Film: Gantz 2 - Perfect Answer
UK Release date: 6th February 2012
Director: Shinsuke Sato
Starring: Kazumari Nimomiya, Kenichi Matsuyama, Ayumi Ito, Takayuki Yamada
Running time: 120 mins
Reviewer: Adam Wing
For those of you that don’t know, let’s cast our minds back to how it all began. In a nutshell - big black balls. Gantz and its sequel Gantz: Perfect Answer are based on a hit manga series created by Hiroya Oku. Directed by Shinsuke Sato, Gantz stars leading Japanese actors Kazunari Ninomiya (Letters from Iwo Jima) and Kenichi Matsuyama (Death Note, Detroit Metal City). After an accident on a train platform, recently deceased childhood friends Kei and Kato find themselves transported to an empty apartment populated by several confused strangers and a mysterious black ball known as Gantz.
The big black ball issues them a set of strange suits, instructing them to exterminate "dangerous aliens" from Earth in a series of bloodthirsty games. They are given high-tech weaponry, and the opportunity to collect points depending on how many aliens they kill. Once they reach 100 they are awarded the opportunity to either leave the game, or resurrect one of their fallen comrades. Part one is a well-crafted sci-fi action adventure with great special effects, ingenious plotting and ‘fine’ support from Natsuna Watanabe. Gorier than you might expect, and overloaded with electrifying action, the opening instalment is a frantic sci-fi adventure that leaves a lot of questions unanswered, like for example, how the hell did Natsuna get in that suit?
In GPA, Ninomiya and Matsuyama return to take on the alien inhabitants, joined this time by Ayumi Ito (Bandage) and Takayuki Yamada (Crows Zero). If you’re a fan of the original comic series you might want to look away now, because GPA comes with an alternate ending that might upset the masses. Lets face it though; when you’re translating a successful manga series to film you’re never going to please everyone. GPA begins several months after the original movie, with Kurono close to reaching the score he needs to resurrect his friend. He has a new girlfriend called Tae (Yuriko Yoshitaka). Kind of anyway, they haven’t actually been on a date yet. Meanwhile, young pop star Eriko (Ayumi Ito) is carrying out assassinations on behalf of Gantz, and cop Shigeta (Takayuki Yamada) is hot on the trail of all involved.
Lets make it clear from the start, if you’re looking for definitive answers you’re bang out of luck. By the time the credits role, we still don’t really know what Gantz is, who the person inside Gantz is, why they’re battling the aliens in the first place and where I can buy my girlfriend a copy of ‘that’ outfit. We’re given hints and pointed in the right direction but that’s about it, there are new questions raised of course, but perfect answers are hard to come by. As it turns out, it’s a shame the filmmakers felt the urge to wrap things up with this second feature because there’s plenty of room for further instalments.
With the focus on action lessened, GPA instead attempts to expand the universe created in the original movie. Characters are given more depth and intriguing new storylines are introduced with positive results. For the most part it works brilliantly. Eriko’s adventures are a wonderful addition to the series, the effects are fantastic, performances are relatively strong and relationships possess greater emotional punch. There’s a growing sense of fear and paranoia in the opening exchanges too, with Gantz pushing all the right buttons in all the right places. The original movie was overloaded with action sequences, as the Gantz team took on all manner of crazy alien life forms. With GPA the otherworldly beings take on human form, providing us with the most satisfying set piece of the entire series. Taking place on a subway train, and populated by hordes of ‘human casualties’, Sato serves up one of the most electrifying action scenes of the year. It’s a feast for the eyes, overflowing with high-tech weaponry, dazzling martial arts action and mighty explosions, the downside being that we never quite hit these dizzy heights again.
GPA loses its way in the final hour, failing to answer several key questions and stumbling towards a confusing, lacklustre finale. Whether or not the filmmakers are planning to turn the series into a trilogy remains to be seen, but GPA gets lost beneath a wave of needless exposition and sentimentality. Having said that, it’s nice to see some (one) familiar face(s) re-emerge as the final curtain falls, and even though it fails to satisfy on every level, GPA gets so much right it’s hard not to love it a little.
With a great concept, immense action and fascinating story-arcs, Gantz: Perfect Answer remains essential viewing for Japanese sci-fi fans. If that’s not encouragement enough for you, did I forget to mention how great Natsuna Watanabe looks in her outfit?
Big black balls are in this year then; guess ThAt’s the way tHe coOkie crumBles.