Gilgamesh Vol. #1 -

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Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh Vol. #1

By Dani Moure     May 03, 2006
Release Date: May 15, 2006

Gilgamesh Vol. #1
© ADV Films UK

What They Say
After the terrorist incident of October 10, the sky has been turned into a psychedelic mirror, sadly reflecting a civilization that's only a shadow of its former glory. As the world struggles to rebuild itself, two powerful forces wage a secret and terrifying war. Trying to restore the world to its former state is Orga, a tiny group of mutants with amazing psychic powers. Controlled by a wealthy and powerful widow known only as The Countess, they wait within her secret lair in the posh Hotel Providence for their enemy to stir-a dark cadre who've taken the name Gilgamesh. A black leather-clad army of beautiful and mysterious beings, Gilgamesh bow only to their 'master', the brilliantly dangerous scientist who seeks to finish the terrorist attack he started years before. And caught between these warring factions? Two runaways. A brother and sister who hold the key to destroying the world-or saving it.

The Review!
The latest post-apocalyptic series is upon us, as ADV brings us the first volume of the "gothic thriller" Gilgamesh.

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, from what I heard, show some promise but was a little dull at times. This is probably more due to the dialogue centric nature of the show, and that the characters don't all have a great deal of personality at this stage. Shelley Calene-Black (Kiyoko) and Blake Shepard (Tatsuya) in particular sounded at times like they were giving by the numbers performances, and on occasion even sounded a little bored. I'm sure that wasn't the intent, and I expect they will improve as they really find the characters' voices as things draw on, but it all seemed a bit stilted at this stage. For what it's worth, at times I felt the same about the Japanese voice actors as well.

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 Tatsuya in front of some rubble. It's a dark image with interesting use of colours (especially the contrasting whites), and really fits the tone of the show well. 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 very useful glossary of some of the terms used in this volume.

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 (much like Beez do with their discs for multiple regions). The main menu features an image of Tatsuya 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 extras for the show are a little light, as 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)
ADV have an interesting blurb on the back of the case for Gilgamesh, calling it "dark, sexy, seductive" and "a tempting, Gothic thriller". Calling it a "gothic thriller" is probably the most apt description you could find, because all the characters, from their clothes to the designs of their faces and so on just have a gothic look about them, and the story certainly best fits into the thriller category in this first volume. "Dark, sexy, seductive"? Well, it's definitely quite dark at times (with story related reason of course), though I'm not sure I'd call it sexy... But anyway, Gilgamesh is a 26 episode series to be spread over seven discs in the UK (as it was in the US), and although it's quite easy to see why it might be the sort of show ADV (or any US licensor) would pick up, it's still an interesting choice.

Set in the world following an event known as "Twin X" (because it occurred on 10/10) that caused the sky to be covered by a psychedelic mirror known as "The Sheltering Sky", and was effectively considered the apocalypse, Gilgamesh is, in its first five episodes at least, a very slow moving mystery, focusing on two teenagers who are split between two warring factions. ADV's tag line for the series is "whose side are you on?", and it turns out to be a question asked of the characters several times as they try to work out who exactly they should trust.

The series begins by focussing on the aforementioned event, at the Heaven's Gate project headquarters. The scientist research teams are told that all projects involving Delphys - a cave beneath Gilgamesh's tomb discovered by a scientist called Dr. Madoka " will be discontinued. Apparently the mission invites a disaster unparalleled in human history, as told by Madoka, and to continue would be breach of ethics for all the scientists. Yet Madoka is not satisfied, and is the trigger for Twin X.

Tatsuya and Kiyoko are the children of Madoka, and the story picks up several years later with them being hounded by debt collectors. But they soon run into three young boys as they make their escape, who want the pair to join forces with them to fight the devils of this world. Three "Devil Children" show up, and a fight ensues, with one of the three boys turning into a monster. The "Devil Children", actually part of a group known as Orga, take Kiyoko and Tatsuya to their leader, known as The Countess, who wants the pair to join her side to fight the others a group called Gilgamesh and their mad scientist leader...

Despite it being quite hard to ascertain what is going on in these five episodes on a few occasions since the story is explained at particular points throughout the episodes, and there are times when the characters simply manoeuvre and manipulate with you unsure of why they're doing certain things, it kept me very interested because you're never quite sure what side is supposed to be the right one and because I was left really wanting to find out what was going on. There are moments such as when the Gilgamesh appear in their monster form that are initially a bit baffling and yet cool at the same time, but as the pieces start to fall in to place it just leaves more questions that you'll want to know the answers to.

The characters are certainly an interesting bunch as well. Tatsuya and Kiyoko are an interesting brother and sister pairing, with nothing really separating them from a myriad of other characters while they're simply on the run. But its clear Kiyoko wants to protect her brother and in some ways is quite jealous of him (a fact that becomes clearer as the episodes unfold) since many people think he is special and perhaps the key to future events, and he seems to have some powers within him that are yet to awaken.

Speaking of powers, the Countess certainly has plenty of it, if not in the physical sense. She has the group of kids right under her thumb, and her group Orga is out to stop Gilgamesh at all costs, though we don't fully know the reasons why, or even what Gilgamesh are really planning other than a brief mention of the scientist who leads them wanting to finish the job he started in causing Twin X several years earlier. Her true agenda is unclear, and it's something I suspect we'll see unravelling as the series draws on. Gilgamesh are an interesting group, but again their true motivations are quite unknown. They also want the brother and sister, especially for his crucial power that will be of some help to them, but other than that they're relatively unknown.

So the series raises a lot of questions and, not unexpectedly of course, offers few answers by the end of this disc. We're still only scratching the surface when it comes to the reasons behind Orga and Gilgamesh, why they need who they need and what exactly their leaders really want. But the questions are posed in such a way that you actually want to know the answers, and are drip-fed enough information to keep you engrossed. It helps that the dingy, dark world is a different look that fits the atmosphere of the show, and is interesting in itself (especially what exactly that mirrored sky is for).

In fact at this stage, there's only one thing that threatened my enjoyment of the show, and that was the animation. I'm not usually one to notice differences in animation unless it's a stark contrast with earlier material or it's just quite poor, and at times sadly that's what Gilgamesh is. A couple of the action scenes were laughably bad, with their stuttering motion that's supposed to look stylistic, the scene where the Gilgamesh first appeared was let down by poor animation and there's just a general lack of motion at all. Again, you could say it's stylistic and sure, it is, but it does take the steam out of a couple of scenes. It's definitely not what I'd call a deal breaker, but it's a bit disappointing at times. When you combine that with the slightly ugly character designs (which I found appealing and fitting with the show, but still ugly) you have a show that's not particularly "sexy", except in its own special way.

In Summary:
Gilgamesh opens with a very promising first volume that raises far more questions than it gives answers to. But like any series of this nature, it's the mystery and allure of the story that's meant to be appealing, and in most ways the series succeeds at making it so over these first five episodes. I hope the show continues to build its story as it goes on and throw us some revelations along the way, but based on this first volume there's more than enough to hook me and keep me looking forward to the rest. If you're looking for something a little different, but very intriguing, you should definitely give Gilgamesh a try.

Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1),English Subtitles,Clean Opening & Closing,Art Galleries

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP5100 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.


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