The artwork of Gantz is a computer generated 3d background and dialogue (sound effects and speech bubbles) over top of drawn characters. This presents a bit of a uniquely realistic look, although blood splatters, while gorey, aren't all that detailed or messy, until a character is supposed to be looking at a corpse. It's hard to describe - you'd have to read the comic.
Okay, as one example, when a character's head explodes, you don't see any blood. You see a bunch of tangley lines - you are given the idea that there's blood, but it isn't all over the place.
Anyway, enough about the artwork. I prefer to talk about story. Specifically, this is chapter 1.
Chapter 1 - An Incident
Since I'm reading the whole volume (one book), I'll just talk about the additional few pages presented there as well.
So, the back of the volume has a semi-naked girl on it. She's wearing the top half of the leather/vinyl/sci-fi looking powered armor-whatever suits that our heroes are supposed to wear. It's clear that she's a character in the story, but she won't be doing anything except appearing naked for several more issues. So, what the hell.
Chapter 1 is actually quite long (a whopping 43 pages; so buyers might feel cheated when they pay the same price for another issue and get only 10 pages... whatever), but it gets away with it because it has to introduce all the prime elements of the story to us right away. Right?
The title is nice and bloody, and it appears on page 3. Cover, title and table of contents (for the volume) are the only things in color (incorporating reds and pink), everything else is black and white.
Moving on, we get another title page of the first issue - kid looking at the reader all serious, with sub-way background.
The next page is crediting translators, etc. Which is pointless to talk about it, but since I'm reading it on mangareader.net, might as well refer to it anyway.
Okay, so finally we get to the first page of the issue (page 7). Our main character is oggling a bikini model in a magazine spread.
"I'm Kei Kurono, high school, first year." The next panel zooms out, to show him standing in a sub-way terminal.
"Ex-excuse me, may I ask you a question?" Says an old lady, sneaking up on him from behind.
"Can I get to Hinode Station from here?"
, thinks Kei.
I doubt it But it's too much of a pain in the ass to explain. Our hero, everyone!
"Yeah, you can." He says, still oggling his magazine, while standing and holding it up in plain view (apparently).
"I see." Says the old lady, smiling pleasantly, "Thank you very much."
We get the impression time has passed. Kei is still oggling his magazine like a trooper.
"Pardon me again, I don't think (ellipsis!) this is the right place after all." The old lady interrupts again.
So, instead of saying 'I dunno/forgot, sorry', which is the standard cop out for lazy people (I use it all the time), he is much smarter and says, "Look lady. Try to figure it out on your own, yeah? Don't rely on other people so much." Yeah, even if you're ****ing old and are more likely to lecture young people than to get lectured yourself.
So, realistically, the old lady is embarrassed (though it looks like she's crying, I guess???) and says "I'm sorry."
Well, that was pointless. No, wait, it's to unveal more about his character, even though we don't know anything about him! I guess we're not supposed to care about him right now? Even though this issue is being narrated through his perspective... Or... whatever.
Yeah, so I don't appear to be the brightest crayon in the box. But I still look down on other people.
Okay, I get it now. He's a depressed teenager and his jerkiness and judgemental behavior stems from that. And that's about it. Oh, and also he's reading 'young jump', which is the magazine in which Gantz was originally published. Good stuff, good stuff...
Yeah, because waiting for a train is the ultimate time to brood and be depressed and... okay, I got nothing.
Even if that guy over there lives to be old, he probably doesn't think about anything too deep.
And younger people are even worse. Absolute shit for brains, I swear. Because, they're young people, and we all know that young people are useless and have no future. :P
So yeah, he looks at a hobo and thinks And these kinds of guys... ah, who cares...
He then notices a tall guy with a mullet standing next to him and thinks Agh!! It's him! without his face giving any indication to the thought (which is perfectly fine, I don't care).
And then we have a panel of the two of them, without any dialogue, to convey further passage of time.
Masaru Kato. I think. Yep. All 7 feet of him.
He looks the same as he did as a kid.
I heard he turned rough after he transferred in elementary school.
Probably doesn't remember me.
We played a lot... Yeah, he was probably my best friend. And he doesn't remember you? What an asshole! Oh wait, you're just thinking stuff.
Ahh, shit. He's probably just a worthless punk by now.
