GANTZ will make you burn in hell…

A friend – someone who actually introduced me to GANTZ – forwarded a link to me from the Singapore online magazine, The Big O.  Something about “sheeple”…..

Meanwhile, back at the Mangablog, Brigid‘s got all sorts of comments for her entry on GANTZ and adult manga.

I have to say, not just in defense of GANTZ, but in defense of….well, GANTZ, I’m not sure that excessive or pointless sex and violence is enough grounds for a negative review.  I’ve seen books out there that are filled with pointless sex and violence and usually, I focus on that stuff simply because there isn’t usually anything else worthwhile in the book to either balance it out, or make it substantial.

And to me, it just looks like Hiroya Oku works really hard at crafting this story in a precise manner.  He’s created a scenario that feels like it’s going to spiral out of control, but keeps a tight reign on it.  One of the reasons why people will stick with a series is not just because the story is good, or the illustration, but because a certain trust is established between creator and reader.  i.e., I trust that Hiro Mashima is going to keep me laughing with slapstick antics and unpredictable story twists.  I trust that Masashi Kishimoto will always find a way to save the Leaf.  With Oku, I have no idea what’s going to happen next, but I know that I can rely on him to serve up something chilling and depraved – because that’s the kind of series that GANTZ is.  That’s the story he’s committed himself to creating for his readers.  His aim is to get a reaction out of you.  And whether you love it or hate it or want to throw-up after reading it, or collect subsequent volumes in Japanese because you adore it, he’s achieved his objective.

I won’t argue that GANTZ is for everyone – clearly it’s not.  It’s for a very specific demographic (male, hormonal, detail oriented).  But the challenge as a reviewer, is to look beyond the target audience and really look at the book in front of you and see it for what it is.  Oku tells this story in a 15-year-old mind-frame, and stays true to that POV. He is uncompromising.  Anyone who remembers being 15 and isolated or angry or powerless or even all of the above, will probably find something they like in this series.  Or maybe just burn in hell.

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12 Comments »

  1. gynocrat said

    This brings up a curious question: should the reviewer review if they’re not the target audience? Should they feel slighted if they don’t get the book to review–because they’re not the target audience?

    I’ve personally been disappointed in some reviewers who admittedly have no interest in BL, take on a review of a BL title and then deride the title and the genre…because they just don’t get–or care to. It’s not that the reviewer is a jerk, or that they’re a bad reviewer, it’s down to them not being a fan in the first place, and just being unable to review a title as a fan of ‘BL’.

    It’s a Catch-22 for publishers because some pubs specialize in producing niche titles that appeal only to a certain fans [as you state above–male, hormonal, detail oriented] –and so they avoid sending copies to well-read reviewers because they know these reviewers just won’t appreciate them as fans of the material. Next thing you know, the reviewer feels slighted because the pub hasn’t them anything in quite awhile :/ They tend to think pubs won’t send anymore because ‘they gave a bad review to their Seinen bloodfest’ and so they’re avoiding me…but often times it’s down to– ‘hey we’re releasing titles that this reviewer really doesn’t “get”, so let’s not bother.’

    It’s a tough call.

  2. […] Original post by boiled egg […]

  3. I think what makes a good reviews is the ability to remain neutral no matter the genre. I don’t like Yaoi/BL stuff, but when i get them to review i try to keep an open mind. It’s true i may be more critical, but i try and be as fair as possible. Most of the BL stories i’ve read and reviewed have been given good marks, despite me not liking the genre.

    Gantz is different though, i love the seinen genre, but both Gantz and Berserk make me want take a shower after reading them -.- I consider both to be snuff/smut

    Only a few manga have hit me with the disgust those two did. But meh, each to their own 🙂

    If i was sent a review copy of Gantz i’d do a review, and try and put my hate for it aside and read it simply as a fan of manga. Sure it would be a tainted review since i’m only human, but i wouldn’t just say i hate it and leave it there. I’d lay out what was good and what was bad, and the reasons why i didnt like or did like it

  4. John T said

    I am not stalking you, Tiamat, I swear.

    Are reviewers really supposed to be neutral? We are not reporters, right? It’s our opinions that people want to read, (we hope).

    I agree setting aside personal feelings about a genre. I don’t like BL, but gave A.N.A.L. a good review, thought I cringed in places that a fan of BL probably wouldn’t.

    However, more than neutrality, honesty is what people want. Tiamat, you have made your feelings about Gantz quite clear the last couple days, and if those feelings didn’t come through in your review, I might be suspicious. Are there things you think are good about Gantz?

    Rarely will I lambaste a title completely unless it is completely awful. I will always try to find the silver lining and direct even a less than wonderful title to the group of people that WILL like it (as surely there are those that will).

  5. From what i remember, been a while since i read it. The only thing i really liked was the art. I felt the art (the style, not the depictions) was good.

    That said, what i read were scanaltions, and as has been said scanlations come in all forms, some are better than the licensed copies, and some are just plain awful.

