After all these years I've finally read the conclusion of the Japanese manga Gantz.
Mysterious black orb, tight plug suits and epic battles with aliens are finally over. After years of delays, I dropped the manga and only recently purchased the complete series.
The conclusion of Gantz wraps up some critical questions I had raised throughout the series. Why are they being revived? What's the black orb? Why are there aliens on Earth?
The ending opens up new wounds and still leaves many side stories unfinished. I'm somewhat conflicted now because it is difficult to recommend this series... that is if you dont want your heart broken, pieced back together and smashed to pieces again! That's how it feels to me with the conclusion of Gantz!
*** Spoiler Alert ***
Stop reading now if you don't want the ending ruined!
Reika Shimohira & Kurono Kei are by far the two best core characters in the Gantz series in my opinion. Reika first appeared in chapter 134 after she was caught in the line of fire by Izumi's killing spree in Shinjuku. On her first night in the dinosaur mission she meets Kei and develops a romantic interest in the main character Kurono Kei after seeing him in action, without his plug suit, in a desparate struggle to survive.
She later confesses her love for Kurono and begins to take on a more active role in supporting the team in their quest. Reika is charismatic, attractive and compassionate. After Kurono is set free, she takes on leadership role for the Tokyo Gantz team.
Fast forward a few hundred chapters, Reika finally reaches 100 points and rather than reviving a team mate, she opts to bring into the world a clone of Kurono. She explains to the cloned Kurono that she loves him, and that she would take responsibility for him. This is where the story gets weird pretty fast!
The two Kuronos meet in an alley and decides that the original would stay with Tae (main love interest), and the clone will be with Reika (second love interest). Although from the reader's perspective Kurono clearly loves both women. A polygamy relationship wouldn't be out of question, given that the series is already about the resurrection of dead humans, to battle with aliens of overwhelming power. Any concepts of the preserving the natural order of things, and abiding by the rule of law of Japan is irrelevant.
Tae is also the worst character of the series. She is bland, boring and isn't even relevant to the main plot. Yet the series dedicates chapters to her story arc, and the reader has to suffer, following the desparate rescue of a side character (and then again in the final story arc). Logically it doesn't make a lot of sense given the sheer scale of things. Humanity was under seige and Kurono rushes off to save one girl, whilst billions of people around the world are at stake? Plus Kurono was also in love with Reika. He could have felt guilt if he abandoned Tae, but he is certainly not bound by to Tae (like a married couple).
If there is one plot device that is persistent throughout the Gantz series - it is that the strong consumes the weak. In Gantz we watch weak humans overcome the impossible by consuming (killing) aliens of overwhelming power. It is what makes Gantz such a thrilling manga series to read. Using the plug suit's abilities and mentak will power, Gantz operators extend their abilities and literally punch aliens to death! We see this time and again in the numerous battles that span across the series. So why did the author spend so long following the weakest, most insignificant and irrelevant love interest; whilst sidelining an able, strong, charismatic, and beautiful character that lovingly cares for the main character? I feel like the entire Gantz plot could have been driven in a different direction but it's a bit late for that!
Kurono (clone) and Reika make a good pair and they indeed spend a bit of time together in the leading chapters to the final story arc. You would think at this point that the cloned Kurono would have abandoned his feelings for Tae, and yet she resurfaces in a later battle, which then leads to the death of Reika. SO FRUSTRATING!!!!!
That entire chapter could have been driven in a different way. Both Kurono and Reika are experiened Gantz operators and they are capable of battling aliens of any magnitude as shown throughout the series. They could have taken the monsters together, but instead they are split up, made to hate each other, then Reika sacrifices herself to save Kurono. It is an upsetting scene when Kurono wakes up from his nap, and desparately tries to resuscitate Reika.
I'm also not sure why they show a scene of the Tokyo Gants team burying the body of Reika on the alien spaceship? That was strange as they were clearly NOT on planet Earth. I would have thought Kuruno would try to bring Reika's body back to Earth for proper burial? And didn't they know that the transfer process could revive team members? The American Gantz operators knew that and had been using it to revive their fallen members during the final story arc. It's a strange plot device that seems to have changed in the final story arc with our core characters knowing nothing about how Gantz work.
Then the most heart breaking section of the final story arc comes from the "room of truth". Gantz teams from all over the world teleport into a room with an alien statue in the middle. The statue is a projection from another alien species, that have been trying to assist Earthlings in preventing the apocalypse. This basically answers one of the critical questions surrounding the purpose of the Gantz program. The aliens also demonstrate their power through creation of life itself. The aliens also turn out to be jerks, and don't give a crap about man kind. They arbitrary toy with the Tokyo Gantz team by rematerialising their fallen members before them...
...and then destroying them.
Talk about a kick in the face for Kurono (clone) and the readers! Knowing that Gantz was about to end... could the author not come up with a better ending? It would have been a lovely ending to see Kurono and Reika reunited!
Instead we are left with one last farewell and declaration of love, and then a sight quite horrifying to watch... so sad and heart breaking.
The last battle was just weak. The commander of the aliens fight a battle with Kurono (original) in what could be summarised as 'Attack on Titan'. Kurono wins by a small margin and the story ends with Kurono and Kato escaping to Earth. What a bitter disappointment to an incredible series!