Japanese Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Gantz’ Hoping to Capture American Fans with Theatrical Release

Could Hiroya Oku’s dark futuristic thriller “Gantz” become the next great American sci-fi franchise?

Viz Pictures, NCM Fathom and a string of film distributors, both domestic and international, are betting that a pair of upcoming “Gantz” live-action releases will usher western audiences into the deadly, future-tech survival game that Oku’s hit manga and anime is centered on.

For those unfamiliar, I’d describe “Gantz” as a cross between “Tron” and the “Cube” trilogy with a bit of a “Matrix” feel. Sounds good right?

After two high school students are hit by a train in an attempt to save a homeless man’s life, they awaken in an apartment, where they learn that they now belong to “Gantz,” a spherical entity who outfits the two teens with slick black super powered suits and advanced weaponry, before sending them on numerous game-like missions where they receive points for killing aliens.

Already a massive hit in its native Japan, “Gantz” has also developed a strong following stateside among anime and manga fans. But the introduction of a live-action film, directed by Shinsuke Sato, who also handled the “Lady Snowblood” live-action adaptation, “The Princess Blade,” could bring “Gantz” to a much wider audience.

The first of the two live-action films will be screened for one night only in select cities across the U.S. on January 20th and will be followed by an interview with the film’s two leads, Kazunari Ninomiya and Kenichi Matsuyama.

If you can’t make the January 20th screening, you’ll have plenty more opportunities to see the first live-action “Gantz” film when it comes to three-hundred theaters across the county after the January 20th premiere.

In the meantime, you can dive into the on-going Darkhorse-published manga, already thirteen volumes in and catch up on the anime series available on DVD via the recently defunct ADV Films (Funimation now owns the license to the series).

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