GANTZ – Perfect Answer (Cert 15)
1 Disc (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 139 minutes approx.
This sequel picks up the story five months after the end of the first film, with Kei Kurono (Kazunari Ninomiya) now the senior fighter in the alien smiting missions controlled by Gantz, the mysterious figure of the afterlife who resides inside a huge black sphere.
Kurono is aiming to reach the all important one hundred points to resurrect his deceased friend and partner in combat Masaru Kato (Ken’ichi Matsuyama), something he is keeping from Kato’s younger brother Ayumu (Kensuke Chisaka) and college cutie Tae Kojima (Yuriko Yoshitaka) who is in love with Kurono.
Without warning Kato suddenly returns but is somehow different: distant, cold and taciturn but Kurono and Ayumu are glad to see him back. However, on his next mission, Kurono sees that Kato is still on the deceased list and has not been resurrected by Gantz.
After the brief recap of the events of the first film GANTZ – Perfect Answer chooses to meander along at a gentle pace to pick up the emotional slack of the previous outing. Whereas its predecessor was ostensibly a two hour alien blitzing session, it is almost forty five minutes before we get any whiff of an action scene (although what a scene it is).
Instead the personal strain of Kurono’s double life are explored as is the apparently one sided relationship with his admirer Tae, who is patient yet oblivious as to why Kurono suddenly disappears at night. All is soon to be revealed though on a packed underground train when Tae just happens to be a passenger as Kurono and a group of his fellow fighters are embroiled in a violent and high octane fight to the death with a vengeful group of shape shifting aliens known as the “Man In Black” or Kurofuku (no relation to Will Smith – or indeed yours truly – aside from the black suits).
Hiroya Oku’s manga is still ongoing so it was up to writer Yusuke Watanabe to create his own conclusion to this two part film adaptation – never an easy task – thus we have a unique but deviating take on the GANTZ mythos, bringing with it a slew of new characters and new directions for the existing ones to travel.
Among the new faces is model Eriko Ayukawa (Ayumi Ito), whose trance controlled killing spree has also been noticed by police investigator Masamitsu Shigeta (Takayuki Yamada) – another non-canon character – who is in search of the urban legend of the mysterious room with the big black ball. Shigeta’s snooping leads him to a shady underground club where the morbid looking Kurofuku and their chilling leader (Gou Ayano) are hell bent on extracting revenge against Gantz and his semi-deceased soldiers for the deaths of their brethren.
Ironically “Perfect Answer” is a somewhat misleading title as this is the one thing we don’t actually get from the film. Sure, we have a twisting but decisive conclusion but there are still a few unresolved issues, plot holes and inconsistencies which preclude this from being close to “perfect”. For example it is never fully explained why Gantz chose the last target for Kurono and gang to eliminate. We have room to speculate and even Kurono himself proffers a theory but it seems just a tad flimsy.
One of the returning faces, Yoshikazu Suzuki (Tomorowo Taguchi) reveals his motivation for fighting yet his earlier actions when he finally reaches the one hundred point target completely contradict this. One would also think that the huge personality change in the newly returned Kato would be noticeable to his nearest and dearest but somehow isn’t, or that popular model Ayukawa can go around town killing people while walking past huge billboards with her half naked image on them or on a crowded train with her visage plastered everywhere and yet no-one bats an eyelid.
The supporting cast from the first film whose presence was so imperceptible they were almost part of the scenery actually get screen time and dialogue to boot! They share their motivations for fighting with us but without the necessary development, the emotional connection with the viewer is simply not established. One thing you won’t get from this film is any Oscar worthy performances but the key players at least throw themselves into their roles.
Kazunari Ninomiya still seems like a one trick pony while Ken’ichi Matsuyama has a lot to do here (saying no more for spoiler reasons). Everyone else makes the most of their time on screen although the Kurofuku do feel a little caricaturish but this is permissible as they are supposed to be soulless aliens. Anyone lamenting the absence of the buxom charms of the first film’s female lead Natsuna are rewarded as pulchritude is on hand from the stunning Ayumi Ito and the cute Yuriko Yoshitaka, the latter of whom gets all the big emotional scenes in the film.
Being a sci-fi based opus the requisite special effects are top notch and one of the strengths of this project, easily rivalling anything from Hollywood. While the number of fight scenes are reduced for this outing they become more spectacular and focused, with the tightly choreographed gang fight on the crowded train being an obvious highlight. Indeed it is worth checking out the “Making Of” and “Fight Choreography” featurettes on the DVD/Blu Ray extras for more on this.
It’s easy to nitpick about the weaker aspects of GANTZ – Perfect Answer but in all honesty, there are not as detrimental to the enjoyment of this film as one may think, since suspension of disbelief is always the key to such a yarn. It is arguable that the focus between the action and the human drama makes for a more rounded film than its predecessor as ham fisted as the results are. Fans of the first film will need to seek this sequel out but if you’ve been reading the manga, be warned this deviates wildly from that.
All in all, a solid and explosive sci-fi viewing experience.
Making Of GANTZ: Perfect Answer
Rating – ****
Man In Black