“Could prove to be the first truly remarkable anime of the decade” – Julius Henry
In the realm of anime, visions of post-apocalyptic earth are as common as two-dimensional characters in a Michael Bay movie. Most anime creators squander their time pitting futuristic monsters against a ragtag group of heroes equipped with seemingly otherworldly technology. Often a strange balance between depth and full-out action is attempted, but emphasis becomes distorted and we are given a skewed, unbalanced—sometimes even a tedious—story.
Gilgamesh, like the brilliant Neon Genesis Evangelion before it, is an exception to that rule. It’s a show that takes its time telling its story without slipping into the realm of tedium of boring. Confident in its characters and the world’s created, the story strolls along at a slow pace for the first two episodes, hinting and foreshadowing and slowly building its motifs until the third episode, when it rises to a crescendo and gives us the first glimpse of what this series is capable of doing.
Following a terrorist attack that evaporated the sky and replaced it with a shimmering, reflective metallic sphere, an electromagnetic anomaly that has rendered all computers on the planet useless, we’re introduced to the first generation born after the attacks, unaware of what the world was like before the attacks.
The story follows two teenagers, Kikiyo and Tatsuya, orphaned children of Professor Terumichi Madoka, the man responsible for the terrorist attack, as the roam the streets, evading collectors trying to make them pay for their late-mother’s large debt. While running from thugs/debt collectors, they, soon realize that they’re the target of more than mere debt collectors; they’ve actually been pegged by Orga and Gilgamesh, two warring factions of supernaturally enhanced mutants, offspring of the enigmatic terrorist attack. Displaying hints of enormous psychic powers, Tatsuya may prove a powerful ally to either the Orga or Gilgamesh. But both factions’ motives are mysterious, and it’s unclear which side wants to save the world and which wants to drench it in darkness.
Presented here (volume one includes the first five episodes) are tautly written stories with Hithcockian suspense bubbling just below the surface. Gilgamesh believes so strongly in its story that it is in no rush to get to the end or fall into a sensationalistic trap of unfulfilling eye candy, and as a result we are treated to a moody, tense viewing experience. As for the characters, they’re defined more than they’re being developed, but the show is still in its infancy and it appears as though the groundwork for rich, deep characters are being laid—as well as for an epic story of good versus evil and right versus wrong.
Stylistically, the show boasts a genuine Gothic feel. Drenched in darkness, the filmmakers chose gray and black palettes and obscure much of what we see onscreen in shadows, creating a foreboding feel to an already gloomy show.
Gilgamesh is an anime for the twenty-first century. With antecedents in Neon Genesis Evangelion, it is heavy on intelligence and symbolism, and, crossed with a neo-noir look and feel, it could prove to be the first truly remarkable anime of the decade.
Reviewer : Julius Henry