ADV Films // 2003 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // October 27th, 2005
This came for you today. You've been invited to a funeral...a living funeral.
Gligamesh -- A Wake for the Undead (Volume 3) opens with the psychic warrior kids of Orga going head to head with the Gilgamesh mutants in the city portion of the Core Settlement. The battle rages hard, but seems to end in a draw (as all the previous showdowns have). In the aftermath, the children of Orga are asking all sorts of questions about who their leader, the Countess, is and what connections she has to the Gilgamesh project. They begin to investigate their origins, and look hard into the events of the terrorist attack known as twin "X" for answers. Tatsuya and his sister Kiyoko figure prominently in the mystery, as it is revealed the Countess worked with their father. But of course we the audience knew this from the opening sequence of the first volume of the series. The Orga team attempts to get information from the Mitleid corporation, but is stopped in the middle of it by a group of creepy cyborg robots who attack like a pack of rabid dogs. The Countess then decides to take them all to a strange ceremony where the Chairman of the company is holding his own funeral before he dies.
What's most frustrating about Gilgamesh as an anime series is how long we are having to wait for the characters to catch up to what viewers already know, or have easily surmised from previous episodes. I'm not sure what to make of the mystery, but at least the heavy, wild, Gothic style of the series is keeping me afloat. In a couple of words, Gilgamesh is made of glorious shadows. The animation is spooky and dark, with colors drained except the occasional splash of red from lipstick and blood. Gilgamesh is about style and sensation. It's the trendiest anime on the block, and it wears its "trendier than thou" black hipster badge proudly on the cuff of its black Lycra sleeve.
Some people have lambasted the series for taking itself so damn seriously, and for setting back animation a couple of decades with its non-CGI cel approach. It's a question of taste, but I like the fact the series thinks its a Biblical epic with style to spare. It has a retro look that is fresh enough to keep it current in my book. I love the drained-out colors and the Western look to the animation, which often relies on still images that the camera pans around. Characters are drawn simplistically, and have a woodblock print sensibility. You've got to be into the whole Goth vibe to really get the show, and as teenager who was often found in all black swaying to The Cure, it appeals to the aesthetics of my misguided youth. Gilgamesh plays out as if the Rolling Stones saw a red anime series and wanted to paint it black. But before I scare you into thinking this is some misguided collaboration between Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson, know that Gilgamesh is a zippy scifi anime series with a lot of action and peppy Japanese pop tunes, despite the brooding Gothic trimmings.
This third batch of episodes is designed to lead the series towards its inevitable conclusion. The series is at its halfway point with Gilgamesh -- A Wake for the Undead (Volume 3), and the mission is to get critical plot points moving. This third volume clarifies some of reasons why the sides we've been seeing are going at each other's throats. Still, it raises a lot more questions by the time it reaches the explosive conclusion. The series is still going strong, and I am anxiously waiting to see what the real "truth" is behind all of this.
The transfers are lovingly executed by ADV. There aren't any problems visually, and the colors are rendered clearly and pop when they need to. Sound mixes are the standard full surround for the ADR studio's English dub, and stereo for the original Japanese. This is one of the few anime series where I prefer the English dub, because it gives the action a more dramatic flair with all the speakers engaged. The voice actors do a fine, if reserved, job with the characters, who always seem to speak in whispers and rasps until they get in a fight. Extra content includes a quite generous thirty-eight minute look at the series called "Whispers & Sex & Slices of Violence," which was produced for a Gilgamesh screening at The Alamo Drafthouse. It's a little clip-heavy and includes some major spoilers, but it is a lot of fun to watch. Also included are the usual clean opening and closing, and some art gallery features set to the score.
Gilgamesh continues to be an intriguing series with a lot of style and mystery. ADV's work has paid off well on the show, and it seems to hold up from volume to volume. Gilgamesh -- A Wake for the Undead (Volume 3) is more concerned with exposition, but still packs quite a few unique action sequences before it concludes. Let's just see if they can pay off all this teasing and toying with us in the next three volumes. From the previews, something tells me they will.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Clean Opening and Closing Animation
* Production Art Gallery
* Character Art Gallery
* Featurette: "Whispers and Sex and Violence: Gilgamesh at The Alamo Drafthouse"
* Series Info
* Official Site
* Gilgamesh Fan Forum