Analysis: The Ending of Gantz
The ending of Gantz will be recapped below. This article is intended for people who have finished reading and want more insight into the ending of this manga.
Gantz is a popular manga that has been in print since 2000. The creators of the series released the final issue in August 2013, and fans were anything but satisfied with the ending. Gantz was not afraid to push boundaries, offering an entertaining mixture of gore, sex, and philosophy between the front and back covers of each issue. It got to the core of what mankind is capable of, sometimes depicting characters going above and beyond for others, but more often showing the selfishness that is our desire to live.
This series really made one think, questioning religion, mortality, and even what the human soul is. And despite these heavy themes, the series maintained a well-paced story studded with action at every turn and a plethora of characters that you began to really root for.
The creators of Gantz were also bold in their willingness to kill off characters, doing this at the moment you least expected it, and to those who seemed the most untouchable–even the main character was killed off at one point (technically). Almost every time a new group of characters came together in a well-formed, cohesive team, the authors of the series would slaughter them.
As the story progressed over the years, the plot lines became more and more complicated until the story stopped making sense in certain places. A great example was when vampires showed up, meddled in the affairs of the main characters, and then disappeared, never to be mentioned again. Although these holes in the plot existed, it did not detract much from the quality of the overall story.
Until the final story arc, that is.
The Final Story Arc
1. The final story arc is where Gantz started to lose quality, but not everything was a train wreck. Suddenly, the dynamic of being sent on missions stops, and the world is invaded by aliens. The creation of the Gantz suits earlier in the series was in anticipation of this invasion: they would give humanity a fighting chance against an extraterrestrial enemy with advanced technology. So, although this completely changed the flow of the story, I feel it had to happen eventually to reach a real conclusion. Taking into account the earlier creation of the Gantz suits, a huge alien invasion to end the series, in theory, works.
2. Another aspect of the finale that worked very well was the brutality of the aliens inside the spaceship. Although all military units were sent down to conquer Earth, the interior of the spaceship was an entire city of aliens just living their lives. As we continue to the part of story where Kurono takes an alien woman hostage in order to get around safely, we find these aliens are exactly like us, and have the same sort of mentality: they, too, have problems, and are too absorbed with their own self-preservation to care about what they consider lower lifeforms. To them, humans are just another food source, as cattle are to us. If the roles were reversed, humans would have done the exact same thing. This fits well with the entire theme of the manga.
3. Finally, Kurono's quest to save Tae-chan was the climax of Kurono's character arc. At the beginning of Gantz, Kurono was a total pessimist who would never risk his neck for someone else. As time went on, though, he became his old self, which his friend Kato always looked up to: the man that would save everyone and defy the odds, always succeeding in his task. At first, it seemed he would stay this way until the end, but then the invasion happened. He lost Tae-chan and was suddenly bombarded by people pleading for his help. He quickly cracked under the stress, and, having an epiphany, he realized that it was impossible for him to save everyone. In fact, he didn't even want to save everyone. To him, there was only Tae-chan. As a result, he dropped his hero facade and was finally aiming for what he wanted: the woman he loved.
To some, this sounds like a terrible character trait, but it is a realistic one. Kurono constantly lost companions throughout the series, some of which were love interests. These people slipped through his fingers, and he would convince himself that it was entirely his fault, such as when Kato and the rest of the team dies at the Buddhist temple. But, now, he refuses to let this happen. He resolves to no longer carry the burden. At the end of Gantz, Kurono is aiming to save the women he loves. It is only right before the final fight, when he says he cares about nothing in the world and only wishes that Tae-chan would come back, that he does.
What Didn't Work
1. The invasion made sense, but I feel that the execution was way off and could have been done better. First, all the aliens they had fought up until that point suddenly became pointless. Readers were left to assume that they were all just immigrants trying to make a home on Earth, and had no connection to the final invasion. Now, it was a single race of aliens that had set their sights on Earth for its resources, instead of a hodgepodge of races like those the Gantz team had faced in earlier issues.This is just one of many major plot holes this finale created, ruining the continuity of the rest of the series.
2. Another narrative misstep was when the humans find The Room of Truth. This room was a source of seemingly endless knowledge where they could receive a truthful answer to any question. This is where religion comes into play in the story. In The Room of Truth, they are told there is no God, only data, and what we think of as the human soul is nothing but data floating in the air. It is not the ideas presented here that I take issue with, it is how the ideas were presented. Suddenly, the humans find a place that can give them the answer to every question they've ever had. To me, it seemed like with this incredibly lazy writing, the author had written himself into a corner.
3. Which brings me to one of the major complaints I have about the Gantz finale: the pacing. The ending was obviously rushed. The last few chapters are proof of this, because, not only does this series end with no afterword or, "Where are they now?" chapters, it leaves numerous unanswered questions. The final battle felt almost entirely pointless and was filled to the brim with practically reused panels. And when the battle is finally complete, they quickly escape the ship, get back to earth, get the girls, and, suddenly, Gantz is over.
This is a slap in the face to fans of the series. Besides its rushed nature, it gives barely any resolution to Kurono and Kato's relationship and gives none at all to the rest of the major supporting characters. It also goes against the entire message of the rest of the manga: Gantz always had an underlying sense of hopelessness, being filled with tragedy. The series made you think and reflect on the harsher aspects of life, but oddly, the ending is all lollipops and rainbows.
You may be thinking, "But what about all the people who did die?" Yes, a lot of characters did, but with the revelation of how Gantz works, anyone related to Gantz could be resurrected by making a copy of themselves and downloading their soul into it. To the person who died, it would be as if nothing ever happened.
The ending was pure disappointment. It did not do the series justice, and what was otherwise an almost perfect manga will now be forever marred by its atrocious end. Overall, I'd still give this series a nine out of 10, but it sadly only misses the 10 mark because of the way it ended. Unfortunately for Gantz, it won't sit alongside other series I've given perfect 10s, such as:
- Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO)
- Hana Kimi
- School Rumble
- Battle Royale
- Princess Resurrection
And I've read a lot of manga. I don't give 10s lightly.
I wrote this in the heat of reading the final chapter and taking a few moments to think it over, but I still feel these are all valid points. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this ending, especially if you can poke holes in any of the points I've highlighted here. I hope the author of Gantz, Hiroya Oku, releases some sort of bonus chapters in the coming months, so that we may receive the resolution we deserve after this 13-year-long ride.