Gilgamesh Vol. #4 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh Vol. #4

By Luis Cruz     January 06, 2006
Release Date: December 27, 2005

Gilgamesh Vol. #4
© ADV Films

What They Say
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.

The Review!
Mankind's efforts to pierce the Sheltering Sky are destroyed by Gilgamesh, but Gilgamesh also faces destruction at the hands of a new enemy.

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 features Uno, the female member of Gilgamesh members leaning against the pillar of a ruined building. The series title is in the upper left corner with the volume title in the lower left corner. 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 of liner notes for the first seven episodes of the series. The notes not only include summaries of what has happened but also interesting cultural and production notes.

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 a character on the left and the menu items to the right of the image. The symbols worn by the Gilgamesh members pulse in between. 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 include a clean opening sequence, a clean ending sequence, a slideshow of production art, and a slideshow of character art. There is also a fourteen minute discussion with the various English voice actors for the series. Rounding out the extras is a twenty-one minute piece titled "A Buried Masterpiece". It is a separate audio track for the first episode and provides a lot of information about the series, the original manga and its author, and the staff behind the anime.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The fourth volume of Gilgamesh continues to deliver the same elements that have captivated me from the start. Rich in detail and nuance, it weaves an intricate mystery through a remarkable balance of narrative, action, and character development. The series adds a new player with their own agenda to the mystery as Dr. Enuma prepares to test the Turangalila tower on the anniversary of Twin-X.

As the Sheltering Sky is pierced, the adults who survived Twin-X rejoice while the children born after can only wonder what the fuss is about. In the midst of these events, Tatsuya learns that Fuko's bouts of sneezing are caused by the crush she has for him. Handling it awkwardly, the pair is unable to open up and be honest with each other. Developed over two episodes, the ambiguity of the series serves this plot thread well. The Orga children are neither painted as being good or evil; they are simply children attempting to become adults while being used as pawns in larger events making it easy to sympathize with them.

Their relationship in these two episodes highlight the care both the animators and writers have taken in building the world of Gilgamesh. There is an economy of words and visuals being used, but they manage to speak volumes through a simple phrase or movement. This economy works equally well in the action sequences as the Gilgamesh team attacks Turangalila.

Through a power boost from a distant Enkidu, Gilgamesh succeeds in destroying the reactors and subsequently destroys a portion of the city. With the Orga children helping the victims of the destruction, Kazamatsuri joins the fray and unleashes his Blattaria squad against Gilgamesh; able to turn anti-matter into matter, the team quickly dispatches two of the members. These battles are brief but realistic as none of the sides have unlimited resources to use. They must make quick, surgical strikes to maximize what they do have available.

Only Novem manages to escape this particular operation but is badly injured. His final teleport lands him in Kiyoko's neighborhood. Returning Novem's previous help, she shelters Novem until he regains his strength. Unexpectedly, she finds that Novem is not quite the monster she believed him to be. Novem also reveals the first details of her father's plan; he is using the Sheltering Sky as a cocoon to purify the universe and create a new human race.

The ambiguity of the warring sides is highlighted once again; Enkidu believes his actions are in the best interest of mankind. Some sacrifices must be made in order to give mankind a better future. However, the Countess might argue that the advancement of mankind should not come at the expense of human life. It is only Kiyoko who can cut through the rhetoric and ideology and where the truth rests. If mankind is flawed, how can any plan to better mankind succeed? The series refuses to conform to a "this side is good and this side is evil" mentality and adheres to one that mirrors our own reality. Good science fiction works as social commentary, and Gilgamesh continues to do this in a subtle and engaging fashion.

In Summary:
Taken as separate pieces, the elements of Gilgamesh do not seem like they would work well together. However, the writers and animators have crafted them into an amazing piece of science fiction; there is a rhythm to the series that keeps the story moving along without copious action sequences. It knows when to drive the plot via action and when to drive it by dialogue or character development. It knows when to hold back information and when to let clues slip. Boasting a unique visual to complement the solid writing, this is one series I cannot get enough of and can easily recommend.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Behind the Scenes segment filmed in the ADV studios,Buried Masterpiece: Audio Documentary,Episode check points, Production sketches,Glossary of Gilgamesh terms,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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