And then the hobo falls over the train tracks.
Other People: What the?
That guy -
He just wobbled, and fell right off.
Kei thinks Oh shit, that guy's way plastered.
No station attendants are coming...
Stupid station attendants. Never there when you need them.
Nobody's gonna go down there to help him.
Random Person: Any attendants coming?
No? Well, **** it then. I'm not going to miss my train by alerting people past the security staff door that are 100 - No, 50 feet away (most stations are like this).
Not a guy like that.
Yeah, seriously, **** the homeless.
Hobo: *rolls over* Owww...
Hey, if this situation just stays like this...
Then what? We get cookies? (To hell with that, I want cotton candy.)
*smiles for no reason* I'll see a guy get splattered into pieces.
You only see that shit in movies and comics.
Yeah, so what are you waiting for?
Woman: Oh my god, serious?
Man: Hey, mister!!
Kei looks over to Masaru, is startled, and thinks, Hehe, the punk's shakin' in his shoes. Yeah, I guess as long as you can one-up a former friend, it's all good. You aren't gonna be traumatized by witnessing horrible death or anything.
He's afraid of seein' a dead body.
Yeah, he always was kinda of a wuss, back as a kid. Oh christ, is there gonna be a flash back in the first issue?
Just kidding, the panel zooms up to Masaru's face and he says (sweating), "Okay. I'll do it."
... ?! .... huh... ?! (there's actually a lot more ellipsis than this, but notice how I was able to convey the same almost the same amount of dramatic tension? Weird, I know.)
Random Person: Hey!!
Another Random Person: What the hell is he doing?!
Yet Another a Random Person: What are you doing?!
And a fourth: Are you nuts?!
Crowd: Hey. What's he doing? He's gonna die!
Huh? What? Huh? ... ?! What's going on?! I can't see straight! Who's talking??? ... what year is this?
I always imagine it's like an episode of speed racer where Speed says 'Huuuuuuh... ?' in an over-acty voice.
Masaru: Hahh (aggressive, angst-ridde martial arts scream? Or, irritatingly loud breathing. Whatever.)
Crowd: Look out! C'mon, get back up here!
Kei: What a moron... What does he think he's doing... ? Trying to show off?
And what better way to bad ass boast then to risk your life saving a... wait, no, that line was really stupid, so moving on!
Kei thinks that if Masaru is quick about lifting the hobo up and out of there, the train won't come yet, because the alarm hasn't sounded yet. Masaru shouts in hobo's face, but hobo is too drunk or whatever to stand. So (amidst loud breathing; dramatic, I guess?), he calls for help.
Man: What are the attendants doing?!
Other person: Hey, did anybody go call the station people?
No? Okay, **** it. I'm not gonna take the initiative and do it myself. Nevermind if I already asked the question before and didn't get an answer, I guess because I'm stupid, whatever...
Masaru: *having trouble lifting the hobo* Hey, c'mon people! Are you gonna leave me down here to die, too?
I guess... ? Whatever. Maybe. **** it, I won't say anything.
So nobody comes to help, because that'd actually be a smart idea and get things over with.
And then for no reason at all, Masaru looks at Kei. Kei thinks ****. And I think, okay, there's a lot of dialogue-less panels here, probably to indicate a big ol' long dramatic pause. Is something gonna happen soon? The train, anything?
Masaru shouts "Kei chan! Is that Kei chan?!"
Kei doesn't say anything. Just looks incredibly nervous. People are staring though. Yeah, go ahead and be a hero and stuff. Shit, we didn't care previously but now we do or something... ?
I'm finding the character motivations of this crowd really confusing! They'll probably backstab one of the main characters later on. Crowds are evil.
Kei climbs down to the railway tracks, while thinking No, why am I climbing down?
Kei is told to squat down to act as leverage for the hobo.
And the train is announced to be arriving. Hurray! So reliable.
And Kei is still piggy backing the hobo, but Masaru doesn't do anything - so either he's an asshole who lured Kei into a trap, or he's freaking out or something... I dunno.
He tells Kei to stand the **** up, but Kei isn't strong enough. So, instead of doing something smart like helping to lift the fat hobo with his arms, he waits until Kei can finally stand up before he pushes the hobo off and onto the side line, while a third person helps pull the fellow back.
