Judge Brett Cullum is glad that this noir-ish anime series has finally gotten around to answering some questions for him.
You told him things he didn't know. You know secrets about us as well. I want you to tell me.
It's time we assemble the faithful, and stop talking in endless circles about what makes this series so unique in the world of anime. By this fifth volume, anyone looking for peppy school girls in short skirts with large breasts or mechanical robot battles has left the building. I'm tired of trying to explain that this one is different. Gilgamesh is gloriously dark, full of spooky shadows, and whispered lines. It has spawned a heated debate online as to whether it's a sexy noir sci fi thriller or a step backwards for animated drama. I say it's the former. I like the simple drawings that evoke a dramatic style without all the razzle dazzle of CGI-influenced animation. The almost black-and-white color palette reeks of art deco glamour. It has been the love-it-or-hate-it anime of the year. The series shuns the bubbly pop images of typical anime to muddle in the murky world of sexy sadism and emotional realism. You've got to have a little bit of a dark streak inside yourself to get Gilgamesh.
And so the decadently dark Gothic epic of Gilgamesh continues with Gilgamesh: As Truth Breaks Like Glass (Volume 5) (episodes 18-20 of the 26 episode series), and the wailing and gnashing of teeth continues. The entire tagline for the anime series has always been "Who's side are you on?," which seems to apply to its fans as much as its plot. There have been many good things about Gilgamesh, such as dramatic, simply drawn, elegant characters painted in a film noir world that is equal parts Blade Runner, The Matrix, and Sin City. The story has remained engaging, but it has raised many more questions than answers. I was getting frustrated and concerned where all of this was going. Could it be the show was simply long on style and short on substance? Was I swayed into entering a dark, spooky world of psychic teens fighting under a bloody mirrored sky for no real reason?
Thankfully, the answers are beginning to form in this latest volume. Meitleid's corporate raider examines psychic teen warrior Tatsuya, and reveals a secret viewers have suspected for a long time hiding in his DNA. The other warrior teens from Orga decide to go behind the Countess's back to seek out an enemy who can tell them the truth. Kiyoko has to face a beautifully cruel new member of the Gilgamesh team, who seeks to lure the recovering Novem from out of her bed. But no matter what happens with all of these stories, Kiyoko is about to explode with a new powerful revelation and ally that will shatter both the Countess and her corporate rival's plans for winning control over the teens who have fought for so long. This volume gives new meaning to the term "clone wars," and we learn a little more about these mythic teens.
There are only three episodes on this volume of Gilgamesh, but ADV gives you a little more in the extras department to even things out. Included are the usual clean opening and closing, a production art gallery, a character art gallery, a glossary of terms, some retrospective spots, and previews of the next volume. But for something different we are given Anime Network Presents: Going, Going, Goth, which strings together clips from past volumes with interviews with the cast members at the series premiere at The Alamo Draft House (a movie theatre tucked in the extreme west part of Houston). It's a fun fluffy feature that gives you a chance to see the faces behind the voices of the series. One thing that's kind of strange is they spend a lot of time cross promoting Ghost Stories and The Fuccons (neither of which are remotely related in style to this Gothic epic). The feature runs close to a half hour, and features many familiar voices from ADV giving their takes on the series under the influence of copious amounts of alcohol. Also included is a featurette called Revelations: A Gorgeous Puzzle. It's a strung-together narrative over clips that explains the mythology and science of the characters we've been watching all this time. In contrast to the other feature, it is intensely academic, discussing the series in symbolic and cultural terms. It runs almost half an hour as well.
Gilgamesh: As Truth Breaks Like Glass (Volume 5) is a satisfying entry in the series. Plots are finally becoming clearer, and my passion for the show remains unabated. Gilgamesh remains the most stunning piece of cyberpunk released this year. It's dripping with sex and danger in all the right ways. Relax, because the previous volumes' frustratingly long foreplay has now come to a close. It's finally time to get to the main event, and if Gilgamesh: As Truth Breaks Like Glass (Volume 5) is any indication, it'll all be worth it. So download some Nine Inch Nails songs and put on your best leather outfit. Just remember, dinner is formal.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
• Clean Opening and Closing
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