The second and final part of this live action franchise is just as well-produced and satisfying as the first part (see review here). Its plot, however, is rather more complex. Instead of the weirder aliens, our game contestants are now fighting a tougher enemy, namely the human-disguised versions known as the men in black, and the relationships between the various characters thicken, making the stakes higher still. A police detective is following the trail of the various people and aliens involved, and starts to piece together small portions of the truth.
Kojima, a girl from Kei’s college class, falls in love with him and, mysteriously, she becomes one of the Gantz game’s targets, with Kei and his co-combatants being asked to kill her – she’s worth a hundred points! The contestants then split up into two factions; one that protects Kojima and one that wants to kill her.
The mystery of Gantz – the black sphere that control the contestants’ lives – is slowly and partially unravelled in the course of this movie, and strange things happen in the process. A fashion model is being influenced by a smaller black orb to kill four key people, so they can become part of the game. The three first turn out to be old game veterans who achieved and took the option to have their memories wiped and be returned to their former lives. Exactly what is going on, and why, and controlled by whom, is not entirely clear. Apparently, the human battery in the Gantz sphere is running low and is starting to prepare for a battery replacement… The contestants are dependent on Gantz; if the human battery runs out, they will all disintegrate. Also, an alien imposter version of the dead Kato appears, and his project seems to be to hack Gantz so he can enter the game and do something to the black sphere. Revenge is mentioned more than once. Meanwhile, naturally, the real Kato is resurrected and the two Katos do battle. By the end, after much blood-shed, Kei reaches a self-sacrificial decision.
A “perfect answer” it is not, however. The message of the story seems to be that people (such as soldiers) should not kill other people for impersonal causes beyond their understanding; as long as people continue to do this, there will be death, conflict, strife and endless cycles of revenge in the world. So at some point somebody must decide not to kill anymore. The thing is, although we have a happy ending in this movie, it is not clear that the right choice was made. It is also not clear what the Kato imposter wanted, or what the consequence of his actions were. Maybe it is more clear in the manga or the anime series, which I fully intend to seek out, because this stuff is highly intriguing and it tickles the intellect. I want answers!
The overall production values are great, and there is almost constant action and explosive violence, with the palpable feeling of the characters being caught in a desperate and nerve-wracking situation. These movies are hands-down the best Japanese live action sci-fi I have ever seen (even if a great deal of sex scenes have apparently been cut out in comparison with both the manga and the anime!). I’m rating them both an 8 out of 10, but if it turns out on further analysis that there are sensible answers to the remaining questions, they’re all set for a 9.
Director: Shinsuke Sato
Cast: Kazunari Ninomiya, Kin’ichi Matsuyama, Natsuna, Kensuke Chisaka, Tomorowo Taguchi, Yuriko Yoshitaka and others
Runtime: 141 min.