A great evil threatens the people of your world. It is but the King of Kings and his Shield who can safeguard their lives. All those unworthy or unwilling to rise to the task meet their end here, by my blade.
Gilgamesh, also known as the Blademaster, is the final boss of the Final Fantasy XV downloadable content Episode Gladiolus. He is a formidable warrior who tests the might of the warriors of Lucis in combat, and claims the lives of those he deems unworthy. While his personality and appearance are drastically different from the typical Gilgamesh throughout the series, he is still a feared duelist with a love of combat who wields numerous swords, and is accompanied by a monster named Enkidu.
As past Gilgameshes in the Final Fantasy series, Gilgamesh in Final Fantasy XV is associated with the color red and numerous swords, has a cape, and wears a mask, although the mask is not painted like in his usual appearances, instead being plain silver. Gilgamesh is covered from head to foot in armor and has long silver hair in two braids and glowing red eyes. His appearance is somewhat akin to a magitek trooper, as his mask and glowing eyes give him a mechanical look. He is missing an arm and is much taller than a regular human; Gladiolus, himself very tall, only comes up to his chest.
Gilgamesh wields four swords that have intricately detailed blades: a large brass and gold-colored greatsword, a fencing sword, a broadsword, and a katana with a handle wrapped in red cloth and blue beads with the symbol of the Crownsguard—the Genji Blade. The Genji Blade being a weapon Gilgamesh took from one of his greatest challengers, suggests all of Gilgamesh's weapons may be spoils from his duels.
Gilgamesh believes that the weak are not worthy to live and cuts down those who seek to challenge him. Despite his harsh personality, he is not entirely merciless, as he spared the soldier who cut off his arm. Seeing this as a testament of the soldier's potential, Gilgamesh believed the challenger would be of more use to the Lucian kings alive than dead. He is loyal to the Lucian bloodline even though his extreme methods may not always show it. Gilgamesh believes that the Shield of the True King must possess not only the necessary strength, but also the will to not back down from any threat that stands in their way.
Gilgamesh is able to reanimate the dead and is implied to be over 2,000 years old. Despite having glowing red eyes, being seemingly immortal, and able to reanimate the dead, Gilgamesh doesn't appear to be a daemon. Rather, his soul is so powerful that the souls of the fallen will respond to his call. Dummied dialogue from Episode Gladiolus posits that Gilgamesh sealed his soul within the Tempering Grounds so that a future Shield of the King could seek his council, fearing that the Accursed's appearance heralded horrors to come.
Gilgamesh can phase and warp over at least short distances, similar to the power of the kings of Lucis. When doing so he leaves behind muted red holograms. After easily defeating Gladiolus at the entrance to the Tempering Grounds, Gilgamesh fades away like a ghost.
He is an outstanding swordsman with superhuman physical prowess, having overpowered the young Cor Leonis even after his arm had been cut off. Gladiolus is only able to defeat him after having completed all trials and received the power of the souls inside the Tempering Grounds. Even after being stricken down, Gilgamesh quickly gets back up. Though he has lost his physical arm, Gilgamesh can recreate a glowing "ghost" version of it and use it for a devastating dual-bladed fighting style. He can empower his weapons with red energy and manifest a blade from thin air, similar to those associated with the royal house of Lucis. His mere presence causes the air to tense up.
Gilgamesh is the Shield of the Founder King from 2,000 years ago. He now resides in the depths of Taelpar Crag in the Cleigne region, a remnant the War of the Astrals. "Shield of the King" has become a title given to the Lucian monarch's main bodyguard.
Thirty years ago Lucians discovered the ruins at Taelpar Crag and many ventured inside only to be killed by Gilgamesh. A 15-year-old Cor Leonis was the only one to emerge alive, earning him the nickname "the Immortal". Cor had cut off Gilgamesh's arm, but despite this Gilgamesh won and kept Cor's Genji Blade as a trophy of his victory. He apparently spared Cor for having accomplished the feat of landing such an injury on him. Losing to Gilgamesh humbled the overconfident Cor, who continued to serve the Lucian royal family in the Crownsguard.
A 45-year-old Cor returns to Gilgamesh's trials not to try it himself, but to support Gladiolus Amicitia, Prince Noctis's sworn shield who wants to prove his worth. In their first encounter, Gladiolus is easily beaten, but Gilgamesh spares him and allows him to partake in the trials. Gladiolus is guided to Gilgamesh's lair by the voices of the souls that lurk in the Tempering Grounds. Gladiolus challenges Gilgamesh to a battle while declaring he fears nothing, and the two clash blades. Gladiolus strikes Gilgamesh down but is wounded on his forehead. Gladiolus admits that the only thing he fears is not being strong enough for his position as the King's Shield, and Gilgamesh recognizes Gladiolus as being worthy of protecting the True King.
As Gladiolus returns to his friends, he speculates that Gilgamesh had been waiting for the Chosen King for two millennia to test the might of the Chosen King's Shield. As told by Cor, the reason Gladiolus's father, Clarus Amicitia, never took on the trial was because he didn't deem it worth abandoning King Regis.
