Yesterday I was feeling kind of crappy; after I finished up the page of Rita that I posted, I ended up sprawling on the couch reading most of Gantz. Which is really not something I’d recommend doing, as it’s kinda dumb.
Here are some things my brain had to say about the giant holes in the whole setup while I was in the shower. Spoilers ahead, if you actually want to read the comic. I don’t really recommend this.
Okay. So here’s the basic setup: You die. You wake up in an anonymous apartment that has nothing in it but a big black sphere, and some other people. The doors and windows won’t open. Several of these people are wearing black rubber suits and carrying outlandish-looking guns. The sphere opens, revealing guns and cases with everyone’s name on them; these cases contain black rubber suits.
The people in the suits tell you to wear your suit, or you’ll die.
The ball lights up and displays broken (LOCAL LANGUAGE) text to the effect that it owns you now since it saved your life. Then it commands you to go kill someone, along with a picture. People start being teleported out of the room into the vicinity of this person.
The folks who had the suits on from the beginning tell you to not leave the area, without any further details as to why. Then they start chasing after their allotted target and trying to kill him/her/it. Soon, it turns into a giant monster, or a monster comes out when it’s killed, or maybe it’s just a monster to start with.
The suits give the people wearing them superpowers: speed, strength, and nigh-invulnerability. The monsters are such that this is pretty much required. If you don’t have a suit you probably die again.
You and the monsters are invisible to normal people for the duration of this affair, though you have a physical presence.
When you try to leave the area, something starts beeping inside your head. It gets louder as you keep going; then your head explodes.
If you manage to have any signs of life at the end of this affair, you’ll be completely healed when you’re teleported back to the apartment with the black sphere. It hands out points based on your performance, and says that you’re done at 100. The doors work now. A few weeks later, you’re in the room again. Lather, rinse, repeat. If you try to tell anyone about this, your brain explodes.
Eventually you discover that if you ask the ball about the “apokalypse” it displays a timer.
Now, there’s one interesting bit of authorial bias here: People who actually know how to use guns will never put on the suits. They’re always criminals who pish-posh the whole affair. They blow off the vague warnings about “don’t leave the area” and a couple of them always get their heads exploded; the rest almost always get squished/eaten/disintegrated/whatever.
So this results in an incredibly overdramatic style of combat, carried out by people who are complete beginners at shooting. They favor running up and firing at pretty much point-blank range. Or even whipping out the weird extensible swords the sphere also hands out and slashing away. Over the course of the story there is exactly one guy who discovers that the bazooka-looking weapon has great range, finds a quiet place, and starts sniping. And he, of course, gets killed. NO CAMPERS ALLOWED.
No soldiers or policemen ever get recruited, nobody who even plays a lot of FPSs ever shows up. (Admittedly those are not a very popular genre in Japan.) It’s like this ball wants to field the worst, least-informed monster defense force possible. And the people who do survive never think to say things like “if you try to leave this area, you start hearing a beeping in your head, and then your skull explodes. No seriously we are trapped in some weird fucked-up game here, I’m not making this up.”
After about 5-6000 pages of this (yes really) there is a brief handwavy explanation of this; apparently it’s some kind of game set up by bored rich people who bet on it. The supertech of the ball comes from a long string of seemingly-random numbers recited by the bedridden, retarded daughter of a very rich man that was deciphered to reveal plans for this. There’s a factory making thousands of these. Where the monsters come from is never explained; they just are. Overall this “reason” for all of this feels like more than a bit of an asspull.
Then the Apocalypse arrives, giants in mechsuits rain down from the sky and start indiscriminately destroying things in a whole ton of double-page spreads of destruction porn and of course the People of the Black Ball are prepared for this by all this time spent fighting monsters. If it’s some kind of way to defend against this apocalypse it’s the worst ever, I mean it could at least NOT START TO TELEPORT PEOPLE OUT UNTIL THEY HAVE THEIR SUITS ON so it’s got a larger pool of people with a chance of surviving into the next round and learning stuff, sheesh. Maybe there’s an explanation of this coming up somewhere in the apocalypse but honestly after watching them fight a final boss for like three books worth of pre-apocalypse combat I wasn’t in the mood to read more – when it got splattered into mist, then reformed into yet another form for like the fourth time (hell, maybe the fifth or sixth, I lost track), I was starting to MST3K the thing.
Why did I read so much of this thing? Why why why. There’s this weird hypnotic allure to its dumbness, I suppose. Something to its combination of 3D-rendered and processed photo backgrounds. And maybe some tiny shred of an eight-year-old boy inside me was enjoying the combat? I dunno; I skimmed that pretty hard, since it generally dragged on for about twice as long as my interest in watching dudes punching could be sustained.