When I first browsed through my friends shelf of anime I didn’t pay Gankutsuou much mind, he had told me how good it was and that I would like it but I thought I had better things to do than watch it. As it turns out, I was completely wrong. I eventually picked it up and began watching it and at the end of the first episode I was hooked on it. It was like a drug that I needed to continue pumping into my system, and even now that it is over I crave for more. So now I shall take an in depth
look at the anime; Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
In most reviews I’d start with perhaps the characters or the story, but now I must truly start with the art. The art itself was disorientating to me at first, I looked at it and found it hard to concentrate too long on the screen, things blended together so well that at times I found it hard to believe the entire scenery wasn’t part of the character I was watching. But after the first few episodes the art was something else altogether, it seemed to take a new life. I watched it and was captivated by it, at times I even had to rewind because I had missed several lines of text because I couldn’t tear myself away from it all. The art simply leaps off the screen and at first it may seem a little jarring but eventually you’ll ever wonder why you questioned the design of it all. While the art itself is beautiful there are some places it lacks, although the rest more than makes up for it. Some of the characters I found to be too plain in certain situations, however it was a miniscule thought, it did not detract from the visual experience of the show in the least.
Now for the proverbial meat of it all, story. The anime is a loose adaptation of, what is called by some, the greatest story of revenge ever told. Coming in to that there are many expectations that must be lived up to in order for this story to truly hold it’s own and it lives up to them beautifully.
As I stated the drive of the story is revenge, everything else within it are simply unfortunate souls that get caught up in the bloody, sadistic revenge of the man known as the Count of Monte Cristo. But although The Count is what the story revolves around it is told from the perspective of the naïve, and often downright foolish, Albert Morcerf. The story begins with a meeting of destiny between our protagonist Albert and someone I can’t quite call an antagonist, The Count. With his charming words, devilish smile and warm eyes he quickly wins his way into our naïve Albert’s heart and becomes an important figure in the boys life. He continues to pursue his friendship with The Count despite the nagging of the, obviously smarter, Franz Epinay, Albert’s best friend. As the story continues the happiness of our hero is bombarded by the darkness and despair brought about by circumstances that might have been prevented.
Story is everything for an anime such as this, if you lack it you’ll produce a piss-poor adaptation of a great piece of literature. Being able to make your heart break one moment and your blood boil the next, able to leave you breathless in your seat with your heart pounding in your chest, these are proof that you’re watching something amazing. It is clear that Gankutsuou, if not at least meeting your expectations, it will blow them away and leave you speechless.
This will perhaps be the shortest section of the review, simply because the sound played no part in my heightened or lessened enjoyment of the show. Do not mistake my words, the music within the show is very fitting and very well done, however it does not simply jump out and grab you. It does not make you stop and go “I have to listen to that once more.” However that is within the show itself, the opening and ending themes are a different matter. It was almost strange to see them both, it honestly seemed as if someone had goofed and mistaken the ending for the opening. However after two episodes I was humming along with the tune to both and even downloaded them to put on my mp3. The songs themselves are so good I’ve almost started singing along with them out in public. There really is nothing more to say than, the music worked well, it was subtle, let you know it there but didn’t make any bold statements.
I’m tempted to simply write “flawless” and call it a day here but that would be an insult to the greatness of each. I will not list them all here, of course, but I shall list those that I think play an important role and need to be looked at in the spotlight. But let me state that although I do not talk about all the characters, I believe none are truly “secondary” for they all have their own role that drives the story, they all have their own flaws and a depth you wouldn’t expect from characters you rarely see. Now, onto the spotlight
The Count: Was everything that he needed to be and then some. He could be the hero of the piece or the villain, whichever role he was playing at the time all eyes were glued to him. Charming, subtle, seductive and kind he played them all so well and then there were times where we all saw the darkness he brought with him. He was a strange maze of understanding, never knowing what he was going to do next simply because he didn’t know what role he’d slip into. The Count is truly one of the most dark and captivating characters I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Albert: I have a desire to scream idiot here and be done with it, but again that is not true. He is not an idiot, he is simply naïve and often childish in his decisions. He refuses to see the bad in people, which can be good but not all the time. He’s hard headed and stubborn, but he’s a character that you feel for, he bears the most humanity of them all and when his heart breaks, so does yours.
Franz: The best friend that everyone wants, loyal, caring and willing to do whatever necessary to keep his friend safe. He’s stubborn as well but he is the voice of reason in Albert’s and his relationship. He is the first to be skeptical of The Count and one of the first to pursue information about the mysterious man.
While there are other characters that perhaps deserved the spotlight I felt that, mostly, these three characters were the most important simply because they were around for almost every single event that drove the plot. The others characters, however, are not to be dismissed, they each have good character designs as well as wonderful personalities and even flaws. Some even evolve throughout the show, which can be rare for a character deemed “secondary.” But they all fit together and play off each other so well it would take too long to praise them all.
I truly doubt there is a single thing I did not enjoy throughout my entire watching of this show. There are a few minor things but they’re so miniscule when compared to the good things that they’re just overlooked and swept under the rug, still there but completely forgotten. I found myself completely captivated by this show, every emotional twist made me feel what it was supposed to, every mystery kept me guessing and theorizing and wondering. I ranted and raved about things that had happened when I wasn’t watching, I sometimes found myself balling my hands into white knuckled fists at the more infuriating scenes and crying like a child at others, I truly believe I went through almost the entire emotional spectrum while watching this show. And that is truly a mark of my enjoyment of it.
In the end this can only be summed up as something that you need to watch, that is said a lot in reviews but it is truly something that will be appreciated (even if you haven’t read the novel). It’s compelling story, beautiful artwork and in depth characters will drag you into the world and never let you go, even after you’ve finished the final episode The Count of Monte Cristo will still have you under his spell.
-To those who vote "Not Helpful" if you could message me to tell me what you disliked I could improve on this and future reviews, thank you.-
A nineteenth century classic French novel, in the future, in space with aliens, space ships, giant robots and evil spirits? Surprisingly, it works! I am not sure what Monsieur Dumas would think of his classic 'The Count of Monte Christo' being turned into a galactic drama, but I like many other anime fans certainly enjoyed it!
