Lip curls, eyes roll, heart reluctantly races

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?

3 Responses to Lip curls, eyes roll, heart reluctantly races

  1. mark thorpe says:

    Wow, people really hate Gantz. It’s really not that great of a book (an average affair), but it’s the one people hold up as an example of ‘what’s wrong with comics today’. Even though I can name a handful of manga off the top of my head that are much more depraved than Gantz, it seems that this book just turns people off. Drifting Classroom was hailed as a classic (and it is) but, really, is a vessel for killing as many small children in as many bloody nightmare ways as possible. Berserk and Battle Royale are both ridiculous with exploding heads, bisections, disembowlments, torture, not to mention boobs, butts, penises, and even penetration. And let’s not even get into the pee drinking exploits of Kazuo Koike books. I just don’t see why an average book about leather clad alien killers and their broody teenage problems have raised the ire of so many people.

  2. Huff says:

    I too can’t really understand why you think Gantz is such a bad book. I’m pretty indifferent to it myself, but it certainly isn’t poorly written. The characters are well developed enough, and their relentless amorality is fairly well-portrayed. I mean I don’t get the fan following (except for about 4 volumes around #6 or 7, when one of the main characters more or less grows up; that part of it was quite good actually, and surprisingly resonant) but it’s at least a solid production.

  3. davidpwelsh says:

    I probably didn’t make myself really clear, but it’s not an issue with craft. Here’s the best analogy I can come up with: Gantz reminds me of a Little Miss Beauty Pageant contestant… juvenile to the core, but very artfully made up as something adult and sexy. It’s that disconnect between perfectly legitimate juvenile concerns (cute girls! big weapons! action!) and the bad-ass, fan-service-set-at-eleven drag it wears.

%d bloggers like this: