Hugh David on replicating manga moods in Gantz 2
Gantz: Perfect Answer picks up from where the first Gantz film left off, with the survivors still working as a team to gain enough points for Kei (Kazunari Ninomiya) to resurrect Masaru (Kenichi Matsuyama). Both the investigator looking into related incidents (Takayuki Yamada) and the audience have witnessed Masaru back already, which serves as the main clue that not all is as is it seems with either the aliens they hunt or Gantz itself. New players join the team, new aliens gather and clash with them, and all while Gantz itself seems to be glitching badly….
Perfect Answer builds on the tonal shift of the last five minutes of the first movie to create an original sequel that echoes the manga without adapting it directly. The positive team spirit revealed in those five minutes of the Gantz players who survived the giant Buddha fight carries them through enough off-screen battles for Kei to be verging on 100 points fairly soon into the film, but the on-screen narrative prefers instead to provide emotional depth and character development that was considered by some reviewers to be somewhat lacking in the first film. This proves very useful in upping the stakes for the ensuing carnage, with the influx of new characters provided with thumbnail backgrounds that imply much more once their connections to Gantz are revealed.
Where Perfect Answer is however a “perfect partner” for the first film is in the action stakes. Once the character development is out of the way, the film kicks into high gear with a blistering subway sequence. Not only are the new aliens human in form, but they have absolutely no compunction when it comes to collateral damage. Guns, swords, fists and feet are all used while the subway train careers out of control. This is where the film begins to not only match its predecessor tonally, but also revives the mood of the manga. That upbeat mood of co-operation that the first film ended on is torn asunder by the machinations of Gantz and the escalating battles with the aliens, while the question of individual character survival is completely up for grabs. The film darkens and stays that way to the end, and that is as fans of the manga would expect.
This century has been very much the era of comic books done justice in cinematic adaptations around the world – Marvel Studios’ releases in the US, the Asterix series and the two Largo Winch releases in France, Spielberg and Jackson’s Tintin. For all those commentators who regard the Death Note films as the height of the Japanese competition, the textual fidelity of Gantz and the thematic consistency of Gantz: Perfect Answer suggest that, when taken together, these just may be actually the most successful theatrical live-action adaptations of manga yet.
Gantz and Gantz: Perfect Answer are out now on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.