Those familiar with the novel will know the basics of who the characters are and what the general outcome of the story will be, much like how anyone who knew the basic plot of Romeo and Juliet could easily predict what fate would befall the title
characters in the anime Romeo X Juliet. To keep things fresh and interesting, the story gets an extreme makeover by catapulting the plot three thousand years into the future and onto the moon. The story is also told through Albert Morcef's perspective, rather than the Count's, allowing for a new take on the story and minor characters in the novel, such as Franz D'Epiney become more developed and are given a larger role.
The story follows the main themes of the novel though; love, betrayl, revenge and redemption. It is an intricately woven story throughout the 24 episodes, each one ending in a cliff hanger making the viewer want to jump right into the next episode. Elements of mystery and suspense are used so effectively, I was compelled to watch the whole anime in one sitting, something I have never done with any other anime before.
The visuals are beautiful and innovative, using textures rather than solid colours. While this can be disorienting at first, especially with layers of brightly coloured textures flashing across the screen, it does make for some of the most beautiful and creative scenery I have seen in any film media. The style is something unique to this anime and the CG components are excellent. Music is a mix of orchestral piano pieces, brooding techno, waltzes and the beautiful ballad 'We Were Lovers' for the opening theme. These combine the classical roots of the story with the futuristic elements wonderfully.
Characters in Gankutsuou are given little grey area. While some characters, such as The Count, motives and morals remain in the grey, most are clearly good or bad, making it heart wrenching when the good, and often innocent characters are pulled into the anti-hero's deadly revenge plot. The audience wants to see the bad guys punished by the man they betrayed, but at the same time want the innocent bystanders who are pulled into the plot have a happily ever after ending. Albert, the main character, is an idealistic and often rash, privilleged young fifteen year old. His angsting, naivite and rashness might grate some viewers, but at the same time his actions are believable for an average fifteen year old, unlike many shonen series. It also makes him more vulnerable to the more wily characters, as a child his age might be. Many of the characters are not all powerful, having both strengths and weaknesses, making them much more human and believable.
One aspect that won me over though was the portrayl of a character who is very strongly hinted at being homosexual. The Seiyu of this particular character confirmed his belief that the character he portrayed was indeed a homosexual. Rather than being slotted into a stereotype or cliche, this character is shown to be very capable, loyal and above all arguably the most rational individual in the series. He is not shown to be flamboyant, perverted, or visually offputing like many gay characters added in for laughs. This character was fleshed out, and in my opinion a very positive representation of a gay character. In fact he takes on many of the Japanese ideals of a homosexual lover, including beauty, brains, strength, sensitivity and above all loyalty. Bravo for this!
I would reccomend this anime for fans of drama, mystery, and suspense. Fans of the original novel; beware of deviations and creative liscense. This is not a completely accurate retelling of Alexandre Dumas' work, if you couldn't tell from the giant robots and space ships. The series contains alcohol and hints of drug usage, incest, hints of sex (both consensual and nonconsensual), human trafficing, violence, nudity, frightening imagery and character death. If any of this offends or upsets you, you may not want to watch this one (though you're really missing out on an awesome series).
Overall: This is the best anime I have seen in a very long time. It is the first anime that has compelled me to watch the whole thing in one sitting. The art is innovative, the story is intricately woven, the characters are believable, and the suspense keeps you on the edge of your seat wanting more. This one is a must for your 'completed' list.
Manga/Anime/Both: Anime series, 24 episodes, ran from October 5th, 2004 to March 29th, 2005 in Japan, licenced by Geneon, with six of six volumes released. A manga is currently running in Japan in Kodansha's magazine Afternoon, and has yet to be licenced over here.
Story: And now, the hard part... There is no simple way to sum up Gankutsuou's story, although I'll try.
Gankutsuou is based off of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. I say "based off of," because in the later part of the series (Episode 18 and thereabouts), the series takes a
major divergence from the book. Plotwise, though, Maeda slightly alters whose point of view we see this from and some sideplots; most notably are the Valentine/Maximilien and Cavalcanti plots. The most notable change is the setting, time-wise; Gankutsuou takes place in Paris for the most part, but about two, three thousand years in the future, and on another planet at some points. Also, characters that are barely mentioned in the book get major screentime. However, for the most part, the anime sticks close to the book. If you're a Dumas purist, though, stay far away from this series.
Also, there are slight shonen-ai overtones; it's nothing explicit, and only implied, but you can tell that it's there. And there's crossdressing on numerous accounts. Again, if this any of this offends you, stay away.
Story Critique: For the most part, if you know the original Dumas story, you have a good idea of what's going to happen in Gankutsuou. Maeda has taken his liberties, though; and after Episode 18, as I said before, the series takes a completely different direction, and will make the purists want to hunt him down with pitchforks and torches.
However, I'm really happy with Maeda's changes; the only gripe I have is that he altered the Valentine/Maximilien and Cavalcanti sideplots the way he did, and that he killed off one of the characters he did. For the most part, though, the alterations only add to the sheer awesomeness of the series, and lets some characters shine in ways that they didn't get to in the book.
This story will keep you on the edge of your seat and hooked till the bitter end. I didn't get bored with the series at all, as I usually do at the halfway point; in fact, I watched this series pretty much in under a week. I've always thought that The Count of Monte Cristo was prime anime material, considering the serialistic way that it was written.
EDIT: There have been complaints lately saying that Gankutsuou isn't for everyone. And admittedly, it isn't. If you think that Bleach and Naruto are the epitome of anime, then you should probably stay away from this show, as this and that are worlds apart. It WILL take some effort on your part to follow the story, which, yes, means using your brain as you're watching this, unlike the typical mindless shonen problem/monster-of-the-week plot seen in both shows I've previously mentioned.
Art Style: This is one of the integral parts of the series. The art style will turn some people off; in fact, when Maeda was first screening Gankutsuou, the most frequent complaint was that the art style made viewers' eyes hurt.
Maeda uses a unique 2-D animation technique, most notable in regards to characters' clothing -- the technique makes it look like the characters' clothes are moving, but the characters themselves are not. It's really noticeable in the first few episodes, but by the fourth or fifth episode, you become used to it. This technique is used to great effect not only in the clothes that the characters wear, but in the trippy sequences involved with the plot.
CG animation is also used heavily in this series; it's mostly used for some backgrounds and vehicles. At times, the juxtapostion of traditional/the new technique of 2D/CG can be jarring, but it takes some getting used to, as well. The backgrounds are where the CG animation really shines though.
This combination is definitely a step into the unknown for Gonzo, and has a tendency to polarize viewers; either you love it, or you hate it.