And then, of course, the third guy is going to help pull up Kei, but instead of being smart, when Masaru says to run, Kei decides to be stupid and follow Masaru's dead run to the other end of the tunnel.
Of course, the train is a non stop express line, meaning it doesn't stop at this station. Wah-wah-wah.
Kei and Masaru's heads become hilariously decapitated (I guess that's what happens... I guess?), as the train slams into their spines.
And then they die, all the while Kei thinks Big deal. And basically, What a dumb asshole Masaru is, serves him right to be decapitated. , as his own head soars across the train station.
And after that, the two boys teleport to a new room.
They're confused, but luckily haven't wet their pants.
Meanwhile, back in the train station, everyone is freaking out while the hobo stands up and tells everyone to 'fuk'n shut up'.
A man says, "Those boys just - two teenagers-! Just died!! To save your life!" All the while vomiting up a storm of tears and vomit.
And wasn't it worth it?
Yeah, because we never get to see what happened to that hobo. Ever again. I'll assume he whipped out an electric guitar and played a sweet solo, until the next train arrived with a marching band and cheerleaders to thrice lay him.
"And here are two more." Says a neeeerd with glases.
The next page is left blank, albeit with lots of annoyingly loud breathing (hahs but no hoos), while everyone else in the room stares at the newcomers.
Back at the subway station, a police man (or transit security; whichever), confirms that there's no bodies to be found. Everyone's freaking out right now, but it's clear that they will forget about it later, even though a lot of people saw what happened. So, it was completely pointless, hurray!
Nerd: Were you boys, about to die, too?
Kei narrates: I had absolutely no idea what just happened. But I could tell (ellipsis!) that I'd never ever be going back.
Chapter 1 - Wrap Up
So the ellipsis usage wasn't completely overdone, although it could have been toned down a little.
I kinda agree with Linkara (though I don't remember his words exactly; it could be that he just hated all ellipsis) when I say that ellipsis should only be there to convey tension. It isn't for dramatic reveals. If you have a nervous or socially disabled character, the usage of their words should feel awkward - there needn't be ellipsis to convey awkward pauses all the time.
Dialogue-less pages are fine, but this issue goes crazy with them. Usually, lack of dialogue is used for action or motion/travel panels, dramatic pauses, landscapes and comedy beats, but most of this just has characters standing around doing absolutely nothing. It's an easy way to convey passage of time, but it feels very filler-ish. No good. Just like on TV, characters staring around doing and saying nothing is still boring.
Also, breathing sound effects are weird. All hahs and no hoos? At first, I thought Masaru was a karate kid, ki-upping all over the place for no apparent reason. Of course, that didn't make sense so I had to wrap my brain around the fact that they were sound effects. A simple *gasp* and *wheeze* here and there is fine, but c'mon. No need for 'hah' in the same bubbles as dialogue. Ah well, that's just the way I feel about that.
Other than that, it's a decent intro. The artwork conveys emotion and realism pretty appropriately. The eyes of the characters are also not as big as in other manga, hair is realistic and non-colorful (no more different hair colours to create distinction in otherwise boring characters), and faces are all the more diverse. The setting actually feels like Japan, as characters actually look Japanese.
Everything I've said about the story was already covered in the play-by-play above. So yeah, I'll return to you with my opinion of the next issue in a bit.
Chapter 2 - An Inexplicable Room
So, we begin with our two heroes getting all up in your personal space, and looking super srs, followed by a page of more loud mouth breathing (some huffs are added in there).
And then next page, jesus christ! They're sweating now, and the mouth breathing gets louder as we zoom into their faces. And we flash back to them standing in front of the train then. Everything goes white and then nerd says "So you were about to die, "
"As well, weren't you?"
I'm guessing the author wanted to be conservative with dialogue bubble size and words. At least there's not too much reading... I guess. Except I don't really care that much (it's okay sometimes, just so long as it's only every 10th or 20th page, and not every 2nd or 5th or every page). Anyway.
Masaru: Dunno, but we're safe.
Kei: Like, how?
Religious Guy: I'm the religious guy, so I believe that we're in heaven, okay? Now that that's been established...
Blond Pony-tail girly Dude: I disagree that this is heaven and I think you're just nutty.
Religious Guy: I'm not going to dignify that with a response, because the dialogue bubbles would go beyond established parameters. The reader can assume I'm serene and stuff.