    I had an email today listing what i’ll be getting for review, and oddly Gantz vol 1 is on it. Will i be able to keep my neutrality, hell no. My hate for Gantz is to strong. Will i read the volume and write what i truely feel about it? Of course, its why i do reviews. I recently lamblasted a Yen Press title and i’m a huge yen press fan boy.

    I won’t change what i feel, or how i write it to suit publishers, or because it’s what i think people may want to read. I write my reviews from my perspective. I try and keep an open mind for titles and genre i would usually avoid, but ultimatly i wont lie in my review.

    When i do my Gantz one you won’t find me writing about how it’s the best things since sliced bread, chances are i’ll be saying string it up and burn it at the stake. The thing is i won’t know untill i’ve read it.

    At the moment it’s on my Junk Pile, as in a title i avoid. However certain things can change my perception. The translation for example. Since what i read were scanlations if they’re totaly off and the official one reads better, it’ll have a huge impact on what i feel towards the story. The quality of the release against the cost is another thing i look at, as well as the actual story.

    Can i see it ever rising beyond my ‘filler list’, as in titles that may be worth buying if you have nothing else to buy and really want something, then i’d say a doubt it.

    When i read the official versions of beserk i felt the same, in fact that never left the junk pile and got blasted so bad i actually got an email from the publisher asking if i genuinely felt that bad about it hehe.

    Ultimatly, i agree with you John, the important thing is to be honest. However i also think that just saying something is bad is wrong, i think we need to explain why it’s bad, and why it’s bad for me. Different people have different views. I know people who think both Gantz and Berserk are the greatest manga ever.

    I can count the titles i’ve hated with a vengence on one had, a series has to be really bad for me to hate it. I mean i’m fairly open minded and will read anything 🙂

  6. So here’s the kicker: even those who love GANTZ want to take a shower after reading it.

    It’s tough stuff.

  7. gynocrat said

    @ John T hopefully you’ll read my comment, since you don’t allow my comments at your blog. 🙂

    Are reviewers really supposed to be neutral? We are not reporters, right? It’s our opinions that people want to read

    Reporters are about as neutral these days as their bosses want them to be. One need only look at the latest Time piece on Prozac and the military. The military has been treating troops with depression meds since Korea, only now it’s fashionable to criticize this practice in media, because of the current moral climate on psych meds and the current dislike of the war. The cover alone sets the tone for the reporter’s obvious take on the situation…it’s anything but neutral.

    I’ve seen manga reviewers do this – and I wont name names because some of these reviewers with blogs tend to get butthurt and go on posting campaigns to express hwo they don’t care what I think 🙂 but some reviewers are downright insulting, and it comes out of nowhere. One minute I follow their blogs because they give in dept and sensible reviews, and the next their confronted with BL and just let their brains fly out the window and post the silliest judgmental nonsense. Imagine being a fan of manga who happens to read BL, and then have to encounter that? Damn, one went so far as to offer their free GloBL review copy to anyone interested, and then busted on the name of one of the characters. They acted like it would’ve been such a chore to review it; they were insulted to even have it in their hand. Needless to say, as someone who creates GloBL, it made me feel about 2 inches tall–even though the title wasn’t even mine. 😦

    @Tiamat
    I don’t like Yaoi/BL stuff, but when i get them to review i try to keep an open mind.

    🙂 Then just say to the pub, I don’t like BL manga. You may not realize it, [and I know a few other reviewers don’t realize it] that if you don’t really like BL–we fans do pick up on it and it annoys us. You’re admittedly more critical because you’re reviewing outside the spectrum of being a fan, and yet why review it–if not to tell other BL fans what you think of it. BL is weird thing, and BL fandom is even weirder; we tend not to want to know what ‘outsiders’ think [outsiders being, NON-BL fans]. I don’t find other genres so exclusionary, but sadly– BL is. For example—let’s say a feminist blogger gets her hands MPD Psycho and notices that while there are male and female victims—only the female victim’s deaths and or crime scenes are depicted in detail. Now as a fan MPD Psycho I’d be quick to defend it—but let’s say this reviewer isn’t really a fan of seinen horror [all of her reviews tend to gravitate toward BL or Ladys comics], as a fan—wouldn’t you want to jump in and explain things? As a fan, wouldn’t you want to know why she even bothered to read it? 🙂 I just think reviewers should stick to reviewing the genres they enjoy [notice I didn’t say titles]; that way they can be of service to fans that enjoy the same ‘sort of manga’ they do.

    My take on GANTZ? I’m going to give it a shot as a Seinen fan 🙂 While there’s been some things that make me fall out of love with some series [I loved Crying Freeman until I encountered the Billionaire American nympho and Bugnug–then I retched and stopped reading] I still gave the series a shot and decided for myself. 🙂

    Thanks for post Kai.
    Tina

  8. Tina, i disagree. Just because i don’t like a genre dosen’t mean i shouldn’t review it. In fact i think having more people who dislike a genre review for it can give a better image of the genre.