Music: There are two types of music in Gankutusou: original compositions and classical music.
The classical music has a tendency to become easily associated with certain moods and event types, not to mention become grating. There's one piece in particular (I can't remember the name at the minute ><) that, by the third episode, will become associated with DEATH AND IMMINENT DOOM. The music that doesn't become mood-associated is usually used in connection to one main character's musicianship, and isn't heard that often.
The original compositions are by both Kasamatsu Kouji and Jean-Jacques of the band The Stranglers; he also does the opening and ending. The original compositions tend to also become associated with mood and event types; however, there are enough different ones, and are used sparingly enough that they don't become grating. The opening and endings are absolutely awesome; ask FMS how much I was spazzing after getting the full versions. XD The opening is a sentimental song accompanied by piano and strings, and the ending is a raging rock number with a full band and strings that'll have you on your feet by its end; both have a lot to do with the plot.
Voice Seiyuu: The voices for this series are simply amazing. Every seiyuu matches their respective character perfectly, and no voice seems out of place. The real standouts for this series, for me, are the seiyuu for the Count, and Mercedes; Joji Nakata, and Kikuko Inoue, respectively. Both capture their characters perfectly, and you can hear the dynamic between them, which is a major factor in the series.
Dub/Voice Actors: The first I saw of this series was on the October or November (can't remember which again) DVD sampler for Newtype; dubbed was the only option available. After watching the one DVD I have subbed, and then dubbed, I can say that I really don't have a problem with the dub at all which, for me, is rare. I know that Himura hates it when people do this, but the Japanese and English VAs for these series are easily comprable. The standout voice for the dub is the Count, once again; I don't know his VA, but he does a superb job of capturing his character.
Length: Perfect. Shortening the series by a few episodes wouldn't have hurt the series, but character development would've definitely taken a major hit if they had. Had they added more episodes, it would've been too long. However, I would like to see an OAV on the backstory of the Count; we saw brief flashes that explained a lot, but not quite in depth as Dumas' original story.
Overall: This anime is one of the best of 05. You will be sucked in the moment you start watching it, and it will not let you go.
To sum it up, a line from the promotional trailer from the first DVD:
Gankutsuou is one of those few series that I actually watched first on DVD. I started watching it when my friend decided to collect it on DVD as it was released, but before I had actually experienced the show, I already had high expectations, having heard so many people praising it as a masterpiece and the artistic style (which I had glimpsed in a number of promotional images) of the show promised innovation and quality. I try to avoid having expectations for a show before I start it, but sometimes they just cannot be quashed, and so I sat down to the first episode hoping
for something fantastic, but braced for a sense of disappointment. After sitting down to watch the final episode, many months later, I can say that Gankutsuou won me over in every way, and exceeded my realistic expectations. It is mystifying that this show was conceived and produced by GONZO, whose name, particularly in recent years has become synonymous with mediocrity or even outright poor production. Until now, Last Exile was easily the best thing I’d ever seen GONZO create, and I had begun to think it was all they were capable of. Gankutsuou raises the bar dramatically, and I honestly think referring to it as a masterpiece is entirely justified (and I’m not one to use words like that very often).
It is an achievement in every department, and represents the pinnacle of the many genres it incorporates; romance, action, and revenge story, you won’t find much better of any of these than are in this show. At heart Gankutsuou is a tale of revenge, fuelled by betrayal and the remnants of a passionate love story, which delves deep into the human condition by weaving powerful emotion such as greed, and lust into its story. Touching at times, darkly melodramatic at others, it covers the full spectrum of emotions, and, unlike many other anime, it is not bogged down in redundant complexities or confusing fictional terminology, it is a straightforward story of epic scale and powerful depth. Of course, those who have read the Count of Monte Cristo will already be well aware of the nature of the story, but for those who haven’t (which includes me) the show has a gripping plot that is guaranteed to make you think and feel.
The animation and artwork deserves special mention, because the story, as good as it was, cannot be fairly credited to GONZO. Gankutsuou utilises a visual style never used before in anime (as far as I know), and while it may be slightly jarring at first, the use of a palette of textures rather than solid colours ultimately elevates the aesthetics to a whole new level. Rather than just being a gimmick, the animation technique gives the show a distinct appearance that is fitting for its flamboyantly French-aristocratic setting. It would not be suitable for any anime, in fact very few, but Gankutsuou couldn’t have looked better, with its loosely poetic story complimented by the extravagant artwork. Other than this texture factor, the animation is actually rather basic, but that is never a concern. The cel animation lacks no flaws, but is not as detailed as it could have been (in fact, without the use of textures, they would look terribly simplistic), and the use of CG is a mixed bag, sometimes looking fantastic, other times a bit too pronounced. Ultimately, these are not problems at all, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another anime that looks this good.
The music is excellent, although there is surprisingly little of it. The BGM is used sparingly to great effect, and although there are really only a few key BGM tracks, they have an amazingly powerful sound every time they are used, and they do not get old. It is a very mature score, with no obtrusive pop sounds, but it is not a conventional dreary stringed score either.
The characters are memorable, and over the course of its 26 episodes, the show manages to build a great depth to each one, deriving sympathy and empathy in a tale infused with tragedy. When I referred to the show as a melodrama, I don’t mean Mai HiME 17-25 melodrama, I mean one that is intelligently manifested and stunningly executed. Rather than melodrama under the pretext of ‘someone does > causes grief’, each event, almost as a depiction of fate, contributes to the very core of the story, and each moment of loss or joy has a thoughtful cause and effect behind it as a part of the intricate plot. There was not one character I did not like, and there was not one character that lacked sufficient characterisation. One of the few anime that almost made me cry a number of times, the drama is remarkably poignant amidst a background of murder and betrayal.
To top it all off, the end is basically perfect, although I felt the epilogue was slightly longer than it needed to be. If GONZO have to use a novel as reference in order to make a good anime and pace it out well, then I hope they acquire more novels! I have nearly run short of adjectives of praise, so I’ll wrap up my review now by suggesting that everyone watch (and buy) Gankutsuou as soon as humanly possible. A show that is practically without flaw, masterfully written and produced, and with a style you’ve never seen before, it deserves to be seen. If it wasn’t for my fetish for the sociologically inquisitiveness in Gits SAC, this would be my second favourite anime of all-time. Alas, it is my third.
