DVD Gantz: Perfect Answer
Perfect Answer is the second instalment in the live action version of the Gantz series. First produced in manga format, and subsequently as an anime, the latest incarnation of Gantz abandons much of what has previously made it popular – no more nudity, no more blood and guts flying through the air, and no more uncomfortable inspection of the darker side of human nature. While these attributes have garnered Gantz a loyal niche audience, they clearly do not appeal to everybody. As a consequence, general opinion of both the original manga and anime adaptation are highly polarised. Now, with these divisive factors largely removed from the live-action films, it remains to be seen if the residual content is enough to satisfy existing fans, attract new viewers, and convince once-bitten individuals with more conventional tastes to give the franchise a second chance.
The premise of Gantz: Perfect Answer is this: when certain people die, they find themselves mysteriously transported to an apartment in an unknown location. Inside this apartment, they find Gantz, a featureless black ball which communicates through flickering messages transmitted across its surface, informing the recently deceased that they are, in fact, not dead. Instead, they return to their normal lives, yet are now beholden to Gantz, and obliged to prevent the covert infiltration of Earth by invading aliens.
According to the rules laid down by the orb, each individual reborn into the apartment is part of a team. Every time this team is deployed against extra-terrestrial agents, each member earns points; 100 points is enough to remove oneself from service to Gantz, or alternatively bring back to life one teammate who has died (again) during combat. Before each mission, Gantz’ shell opens outward to reveal arms and armour, but despite being equipped with the appropriate hardware, most members of the team do not survive for long.
Directly following on from events in the first Gantz film, Perfect Answer picks up the story with one of the central protagonists temporarily ‘dead’ and awaiting resurrection. Kato (Ken’ichi Matsuyama) may not have long to wait, as his boyhood friend Kei (Kazunari Ninomiya) is closing in on the magic number and is only a few points shy of a 100. Meanwhile, when not otherwise preoccupied with the wholesale slaughter of the alien hordes, Kei works in a restaurant, looks after Kato’s younger brother, Ayumu, (Kensuke Chisaka), and clumsily tries to charm the equally awkward Tae (Yuriko Yoshitaka).
Considering Kei’s bizarre situation, this is as blissfully close to the everyday as life can get. However, the relative normality does not last; Gantz begins to behave erratically, recruiting new team members, apparently at random, with the help of an unknown serial killer. At the same time, an entirely new and terrifying opponent appears (Gou Ayano), supremely powerful and hell bent on destroying Gantz and all who serve the strange orb. As the most experienced of the remaining alien hunters, the responsibility of defeating this strange creature falls squarely on Kei’s shoulders. Reaching 100 points suddenly does not seem like such a certainty after all…
If you have read this far, then it can be presumed that you are willing to forgive the inanity of Gantz’ core concept: a bunch of strangers, dead one moment and whisked back to life the next, deposited in an apartment containing an enormous black ball. The ball then pressgangs these bemused individuals in its on-going recruitment drive for inexperienced cannon fodder to fling at the rapidly advancing alien menace. Hmmm…it is probably safe to say, without offending even diehard Gantz fans, that this is not the strongest of plots. Even so, that does not mean that Gantz is destined for failure. Many popular films in the survival horror genre have employed similarly nonsensical devices to bring a cast together to run in desperate, panicked circles in the face of their particular doom. Whether lumbering zombie epidemic, evil serial killer with signature death move, or silent but deadly airborne plague, as long as it keeps the audience scared stiff, then the ridiculous nature of the film’s plot is likely to remain unnoticed.
The main problem with Gantz: Perfect Answer is that there is not enough to distract the viewer from a completely daft central premise.
The Saw franchise is a prime example. All those laboriously laid out traps must have cost a fortune in materials, and even assuming they shared a prodigious ability for DIY, John Kramer had cancer and Amanda Young didn’t look like she was up for much heavy lifting either. Did they get builders in to help? And exactly how many henchmen did they employ to drug and carry all their victims to the one place? Such a huge operation must have required a very creative accountant. Just think of the overheads! Of course, you probably haven’t considered these basic logistics before, even if you watched all of the Saw movies, because you were too busy being effectively terrified to notice how unrealistic an enterprise Kramer and Young were running.
The main problem with Gantz: Perfect Answer is that, unlike Saw, there is not enough to distract the viewer from a completely daft central premise. The characters are one-dimensional, the story is jumbled and incoherent, and neither are remotely engaging. This being the case, the slick production is rendered irrelevant, the patchiness of the acting is even more glaring, and every minor flaw is painfully noticeable. Which begs the question: should the polarising elements of the manga have been retained? Although undeniably crass, naked women and exploding brains do tend to divert viewers from critiquing the finer points of any narrative. Maybe director Shinsuke Sato wanted to avoid such cheap tricks and let the live-action films be judged on their own merit, or perhaps Gantz writer Hiroya Oku felt that the more unpleasant themes (bestiality, rape and child abuse) were better left behind. Whatever the motivation to drop what made the manga and anime so popular and, at the same time, so reviled, the remaining parts are not enough to make a decent film.
Joint leads Ken’ichi Matsuyama (Death Note) and Kazunari Ninomiya (Letters From Iwo Jima) have previously demonstrated their acting chops, but they fail to make an impact. The only above competent turn comes from the wonderfully creepy Kanata Hongô, playing resurrected team member Joichiro Nishi. Matching the inexpert acting on display, the dialogue is equally poor. It frequently will make little sense to those who are not already familiar with the series, and some exchanges are just incomprehensible. For example, the aliens’ motivation is revealed in snatches of conversation aboard a subway train while they go about exterminating all of the passengers. Apparently, humans started the current war between the species and the aliens only want revenge. When not machine gunning innocent bystanders, or eviscerating them with samurai swords, angry extra-terrestrials declaim humans as bloodthirsty, as having an unlimited appetite for destruction, and as being the cruellest of creatures, before they go off and butcher some more civilians. This hypocrisy just doesn’t make sense, becomes grating when repeated, and only adds to Perfect Answer’s problems.
Admirers of Gantz in its previous formats, who weren’t attracted to the graphic nudity and violence, might find something of interest here. However, Perfect Answer is highly unlikely to increase the franchises existing fan base. Sub-par in all departments, with supporting actor Kanata Hongô the only performer in the whole production to do himself any justice, Gantz: Perfect Answer should be avoided. In a word, Pantz.
Film: Big Tits Zombie Release date: 11th October
2010 Certificate: 18 Running time: 73 mins Director:…
Film: New York, I Love You Release date: 7th
February 2011 Certificate: 15 Running time: 99 mins…
Famed for his loose and dynamic cinematography
style, director Lau Wai-keung (Andrew Lau) achieved…