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“Gantz” continues with “Perfect Answer”, the second and concluding part of writer Watanabe Yusuke and director Sato Shinsuke’s big screen adaptation of the cult anime and manga series. Following on from the semi-cliffhanger ending of its 2010 predecessor, the science fiction thriller sees Ninomiya Kazunari (of the popular Japanese idol group Arashi and recently also in “The Lady Shogun and her Men”) and Matsuyama Kenichi (“Death Note”) back in the lead roles, joined by a returning Yoshitaka Yuriko (“Himizu”) and new cast members Ito Ayumi (“Bandage”) and Yamada Takayuki (“Crows Zero”). The film is an ambitious affair, not only notching up the alien killing action, but introducing new characters and subplots in an attempt to provide an actual ending to the saga.
After a handy recap of the first film, the narrative kicks off some five months after its museum destroying conclusion, with Kurono (Ninomiya Kazunari) continuing his nightly battles against extraterrestrials at the behest of the mysterious Gantz sphere, closing in on the 100 point total which will allow him to resurrect his best friend Kato (Matsuyama Kenichi). Meanwhile, a pop singer called Eriko (Ito Ayumi) is being ordered by Gantz to kill a list of people, with cop Shigeta (Yamada Takayuki) investigating the deaths and the strange incidences of unexplained destruction that have been rocking the city. Events escalate, allegiances shift, and as more about the true deigns of Gantz is revealed it becomes clear that things are building towards a deadly endgame.
Unsurprisingly, “Gantz: Perfect Answer” follows on from its predecessor by moving even further from the original manga and anime. Given the ongoing and fairly senseless gonzo nature of the source material, trying to pull together a satisfyingly definitive ending and explanation was always going to be a tall order, and so it’s not too much of a shock that in terms of its many changes the film succeeds in some ways and falls short in others. To be fair, with the film being a big budget blockbuster proposition, primed for mass commercial consumption, writer Watanabe Yusuke and director Sato Shinsuke do as good as job as was ever probably going to be possible, and it does manage to answer some central questions, at least in the context of its own two part incarnation and redefined characters. While likely to upset some, the ending itself is fitting, and for better or worse brings with it a certain air of finality.
Without giving too much away, the plot and its many additions in general work reasonably well, and though the film sidesteps some of the bigger and more glaring issues, it holds the interest and remains complex and odd enough to appeal both to fanboys and the average viewer. In this respect the film arguably improves upon its predecessor, as being less tied to the anime makes it less predictable and freer to take the story in its own direction, in the process offering something a little different, not to mention throwing in a few sympathetic character deaths for good measure. Being the second part similarly helps in that most fans of the originals will by now have gotten over the excising of sex and violence and its depiction of Kurono as a nice guy rather than a nihilistic pervert.
Really though, such concerns are secondary, and in the grand scheme of things most viewers are likely to judge the film on its action content. On this score, “Perfect Answer” is again very different to both its source material and the first film, with its conflict spilling over from the weirdly empty night and into the real world, with Kurono and his comrades taking on aliens in human form rather than bizarre monsters and giant homicidal statues. Although this may sound less exciting, on the plus side it allows Sato Shinsuke to bring a very much harder edge to the set pieces, with there being considerably more destruction and collateral damage as a result. This also means that the action is staged in far brighter locations, and is all the better for not being as dark and murky as many of the scenes of the first film were. The film does take its time to build up to its first engagement, though once the gunfire and swordplay starts it’s pretty breathless stuff, with a long, chaotic subway train set mass battle being the best and bloodiest set piece of either part. The thrills come thick and fast thereafter, and with less in the way of ponderous melodrama the film fairly breezes through its long running time, helped by some good and judicious use of special effects.
While it doesn’t quite live up to its bold title, “Gantz: Perfect Answer” is a very entertaining film, and one of the better recent anime/manga related blockbusters to emerge from Japan, ranking up there with the “Death Note” series. All debates about the pros and cons of staying loyal to the source material aside, the film is certainly a superior example of action packed big budget science fiction, and one which should be enjoyed by both fans and audiences in general.
Shinsuke Sato (director) / Hiroya Oku (screenplay)
CAST: Kazunari Ninomiya … Kei Kurono
Ken’ichi Matsuyama … Masaru Kato
Yuriko Yoshitaka … Tae Kojima
Kanata Hongô … Joichiro Nishi
Gô Ayano … Kurofuku-Ichi
Ayumi Ito … Eriko Ayukawa