I originally happened onto Gantz many years ago when I was going through a big anime phase (not there’s anything wrong with anime, I just don’t really have time to fit it in among all my other hobbies anymore). It was the only one I liked enough at the time that I actually sought out the manga it originated from. It’s the crazy story of two high schoolers who are run over by a subway train, but then suddenly wake up to find themselves in a strange apartment with a bunch of strangers and a mysterious giant black ball called Gantz, which opens up to reveal a selection of weapons and strange costumes and proceeds to tell the group that they must all go fight some mysterious aliens.
The first aliens that they face are…the onion aliens…
This may seem utterly ridiculous, and it is, but when the group encounters the boss alien, things suddenly become incredibly dark and violent. Most of the group is dead by the end of the first mission and this becomes the trend for most of the rest of the series. The missions get more bizarre and violent each time as the aliens get tougher and tougher each time, to the point where by the end, the story has become a massive and bizarre alien world war, and team members, including main characters, keep dying left and right. Mix in a healthy dose of soap-opera-ish teen drama and some high quality art and you end up with a surprisingly addictive experience.
The missions they get sent on are often very video game-like, with waves of minions, leading up to a ridiculously powerful boss who usually goes through multiple forms before he’s actually finished. There is also a point system in place. The team is told early on that if they get 100 points they can earn their freedom, but it turns out later that they can also use these 100 points to resurrect a fallen team member or buy themselves a powerful new weapon instead. This leads to even more weird situations as some dead characters also end up coming back to life later, sometimes just to get killed all over again.
Anyway, back when I originally checked it out the series was only a little over half way done and was being released in a painfully slow and small serialized format that I just ended up losing interest in eventually, but the series is finally complete after 13 years so I went back to give it another shot and I just couldn’t put the damn thing down. I went through all 37 volumes in one long weekend. This left me with a big craving for more comics like this, but it seems that many of the most highly recommended or interesting sounding ones suffer from the same problem of being massive, slow releasing serializations that are still in progress, and I just don’t want to deal with that. I did find a few good sounding complete ones that I’ll get around to reading someday, but for the most part it looks like I’ll just get around to the other big, and allegedly best, ones someday when they’re finished. All that aside though, if anything, I would still highly recommend Gantz to anyone with an interest in…whatever the hell label you would apply to something that can only be described as dark, surreal, video game-like sci-fi horror drama?