Ambition. An earnest desire for achievement or distinction and the willingness to strive for such is often fundamental in success. It produces action, bringing forth moods of passion, emotion and a yearning love for the endeavour. This is especially so with art, where the skill and craftmanship of creators are beared on display, readily available for consumers to take in and experience for themselves. However, in recent times one could argue that such craftmanship seems to have dwindled overtime, instead reverting to complacency in one’s ability to prosper. No longer when writing a story is a high level of skill required when accompanied with breath-taking
visuals, nor is impressive production necessary for adapting acclaimed literature. Today, ambition appears no longer appreciated as it once was, and honestly, this does seem rational: why take a chance on something new and bold when settling on success still grants enough in return? It is this mindset that I sincerely believe breeds mediocrity whilst leaving those who dare try otherwise in the dust, but I would hope for the opposite; where originality is valued amongst the familiar crowd and if successful, could very well turn out a classic that stands the test of time.
With that said… Madames and Monsieurs, good evening.
‘High above in the opera box a figure entered. Removing his top hat revealed streaming ripples of hair, his skin ghostly blue. The singer stepped forward, hands outstretched as she came closer, her voice lifting higher and higher. He grasped a bouquet of flowers and once reached her climax threw it to her, leaving her audience in wonder; perplexed as well as in awe. He bowed among the applaud of many but to one soul in particular. Of this moment he knew tonight marked a new dawn – this shall be the prelude to vengeance.’
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is one such work of art that seems driven on ambition, exuding a distinct, lavish style unparalleled for its time and ever since has never been replicated to the same magnitude. There always lies a certain level of tension whenever adapting a classic adored by many, yet here lies not only a competent retelling of the greatest lovers revenge piece ever put to paper, but a fantastic re-imagining able to stand on its own merit as a masterclass of storytelling. Rather than simply applying a shiny new aesthetic coat to fit a tried-and-true formula, Gankutsuou takes strides in significant changes to allow core facets from the original narrative align seamlessly in this new world. The setting: Paris, Rome and other major cities used in the original are replaced by entire planets and sectors of the galaxy, each with their own set customs both suiting the sci-fi setting whilst matching mannerisms flaunted from characters near identical to the source material. Through this, the majority of characters are quintessentially the same for both versions, with their French names, relationship dynamics and mentalities crossing over smoothly. In short, it effectively manages to transfer the culture of 19th century Europe into one’s depiction of the 6th millennium without feeling out of place. The result is a rich world where spaceships, aliens and robotic horses are considered the norm, alongside fashion, architecture and entertainment more befitting of the Renaissance period than anything in the distant future. It’s a change of scenery more appropriate to call anachronistic instead of merely futuristic, projecting a sense of familiarity amidst the otherwise alien world that separates Gankutsuou from every other iteration of Dumas’ opus. But there still lies more prominent changes with respect to the novel.
The most obvious point of divergence between the original and this adaptation lies in their point of perspective; the former being an enduring melodrama of a man wrongfully convicted who enacts revenge on those that ruined his previous life. Whereas here the retribution played out is portrayed as a tragedy, fixated with the corrosive effect vengeance may have when framed through the lives of what could be considered “collateral damage”. The most effective way Gankutsuou achieves this is by beginning halfway into the overarching plot, trimming huge swaths of unnecessary content while focusing primarily on the victims within this tangled web of one man’s vengeance. Most notably is Albert de Morcef, a young partisan who unbeknownst holds a greater grief and anguish than his contemporaries know. Displeased with the confines of his own life and desperate to seek out pleasure while he still can, almost as if by chance he meets and is immediately captivated by a mysterious stranger known only as “The Count of Monte Cristo”. He invites Albert to dine with him and partake in a game of fate, gambling lives under the illusion of choice. An enthralling experience, one the naïve hedonist yearns for more of. He offers to be the man’s guide for reintegrating into aristocracy, entirely unsuspecting of the danger he has welcomed into his household.
“There is no such thing as coincidence. Everything happens out of necessity.”
Albert acts as the catalyst that puts the Count’s plan into action. Unknowingly strung within a web of deception, greeting the spider without apprehension as it readily descends upon its prey. Of course, this web only appears as mere strands barely connecting to one another at first, allowing for the story to unravel in thrilling suspense and ambience. As the narrative continues along its own thread, the supposed “first half” of the story is subtly revealed moments at a time, unveiling the true motives behind the Count’s revenge in parallel to his plan enacted out in real time. The pacing of which is truly sublime: key information slowly leaked across the series’ runtime, letting viewers tie the knots themselves, coupled with asphyxiating cliff-hangers that do enough to maintain excitement and continually uphold a sense of curiosity for what is to come. It delivers on an engrossing tale specifically to those unfamiliar with the source material, however it still remains immensely enjoyable for those experienced with the classic version also. Despite creating a mystery from the most well-known part, the writing here is astute; clever enough to realise this fact and takes careful steps that eventually peel away from the canon in order to move in its own direction, adding extra layers that still fit with the original, whilst feeling fresh at the same time.
Although this tale is told from Albert’s point of view, the Count himself is without question the star of the show. A master manipulator, using his limitless amount of wealth, charm and guile to play everyone around him like pieces on a chessboard. His ability to shrewdly influence others from even the simplest of conversations is surely admirable to witness, and like a true mastermind he plays on the weaknesses of his adversaries. He creates the circumstances required where they cannot resist exposing their true nature: any immoral act they hold dear are brought to light as he takes delight in such. An enigma, constantly shrouded in an aura of mystique both frightening and fascinating, his very presence begs one wanting to know more. But sometimes learning more only brings forth more questioning. Just who is the Count of Monte Cristo? Vampiric in appearance and devilish by nature, suave as well as sinister. Controlled chaos… yet also capricious. He embodies that of a man hollowed out by revenge, but at times still appears to have a heart. It’s near impossible to determine all his actions as either manipulations or stemming from true emotion, and this intricacy further makes the man such a beloved character in my eyes, more akin to a compelling anti-hero than the dastardly villain the story portrays him out to be. Regardless of how one views the Count in that regard, he holds an unmistakable charisma setting him apart from every other character. Whenever the Count is present on screen, he demands the full attention of every viewer, all heeding on every word he speaks. His words, often providing the best insight into the creation and complexity that is the Count of Monte Cristo:
“In the darkness I awaited the dawn. And once dawn came, I cursed my flesh until night fell once more. I even prayed that I would lose my sanity. But those prayers went unheeded. I even strove for death, but the Devil’s cold, pitiless hand held me back.”
