"Hey, I'm just about to kill someone; can I call you right back?" a chipper Steven Foster asks. "Seriously, she's on her dying breath, so it shouldn't take two minutes."
Two minutes pass. On cue, the phone rings. "Okay, done," Foster chirps. "Where were we?"
Another character has bitten the dust in Gilgamesh, the sci-fi/goth anime DVD series created by Japanese whiz Shotaro Ishinomori. Foster directs voice-over actors for ADV Films, the local anime distribution company that acquires Japanese titles like Gilgamesh, adds English dialogue tracks and then redistributes the films. And while he won't say exactly which character croaks, fans of Gilgamesh -- which boasts worldwide cult status -- can get a clue this week at Gilgamesh: Sex & Whispers & Slices of Violence. The free "black carpet screening" (now that's goth) will be hosted by Foster and Gilgamesh cast members at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, and features highlights from the first half of the series. "There'll be moments of sex, some slow, drawn-out drama -- and then some bloody fight scenes," says Foster.
A gloomy, melancholy tale, Gilgamesh is set in the future, after a devastating terrorist incident known as Twin X (named for the date, October 10) has transformed Earth's sky into a bizarre mirror. Not surprising, the world is in a general state of hellish chaos. At the center of the continually twisting plot are Kiyoko and Tatsuya Madoka, the daughter and son of the terrorist who launched the crippling attack, who's known only as the Professor.
Tatsuya, who has psychic powers, is being hunted by two groups who want to harness his gift: the psychic Orga, who seek to restore the planet to its former glory, and the murderous Gilgamesh, who want nothing but to finish the work their master, the Professor, started. Times are tough for the kids: To settle their father's debts, the Mafia wants to sell Kiyoko into prostitution and sell off Tatsuya's organs. The Countess, who heads the Orga, seemingly comes to the children's aid. But she casts doubt on her intentions when she says, "I've just bought you." And in another "who can you trust?" plot twist, it turns out that the stately, bitchy Countess used to share the sheets with the Professor.
"A lot of anime is Michael Bay," says Foster of the genre's tendency toward flash and bang, "but this is more sex and suspense -- say, David Lynch." Gilgamesh is at the forefront of the new trend toward dark, plot-driven titles. The pace can lull you to sleep, then slap you awake with a gory, murderous battle. Dressed in lace or black leather, the characters are sexy and ghostly. The scenery is gloomy and dreary. To a goth fan, this is heaven.
And it's heaven for Foster, who happily hangs broken stone angels and a forest of dead tree branches in his studio so actors get can get into character. He even manages to stay cheery despite the haters who loathe his translations. "There are people that would love to put a bullet through my head," he says with a laugh, referring to the bloggers and fans who attack his "Fosterization" of Japanese dialogue. "But I don't have time to worry about that."
Considering all the people he's been offing, how could he?