Gilgamesh refers to Noctis as the last king of Lucis, hinting that he knows of the fate of the True King.
Gilgamesh is fought twice as a boss, first before the trial begins, and secondly at the end of the trial. The first boss fight is unwinnable as Gladiolus is too weak to block his attacks, and therefore Gilgamesh will drop the player's HP to 0. The second fight, the player can beat Gilgamesh, though he will fully replenish his HP after being defeated the first time. Defeating Gilgamesh concludes the episode.
A rendition of Gilgamesh's iconic theme, "Battle at the Big Bridge", plays during his battle. "Battle on the Big Bridge (EPISODE GLADIOLUS version)" was arranged by Keiichi Okabe for the Episode Gladiolus DLC. The development team encouraged Okabe to incorporate his own style into the composition, resulting in the addition of vocals and elements from his previous work with the NieR series. The theme is available in the main game in the music player.
Creation and developmentEdit
Gilgamesh's depiction differs from his usual appearances as a recurring character in the series. He is not a comedic character, and doesn't speak in a boastful manner. Gilgamesh often appearing with multiple arms in his true form is subverted with the Gilgamesh in Final Fantasy XV having but one arm, though he still regains his other arm for the second phase of his boss battle. Gilgamesh is not seeking a legendary weapon, but has collected swords from the warriors he has defeated that he appears to have set up as trophies on his chosen battleground: a bridge, as per Gilgamesh boss battle tradition.
Dummied dialogue from Episode Gladiolus reveal some discarded ideas for Gilgamesh. It was said Gilgamesh had witnessed the Founder King's brother become a monster due to an unknown cause and turn against him, and the Shield of the King was a position to protect the king from this new threat. Gladiolus had asked if the soul he was talking to was one of the former Shields of the King, and the soul had answered that he was one of the first, who had worked for Gilgamesh to defend the Founder King. The "General" (Gilgamesh) had feared the brother's transformation was a harbinger of horrors to come and had sealed his own soul within the Tempering Grounds so that another Shield could one day seek his counsel and to entrust his power to the one who proves himself worthy of defending the king and succeeding him. The soul had not been aware the Crystal had chosen a Chosen King, and asked about it from Gladiolus, who had admitted he doesn't know what being the Chosen King means.
In the final game, Gilgamesh doesn't entrust his powers to Gladiolus, but rather, gives him advise and a sword he had taken as a spoil from a won duel. The souls Gilgamesh calls forth are not said to be previous Shields of the King and the Founder King's brother being turned into a monster is not mentioned.
Gilgamesh is voiced by Kazuhiko Inoue in the Japanese release and Tom Taylorson in the English release. His voice, like his personality, drastically differ from the typical Gilgamesh appearances in the series.
Non-Final Fantasy guest appearancesEdit
Gilgamesh is the main character of the Epic of Gilgamesh, an Akkadian poem considered the first great work of literature. He is a demigod with superhuman strength who builds the walls of Uruk to defend his people and travels to meet the sage Utnapishtim, a survivor of the Great Flood.
Gilgamesh is believed to have actually existed by many scholars. It is estimated he lived sometime between 2800 and 2500 BC. The Sumerian King List claims Gilgamesh ruled the city of Uruk for 126 years.
Gilgamesh in Final Fantasy is also based on Benkei, a famous character in the Japanese mythologies and chronicles of the Genpei War. A powerful warrior monk said to have personally defeated 200 men in every battle he engaged in and said to have had the strength of demons, Benkei's introduction sees him set out to collect 1,000 weapons, and to this end he posted himself at Gōjō Bridge in Kyoto and challenged every warrior who attempted to cross. On his 1000th duel Benkei was defeated by Minamoto no Yoshitsune, the only defeat he had ever known, and became his faithful retainer throughout the rest of his life.
From the story of Benkei, Gilgamesh takes his preference for the naginata (Benkei's traditional weapon as a monk), his penchant for fighting on bridges, his collecting of weapons from enemies he defeats, and his friendship with the player's characters who defeat him. Benkei's devotion to Yoshitsune is the basis for Gilgamesh's association with Genji equipment—the Minamoto Clan is also called the Genji Clan, using the alternate pronunciation for the Chinese characters for mina and moto, gen and uji, respectively. Gilgamesh's face paint is based on traditional kabuki actors, for which Benkei is a popular character to portray.
- Gilgamesh in the Final Fantasy series is associated with Genji equipment. In Final Fantasy XV, he yields the Genji Blade after being defeated.
- Gilgamesh's concept art was shown at a community fan event at Osaka on 1st July 2017.
- According to the Final Fantasy XV: Episode Carbuncle Comic 13, one theory for the origin of the Shield of the King's bird tattoo is to honor Enkidu, said to be a close companion of Gilgamesh, the first Shield of the King. A sidekick called Enkidu is a recurring companion to the Gilgameshes in the series, but the Enkidu boss in Episode Gladiolus never appears alongside Gilgamesh in the episode.