Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh is a story unlike any other currently out in the industry. The name might be familiar to some more academic readers. Based off the latest chapter, however, it has little to do with the Mesopotamian poem. Elements of fantasy are used in brand new ways to deliver something completely its own. This manhwa uses some common tropes to deliver one of the best stories ever penned.
We are treated to the plights of a man alive since the beginning of time and who cannot die. How would immortality ever be bad you ask? The author does an excellent job of showing us how many people an immortal has to see come and go. The isolation from living forever is something that would be unbearable to many of us.
We are also shown how many history changing moments he was a part of. Meeting the first legendary magicians, saving a king from death, and even raising a dragon are all deeds he’s done.
At first being like a shadow throughout history, he soon found things his immortality was a blessing for, which changed him. He taught himself anatomy with his own body and eventually became a doctor. After having mastered those skills, he finally saw the appeal in collecting knowledge instead of simply existing. The main character eventually learned that his brain had a finite amount of knowledge it could learn before forgetting something else. To remedy that he created a technique to seal away skills he had no use for anymore.
While half of the story is in the past, the other half is in the present. The current story follows our main character as he seeks to die, while also trying to free his companion from a curse.
It creates a nice duality between the immortal hoping to die and his companion yearning to live.
The characters are the greatest part of this comic.
First up is Ram, short for Ramen. He is the main protagonist of the story and has had many names throughout history. He has also had many roles. Initially useless, he taught himself various different skills. The author makes a point of telling us that Ram is not a genius and is instead a hard worker. Having all the time in the world removed the pressure people normally have to learn things on a time limit. He is immortal and also has regeneration.
Next up is Trudia. She is a trainee knight and is afflicted with a curse that is slowly killing her. She is portrayed as a big hearted person who doesn’t have much skill in learning sword fighting. Trudia also has what appears to be a bottomless stomach. Ram eventually figures out that the sword fighting technique she uses is not a good match for her. He decides to teach her a more fitting technique so that she can survive until she can be healed. She also becomes a big part of their fighting potential.
The final main character that can be talked about without spoiling the plot is Hadar. He is a warrior from the Onui tribe. They are a group of people who use bows and arrows and have very distinct customs. They are never taught words and have their vocal cords cut. All of this is done to stop them from giving out information if they are ever captured. All of the tribesmen have a clock and distance engrained in them that allows them to snipe their targets from far or close away using measurements instead of variables. What makes Hadar even more special is that he’s an elite bowman from the Onui. He only communicates through sign language and is often the comic relief.
Chasing after them is Malta, a cult looking to learn more about immortality. Having captured Ram once, they experimented on him day and night until he escaped. Within their ranks are knights such as Tink. Knights are normally the highest class of warriors, but Malta classifies individuals based on how long they’ve been a part of the group. They are also not above bringing knights, such as Waron, from outside to accomplish their plans.
Traditionally in media knights are people who paid to get their rank, look good in armor, or are from nobility. The knights in Epic of Gilgamesh are geniuses among geniuses that are the best fighters around. Normally they aren’t attached to any particular faction other than the kingdom. They are the equivalent of an army, have special abilities, and use unique weapons. Tink uses swords called Fang and Molar that allow him to break magic and to reduce the impact of a hit respectively. Waron uses a heavy spear that he can guide on the condition of closing his eyes.
The knights sound incredibly overpowered but they also have strict guidelines they have to adhere to. Tink can only fight people he can see and so on.
The art style is very detailed and conveys motion properly. While being serious in nature, the artist also takes the time to slip in visual gags which helps break the tension every chapter brings along. The characters are great to look at and Ram reminds me of Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher series, both in looks and to a lesser degree, personality. The comic has colored pages and it looks really good.
The panels convey so much information like a motion picture. True to its name, everything feels epic in this manhwa.
If you love fantasy stories about knights and dragons, read this. If you don’t, what’s wrong with you? Read it anyways. Epic of Gilgamesh approaches those classic elements with its own ingenious spin. All of the lovable characters will pull you in and never let you go as you patiently wait for more chapters to come out.