The Count and Albert are who ultimately carry this tale; the Count being cause for the mystery and overarching main plotline, with Albert contributing his point of view alongside the struggles attached with being at the centre of it all. Through Albert’s eyes a spotlight is cast upon numerous characters, each with believable characterization and strong chemistry that lends well to the dramatic story playing out. From his arranged fiancé Eugenie who constantly desires for independence, to his best friend Franz, a fellow partisan constantly involved in Albert’s affairs, frequently lending himself as a voice of reason whilst concurrently also directly affected at a similar degree as Albert courtesy of the Count – all are welcome expansions to their development compared to the source material where they barely held any relevance. Even characters who have their roles downgraded in this version are not relegated at the cost of their charm and never feel out of place. Everyone involved in Gankutsuou is complicated, entwined in a complex network of connections with each other and while some eventually fall by the wayside, a great number of them remain integral to the ongoing story.
Albert in many ways represents what the Count is not. Aside from being a very anime typical kind-hearted protagonist too credulous for his own good, from the beginning of the anime he expresses aspirations of breaking free from the confinements of his dull life that soon follows with him demonstrating clear naivete and general fragility. Albert is immature, often showcasing foolishness stemming from his young age and privileged aristocratic lifestyle. All and more play into why he is so easily enamoured by the Count’s mysticism. Albert is the most central character in the show, with his innocent disposition and despair suffered serving as the jump-off point for drama to spring forth. He is probably the most criticized part of the series, but as a sheltered 15-year old boy most of his actions can be considered as expected and these faults are what arguably make him oddly relatable. Alongside his friends, they all signify a “changing of the guard” of sorts, with their parents – all important and respected noblemen – representing established customs and traditions of their society, held atop an old, corrupt and overall defective order that forces others to accept it as they hold the power. But this new generation strive for a better tomorrow; one based of personal freedom, love and hope. Simultaneously involved is the Count, bringing about revolution, justice and a destruction for the establishment that wronged him, but also one of sorrow and chaos birthed from retribution. Interestingly enough, the Count does further allow for Albert and others to achieve their ideals, but there eventually lies a crossroad between both parties. This consequent clash also impacting the Count’s own inner conflict, with Albert reminding him of his past trusting nature, yet still driven by a need for revenge. At its climax, viewers bear witness to how far the Count would go through with his vengeance, and how far Albert would reach out to him.
“Everyone has a sword within their hearts; the purer the heart, the sharper the sword.”
The aesthetic choices made for Gankutsuou are what instantly set the series apart from practically every other anime currently in existence and is likely to be what makes or breaks the series for viewers. Personally, I found the artistic direction near impeccable, crafting the best visual definition possible for the term psychedelic. Director Mahiro Maeda had a clear vision for this anime, using Western impressionism and Ukiyo-e as inspiration for an art-style that beautifully blends the designs of classic European and space age to form this spectacular kaleidoscope of textures, with elaborate sets such as the Count’s household appearing more like a dream arthouse than anything remotely realistic. Almost every scene at the beginning of Gankutsuou utilizes various bright textures that immediately grab one’s attention, before slowly reverting to a neutered-down colour palette more welcoming to the eyes. These textures also provide an almost indirect means of characterization with the clothing worn and gorgeous imagery saturated across the series. Its distinct animation uses computer graphics to overlay bright colours and multiple background layers that blends the various animation styles used into scenes rather well. The result was something both complex and minimalistic that adds more value to character gestures and expressions. The staff wanted to create a show that “talked” to viewers, something that from my perspective was a success. The production is not perfect though, as CG still manages to come off jarring in the most climactic scenes. Studio Gonzo was behind the production for this anime, around a time where integrating traditional animation with CG was more often than not the norm for them, repeatedly receiving criticism for many lacklustre attempts. But with an anime so immaculate and extravagant in its design and surreal art-style, it barely amounts to a hindrance that is easily outweighed by the show’s visual strengths.
Much like the artistic endeavours that went into the visual side of Gankutsuou, the music accompanied is also masterful in its own right. The series features a strong soundtrack comprised of various classical tracks that flawlessly set the tone and ambience for each and every scene, lifting the dramatic moments to even greater heights. Ranging from serene and charming melodies to the more haunting and thrilling themes that aid immensely in the narrative conclusion of each episode, leaving viewers on the edge of their seats waiting eagerly for more. Jean-Jacques Burnel both composed and performed the opening and ending themes that were each a delight. The opening “We Were Lovers” involves a simple piano piece, bringing a softer nostalgic sound that draws viewers in, with lyrics vaguely describing lost love that speaks true of the Count’s background. The ending sequence “You Won’t See Me Coming” is a stark contrast to the former, bursting after every cliff-hanger with an energetic number along with distorted visuals that match the series far more as a thrilling drama. The voice acting is incredible across the board for both the dubbed and subbed version, with Jamieson Price and Jouji Nakata both being splendid standouts as the voices behind the Count. Overall it comes down to preference. I was more in favour of the English dub, but you cannot go wrong either way for this series.
Gankutsuou might be one of the closest examples of anime genuinely being considered a work of art. A beautiful series, artistically daring and meticulously plotted, each of its individual facets come together as an overlooked gem that when given the proper attention, shines ever so brightly. Transposing a time-treasured tale from one medium to another will always detract some for fear of ruining the beloved original story. But classics are eternal, and through reimagining old works in a new light they are enriched, able to awaken the love and respect of many generations that follow, staying in our hearts forever.
“All human wisdom is contained in these two words - Wait and Hope.”
The story of "The Count of Monte Cristo" has always been one of my favorites. So, I went into this anime with just a little bit of trepidation. I wondered if I should watch it, because I had heard that it veered so much from the original story. But, because of my love for the story, I had to try. And I was very pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it.
Story: Yes, it is an "adaptation." It strays way, far away from the original work. But the basic premises remains the same. Friendship. Love.
Betrayal. Revenge. Hope. Everything you loved about the original Count of Monte Cristo is still there; but with a futuristic twist. In my opinion, they left in the best of the best.
Art: For me, this was the only thing that brought my score down. As someone else had mentioned, the character designs were dull. The over-the-top backgrounds and unique way of animating the clothing and hair of the characters really took a lot of getting used to. Half-way through the series, it was still uncomfortable for me, but it did grow on me. The only reason, for me, that it brings the anime down at all, is because it is so distracting. I found myself concentrating on the patterns of the clothing and sometimes forgot to listen to what the characters were saying.