    Now if a review hates a genre totaly, that’s a different matter. Dilike and ahte a two different things.

    I dislike Yaoi/BL, yet if you check my site the few titles i have reviewed none have ever been slmaned, infact one of them made my essential read list.

    Likewise with Josei, i disliked josei. I’d read to many from that genre that turned my stomach. Then i got my hands on with the light vol 1, and was sent vol2 for review, and later Bride of the Water God to review. Both are Josei and both are on my essential read list.

    Just because i dislike a genre dosent mean i’m going to hate every single title in it, just as loving the genre dosen’t mean i’ll love every title in it (hell, just look at what i feel about Gantz and Berserk, and i love seine).

    Turning some who dislikes a genre into someone who likes that genre, is the ultimate achievement for a mangaka i think. After all you now the saying, no one is more faithful of fanatical than a convert 🙂

    Also, i don’t write reviews specifically for any one genre, i don’t write only for BL fans, Shonene fans or Josei fans. I write reviews for anyone who waqnts to read them, despite their likes or dislikes.

    I enjoy it when a fan of a title i have blasted comes along to defend it, not violently, but in a discussion. Several titles i’ve not liked i’ve changed my opinion of like this.

    Sticking only to the genre’s i love IMO narrows my love as manga as a whole, i want to read as much as i can, despite it’s genre or demographic.

  9. @Tina

    You make it sound like I have blocked your comments on my site. Not the case. There was a day or two I was bombarded by spammers, and I closed the comments several months back, but any and all are free to post comments on Mecha Mecha Media…I encourage it.

    Whether or not reporters are actually neutral or not isn’t the point (of course they aren’t. They are human). The question is, do readers of our reviews want neutrality or an opinion.

    I can’t stand the movie reviews by most of the “big name” reviewers like Joel Siegel. I saw his review of The Dark Knight this morning. He basically described what was happening in the trailer, but I had no idea what he thought of the movie.

    I have reviewers I trust and those I don’t, and their opinions help form how I spend my entertainment dollar.

    I agree with you that insulting reviews don’t help anything. In an industry such as this that isn’t on a concrete foundation in the same way movies are, I feel the need to be supportive, but also try to steer people in the direction they want to go.

    I always tell publishers that solicit me for reviews or for translation work what I like and what I don’t. I am not a BL fan, nor a shoujo or romance fan. I tend to like the more manly and mature stuff, but at the same time have been pleasantly surprised by more than a few shoujo and youth-oriented adventure titles I would have never read on my own, so I make an effort to bring attention to those types of titles, as well. Light-yaoi (as I see it) like Loveless was pretty painful for me as a reader, but what is gained by me slamming it to the ground? I know many people love that series, and the fact of the matter is, I am not the target audience, or more accurately, it is not targeted at me. It’s no wonder I didn’t like it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a title without merits, and in the review I did of the first couple volumes I identified the target audience and steered them toward it.

    @Tiamat

    I would never expect you to change your opinion to suit a publisher. That’s nothing short of payola. If you were to say “Gantz is the best thing since sliced bread” I would know you were lying, as you have made that very clear in recent days.

    I know you’ll give the release a fair shake, and I look forward to seeing what you say, even if it is “burn it at the stake”, just so we know we are talking about the same book, and not a scanlation you read a long time ago vs the official English release I read recently.

  10. gynocrat said

    You make it sound like I have blocked your comments on my site. Not the case.

    My apologies then. ^_^

    Whether or not reporters are actually neutral or not isn’t the point

    I thought it was, since you brought it up. 🙂

    The question is, do readers of our reviews want neutrality or an opinion. I honestly think that fellow fans want ‘opinions’. I tend to feel that ‘reviews’ constructed by those reviewing manga as journalists [reviewing any genre sent to them if they like it or not] are doing it for the sake of the medium [presenting manga to the uncorrupted ^_-] and not on a fan-to-fan level. Sure, well written reviews by fellow fans are always more trustworthy.

    That’s my opinion though, yours may be different. 🙂

  11. […] on Kai-Ming Cha’s blog there was a discussion about Gantz, which sort of changed to what we as blogger’s should read […]

  12. The question was, as I saw it, should reviewers be neutral or opinionated. I compared the term “neutral” with that of equalling a news source or reporter. You proceeded to describe how reporters aren’t neutral…which is fine…and I agree…but not what I was talking about, and I don’t want to argue or disrespect as that was far from my intention.

    I would never block yours or anyone’s comments, and welcome the exchange on the variety of fields we have found.

    I don’t think our opinion is really different. My card says “columnist” not “journalist”. I do write news stories for the small media outlet I contract for, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a “journalist” unless I could do that work fulltime.

    What the readers of my column want is a little advice, criticism and direction. I present news, reviews and opinion not necessarily in that order.

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