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GANTZ:O Has Some of the Coolest Monster Designs I’ve Seen in a While

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While browsing Netflix last night, I stumbled across a CGI film called GANTZ:O. Based on the manga series by Hiroya Oka, the Yasushi Kawamura-directed film follows a group of recently deceased people who are brought back to life in order to compete in “games” where they must kill strange and deadly monsters across Japan. If these people do well enough in one of these games, they have the option to have their memory wiped and return to the land of the living. Basically, think R.I.P.D. meets Gamer with dashes of Pacific Rim.

While it may seem a bit silly in premise, the film is a cornucopia of highly stylized and extremely brutal violence that brings to life (no pun intended) a wide variety of monsters inspired by Japanese folklore (aka Yōkai), including Oni, Tengu, Tsurube otoshi, Wanyudo, and many more. By utilizing exceptional CGI (think of Vendetta, the latest Resident Evil CG film), these legendary creatures roar through the streets of Osaka, causing havoc, mayhem, and wanton destruction. Assigned to face these creatures by a mysterious black orb, the Gantz teams are humanity’s only hope against these creatures, some of whom are far more formidable than others…

While the film has been on Netflix for almost a year, it simply slipped me by until yesterday evening. Intrigued by the concept and hungry for something anime related (if you have suggestions of what I should watch, please leave them in the comments below), I turned it on and was treated to a sci-fi/horror adventure that I believe every genre fan should watch!

I’ll fully admit that the story is quite basic and the character development is sorely lacking. Additionally, the music is immediately forgettable. But those issues are easily put to the side when you see the phenomenal level of CGI artistry at work as well as the scope of imagination being granted to the artists. Japan has always had a rich history of monster folklore and this film opted to utilize those wonderfully traditional denizens as the enemies, creating a fascinating bridge between the futuristic approach of the Gantz teams and these antiquated creatures. Furthermore, the attention to detail in fleshing out these designs make them stunning and beautiful to watch, even as they bring about death with nary a second thought.

To show you how fascinating the monster designs are, I’ve got a gallery of images from the film below. Be warned that some are NSFW (that giant woman is a Cronenberg-ian amalgamation of dozens of contorted naked women, all fused together, writhing against one another), so look at them at your own peril.

It’s movies like GANTZ:O that remind me of my passion for horror and all things associated with it. While I cringed at the forced romance plot, I still had an absolute blast with this film. If you’re craving something that offers literal explosions of blood and gore along with exciting action, all set against a backdrop of apocalyptic horror, GANTZ:O should be next on your queue.

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