Nerd: That is one hypothesis, but since I'm into SCIENCE...
Religious: Well, I had cancer and was in pain, and now the pain is gone. You're science cannot explain that!
Kei: I'm dead? No way, bro, I'm still breathing and my heart's still beating. So that rules that out.
Masaru: Oh look, the Tokyo tower.
Kei: We're in Tokyo? Also, I do a lot of thinking instead of communicating, so Imp is too lazy to italicize what I say every time.
Kei: Why don't people leave? Wtf is that giant black ball? Oh hi doggie.
Kei: Huh what? What is this... What's he (Masaru) doing? Why are they laughing? Do they possibly know something I don't know?! *touching the sliding screen door* What? Huh? Why am I slipping? Wtf is this I don't even. Ahh! *bangs hand on floor*
Nerd: You can't get out, none of us can. Same with our cell phones, there's no signal.
Masaru: That's just craaazy.
Nerd: Same with the front door. *masaru bangs into it*.
Masaru: Ah, what the hell! That's so silly.
Kei: What about noise?
Nerd: Same thing. Nobody can hear us, no matter how hard we shout.
Kei: What time is it right now? I bet I'm missing Gurunai (Iron Chef). Oh well... more important is trying to come to terms with this situation.
How long will that take, I wonder.
Nerd: Okay, it's now time to awkwardly introduce ourselves! I'm Masashi Yamada. I teach 1st graders. I died on a scooter, somehow. *looks at Kei* Okay, your turn.
Kei: Huh? Why the hell am I starting?
Kei: Kei Kurono. 10th grade. I died. Wait I don't think I actually died.
Yeah, you're a ****ing liar. Tell them the truth right now, because it totally matters and stuff!
Kei: Because of him. Yeah, it's all this jack ass's fault.
Lol! Okay. Okay. That's true. Is Kei going to fully explain or get his revenge or emotionally vent about this? Um... I guess we'll have to see, won't we?
Masaru: ELLIPSIS! Yeah... Right. Sorry Kei chan. I - I was so happy that you were helping me, that...
Kei: Who the **** cares?!
Yeah, who the **** - wait, what?
*sigh* Nevermind comic, continue.
Masashi: Um... your name...
Masaru: Oh... Masaru Kato. Attacked by a train...
Kei: "Attacked by a train?"
Just as he said it. A train developed consciousness and decided to go on a rampage, running over Kei and Masaru. It's a wonder it didn't appear on the news. Or maybe that's just my overactive imagination, but I suppose every other character is thinking the same thing now aren't they? Masaru should really be more specific.
... Oh wait, but didn't Kei just think it didn't matter, because nobody cares?
Is this stream of consciousness writing or not? I don't know anymore.
Kei: Do you even realize what an idiot you were?
I suppose it's required that Masaru point that out too.
Kei: Dammit this is really pissing me off now.
How long does it take you to comprehend an emotional reaction that your having to something when it happens? It could have saved you before. Pfft, whatever...
Aaand then the religious guy goes next, and it wasn't as dramatic a situation as Kei thought it was. So his thoughts are completely pointless and add nothing to the story!
Y'know it might even help if I ignore them from now on, but I don't think that'll be helpful to anyone reading this, so... *sigh*.
Religious Guy: Goro Suzuki... I suppose you don't know me...
Ah, the ellipsis... So unnecessary and yet the writer thought it was.... It's like a parasite in my braaaain...
... It makes my thoughts... go... ............
Kei: Yeah, he's a politician. I think I saw him on a poster, or something.
You're right, I should be moving on.
Girly Dude: No way. I'll pass.
Kei: You better say your own stupid worthless name, you punk! Now we look like dorks!!
I am suddenly angry for no reason!
Girly Dude: Cigarrettes! Does anybody have a grit?
Kei: Look at that girly-ass face.
They don't call him girly dude for no reason, but what's in a name, dare I ask?
Masaru: It's illegal for minors to smoke, smarty pants.
Girly Dude: Shut up. I'm 20. Anybody got a smoke?
Well no one says anything, so... no, **** off, I guess?
Kei: *looking at somebody younger* That kid looks pretty gloomy.
Kid: Ichiro Nishijo, 8th grade... fell to my death...
Kei: What's he staring at? What a weirdo!
