ADV Films // 2003 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // January 26th, 2006
This game is ours. I've warned you before. You should have listened
Psychic teens battle each other in a post-apocalyptic future where the sky is a psychedelic mirror. In this volume of Gilgamesh, the sky will turn blue for a few hours, the kids will meet up with creepy mechanical beings designed to kill them, lies unfold, the sides rebel, and two former enemies will become dangerous lovers. We're back with ADV's Gilgamesh: Under a Blood Red Sky (Vol 4). I'm glad the story finally continues in one of my all-time favorite animes. Gilgamesh is an exercise in unique style, sci fi noir, and bold storytelling that gives us what we all crave from an anime series. If you haven't jumped on board with this one, what are you waiting for?
It's all about style, which has divided some otakus out there. Gilgamesh is drawn with stark dark colors which go against the grain of the usual peppy bright Japanese cartoon. The characters are beautifully-but-simply drawn, as if woodblock prints were coming to life. Don't expect CGI-enhanced frantic robot battles, because this one's a moody minimalist gothic tale that Marilyn Manson would be proud to appear in. Trent Reznor should be really jealous that his latest album, Nine Inch Nails' With Teeth, already has the perfect video to accompany it, and it's Gilgamesh. If you've never slowly swayed back and forth to a Cure song while dressed all in black, smoking one of your mom's cigarettes, you may not get it. Still, don't let the style throw you.
What makes Gilgamesh such a satisfying ride is the bold way in which the dour story unfolds. It debuted in Japan as a late night series, and it's far more adult and emotionally wrenching than your usual anime fare. It hooked me from the first episode, and four volumes later has not let me go. You're never quite sure who's the good guy and who's the villain, but that makes it all the more fun to figure out. Seventeen episodes in, and I'm still upside down on what's really happening with the two camps out there battling each other.
ADV has taken some unique approaches with this production. Most of the English ADR cast has never done anime before. You may think that would be a liability -- but far from it. They were seeking out unique voice talent who could whisper their lines with a certain malevolence, and still bring the acting chops to the front. I can usually recognize the core group of ADV actors, but this group is more from the stages around Houston. In one of the extras we get to go behind the scenes and see how they prepared themselves by acting on a gothic set complete with tree branches, candles, and crushed velvet. The result is one of the most intense and interesting ADR tracks done by the company.
Technically, things here are in fine shape. The transfers are clear even though the show's palette favors dark and murky muted colors. The sound is available in a full surround English, or the original Japanese in simple stereo. Both tracks are good, but the American one has more dramatic punch thanks to its use of all five speakers. Extras are plentiful this time around including the aforementioned making of feature, an audio history of the show read by the cast, art galleries, and clean openings and closings. ADV has gone all out with this one, and the results are right there on your screen. This is the anime to seek out and find this year.
Review content copyright © 2006 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* 1.85:1 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
* Production Art
* Character Art
* Glossary of Terms
* Episode Summaries
* Behind the Scenes Featurette
* Audio History of the Series
* Volume One Review
* Volume Two Review
* Volume Three Review