Sound: Beautiful OP. Absolutely gorgeous. Among my favorites. The ED was good, but for me, nothing mind-blowing. Overall with the opening, the beautiful operatic scenes as well as Eugenia's piano playing made the sound of this series "pop" to me and capture me more, I think than any other series.
Character: The character development in this series, for me, was outstanding. To watch Albert grow from the sniveling naive young boy at the beginning of the series, to the mature young man by the end (although he was still sniveling) made the series worthwhile. I also loved how they advanced his realization of his feelings for Eugenie. And Franz, probably my favorite character, gave me probably some of my favorite moments of the series. His love (whether it be a friendship type love or the romantic love that was hinted at through the entire series) for Albert pulled at my heartstrings every time.
Enjoyment: As a fan of the original work, I surprisingly found myself really enjoying this adaptation. And I couldn't wait, episode to episode, to see how they were going to "change" or "keep" certain aspects of the story. It was difficult for me to take breaks between episodes.
Overall: Almost a masterpiece. This part probably would have rated a perfect 10 from me, as would have the series, if I wasn't so uncomfortable with the art style. Fair? Maybe not. But this is my review and my opinion. I honestly do think I would have enjoyed it more, if they would have concentrated more on the character design and less on the flashy animation of the backgrounds and the clothing. But it was not enough of a let-down or a distraction from enjoying the truly unique telling of this story and the fantastic character development. So overall, this series gets a 9/10 from me.
"My friend once muttered to me, 'Death is nothing but a release.'
I asked: If death is a release, what is it that you wish to give them?
My friend answered me succinctly: 'I will give them eternal suffering and remorse.' "
There will never be another series quite like Gankutsuou. And that is why it depresses me to see the loosest yet greatest adaptation ever conceived, of *THE* quintessential tale of crime and punishment vengeance (as well as one of the most influential, contemporary classics of literature), so neglected by the anime fandom. Gonzo's masterpiece - complete with stunning CG-layered-on-2D clothing designs by Anna Sui - and
one of a select few anime worthy of being regarded as such. Voice acting legend Nakata Jouji said it best: "Gankutsuou is one of two or three anime that will stay with viewers, long after its conclusion".
Remember, remember not 'V for Vendetta' but instead its inspiration: The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes. A charismatic avenger charming all with a persona crafted after being broken by an injustice so crushing that he was forced to remake himself anew, he inflicts karmic justice on those that stole everything from him. True vengeance has never been about cinematic, visceral violence, and The Count forces his captivated audience to remember, for revenge was a dish served warm before his fictional existence came to be. So synonymous with righteous vengeance is his name that I first came across it when watching 1998 romance anime (of all things!) 'Kare Kano'. Fearing that another character held a long lasting grudge, jokingly the heroine pointed at the character with a look of shock and exclaimed, 'Edmond Dantes!?' The reference went over my head then, but never again.
The Count of Monte Cristo has a fairly straightforward revenge narrative, yet the elaborate attention to detail and incredibly relatable examination of the human condition makes it so much more.
A young man called Edmond Dantes loses his freedom, his love and almost his life because of the greed, jealousy and pride of three men. Then, after nearly two decades, he returns out of nowhere after having been thought long dead, posing as 'The Count of Monte Cristo': an enigmatic man of mystery who sends shockwaves through Paris with both his charm and riches. He then puts into action his plan to get the ultimate revenge on the three men that wronged him; all three now being prosperous members of the Parisian elite. After spending countless years suffering, rather than merely wanting to kill them, he wants to ruin them by throwing them into the same pit of despair he himself was once forced to endure.
Gankutsuou differs from the original in one very jarring way: it is NOT told from Edmond's point of view, or in chronological order as a consequence. The first episode is titled 'At Journey's End, We Meet', and this is because the series begins some 300+ pages into the novel! In order to fit it into 24 episodes (rather than 100+!) and increase its anime appeal, the story is instead told from the perspective of Albert; the 15-year-old son of one of the three Edmond seeks vengeance against. This results in both positives AND negatives... the good being the addition of mystery to a previously linear narrative and a different angle on a classic, which allowed for the 'directional sleight of hand' required for large chunks of the source material being skipped entirely. The bad? Albert having the IQ of a dog. So naive/dumb was he that I wanted to slap him when he failed to work out that it was in fact Edmond pulling the strings behind the awful sequence of events occurring for the tenth time. Despite being warned repeatedly... even by Edmond himself!
The oddly specific year 5053 setting will be quite a shock for anyone aware that it was originally set during the 1800's! Adapting a practically unadaptable tale of vengeance, without ANY violence, and moving it to the future with mecha sword duels highlights the suicidal ambition animation studio Gonzo had. It was a further surprise to discover that Gankutsuou begins during the Rome festival section of the novel (Albert's introduction); the only difference being that Rome was replaced with... a city on the moon called Luna!? Sci-fi settings are more attractive than period pieces lacking fantasy, but I would have preferred the story just to have occurred during the same period it did originally. Very few futuristic universe details are shared and it becomes something of a distraction. Clearly, Gonzo's fetish for robots overshadowed logic. In fact, French society and nobility function as if the past has been bizarrely thrown into the future! Even glove throwing to initiate legal duels to the death remained intact. But, for better or worse, it certainly made for an intriguing merger of the distant past and far future!
Ignoring events not being shown in chronological order, one of the two things that might REALLY upset purists is Gankutsuou's story going in a different direction almost entirely after episode 18. With Edmond the narrative's key component, him only caring for vengeance was the reason behind this late change. He was actually persuaded in the novel by Albert's mother, Mercédès, to alter his plans... yet in the anime he turned a deaf ear and continued. This one seemingly minor alteration had a HUGE impact on progression beyond that point since, in the original version, Edmond eventually realised the folly of his actions as an anti-revenge gloss was added for closure. Thankfully, Gonzo handled the changes superbly--the series best episodes being in the final third, and the writers ultimately managed to - just about - retain the core themes; making the finale interesting even for fans of the source material... assuming they are able to overlook a deus ex machina huggle and a rather uninspiring epilogue, that is!
