Forgetful Bodhisattvas & Maras Of ‘Gantz:O’

Gantz is a mysterious black sphere. Somehow, it is able to revive the deceased selectively, teleporting them to an isolated room, where they are equipped with weapons, and instructed to eliminate alien invaders. (These monsters are like the minions of Mara, manifesting in all manners of karmic form.) Gantz in this way offers a second chance to live and die again, though one can be ‘truly’ killed this time. As expected, thus begins the interplay of collaboration versus conflict among various teammates and even between teams.

It becomes not just a matter of survival of the fittest, but a perpetual question of how much to personally sacrifice, to help one another and ‘others’ survive. Selfishness and selflessness can be reflected both at the individual and team level, though few individuals and teams are totally selfish or selfless all the time. There are the strong and arrogant, who are Mara-like when taking advantage of the weak and meek. And there are those in between. Of course, when conditions change, even the strong can become weak, and the weak can become strong and Bodhisattva-like.

Those who fare well are rewarded with choices of upgrading their weapons, reviving a deceased teammate, or going free, while forgetting all that happened. In this sense, earlier deaths are still not ‘truly’ final. There is more than a single second chance, much like what rebirth really offers. Kato manages to score high enough points through alien elimination to save others. Though encouraged by teammates to choose personal freedom, he sacrifices it by reviving a deceased teammate. In this way, he depicted the selfless Bodhisattva ideal of not settling for self-liberation only.

When Gantz still sets Kato free later, his teammates complimented how he previously sacrificed himself by reviving others and gained freedom too. He had simply returned without memory of this. This is reminiscent of how already liberated Bodhisattvas ride upon their endless compassionate vows to liberate others, to again manifest in defiled lands (乘愿再来) — except that Kato is a forgetful and semi-accidental Bodhisattva, who still struggled reluctantly with being trapped by Gantz at ‘first’. Forgetting the past made him not so effective in the present. Similar to the interruption of death, this is why we should seek birth in Pure Land, where there will be total recall of past lives!

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Gantz: Sacrilege In Entertainment?

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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