I love anime. Been watching it since I was a little kid. Now that the Japanese explosion is in full swing there is more of it available than I will ever have time to watch. :)
A recent series I've seen is called GANTZ. This anime is NOT for children, but for a more mature audience. It paints a picture of modern society and peoples which is rather gruff and without pink glasses or any kind.
The story unfolds as Kei is a a train station waiting for his ride. A homeless man falls on the tracks. Most of the people there stare, but none make a move to help him, including Kei. But then a childhood friend Kei has not seen in years jumps down to the tracks and seeing him, asks him to help. Grudgingly, and with his inner thoughts revealed, Kei eventually gets down there to help him. The get the man out, but since no one else is still providing any aid, Kei and his old friend end up getting hit by the oncoming train.
Enter GANTZ - Kei and his friend are rematerialized in a typical Tokyo apartment where other people who have recently died appear. GANTZ, a giant black ball, has messages appear on its surface and gives them instructions on an alien they need to go out and kill.
They've been given a second chance at life, but if they do not complete the missions they die permanently, they can get killed during the mission as well. And they can't leave a confined area during the mission. Once it is done though, they go back to their regular lives until called again.
Filled with violence, some sex, and disturbing social thoughts and images, a deeper story begins to develop as Kei slowly thaws out of his apathy and begins to care and get involve.
The ending to this is harsh and also took some thought to figure out on my part. My take on it is that GANTZ and the old lady were running a test on humanity. She picked the main participant and then put him in the game which GANTZ keeps changing and cheating, to prove whether someone like Kei can become a champion for humanity or not. Luckily, he is and GANTZ stops. Truly bizzare series
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