Whereas Gantz is primarily a sci-fi manga thriller, it dedicates a good portion of the narrative to focusing on the romantic lives of the characters. Protagonist Kei Kurono may be the primary recipient of these idealistic storylines, but he’s certainly not the only character whose much of the arc revolves around love interests and romance. The very purpose of some characters in the manga is to be an offering of love, even if the admission of their feelings seems quick, immature, and lacking in substance. For a manga about the invasion of an Earth-destroying alien race, the phrase “I love you” for new acquaintances becomes a common saying.
The mangaka, Hiroya Oku, seems to have a fascination with human connection, especially when it comes to men and women who find themselves attractive. Even during the apocalypse, characters have time to steal sensual glances, contemplate their future homes and children with the center of their desire, or decide that life isn’t worth living without a character. somewhat unreliable who has just entered their lives. The question comes from understanding people and how they feel in times of crisis or impending death, and whether living with the knowledge that they could be killed at any moment emboldens a sudden belief in true love.
The immature realism of male perception
The first romantic entanglement comes in the form of a triangle involving Kei Kurono, Masaru Kato, and Kei Kishimoto. Which makes this romantic scenario one of the strongest depictions of love in Gantz is Kei Kurono’s immaturity when focusing on her. It is clear that he is not in love with Kishimoto but has a sexual attraction to her. Due to his undeveloped idea of love, Kei and Kishimoto’s interactions are almost all surface level, where the emotional moments are left to Kato and Kishimoto.
Kato seems to bond emotionally with female characters with much more realism than Kei does in later chapters. Kato never openly expresses true love or admiration for a female character during the hunts, and shyly asks Kishimoto’s clone on a date where they bump into each other at the train station. His the idea of romance is much more grounded, stable and realistic compared to some of the ridiculous announcements that follow later in the series. For the most part, Oku shows the male characters’ perception of love as stable or immature yet believable, but he seems to struggle with the opposite sex.
The mismanaged emotion of female love interests
One of the most brutally butchered characters in manga when it comes to romance is Reika Shimohira. Although it becomes quite obvious in the early chapters of her introduction that she has an interest in Kei Kurono, it quickly turns into an obsession. Say Reika only loves Kei scratches the surface of his infatuation. Reika creates a clone of Kei so she can have one all to herself, and she quits both her job and school just to spend more time with the clone she created. Many of his early panels are devoted to staring longingly at Kei from the sidelines. For a character with such potential who still works well in the narrative, much of his storyline is used as an obsessive love interest for the protagonist.
A one-off is not beyond the realm of possibility. The world is full of different types of people who approach the concept of love in different ways. However, this trend continues with Tae Kojima. His behavior is more forgivable because of the mutual relationship she shares with Kei Kurono, but his obsessive artistic interest makes him the driving force behind his character, with little else given to further his development. Her personality is more believable than Reika’s, but it’s a shame her arc is little more than the protagonist’s love interest. It’s also deeply unfortunate that the female characters have no real urgency beyond a desperate cry of “Kei!”
The constant use of “I love you”
The term “I love you” is the one that should carry weight. In Gantz, the female characters in particular seem to use this expression too much towards those they have only known for a short time. Before Anzu Yamasaki is killed during the Nurarihyon alien mission, she announces her love for Kato, having only known him for an hour. During the Buddhist Temple alien mission, Sei Sakuraoka decides that she loves Kei and sacrifices her life for him, only knowing him for an hour as well. There are other moments in the manga where female characters latch onto a male character, their eyes telling a thousand-word story.
This depiction of women’s interest in male characters is unbalanced and questionable. With Reika being the worst, but others stoking the fire of obsessive love, it sometimes feels like Oku had a more fantastical view of female attention than reality. It could be argued that due to the circumstances the characters find themselves in, on the brink of death at every turn, their emotions are heightened and feelings of connection heightened. That may be the case, but it’s nonetheless very noticeable that it affects female characters far more than any of their male counterparts.