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By Daulton Dickey | September 9, 2005

Of all the anime released over the past few months, I have anticipated the second volume of “Gilgamesh” above all other releases. While the first volume managed to create a compelling story, world, characters, and ambiance, the episodes presented there were slow and meandering. Although it had the makings of becoming a brilliant, perhaps even influential, series, it was hindered by its inability to move the story forward in leaps and bounds. From the episodes contained in the first volume, the series showed the potential of being great, but it also ran the risk of falling on its face while it struggled to tell a well-paced, coherent story.

Thankfully, all fears have been thrown aside with the release of the second volume.

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.

When two orphaned teenagers, Kikiyo and Tatsuya, become targeted by 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.

Picking up where volume 1 left off, the Orga, along with Tatsuya, are desperately searching for Kikiyo. She is eventually released when Gilgamesh realizes that she cannot be convinced to join their side, so they release her, warning, however, that if she gets in their way, they’ll kill her. Some battles between Orga and Gilgamesh ensue while the Orga train Tatsuya to hone his powers.

“Gilgamesh” continues it highly stylized look by turning traditional Gothic art on its head. What we get here are plenty of medieval looking landscapes packaged in contemporary environments. The animation is fluid, the characters, as always, are beautifully designed, animated, and the voice-over acting is superb.

But the series’ storytelling is what ultimately sets it apart from virtually every other anime show in the market. Instead of encapsulating each episode, the show builds on previous story and character arcs and hits the right notes while building to a slow crescendo. While some may find the pacing interminable, those who like intelligent anime should not miss this show, as it’s fast becoming the greatest title released stateside in the past few years.

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