Monday, July 19, 2010

Gantz Vol. 1

by Hiroya Oku

I don't know why, but I find I'm more likely to sample a manga series if it's published by Dark Horse.  Perhaps its because I've come to trust these publishers in other areas and genres of comics, or it could be because I like the design aesthetic they apply to their book, but I find that I'm way more willing to try something like this out if it has the Dark Horse name on the cover.

Anyway, this is a pretty good book.  It opens with Kei, a high school student, waiting for the subway, when a homeless man falls onto the tracks.  Masaru, an old friend that Kei hasn't seen in years, is the only person to climb down and try to help him.  He guilts Kei into joining him, but they are unable to get back on the platforms before the train comes, killing them gruesomely.

That's just the beginning of the story, because the two soon find themselves in an apartment full of a broad collection of people.  In the centre of the apartment is a large black orb.  Everyone believes that they are dead, but don't really know if this is supposed to be the afterlife.  After some talking, and the arrival of a beautiful naked girl (you have to love Japan - where else would you get a thought bubble that says: "That's the grossest thing I've ever seen.  And yet I feel so horny right now!"), the orb opens up, providing the folks with strange futuristic weapons, and a mission - to track down and kill an 'Onion Alien'.  Yah, I didn't really understand that part either, but then neither do our protagonists.

It's an interesting set up, and the book ends in such a way that it wants me to read more.  The characters are showing signs of development - I like the way that Kei and Masaru have conflicting memories of each other.

The art is decent, and I like the use of computer-modeled backgrounds here much more than I do when say Ariel Olivetti does it.  Mostly because they blend in nicely here.  I think I need to add this title to my watch list, and read the rest.

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