visually pleasing. However, the nearly unrelieved action in this volume brings its animation corner-cutting techniques into sharper relief. For instance, in lieu of real character movement, the show too often resorts to blurry-lined backgrounds to convey motion.

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Audio – Rating: (7.5 out of 10)
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Perhaps I’m developing a tolerance for dubious dubs. Either that, or Greg Aryes performance this volume has markedly improved. Oh, I still believe his talents are ill-suited to the role (his voice has an overly astringent quality), but at least this time I managed to suppress the urge to switch audio tracks halfway through. Sadly, his co-accused, Illich Guardiola, can’t be similarly cleared of charges; he’s guilty of cheesy voice acting. The last of the three lead VAs, Shannon Emerick, does a fine job in the role of Kishimoto though. She sounds quite natural and avoids succumbing to screechy heroine syndrome.

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Extras – Rating: (7.5 out of 10)
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The second volume of Gantz contains very nearly the same extras as the first (i.e. clean opening/closing animations, ADV previews, a preview trailer and an interview). The only difference is this time the trailer is for the third volume and the interview is with Japanese Seiyuu Daisuke Namikawa (Kei Kurono).

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Overall – Rating: 77.5%
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For such an action-packed volume, this disc’s pacing feels almost lackadaisical. Between the interminable chase scenes and frequent pans where the camera lingers on the characters’ faces too long, the story just doesn’t move along as briskly as it ought. Still, the preview trailer offers plenty of incentive (especially for the more prurient-minded) to come back for more.