Battle Royale was a book written by a Japanese author about a Grade level of students that are kidnapped and put on an island. On the island, there is a hatch with a Scottish guy, a giant smoke monster that eats memories and a bald guy that makes no sen…sorry, I forgot where I was going. The students have bombs strapped to them, given a backpack with a weapon of some form, some food and a map. If a student tries to leave the island, the bomb will detonate, turning them into red paint on something. Basically, the students have to kill each other until only one remains. While the plot has very little, if any similarities to Gantz, the darkness is still the same. Students killing each other just to survive and win…yeah, that's pretty screwed up. Not to mention how some of them kill their classmates outright without any hesitation, or how an argument over a boy can have six girls in the traditional Japanese uniform of short skirts and tight shirts have the coolest shoot-out ever. Gantz follows Kurono, a student pissed off with everything. In a subway, he meets an old friend, Kato, and the two are forced to help a homeless person who has fallen on the tracks.
And unlike most TV series, the main characters die. Two hopeful students for a homeless person; the hell kind of trade is that? A moment later, the two wake up in a room with a bunch of other people and a giant metal ball. The ball informs them that everyone is dead, and that they belong to the ball. They are then given black cosplay looking suits, which end up being extremely useful, and guns with incredibly delayed exploding rounds. After that, they are transported outside and forced to hunt down aliens, which live in the city. If they go further than a mile from a certain area, their heads will explode. Gantz is based off a Manga, which means while it stays mostly to the original story, there are a few differences. In the Manga, the persons head will explode if they talk to anyone about the ball or their experiences. This seems limited to speech though, as one of the characters writes everything into a blog. This is almost entirely diminished in the anime aside from on a single episode; and even then it's still pretty ambiguous if you haven't read the Manga, or at least looked up information about it.
Gantz deals with some seriously dark themes. Murder, the difference between justice and revenge and how few see it, suicide, racism, rape and so forth. But possibly the biggest theme that will make your hair stand up is how the people who play these ‘games’ are still alive, after they all seem to die just to get into it. The metal ball is called Gantz, its origins unknown but it does possess the technology to copy a person, and also temporarily remove the bodies of the dead. If a person dies during the game, the next day, a surviving person will hear about how they died, but not during the game, but the bodies will stay missing if the person survives the game. This is told by constant news reports of the two students whose bodies disappeared after they were hit by the train.
One character dies by slitting her wrists. But because Gantz copies them just moments before they die, it is unable to affect anything else until they are dead, which is why the original character survives when her mother finds her, but the copy that was brought into the game is still walking around. If a person is injured during the game, they can survive once the game has been complete, even if they sustain mortal wounds. But when they appear back at the beginning of the game, they will be in the same position they were in just before dying, leading one to believe Gantz simply created another copy instead of actually saving anyone. This is a very chilling theme as by the end of the series, it is possible that the character talking could be a fifth generation copy, four having died or been injured previously.
The video quality of Gantz is amazing, even going so far as to have many CGI effects during some of the action scenes, or purely for dramatic effect. A lot of effort was put into it, making the series almost look like an OVA (The Japanese equivalent of a big budget movie, only not live-action). It is also extremely violent, so when you see someone fire a weapon at someone's head, expect to hear the sound of snapping and pulverising bones, the head swell and then explode, sending waves of blood, bone and brain matter over the floor, wall or person. The sound is also extremely impressive. 5.1 Surround Sound, even though just about everything has it nowadays (Making it standard more than special), means you can hear the screaming coming from one speaker, cracking bones in another, squelching of organs in another and other sound effects in the rest.
Rating: 5/5 Violently exploding body parts If you've never read the Manga, and are a fan of violent, thematically powered and occasionally naked and sexy anime, this will seem like almost the most original series ever. Interestingly, while the series was in production, so was (And still is) the Manga, and the last seven episodes are entirely original, because the source material hadn't gotten far ahead enough. If you have read it, you'll probably like it anyway. The voice acting is rock goddamn solid, there isn't much of an overall story; it just seems to follow the events through a character. Think of it like Lost without Season 4 onwards.