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Gilgamesh Vol 2
Don Houston did a good job reviewing the first volume of Gilgamesh here, but he thought that I'd enjoy the show a bit more than he did, so he passed the series on to me. I'm glad he did, because this series has the potential of being really good. It's still a bit too early to say if the show will develop in the right way, but judging by the first two volumes, the odds look good.
As the series starts the Heaven's Gate project, a scientific organization with unknown goals and methods was about to be shut down. A lone scientist who was working on the project and also lobbied for its termination, Dr. Madoka, enters the inner core of the project and sets off a reaction that has global implications. A wave of energy races across the planet and alters the sky, making it shimmer and reflect lite, blocking out most of the sun, and making computers and other technological equipment useless. This happened on October 10th, or X - X in roman numerals and it's now referred to as Twin X.
Fifteen years later, the "Sheltering Sky" as it is called, is still encircling the Earth, and technology still doesn't work. Two orphans, Kiyoko and Tatsuya, are trying to stay ahead of debt collectors and find enough food to eat in this bleak future. Running to avoid being caught by some bad men they owe money to, the pair hide in a house were they meet some interesting children who have amazing powers. These young adults, known as Gilgamesh, fend off the hoods easily, but then they are attacked by a second group of teens called the Orga. After a pitched battle with no clear winner, the leader of the Orga, the mysterious Countess of Werdenberg asks Kiyoko and Tatsuya to join her cause in fighting Gilgamesh. When they refuse, she buys their contract from the debt collectors and in effects owns them. The Countess says that the members of Gilgamesh are evil, but they say the same about her. Could these two groups be interested in these kids because they are the children of the infamous Dr. Madoka?
As this volume opens up, everyone trying to figure out where Gilgamesh might have taken Kiyoko after they kidnaped her. Her brother, Tatsuya is really worried, but he needn't be. The group just wants to talk to her. They tell her that her father, Dr. Madoka, would really like to see her. They talk about him as if he was a deity, saying that he sees all and such. After having heard her whole life that her father was the monster that destroyed civilization, Kiyoko has no interest in seeing the man, and Gilgamesh let her go.
Tatsuya is really enjoying staying at the Hotel Providence and making friends with the other kids in Orga, but Kiyoko doesn't trust the Countess at all, but then again the Countess hasn't really given her any reason to. She tries to escape one night without her brother, but is brought back the next morning. The Countess doesn't like Kiyoko for some reason, and makes her sign a paper agreeing to pay back the money she owes with interest. This will effectively keep her in debt the rest of her life.
Having signed away her future earnings, Kiyoko leaves the hotel and the brother she has raised since infancy.
While Tatsuya enjoys living at the hotel, he's also learning to use and control his newfound powers. He's getting quite adept very quickly, and the Countess allows him to go on missions with the other Orga children. Some of these missions are dangerous though, very dangerous.
This is an interesting series, and the second volume builds off the groundwork that was laid in the first five episodes. The mystery of both Gilgamesh and the Orga, as well as what actually happened on Twin X is touched on just enough to keep your interest. The children of the Orga start having personalities emerge, and that makes them much more interesting.
While I like the look of the show overall, especially the greys, blacks, and whites that are the main colors for the series, I don't like the character designs very much. I don't mind that everyone is wearing Goth outfits, but the faces look stylized and not natural looking. They are too angular and that makes them look a little strange. The people are also albino white, with no pigmentation. This is supposed to illustrate the fact that the sun doesn't shine through the haze that now covers the Earth and therefore noone gets a tan. I can understand that, but they'd still have some natural pigmentation. That aspect seems a little dumb. The faces look flat and two dimensional too and every time I look at them it reminds me that I'm watching a cartoon, which is really distracting.
The animation is very limited, and not very good. The characters don't move naturally, they lumber around looking like they are staggering more than walking. There is very little movement too, with a good number of pans and scenes that are just static.
This disc offers the option of the original language soundtrack in stereo or an English dub in 5.1. I alternated between the tracks with every episode, and thought they were both very good. I preferred the Japanese track, but only slightly. The English 5.1 dub made very good use of the rear channels, for example it had the children's psychic voices echoing from behind the viewer which was very effective. There were no distortions or other audio defects in either track. A solid sounding disc.
The anamorphic widescreen image looks pretty good overall. The color palate consists of mainly blacks, whites and greys and these are reproduced faithfully. The lines are a little on the soft side, but not too much so. The level of detail was fair and the contrast was good. Digital defects are nonexistent, even aliasing doesn't show up.
There were a good number of extras on this disc, though none of them were very exciting. There was a clean opening and closing, two galleries of production art and character art, as well as some previews. Revelations: In the Studio with Orga is an interview with the English voice actors who play the members of Orga. It was pretty interesting to hear the actor's take on their characters.
Finally there are two "tables" labeled "01: History" and "03: Future." These are two minute reels of clips that show scenes from the earlier and later episodes respectively. I didn't find these very interesting, and I thought the future one gave away minor plot points.
Though I didn't like some aspects of the production, I'm still finding that I'm drawn into this show. The world of Gilgamesh is complex and has many players, and it isn't clear who the good guys are, if indeed anyone is. If you thought the first volume was a little slow, this one picks up the pace a bit. Recommended.