What do you get when you combine a teenage film director, an up-and-coming porn star, and all kinds of sci-fi weirdness? You get Gigant, the latest work from Hiroya Oku, the author behind Gantz and Inuyashiki. And while it’s a book with great promise, it sometimes feels like a soup with one too many ingredients. Gigant is released physically and digitally by Seven Seas Entertainment. Let’s find out if Gigant volume 1 is worth reading.
Rei Yokoyamada is a film geek. He loves watching movies and spends his time writing screenplays. Now, his goal is to make one of his films. Also, like many boys his age, he enjoys porn, and his favourite actress is a little-known lady named PaPiCo.
A half-Japanese, half-Swedish adult film star who goes by the stage name “PaPiCo”.
Weird Underwear Guy
An older man who walks around in his underwear and a helmet. What possible connection could he have to anything?
Rei’s living the life of a typical high school student with filmmaking aspirations. He’s more interested in making a movie than in studying, and his grades are suffering a bit. He’s working on finishing writing his film and plans to submit it to a significant film festival when it’s done. It’s a relatively quiet life, which gets shaken up when he sees a particularly rude sign plastered all over a part of his neighbourhood. The sign proclaims that his favourite porn star lives nearby, and she’ll do whatever you ask of her.
He races home and checks the town bulletin board to see if PaPiCo has moved in. She has, and that night, Rei can’t sleep. He doesn’t like those signs about PaPiCo, so he decides to go around with a trash bag to take them down. And while he’s doing it, he runs into PaPiCo herself.
At first, she asks him if he’s the one who put up the signs, but quickly learns that he’s just a fan who was trying to look out for her. Moved, she takes him to a local restaurant as a thank you. They get to know each other, and he learns that her real name is Chiho.
They exchange Line numbers (Line is a popular messaging app in Japan), and begin to text and get to know each other. There’s no chance for romance, at least not yet; Chiho has a boyfriend, and she’s devoted to him. But a sweet kind of friendship begins to develop between a shy teenager and a woman who doesn’t have a whole lot to smile about. Oh, and a guy is walking around wearing just underwear and a helmet. What does he have to do with anything?
Gigant volume 1 spoilers
One day, Chiho is walking along the street having a Twitter conversation with Rei when a car hits the old underwear man right in front of her. She rushes over to help and offers to call an ambulance, but instead of accepting the help, he slaps a weird-looking watch onto Chiho’s wrist. He then turns into a doll?!
She messes around with the watch while at home and discovers that she can change her body size at will. The weird old man left what looks like a DVD, so she asks Rei to watch it. He obliges and discovers that the video is an impossibly long 168 hours. All of which is with incomprehensible gibberish.
Rei visits Chiho at home to tell her about what he discovered. She decides to reveal her size-changing powers. It is at this point that shit figuratively happens. And, a few chapters later, shit actually happens. It’s enough to make your head spin. Chiho’s ability to change size is just the tiny tip of a gigantic iceberg.
Hiroya Oku is a science fiction author. It makes sense that Gigant is a science fiction story. But it almost feels like the sci-fi stuff is too much here. Gantz and Inuyashiki were all about ordinary people placed in extraordinary situations. That seems to be an effective formula, but it’s thrown off here because Chiho is anything but ordinary. A half-Japanese, half-Swedish porn star with gigantic boobs sticks out like a sore thumb in a place like Japan, whether she has special powers or not.
There’s also an additional element at the end of the story that I didn’t mention (I don’t want to give too many spoilers away) that complicates things even further. This element could have been the subject of its own manga, but here, it’s just another ingredient thrown into an already thick stew.
If you’ve ever read Gantzor Inuyashiki, you know that Hiroya Oku is an incredible artist, probably one of the best working today. His characters here are very well-drawn and detailed, and the backgrounds are hyper-detailed and incredibly well-done. Gigant stands alongside RaW Heroas one of the best-drawn 1st volumes of 2020.
However, there are some strange errors in perspective. There are panels where Chiho appears to be too small, and ones where her boyfriend appears too large. I’m not sure how this happened or why, but these errors are distracting when they pop up. Luckily, there aren’t too many of them. Hopefully, these mistakes will get worked out by the time Volume 2 is released.
Is Gigant volume 1 worth reading?
Yes, mostly for the relationship between Rei and Chiho. I’m not sold on the sci-fi stuff, although I warmed up to it more with successive readings. I’m going to keep reading this series because I like the relationship between the two main characters and I want to see it develop. I hope that Oku-sensei knows this relationship is the best part of Gigant volume 1 and will keep it at the heart of the story. The rest of it? I’m not sure if it’s good yet. But I’ll continue reading and find out.