Gantz Manga Ending: Why?
WARNING: THIS IS ALL SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING OF GANTZ
My intention of writing this is for people who have finished reading it and want more insight into the ending and its flaws.
Gantz is a manga that has been running since 2000 and has just now recently ended. This series was not afraid to push boundaries and had loads of gore, sex, and philosophy. This series really got to the core of what mankind can be like, be it for the good of others or more likely the selfishness that is our desire to live and what means we will use to obtain this.
This series really made you think and it questioned religion, mortality, and even what the human soul is. And despite these heavy themes, it still kept a well-paced story, action at every turn, and a plethora of characters that you began to really root for.
Gantz also was not afraid to kill people off, even when you would never imagine that character dying. Heck, even the main character is killed off at one point technically. Every time it would build up a new group of people that made a great cohesive team it would slaughter them time after time.
As the story progressed over the years, the plot lines became more and more complicated to the point where the story stopped making sense in places. A great example was having vampires show up, meddle in their affairs but then disappear almost completely afterwards and were never really mentioned again. Although these plot holes existed, it did not detract that much from the quality of the overall story. Until the final story arc...
Final Story Arc: What worked.
Now this is where Gantz started to lose quality but not everything was the train wreck a lot of people seem to think it is. Suddenly the dynamic of being sent out on missions through Gantz stops and the world is invaded by aliens. The creation of the Gantz suits was for this very day, to give mankind a chance against this enemy with advanced technology. Although this completely changed the flow of the story, I feel that it had to change eventually to reach a real conclusion. And a huge alien invasion to end the series, in theory, works.
Another aspect of the finale that worked very well was the brutality of the aliens inside the space ship. Although all military units were sent down to Earth to conqueror, the inside of the space ship was an entire city of aliens just living their lives. As we go through the story with Kurono taking an alien woman hostage to get around, we find that these aliens are exactly like us and have the same sort of mentality. They too have their own lives and problems and are too absorbed with their own self-preservation to care about what they considered lower lifeforms. To them, humans were just another food source, as cattle are to us. If the roles were reversed, there is a good chance that we would of done the exact same thing. And this fits well with the entire theme of the manga.
Finally, Kurono's quest to save Tae-chan was the climax of Kurono's character growth. Kurono started Gantz as a total pessimist and would never risk his neck for someone else. As time went on, he became his old self which his friend Kato had always looked up to. He became the man that would save everyone and defy the odds and always succeed. At first, it seemed that was how he would be till the end but then the invasion happened. He lost Tae-chan and was suddenly bombarded with people all around him pleading for his help. This quickly cracked him and everything became clear to him. He can't save everyone, in fact, he doesn't even want to save everyone, to him, there was only Tae-chan. He dropped the hero facade and was finally aiming for what he wanted, the woman he loved.
On the outside, this sounds like a terrible character trait, but it is also way more realistic. Kurono constantly lost companions throughout the series, some of which were love interests. He always let these people slip through his hands and would even convince himself that it was entirely his fault (like early on when Kato and the rest of the team dies at that Buddhist temple). But now he refused to let this happen, no longer would he carry the entire burden, he was aiming to save the woman he loved and right before the final fight when he says he cares nothing for the world and only wishes to come back for Tae-chan does this come to fruition.
Final Story Arc: What didn't work
When the invasion began, it made sense for the series to turn in that direction but I feel the execution was way off. First off, all the aliens they had fought up until the finale suddenly all became pointless. They were all just immigrants trying to make a home on Earth and had no connection to the final invasion. It was just a single race of aliens that had set their sights on Earth for its resources instead of a hodgepodge of races which the Gantz team had faced up until that point.This is just one of many major plots holes that this finale created which ruined the continuity of the rest of the series.
Another misstep was when the humans find "The Room of Truth". Essentially, this is a collection of seemingly endless knowledge that they could ask question after question and learn about pretty much anything. Of course this is where religion comes into play and they are pretty much told there is no god, only data. And that what we think of as the human soul is nothing but data floating in the air. Now the ideas that are presented here are not what I have issue with, it was how it was presented. Just suddenly they find this place and are given all the answers they ever wanted. It just seemed like incredibly lazy writing and that the author had written himself into a corner.
Which leads to one of the major complaints I've seen about the finale of this series, the pacing. This ending was obviously rushed, the last few chapters are proof of that. Not only does this series end with no afterword or "where are they now" chapters, it leaves so many questions unanswered. The final battle itself felt almost entirely pointless, was filled to the brim with pointless, practically reused panels, and then when it is over, they escape the ship, get back to earth, get the girls, and it is suddenly over.
This is practically a slap in the face the fans of the series. Besides the rushed nature of it, it gives barely any resolution to Kurono and Kato and gives none at all to the other major supporting characters. It also goes against the entire message of the rest of the manga. Gantz always had a sense of hopelessness, it was filled with tragedy, it made you think and reflect on humanity but this ending is all lollipops and rainbows.
You may be thinking, but what about all the people who did die, and yes, a lot of characters did. But with the revelation of how Gantz works, anyone related to Gantz at all could be resurrected by just making another copy of them and "downloading" their soul into them. To the person who died, it would be as if nothing ever happened.
This ending was pure disappointment. It does not do the series justice and what was otherwise an almost perfect manga will now be forever marred by this atrocious ending. Overall I'd still give this series a 9/10 but sadly only misses that 10 mark for the way it ended. It won't be with other series I've rated as 10's like GTO, Hane Kimi, School Rumble, Battle Royale, and Princess Resurrection. (I've read a lot of manga, I don't give 10's 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 that these are all valid points. I'd like to hear others thoughts on this ending and if you can poke holes in anything I have brought up.
I just hope that the author, Hiroya Oku, releases some sort of bonus chapters in the coming months to get a better resolution on this 13 year ride that was Gantz.