Gantz is an ongoing manga comic book, created by artist Hiroya Oku, which has appeared in the pages of Weekly Young Jump magazine since July 2000. The book's popularity has seen the series get adapted into an excellent twenty-six-episode anime as well as two live action movies. Translated into English by publisher Dark Horse Comics, volume three which I am reviewing today contains chapters twenty three to thirty four of the continuing tale of a mysterious black sphere known as Gantz, that resurrects recently deceased humans and forces them to terminate/capture various aliens dwelling on Earth.
After two action packed editions, chronicling the battle between the revived humans and onion aliens, this volume slows things down by focusing on the three main characters return to their regular daily lives. Kei for example sees himself back in school after the eventful night that saw him get run over by a train and fight against a muscular clawed extraterrestrial. Unfortunately for Gantz's protagonist violence has a knack for finding him, even within the confines of an educational institution. Kei comes to the attention of a group of bullies who try to extort money from the unlucky high schooler. Unable to cough up the dough, Kei is forced to confront the group's leader who is infamous for ripping out the teeth of his enemies. The ordeal proves to Kei that humans can be just as scary as the monsters Gantz has previously pitted him against.
Trouble with bullies isn't a problem exclusive to Kei as shown in the following chapters focusing on Kei's childhood pal Kato. Here we get a glimpse of his hard life were he attends a rough school. Kato, the gentle giant, is seen as a hero by the nerds he befriends as he protects them from the torments of the delinquents that study there. Frustrated by Kato's geek body-guarding the bullies plot to ambush him after class. What's interesting about the story is that it shows, when push comes to shove, that Kato isn't the pacifist he appeared to be in the first book. This is evidenced by the manner in which he preemptively attacks the group's ringleader, in a toilet cubicle, after learning of their plan.
Perhaps the most engaging storyline in volume three revolves around Kishimoto, who we learned at the end of book two is a clone Gantz mistakenly created. Gantz normally resurrects deceased humans, but the original Kishimoto survived her suicide attempt meaning that there are now two of them wandering the Earth. The doppelganger we have been following obviously cannot return to her home and is therefore forced to wander the streets before eventually settling in with Kei (who like most manga teens lives home alone... I guess Japan is full of negligent parents.) Kei who is infatuated with the busty lass tries his best to hook up with Kishimoto during their cohabitation, but his awkward romantic advances get spurned when she reveals that she has the hots for Kato! Those upcoming alien hunts are sure to get even more interesting now that a love triangle has been thrown into the mix.
I have to say that I enjoyed this book more that the preceding two volumes as it gave us some badly needed character development that was sorely lacking in the opening twenty-two chapters. Readers who enjoy Gantz for the gory action may be disappointed by this installment, but they shouldn't have to wait too long for things to pick up as the book ends with Kei and chums getting summoned by Gantz for another alien hunt. Although volume three may be lacking in action it certainly hasn't done away with the needless nudity that plagued the first two books. Gantz's artist clearly has a thing for well-endowed ladies as that majority of the chapter covers have Kishimoto posing in her birthday suit. This wouldn't be too bad, but there's something off in the way in which Oku draws her face in certain pictures. Evidently when drawing the female form he places more attention on the features below the neck!