Lip curls, eyes roll, heart reluctantly races

December 31, 2008

I was going to make a New Year’s resolution to try and stop sneering at Oku Hiroya’s Gantz (Dark Horse), but the only way I could fulfill it would be to not read Oku Hiroya’s Gantz at all, and I’m not quite sure I’ll be able to do that.

You guys, seriously… the buckets of manly tears, the lovingly drawn violence, the dialogue (“This isn’t a manga!”), the boob sock bonus shots, the philosophical questions that seem sprung from the reject pile of a junior-high-school literary magazine… It’s like almost everything I came to hate about Marvel and DC’s super-hero comics distilled into an essential oil.

That said there’s a hard-to-fault lack of cynicism to the whole affair, which just about absolves it. Gantz may be disgusting, but it’s not joyless or coy. The ultra-violence is at once inexcusable and genuinely exuberant, and the philosophizing may be half-witted at its absolute best, but it at least reads as sincere.

I don’t believe that Gantz will ever cohere into something artistically successful or remotely meaningful, but it certainly manages to deliver “I cannot believe I just read that” moments with enviable frequency. So I will continue to sneer, and I will refuse to feel badly about it. I mean, a sneer is part of a smile, right?