Gilgamesh Vol. #4 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Release Date: Monday, November 20, 2006
What They Say
Whose side are you on?
As the Mitleid Corporation prepares to test their world-redeeming tower, the psychics of Orga are assigned to ensure its success. But after Gilgamesh slips inside the protective gates, tragic events begin to take a deadly toll...on both sides. And a slippery enemy uses the murderous chaos to his own sadistic advantage.
And in the apocalypse that follows, strange and surprising new events unfold. Loyalists rebel. Addictions take hold. Lies unfold. A potential savior becomes a prisoner. And two former enemies become dangerous lovers.
The sky was blue once. Then, a psychedelic mirror. Now the atmosphere will turn into something else. Something different. Darker. Bloodier.
Includes Episodes 14-17.
Gilgamesh really kicks into high gear with this latest volume, as everything is turned on its head.
I listened to a few episodes with the Japanese stereo track and then switched to the English 5.1 track while watching this disc. The Japanese stereo track is solid, but the series is heavily dialogue focussed so there's nothing to make it stand out. The 5.1 mix has a bit more directionality, but even with the action scenes there's not a great deal to tell it apart. Neither track had any dropouts, distortions or notable errors.
The English dub has settled a lot now, and rather than sounding dull the performances just seem more like fitting the tone of the show and the characters. Although the characters don't tend to be emotive, at this point in the series it's now easy to see why.
Presented in anamorphic widescreen, with Gilgamesh being a relatively recent show, this disc looks great from a video standpoint. It's very dark and dingy, but despite that I didn't notice any compression artefacts or blocking even in the darkest scenes. This is another great transfer from ADV.
In terms of UK release, this disc also marks a change in production for ADV UK that will affect some future releases as well, in that it's their first disc encoded for both the UK and German markets. As such, there are a couple of differences to the usual presentation worth mentioning. From a video standpoint, the openings and endings are presented in the original Japanese versions, with kanji credits and all. I generally like this practice (though have nothing against translated credits at all), as long as there are full, per-episode, translations of the credits provided. Thankfully, ADV have placed the five original translated end credit rolls (used for the US release) in the credits section of the extras menu, so you can still get the fully translated scroll if you want. In my eyes, this is the best of both worlds and I like it!
Packaged in a clear keepcase, the front cover features an image of the red-haired girl from Gilgamesh. It's yet another striking image. The various logos are scattered in the four corners of the image, leaving the focus on the main picture. The back cover provides an interesting description of the show, that thankfully isn't as silly as some, as well as some screenshots and the usual credits. Technical information is, as always, provided in a nice, easy to read, bar at the bottom of the back cover. The reverse side of the cover features a rundown of the episodes with some behind the scenes information.
Also of note is that the disc's silkscreen is very nice and looks really cool, split in half so it's dual-language with the German logo on one half, the English on the other.
The menu is another aspect affected by the change in production, in that the first thing to do is select whether you want the English or German versions of the menu on startup. The main menu features an image of one of the characters on one side and the selections on the other, done up in a white tone with a red border all around the screen. Some sound effects from the show loop over this menu, as well as some bits of video repeating in the faded background. The other menus are done in the same style but are all static with no sounds or music.
The first main extra this time is a nice 15-minute piece behind the scenes on the dubbing, talking to each of the voice actors. There's also "A Buried Masterpiece" which runs as a commentary over one of the episodes on this disc. It's a really interesting look at the history of the series by original author Shotaro Ishinomori. As always we're treated to the usual textless opening and ending, as well as some production and character art sketches, done as semi-music videos with the pictures looping over some music.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There are often episodes within anime that signify a huge change in the dynamic of the series. They shake it up completely, turning everything on its head in the process. This volume of Gilgamesh contains one such episode, and as such the volume as whole changes everything. The whole series has been building to the series of events that unfold, and now the payoff has begun.
The October Project is still on course for the October 10 " the anniversary of Twin X. But there is a definite friction between Enuma and Kazamatsuri, when she tries to get him kicked out of an important meeting because she feels he threatens the project. Later, in a conversation with the Countess, Enuma talks about Kazamatsuri's Embryons (the robots that comprise his Blattaria force) and how they are taken from the same stem cells as those used to create the Countess' children, essentially making them human.
The Orga children later come face to face with the Blattaria in what turns out to be a test battle, but it shows how powerful they are as the children would've lost without them. It's of little concern at the present time though as the October Project commences and the blue sky slowly appears.
Its appearance sends shockwaves through the whole city, as the adults who have seen it before are surprised but glad to see it return, while the youngsters are more blas√© about the whole thing and really don't see the amazement in it. It illustrates the differences between the goals of each of the sides really well to see how they all react to the pivotal event. It's definitely no surprise to see the kids less bothered by it all, only wondering what it may mean for the future.
Fortunately for them, it doesn't last long. A fight ensues and Gilgamesh end up getting a little help from the Professor, Enkidu, in causing a huge build up of Dynamis and causing the Sheltering Sky to return, with deadly consequences. The city is up in flames and in ruins, and Kazamatsuri brings his Blattaria to clean certain things up. The ensuing battle, though brief, sees two of Gilgamesh killed (one particularly gruesomely by pikes) and a third, Novem, badly injured.
Kiyoko is brought back into the story at this point, picking Novem up and housing him at her apartment. Again it represents a shift in a characters perception of the things around them, as Kiyoko begins to warm to Novem somewhat despite viewing him as the enemy for so long in the past. Seeing how their relationship evolves is a change of pace given the action-orientated first two episodes on the disc, but it works really well in slowing down the pace and examining life for these people after everything that has gone on.
The changes in this disc are quite radical, with some being more subtle than others. The obvious shift in the world, temporarily, when the blue sky appears in a way shows how isolated the Orga children become as what they are accustomed to disappears in an instant and they are left wondering what the future holds. We've seen these children grow somewhat throughout the series as their ideas have shifted from a single focus to become more open-minded and start questioning what their purpose is, and their attitude is summed up when the Sheltering Sky reappears and all they know to do is help everyone.
At this stage, the characters are really making their moves. Enuma is taken care of, and Kazamatsuri has truly become a major player in things, as his Blattaria are given almost free reign to off members of Gilgamesh and his power increases dramatically as a result of the events on this disc. The Countess on the other hand is somewhat in the background, but we do see more of how she is involved in manipulating the children herself, and it'll be interesting to see what may happen when the children realise exactly what her role in everything is.
Perhaps the best thing about this volume, aside from all the payoff in the events that unfold, is how everyone's side is questioned and it's impossible to tell who is right and who is wrong. Enkidu and Gilgamesh are doing what they think is best for mankind, while the Countess believes that mankind should not be sacrificed. Even Kazamatsuri could justify his actions, and it's this ambiguity that resonates and makes the series so interesting to watch. The tag line "whose side are you on?" is certainly justified.
With this volume, Gilgamesh hits a real high point as all the events building up over the past episodes come to a head, and the gears shift in all sorts of directions. The characters have come a long way and have to adapt to a number of changes in their environment and shifts in power, and it's fascinating to see how this plays out. This is the best volume of the series so far.
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1),Behind the Scenes,English Subtitles,Clean Opening & Closing,Art Galleries
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP5100 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: ADV Films UK
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2