Gilgamesh Vol. #1 (also w/box) -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By Luis Cruz     July 27, 2005
Release Date: June 21, 2005

Gilgamesh Vol. #1 (also w/box)
© ADV Films

What They Say
Enter the world of Gilgamesh. Where the sky has been turned into a psychedelic mirror and civilization is only a shadow of its former self. Where beautiful assassins transform into terrifying winged creatures. Where children are born with amazing powers. And where a brother and sister are hunted by organizations with dark agendas.

Gorgeous animation, breakthrough character designs, and stunning visuals make this suspenseful, addictive tale of mystery, magic, and espionage the first gothic anime masterpiece of the new millennium.

The Review!
The first volume of Gilgamesh sets up a typical world and storyline but has the potential to become a good series rooted in Mesopotamian mythology.

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 Tatsuya standing in the midst of the ruins of a building. The series title is in the upper left corner with the volume title in the lower left corner. Tatsuya appears a bit disturbing, but the cover art feels bland overall.

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. One would be wise to heed this warning; many plot details are revealed in the notes but not in the episodes contained in the volume.

The notes do contain good explanations of the various pieces of Mesopotamian mythology in the series; this makes it difficult to completely ignore the notes. These non-spoiler notes could have easily been separated from the plot-specific notes. As they are, it would be wise to leave the reading of the notes until the end of the series, as the plot-specific notes will likely clear up any lingering questions about the plot.

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 Tatsuya on the left and the menu items to the right of the image. The symbols worn by the Gilgamesh members pulse in between Tatsuya 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.

Included inside the case is a temporary tattoo of one of the Gilgamesh symbols. The extras included on the disc are a clean opening sequence, a clean ending sequence, a two minute slideshow of production art, and a four minute slideshow of character art.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Billed as a tempting gothic story, my attention was drawn to Gilgamesh by the dark, moody artwork. Sitting down with the first five episodes, the hope was there that the series would combine the artwork with a riveting and equally moody storyline. While the visual aspect matched my expectations, the storyline was not as engaging as I hoped, but it did show a lot of potential.

Our story opens up at the headquarters for the Heaven's Gate project; the project is attempting to unravel the mysteries of Gilgamesh's tomb. However, their efforts have come to an end; a report by a Dr. Madoka has convinced the financers to shut the project down completely. The headquarters is to be abandoned, and various research materials, particularly something called Delyphs, are to be destroyed.

Before this task can be accomplished, the same Dr. Madoka heads to the core of the tomb to perform what is later called an act of terrorism. An explosion rocks the headquarters, and the earth's atmosphere is enveloped in a mysterious reflective blanket. This blanket disrupts the entire world's computer systems and throws every nation into chaos. The Twin X (October 10) event caused the loss of a significant portion of humanity in the ensuing chaos.

The heart of the story picks up roughly fourteen years after Twin X and finds Kiyoko and Tatsuya, sister and brother, on the run from some debt collectors. This pair finds shelter from the collectors and the rain inside a seemingly empty mansion. However, there are three mysterious strangers also taking shelter in the mansion. These three men warm Kiyoko and Tatsuya up with a roaring fire and a hot beverage; they also dispatch the debt collectors dogging their trail.

The trio offer Kiyoko and Tatsuya a bizarre proposal; they need the pair to help them fight the "Devil Children" that roam the earth. When you speak the devil's name, he often does appear, and his children prove to be no exception to this rule. Another trio of strangers attacks the original trio and level the mansion. At the sight of such tremendous power and a man turned into a monster, Kiyoko and Tatsuya attempt to flee for their lives.

Their flight is short-lived when another monster causes them to faint; they wake up in a strange car with the trio that attacked the mansion. When they arrive at their destination, they meet the Countess of Werdenberg and receive a similar proposal. Help her fight and defeat Gilgamesh, the trio of men that were in the mansion. The story takes off from this point, as the Countess expertly maneuvers Kiyoko and Tatsuya into staying with her and helping her trio of Orga fight the Gilgamesh gang. We also learn that Tatsuya is beginning to tap into his own enormous powers leaving Kiyoko conflicted about the current situation.

Gilgamesh certainly delivered on the expectations I had for the visuals. The world it paints is bleak and dark due to the "Sheltering Sky" that envelops the earth. While some light does burn through, there is the sense that the earth is continually cloaked in a disheartening darkness that could crush humanity for good. The character designs also enhance the atmosphere of the show. None of the main characters feel like a generic character template; each character has their own personality that comes through in their actions and in the way they are designed.

However, the story was not as strong as I had hoped for and felt formulaic. We have a bleak future caused by a catastrophe at the site of a scientific study of an ancient mythological site. Add a dash of psychically powerful teenagers. Mix well with a teenager with untapped potential greater than them all and the sister that loves him dearly. We have seen this sort of formula used many times before, and this current incarnation does little to elevate itself above the majority.

The series does show the potential to elevate itself above mediocrity. The first five episodes set up some intriguing plot threads that if developed properly can make the story as sumptuous as its visuals. Neither Gilgamesh nor the Countess has told Kiyoko or Tatsuya why they are fighting against the other or what their objectives are. They simply recognize Tatsuya's great potential and want to use it for their own ends. Who are they, and what do they want? And how will their goals affect the development of Kiyoko and Tatsuya's characters?

It will also be interesting to see how the story weaves in elements of Mesopotamian mythology. Some of the basic elements of the Epic of Gilgamesh have been introduced, but outside of the Twin X event at Gilgamesh's tomb, the mythology has yet to play a significant part in the story.

Essentially, the first five episodes can be forgiven for leaning towards mediocrity as they are meant to introduce us to the world and the characters in it. Along with the gothic styling of the visuals, the episodes provide enough entertainment and mystery to bring me back for a second volume. This first volume is a decent effort in setting up the story; now, it simply needs to execute the remainder of the story in a way that puts a fresh and unique spin on an often used plotline.

In Summary:
With the first five episodes, Gilgamesh establishes an often seen formula; a great tragedy has befallen the earth, and one or more teenagers are imbued with great power and do battle to determine the fate of the planet. However, the series also establishes the potential to do something interesting and unique with the formula. Both sides fighting over Kiyoko and Tatsuya have yet to reveal what their true intentions are; the potential for this show lies in how they develop the characters and their motives. While the opening episodes do have an appealing gothic atmosphere, the content is not going to immediately absorb the viewer, but there are enough unanswered questions that will draw the viewer back to see what happens next.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Video of production sketches,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable


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