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Written by Danj
atarashii asa ga kita a new morning has come
kibou no asa ga a morning of hope
yorokobi ni mune wo hirake my heart expands with joy
oozora aoge looking up to the skies
rajio no koe ni listening to the voice of the radio
sukoyakana mune wo a healthy heart
kono kaoru kaze ni hirake yo opens up in the fragrant wind
sore ichi ni san here we go, 1, 2, 3

Quite a pleasant song, isn't it? It's a song which is played on NHK Radio 1 every morning at 6:30am in Japan as part of their radio calisthenics programme. So it's not really the kind of thing you would expect to find in an anime like GANTZ, which is filled with graphic violence and no small amount of nudity and sex.

An ordinary highschool student (Kei Kurono) is on his way home. He's standing on the subway platform, leafing through a porno mag he just bought from the shop next door to the station, and waiting for his train, when he notices a guy who was his childhood friend (Masaru Kato). Just then, a drunken bum stumbles across the platform and falls onto the track.

The people on the platform wonder why there are no station attendants around to help him up, but mostly decide to ignore him - even if it means he'll get killed by a train. The one exception is Kato, who after a few moments of indecision jumps down onto the tracks and runs towards the fallen man with the intention of lifting him onto the platform. Unfortunately, he isn't able to pick the man up all on his own, so he looks around the platform and suddenly recognises Kei, who he asks for help.

Against his better judgement, Kei jumps down and helps Kato lift the man onto the platform, but then the PA system announces that a train will be arriving shortly. Kei and Kato start running along the tracks hoping to find an opening to duck into or hoping that they can get past the point where the train will stop before it arrives, but someone on the platform shouts that it's an express train and it won't be stopping here. The two students make a valiant effort to outrun the speeding train, but are eventually graphically decapitated...

... And then fall panting to the wooden floor in a strange apartment room with a view of Tokyo Tower. There are other people already in the room, but the most unusual feature is a large black ball at one end.

Thus begins the story of GANTZ, an anime in which people who are about to die are copied and then sent on missions with futuristic equipment to locate and kill various aliens. The artwork in the show is interesting because although it is clearly CG the characters look like regular anime characters - the CG is necessary because of various special effects including the transportation method used by GANTZ, which consists of a TRON-style laser beam constructing a person from the ground up.

GANTZ is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but it's not a one-dimensional violence-fest - the characters all have distinct personalities and moral dilemmas (or lack of same) and relationships are entered into and sometimes broken off.

GANTZ is available on DVD in the United States from ADV Films, and in the United Kingdom from MVM Films. The song lyrics were transcribed and translated from Radio Taisou no Uta (PDF) and the song itself can be found in MIDI format here.

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