Yeah, quit staring at... and stuff... I got nothing. I'm sorry.
Masashi: Okay, next.
Masashi: Pardon me, next please...
EL LIPS IS!!!
Mustache Man: Him an' me. Are Yakuza. The end.
Masashi: Anyone else? That's it then. That was pointlessly awkward, wasn't it?
*tears out hair*
Masaru: Y'know Kei chan, you've changed. You used to be all sly and confrontational and cocky.
Kei: I am being humiliated. But instead of telling him to shut up, I am going to pick up on the budding conversation. You know you've changed a lot too.
Masaru: You were super fast and you'd always evade me when we played tag.
Kei: Shut up already.
Masaru: *smiles* Whenever you got chased, you'd do something crazy like jump off a bridge and on top of a moving truck, because it was the school bully. And then I'd think 'I wanna be juuuuust like you, Kei chan.'
Masaru: Y'know I'm kinda dumb and I go to school with a lot of bad types. So I thought I'd be more like you.
Well, now. Did Masaru become more like Kei? No, in fact they never show any indication of his learning to be fast or on the ball, so this conversation is pointless! Well... to a point anyway. It only really gives more leeway to how singleminded and two dimensional the character is (granted 'realistic' people in real life do think two dimensionally sometimes), but I digress, moving on!
Also, who the hell actually admits they're dumb? Doesn't that automatically make you the opposite, according to today's society?
Kei: Please tell me he didn't turn out this way because of me. That can't be true. Wait, why do I care?
Good question. This conversation is pointless, moving on!
Masashi: It's my theory that we're on TV and we're being hypnotized. Even though that makes no sense. There must be cameras somewhere. Or maybe I'm just intentionally deluding myself. I dunno. Blahblahblah.
Girly Dude: I think I might just take you up on this theory sir, since there's nothing better for me to do as a character right now.
Masaru: Holy shit, look!
Kei: Oh wow, there's a naked fan service girl teleporting in front me, piece by piece.
The girl teleports on top of Kei, and he gets an erection. That's all folks! End of the issue.
Well let's go over what we've learned today.
- Kei's thoughts are pretty redundant.
- The writer seems to be going for stream of consciousness style, but that seems pretty pointless in a manga.
- From Kei's character, I get the impression that he doesn't like making friends for some reason. No background to this is given. I've read up until issue 14 (so far, I think) and I still haven't gotten anything. I don't need flash backs. A simple conversation of why he's the way he is is fine. It doesn't have to be confrontational. This is pretty easy to fit in during non-fighting scenes or breaks between tension.
- Masaru is slightly self righteous, but I get the feeling he needs to feel like a servant of good for other people. I don't know what's driven him to behave this way or anything. Basically, we get to look at the surface of his personality and everything else is assumed. So... there's not much else going for it right now. I have a feeling that Masaru's going to create a lot of bad situations and Kei is gonna get dragged everywhere. But actually, that isn't shown much at all. Conflicts get resolved quickly, because of the Gantz ball just lying around, waiting to give them a new mission everytime.
- And even so, the story isn't fast paced when it really should be. Unless people that read manga are used to this sort of ellipsis riddled thing. The concept is interesting though. Personally though, tension created by intense emotions are lame unless the audience is given leeway to care about the character. Later on, we're supposed to care about cancer-victim/religious/politician guy when we still know hardly anything about him - so either we feel really bad, or we think 'that was pointless!'. As readers, I think we're driven to extreme emotions over this sort of thing. And somehow, I fear for a lot of pointless off-shoot crap that's going to occur later on.
- I'll cover the next few chapters, but first I'm gonna read ahead beyond chapter 14. See if things get faster paced. And then I can give an overall summary of this thing.
Of course, my opinion might change as I read ahead. There's over 300 chapters of this, so obviously the plot is going to go all over the place, shape shift, and divide into several differnet plots until the over arching premise gets mutilated (which may or may not happen actually; because otherwise, there is less point in continuing to use the Gantz universe unless other things have been established such as long-time foes, items, etc. - yeah, I'm looking at this like an RPG setting, but you sorta have to, in order to eventually make sense of things). Unfortunately, like an RPG universe created by a GM intending it to occupy the time of him and his friends for the next decade, it risks appearing very grandiose without going anywhere.
But, we'll see what happens.