Gilgamesh Vol. #2 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, August 09, 2005
What They Say
When subtle seduction doesn't work, the black-clad clan of Gilgamesh uses force, kidnapping Kiyoko and trying to coerce her to join their cause. The dark Countess and her band of young mutants, however, continue with their own attempt to sway Kiyoko and her brother Tatsuya to side with themand as Tatsuya's psychic powers increase under their guidance, their plan seems to be working. But the real battles are just beginning.
While light on action, the second volume of Gilgamesh continues to build an intricate mystery along with some excellent characters.
The Japanese stereo track was used for my primary viewing session; while the first batch of episodes are driven more by dialogue, the front soundstage provides some great directional effects and helps create an eerie atmosphere through ambient sounds, such as the thunder bursts heard in the first episode. All aspects, music, dialogue, etc., were balanced appropriately allowing each element to shine through at the appropriate time. There were no issues with distortions or drop-outs.
The English 5.1 audio track was also spot checked; this track is as clear and crisp as the Japanese audio. Both tracks will please their listening audience and provide a superb auditory experience.
Gilgamesh is presented in a gorgeous anamorphic transfer. The transfer is free from any noticeable artifacts, aliasing, cross coloration, or other defects. The world of Gilgamesh tends to dark, grey palettes making any bright colors stand out. The transfer provides rich vivid colors for every scene making for a dark, creepy atmosphere punctuated by brighter colors.
The front cover uses the same artwork as the Japanese release and features Fuko sitting in a hotel room clad in suitably sexy gothic attire. The series title is in the upper left corner with the volume title in the lower left corner. The red tones of the cover make it a bit more striking and eye catching than the cover for the first volume.
The back cover contains the requisite images, plot synopsis, credits, and disc specifications. Everything is laid out in a clean and readable format. Inside is a one page insert that contains liner notes for the series. There is a warning at the beginning of the notes that they might contain spoilers. Unlike the first set of notes, there is nothing in this set that truly spoils the viewing experience.
The menu layout is simple and clean allowing the viewer to quickly access the various sections and begin watching the actual series. The main menu features an image of Fuko on the left and the menu items to the right of the image. The symbols worn by the Gilgamesh members pulse in between Fuko and the menu items. The images and menu items are set against a parchment paper background effect that has rotating images from the series softly watermarked in it. Some of the eerie background music loops along while the viewer is making their menu choice. There are no delays transitioning between menus.
The extras included on the disc are a clean opening sequence, a clean ending sequence, a ninety second slideshow of production art, and a two minute and thirty second slideshow of character art. The final extra is a seventeen minute behind the scenes featurette with the English dub actors for the series, specifically the Orga characters. It is an interesting look at how the actors and director approached dubbing this series.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There were high hopes for the second volume of Gilgamesh; the first volume was a bit slow but setup an intriguing world and cast of characters. The series could either stumble over itself providing a mediocre series at best, or it could build a solid mystery supported by a strong cast of characters. This batch of episodes proves the series is moving in the latter direction.
Tatsuya and the Orga are combing the Hotel Providence for clues to where Gilgamesh might have taken Kiyoko. Their efforts narrow down the possible locations to the few airports around the city. At one such airport, the members of Gilgamesh are futilely trying to persuade Kiyoko to join them or at least see her father, the Professor. Kiyoko steadfastly refuses to have anything to do with her father or his plans. Gilgamesh decides the cause is lost and frees her; however, if she were to get in their way, they would consider her an enemy and kill her without hesitation.
Orga and Gilgamesh have a brief battle when Orga arrives at the airport to retrieve Kiyoko. The battle results in the death of one of the Gilgamesh team proving that the Orga trio can hold their own against superior numbers. The remainder of the volume sees the Orga children training Tatsuya to use the power of Dynamis. His desire is to become powerful enough to protect Kiyoko and to face their father;
Kiyoko does not share this ambition and finds their relationship has come to a crossroads. She opts to walk a different path from Tatsuya and leaves the shelter of the Hotel and the Countess for good. We also receive the setup for the next plot arc as Gilgamesh attacks a gigantic tower. This same tower just happens to be run by an old friend of the Countess from the Heaven's Gate project.
The visuals of Gilgamesh continue to impress and enhance the mood of the series. With the world cut off from the light of the sun, everything takes on a grey, monochromatic look. The few bright colors that do appear punctuate the bleakness of the world. It gives the series that creepy edge one would expect from something billed under the "gothic" label.
What really impressed me though was just how well the story built off the first volume and managed to suck me right into the world and into the characters. The bulk of this volume is given over to narrative and character development, but it is so well-paced and well written that it does not feel tedious. The best example of this is the tearing apart of Tatsuya and Kiyoko's relationship.
It takes three episodes for the pair to part ways, but the time spent in getting there feels right. Their differences are brought about by Tatsuya not only growing in power but also growing up and out of his older sister's protective shadow. The rift is also fueled by the subtle machinations of the Countess.
Subtle is a word I find myself using quite a bit when talking about this series. It does a superb job of providing a lot of information for the viewer but still managing to reveal very little about what is truly going on. Much as the world around them is covered in grey tones, the motives of the Orga and Gilgamesh are also shrouded in shades of grey. Both sides are out to get their way by any means necessary, yet you cannot tell which side, if any, is truly the "right" or "good" side.
There are a number of mysteries surrounding these people and what they desire to use their knowledge gleaned from the tomb of Gilgamesh for. What is even more intriguing is what exactly is going on their heads? Why is Kiyoko so adamant against seeing her father? Why is the Countess so desperate to create the illusion of a family among her Orga protégés? These and other mysteries have me glued to the screen attempting to digest and analyze each bit of dialogue for clues. The series is turning out to be more cerebral in nature which is a welcome and entertaining change of pace.
The first volume of Gilgameshbuilt a fascinating world and setup the makings of a dark, character driven mystery. This second volume capitalizes on this foundation and sucks the viewer into its dark, twisted world. While the action is sparse, the well-paced narrative and character development make for a rich, engrossing story. Much like the color palette, the story deals in subtle shades of grey and rewards you for paying attention to the details of the dialogue. For those looking for something a bit more cerebral from their anime, this is turning out to be the title to purchase.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Production art, Character art, Special behind-the-scenes segment 'Revelations: In the Studio with Orga',Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: TV 14
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2