iSugio

Gantz: Perfect Answer – Review

by Miguel Douglas

@isugoi

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Beginning several months after the events of the first film, Kurono is still fighting aliens under the order of Gantz, a mysterious giant black orb, and he is close to reaching the score he needs to resurrect his deceased friend Kato. Outside his nighttime missions, Kurono continues to live his normal life, spending time with his new girlfriend Tae. Meanwhile, young pop star Eriko is being secretly ordered by Gantz to carry out assassinations, and cop Shigeta inches closer towards finding out the truth about the Gantz missions. As the missions begin to get increasingly dangerous for both the alien fighters and the general public, Kurono discovers that the endgame for Gantz is quickly approaching.

Stemming from one of the most popular manga series of the last decade, Gantz as an overall film series has had much to live up to in terms of providing the viewership with the intensity, grotesqueness and shock value conveyed by its manga counterpart. When the first film of the series was released in 2010, many viewers found themselves torn as to how the film was executed. While many viewers enjoyed the authentic nature of its narrative in regards to it remaining relatively faithful to its source material, some also found the film to be boggled down with overt melodrama and mediocre action sequences that did little to win those viewers over. It’s interesting to note that the previous film was actually quite faithful to its source material in that it introduced many of the characters and thematic themes that were implemented throughout the manga. With the previous film providing a rather abrupt ending that offered more questions than answers, the anticipation for the final film in the duology was certainly deemed high. Remedying many of issues that some viewers believed plagued that film, Gantz Perfect Answer offers an extremely polished yet slightly flawed conclusion to the Gantz film saga.

While the first film focused primarily on the childhood relationship shared between Kurono and Kato, Perfect Answer expands its narrative to include a rather large variety of new and appealing characters. While initially seen to be a great choice, it ultimately presents the film with a dichotomy: either it chooses to narrow its focus on its substantial cast of new and old characters or decides to focus on concluding its plot in a cohesive matter—it unfortunately chooses the latter. With such a decision widely differing from that of the previous film, Perfect Answer is convoluted at times because while it mainly focuses on story, it also attempts, quite unsuccessfully, to explore a wide cast of characters within the confinement of a two and half hour running time. There are numerous moments in the film in which we as the audience are suddenly introduced to a character, with the plot expressing not much regard for their motives, wellbeing and in many cases, untimely demise. With the exception of the loving relationship between Kurono and Tae and the brotherly bond of Kato and Ayumu—with these relationships remaining a focal point in the narrative—the film doesn’t necessarily portray its characters as anything more than superficial individuals without much depth nor discernment towards there dilemmas.

Considering that the original source material doesn’t rely too much on its supporting cast of characters as well, Perfect Answer is quite different since it’s a singular film rather that multi-chapter manga series in which such characters could be developed slowly. It oddly constructs its narrative in a way that realizes the importance of specific supporting characters early on but then does very little to make them appear more that simple catalysts to advance the plot. Whether this is viewed in the likes of Eriko, a pop star that is established as a significant character towards the beginning of the film, but who then slowly dissolves into the background, to a cop by the name of Shigeta, a man attempting to unravel the mysteries of Gantz but whose role gradually becomes unimportant as the film progresses. These instances and others do very little to engage us into the perceived importance of their roles, instead we see the film simply utilizing them for the sake of advancing the plot. With the increasingly irrelevant nature of such supporting characters, one could have easily seen more time delegated towards several of the already established characters in place of introducing entirely new ones. Characters such as Kurono, Tae and Kato all play a significant role within the film, but more could’ve been done to focus on their relationships—fleshing out their motives, emotions and past conflictions.

But while the film lacks within the area of character development, it surely delivers within the realm of action. For the most part, Perfect Answer remains solidified in bringing about an aspect of the source material that was only touched upon within the previous film, with that being pure and highly entertaining action sequences. These segments of the film are exceptionally well done, bringing us into the chaotic and frenzied nature of the violent skirmishes expressed in the source material. The film in many ways is an improvement from the previous film in this regard, which while had many creative action sequences didn’t necessarily amaze the viewer in terms of technical prowess. Perfect Answer greatly responds to this call for delivering the action found in the source material, albeit presenting it in an entirely new light. The film’s main action sequence, a delirious and tumultuous battle within the confinement of a subway train, is sure to satisfy viewers as it perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere of the source material despite being drastically original. As the film progresses, these segments of action don’t necessarily culminate into what viewers may expect, but they do an adequate job in bringing to life the chaotic atmosphere of the manga.

Which leads to my next point—the manga series in relation to the film. One of main topics to note is that this film doesn’t follow the manga series in terms of narrative. Quite a departure from the first film, Perfect Answer attempts to wrap up its expansive plot around a premise that may seem far-fetched—as if it wasn’t already—but enjoyable in terms of what it does to distinguish itself from the manga while also remaining faithful from a conceptual standpoint. Working as a collection of characteristics and mannerisms shown by the characters, as well as elements of the manga plot, many of the new characters and situations within the film may remind followers of circumstances found within the manga, but they are not expressed verbatim. Such elements as the erasing of memories by Gantz, aliens disguised as humans and even Tae’s involvement with Kurono are present within the film, but never to the point where one could consider it canon. As with any adaptation, changes to the original source material may displease some longtime fans, but considering that the manga series is rather extensive and still ongoing, this decision remains controversial but also plausible given that this is the final film in the series.

Overall, Perfect Answer is an appreciable film that truly encompasses many of the aspects that made the source material so enjoyable. While not particularly following the manga in any way structurally, the film should please viewers that are looking for a compelling look into the thematic values that Gantz has shown as a series. Compared to the first film, Perfect Answer doesn’t really focus extensively on character development but it does provide several absorbing action sequences that truly complement the atmosphere of the manga quite effectively. In many regards, the first film was significantly better in developing its characters, where here we essentially see the reverse. If more time were spent on exploring the relationships shared between the existing characters instead of introducing new ones, the film would’ve been structured in a matter that would allow us to better sympathize with the outcome of its characters. As for where it stands now, its lack thereof only reinforces a tone that becomes increasingly melodramatic as it nears its conclusion, a choice which may annoy some viewers. Despite these issues, Perfect Answer is still a technically superior to the first film in almost every way and while it may not provide a perfect answer—pun certainly intended her—it offers a considerable conclusion to perhaps one of the most successfully realized manga-to-film adaptations within the last decade.

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Author: Miguel Douglas

As an avid viewer of both Japanese animation and cinema for more than a decade now, Miguel is primarily concerned with establishing a critical look into both mediums as legitimate forms of artistic, cultural, and societal understanding. Never one to simply look at a film or series based solely on superficiality, Miguel has dedicated himself towards bringing awareness to Asian entertainment and its various facets.

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