All in all, the story was - and still is - a wonderful ride. An adaptation of a timeless classic with artistic differences, it was executed excellently considering only a fraction of the source material was used. HOWEVER, you do have to wait for everything to fall into place before being able to fully appreciate it, with the first half consisting largely of build up. Uneventful at times, perhaps, but always compelling and never does the narrative lose its grasp on the unsuspecting viewer. Most, if not all, of those not fully convinced prior to episode 15/16 will be by the end; when the series transitions from being very good to giving goosebumps. It is the sort of series where, once the dominoes are lined up, they all fall. After 20 episodes, 2/3 of the villains are taken down in ONE episode: that is the sort of series Gankutsuou is. The pay-off for enduring the 'downtime' is immense satisfaction.
I share these words with those still in doubt: "Bide your time, and hold out hope."
As I not-so-subtly hinted above, I liked pretty much the entire cast... aside from the lead, Albert. While I do understand that he had to be made somewhat stupid (originally, he was merely a side character, and neither a crybaby nor an idiot) for suspense purposes, his complete inability to see the obvious became a source of irritation. One would think anyone with a few brain cells would be able to put two and two together when Edmond randomly kept appearing AFTER telling Albert there were no coincidences! Thankfully, by the end he does mature and learn from his mistakes, but it was too little, too late for me. Easily the most intriguing aspect of Albert's characterisation is his bond with The Count: from fascinated admiration, to friendship... and perhaps something more to fujoshi! The lines become very blurred.
Albert's best friend, Franz, shares a much closer bond with him than in the source material; the two being near enough inseparable. Franz is calm and highly intelligent, making him Albert's polar opposite and the outlet for my frustration. The pair fall out constantly over Edmond due to Franz's warnings about him not being all that he appears, and they do play off each other rather well as a result of their differences. Also, there are definite homosexual overtones in Gankutsuou that were not in the novel, with Franz making it clear on numerous occasions that he views Albert as more than just a friend; despite him, typically, remaining oblivious. Albert's fiancee, Eugenie (she was originally a lesbian!), traded sexuality with Franz so they could both be closer to Albert. The trio also received oh-so-Japanese childhood friend edits. These alterations proved to be by far the best changes the anime writers made since the emotional turmoil of the chaos surrounding Albert was allowed to consume him completely.
Edmond, The Count of Monte Cristo himself, remains a mystery for much of the series. His screen presence and charisma is such that the anime depicts his arrival in Paris as something akin to a storm. He acts kind, yet he is clearly hiding a horrible truth underneath his mask of faux identity. His character differs considerably from the one seen in the source material because, where as in that he views himself as a faithful servant of God delivering justice, he is - quite literally - a demon of vengeance in this adaptation. Gankutsuou's Edmond is certainly a most interesting take on a famous character. However, in truth he is only 'one side of the coin' in terms of depth that his novel counterpart is (his internal conflict over his actions all but being removed), despite still being one of the best anime characters in existence. That says it all, I feel.
The one glaring omission from Gankutsuou's cast is one of the most important: Abbé Faria. Faria saved Edmond from suicide after he had spent years in pitch-black isolation; giving him renewed hope. Faria then became a mentor; sharing the vast amounts of knowledge held inside his elderly mind and changing Edmond from foolish to respectable. He also lead Edmond to fortune on the island of Monte Cristo. Although only the briefest glimpses in flashbacks are shown of Edmond's past in Gankutsuou, its greatest flaw is that there was no logical progression for his transition from hopelessly naive to the charismatic tactician that is The Count of Monte Cristo. Some form of vague contract with a French-speaking devil is agreed, and that is that: character development was sacrificed to save time. He does not even go to the island of Monte Cristo; his cave instead being moved underneath his house! Although the alternations do rework the narrative to fit, as well as going along with the 'demonic avenger' edit, Gankutsuou would have had FAR more depth if Faria had at least been shown...
Overall, Gankutsuou has a very well developed core cast, ignoring some minor quibbles. I STRONGLY recommend reading the novel for a heavily expanded version after watching, though: a 24-episode anime can only fit in so much!
Some of the supporting cast appear as no more than pointless additions without the multi-faceted depth the novel format allowed for. They appear early on but very rarely during the latter stages. In this regard, the biggest sacrifice was the removal of the Edmond-Morrel subplot, which originally left Edmond hopelessly conflicted over Maximilien Morrel's romance with Valentine (the daughter of one of his targets for vengeance) and highlighted his true sense of justice. In the anime, Edmond's role with Maximilien was given to Albert/Franz, and some of the novel's best exchanges were sadly lost.
The first thing that hits you about Gankutsuou is the rather bizarre and eye-catching CG effect clothes and hair have. It is hard to put into words without first seeing but it is as if the characters clothing and hair have reflective patterns on them. A world famous fashion designer, Anna Sui, was responsible for the patterns and they truly are a sight to behold. It takes most people, myself included, a few episodes to get used to, but it is stunning once your eyes adjust. Gonzo deserve much praise for the huge amount of effort they put in and the high production values. If, like me, you went into Gankutsuou expecting to see dark and dull colours - the sort fitting for a tale set in the 1800's - you would be completely wrong since the colours are vibrant. Simply beautiful.
As expected of a Gonzo production, Gankutsuou also has a fair amount of CG, including some mecha fights. The mecha CG is actually quite impressive given the series came out in 2004. The problem is the scenic view shots of Paris, which do look very outdated when seen in 2016. CG never ages well compared to 2D art, and anime was very much behind the curve when it came to implementing it. But I feel the unique clothes/hair effect more than makes up for any failings.
In terms of the music, first of all let me say that I think the opening (OP) and ending (ED) songs are the wrong way around: I feel the ED would have worked better if it had been used for the OP, honestly. And vice versa. The OP, whilst fitting perfectly with its clear, downbeat lyrics and visually giving a taste of how the series would have been were it set during the 1800's (the real Château d'If even being shown), is slow-paced to the point I found it dull until I understood the series. On the other hand, the ED has a fast-paced tempo and with also fitting, far more aggressive lyrics--what you would usually expect to hear as an OP.
The soundtrack is very good. There are not too many tracks I listen to outside of the series, but the music fitted the show like a glove and helped keep the story impressively epic. I especially also loved how classical music was included; some even remixed, such as The Count's theme. It made the experience feel that much more special to hear both unedited and edited versions of some of the most famous classical music in existence playing alongside the animation. In addition, I HAVE TO mention track 18, which is one of the best, most tragic pieces of music I have listened to. Period. It was cheek-tingling to hear it play during the most emotional part of the series (strangely enough, episode 18!), making the sequence even more thrilling than it was already.
