Gilgamesh Volume 1

Gilgamesh is a unique sci-fi thriller drawn with such a strange gothic aesthetic; echoing the ancient myths on which its story is based, this is a decidedly odd looking anime that gradually unsettles the mind and drowns our senses in a dark, decaying bag of shrouded mystery and unfathomable terrors.

Years ago a global catastrophe (caused by a cataclysmic terrorist attack) dubbed the Twin X (since it all happened on the 10th of October) encapsulated the world in a cloudless sky that is able only to reflect the landscape which lays beneath, all electronic devices have since stopped working and as far as we can tell, modern society has collapsed.

In this ensuing nightmare of life on Earth, we meet teenage brother and sister Tatsuya and Kiyoko Madoka; their father is said to have caused the Twin X disaster and they find themselves abandoned, homeless. One night they just happen to meet the Gilgamesh- a group of friendly young men who are fighting against another unnamed army of teenagers. Both of these groups have mysterious powers, telepathic abilities to fight each other without lifting so much as a finger, and as it turns out, Tatsuya and Kiyoko didn’t meet Gilgamesh by mistake.

Beautiful yet ugly, Gilgamesh seems to be a show driven by atmosphere; the dark lighting (this is a world without electricity; long white candles and creaking chandeliers make up what little light there is), decaying Victorian architecture and off kilter character designs contribute majorly to the creepy gothic ambience in which we expect any number of weird monsters to be lurking in the corner.

For many people, the character designs will no doubt be a make or break element of Gilgamesh and I have to admit they walk a very thin line between attractive and repulsive. It just doesn’t look like anime; the eyes and lips are particularly odd, visibly protruding from character’s faces. Of course, they suit the show’s surreal gothic style perfectly, but will no doubt alienate fans of traditional anime art in the process.

The story is unfolding slowly, but not painfully so. There is a lot of plot to take in and it’s all quite interesting and fantastical, the only problem is that the characters are mostly so subdued that it’s hard to get behind their situations and feel their desperation. As an example, both Tatsuya and Kiyoko are introverted and quiet lead characters, often hiding their emotions behind a layer of shy reluctance.

In Summary

Fans of dark, gothic horror owe it to themselves to at least have a look at Gilgamesh. The story, which is based on an old Babylonian myth, is thick with mystery and a very surreal kind of science fiction.

You may have to make an effort to get through the slower moments of these opening five episodes, but with a rapidly mutating narrative and such strong sense of decaying style, Gilgamesh could well prove to be worth the effort.

7 / 10


Washed up on the good shores of Anime UK News after many a year at sea, Paul has been writing about anime for a long time here at AUKN and at his anime blog.

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