Gilgamesh is an anime from 2003. Apparently. I find it hard to believe that this is only ten years old for a number of reasons which I will go into later, but there you go. It was adapted from a manga by Shotaro Ishinomori, which was also a shock to me, because while I’m kind of into Shotaro Ishinomori’s work in manga I had never heard of this before watching the anime. It was directed by Masahiko Murata, and while that means nothing to me I imagine it might mean something to people who have seen more than one or two things he’s worked on.
The Sound of Gilgamesh. It works well enough. The music is composed by Kaoru Wada, so, as seems to be typical for his soundtracks, expect a lot of repetition of very dreary sounds, and a speck of gold here and there. I have to say, though, tired as I may get of “repetition of dreary sounds” the dreariness actually fits rather well with the the dreariness and gloom of this series.
The Sight of Gilgamesh. I don’t want to say this, but the unfortunate truth is that Gilgamesh is really ugly. It’s really too bad… some of the promotional art for this is breathtaking. The designs themselves, while good in my opinion, are also easy to dislike for including such controversial features as lips and appropriately-sized noses.
However, Gilgamesh must have had an animation budget of approximately ¥700. That’s my estimation, and while I’m sure it’s far from true, it feels accurate. The animation is horrible and most of the time the characters just look outright bad despite the good designs. The colouring and backgrounds don’t help matters, either. It’s all incredibly cheap. The colours are so dull that really the only thing that ever makes them interesting is when the show plays with lighting or when there’s a lot of contrast between the different colours used.
The Epic of Gilgamesh… has basically nothing to do with the story of Gilgamesh the anime. I don’t know why they bothered to bring it up repeatedly and summarize it, as if it actually mattered. I’ll try not to make the same mistake they did with regards to that.
Gilgamesh’s story moves at the pace of the tiniest snail in existence. The characters don’t do anything to pick up the slack, unfortunately, as there are only two or three of any interest and the dialogue is rarely engaging in any way. It eventually does speed up and start giving you tidbits of the plot, if you actually manage to sit through the first 17 or so episodes. And that time is quite a treat, because despite all the dullness the story itself is actually quite interesting.
The story is also remarkably subtle… Rather than having everyone describe everything that happened and everything that happens in great detail, or even seeing things in great detail, you’re given just enough information and hints to know that something did happen. I believe they call that showing rather than telling, though applying that phrase to visual media can be a little confusing. But this is probably the best thing about Gilgamesh. That unrivaled subtlety.
… Which it prompty defenestrates in favour of one of the most ridiculous endings one could possibly imagine for a series like this. It’s too much. It becomes stupid. You don’t care what happens in the last episode after a certain point because they’re not showing any creative restraint with what’s happening and it’s just a huge, almost insulting mess. I actually really liked the final message of Gilgamesh’s story, but it’s hard to think of it positively when it’s tied to such an excessive last episode. Though, I don’t really know what else I expected with an episode title like “gil games night.”
Gilgamesh is really just not a good anime. It tried to be, but its budget must have been cripplingly bad, and its pace is just far too slow to make it anything other than a grueling watch for most of its episodes.
tl;dr Just don’t watch this unless you’re dying for subtlety (and prepared to be disappointed), a hardcore fan of someone in the cast/staff, or if you just want to see something really really messed up.