Having watched far more anime than any sane man should endure and being critical by nature, I am difficult to please. But Gankutsuou impresses, no matter how many times it is re-watched, with every area - aside from its ending, perhaps - surpassing my expectations. It is a rare, rare feeling to end something feeling close to complete satisfaction. I enjoyed the series SO MUCH that I felt compelled to marathon read the 1250 page novel it was based on shortly after finishing, and I am far from an avid reader. In the end, not only did Gankutsuou become my favourite anime, it also lead to the discovery of my favourite book. And for that, Gonzo, will always be remembered fondly--by me, at the very least.
I recommend the series to everyone: those who have read the novel and those who have not. My only suggestion is, if possible, to watch Gankutsuou before reading since people can be EXTREMELY picky when it comes to adaptations. Had I came to love the novel before the anime dazzled me, a very different review may well have been typed here, after all!
I like classical literature. My screen name is literature nerd. I also love anime. So when I heard that there was an anime adaptation of one of my favorite classic novels I got PUMPED! This wouldn't just be an anime that took a subplot or a character largely based on a classic like Monster borrowed from Les Misrables and The Demons or Elfen Lied borrowed from Phantom of the Opera and Crime and Punishment. This would be an honest to God full adaptation that tries to bring an old classic to a modern audience. The result...unfortunately there have been MANY better adaptations of The Count
and this one honestly fell flat for me.
The story is loosely based off the classic novel, but a demon is introduced into the story to largely act as an allegory for the revenge consuming Edmond Dantes. Although this was a kind of a neat idea, I don't really think it ended up working that well here to be honest. I also realize that the series didn't have enough episodes to capture the full complexity of The Count's plot and countless subplots where there are so many characters and connections between the characters that you are pretty much forced to create a web diagram to keep up. Game of Thrones is amateur in its number of characters and complex number of subplots compared to Dumas's masterpiece. This series at least tries to do an adequate job, so I won't be too harsh on it considering the limitations on time and budget.
The characters in Gankutsuou are of course all based on the characters in The Count of Monte Cristo, so they are watered down versions of spectacular literary characters. Unfortunately I didn't really like this adaptation of Edmond Dantes. Edmond in the book is the main character and we are always rooting for him. He is awesome and goes from being a simple man to being a brilliant renaissance man and one of the most likeable protagonists in history. He becomes so learned and worldly that he considers himself not a member of a single country or ethnic group, but a member of all humanity. Here the count largely comes off as a creepy blue Dracula wannabe. The Count's love for Haydee is absent in the anime and the Count's fate is entirely different, and not for the better. The focus in the anime is clearly on Albert, which is a huge mistake in my opinion since Dantes is the much more interesting character. The young love is between Albert and Eugenie rather than Maximillian and Valentine, which was a pointless change. In the book, Eugenie is NOT a romantic interest for Albert. Actually she is one of the first openly lesbian characters in Western Literature that isn't portrayed negatively. Of course the anime isn't as ballsy as a book written in the 1800s in its positive portrayal of gay people.
Oh dear lord my fucking head hurts! Watching Gankutsuou reminded me of the time I ate an entire hash brownie when I was supposed to eat 1/4th. It is a trippy as fuck experience that pretty much strips away any pleasure from the characters and story. Whoever thought it was a good idea to make The Count into a smurf can go fuck himself!
The soundtrack is quite good. I don't really have that much to say about it besides that.
I appreciate what they tried to do here, but the imperfect execution of the plot and characters and the annoying as HELL art ruined any chances this series had of being a good adaptation. I know that the Count loves to smoke Hashish in the original novel, but that does NOT mean that the art staff had to smoke Hashish and it had to be drawn in a style that makes it feel like we the audience are smoking way too much hashish.
This was a well meaning but poorly executed adaptation of a terrific classic novel. If you have not read the novel, but thought the anime was spectacular, do yourself a favor and go read the novel! If you have read the novel and haven't seen the anime, stay away from this one. There have been a lot of adaptations of Dumas' classic and there are tons better than this one!
When I decided to watch Gankutsuo, I didn't know what to expect. I've read Le Comte de Monte-Cristo (the novel it's loosely based on), but I wasn't going to presume that it would stick to the original material - after all, this series was done by Gonzo, the same studio that brought us Romeo X Juliet, which didn't turn out to be much like the actual Romeo and Juliet. Anyway, so I picked it up, hoping to at least be entertained....and man am I ever glad that I did.
I can't review this series without first mentioning the art.
Firstly, I must admit that this didn't make
a good first impression on me. Yup, I had read before about the unusual artistic style used for this series (which is a combination of 3D and photoshop textures) but I was still unprepared for what I saw, and totally thrown out of my comfort zone. Instead of focusing more details into character designs, more emphasis is placed on background and props. Everything is colorful, cheerful, and festive. The clothing especially is saturated with so much color and texture, that at times its hard to tell exactly what you're looking at. The patterns used seemingly jump right out at you, in some instances they don't even seem to be "in the show itself" but rather like something "on the surface" of your screen that you can reach out and touch.
Now while I said there was less attention paid to the character designs, this is definitely not so for the hair of the characters. The art used to illustrate their hair is just as texturized as the clothing and other backdrops, that it is easily the most impressive part of the characters physical characteristics. Apart from that, a majority of the characters have pretty bland physical attributes, such as faces and limbs. It's just not as sharp as everything else around them, but I get the impression that it was intentionally done so to draw you into the overall setting. I realized this after the first episode, and I think it was a good way to go about it.
So while this artistic style took some time to get used to, I did eventually come to appreciate it, and even got a kick out of it. It was a good "visual" experience.
Gankutsuou is about revenge, revenge, and more revenge. It's a tale of lost love, unrequited love, friendships, and betrayals. It does a very good job of portraying the actual novel, even with a setting so vastly different from the original. The story takes place in the future, in a period where people take vacations on the moon and aliens may very well be your next door neighbor. However, it doesn't go too overboard as the cars don't really fly, the household is still run by maids and not computers, and life really doesn't look that much different from what we experience now. In keeping with the actual story, we are still in an era where nobility has the upper-hand, and this is determined by birth, power, and money - pretty much in that order.
We are taken through the series of events that unfold after the protagonist, the young and naive Vicomte Albert, is befriended by the mysterious, rich, and handsome (even though he's blue) Count Monte Cristo. Monte Cristo charms his way into Albert's life, and soon the two become close friends despite the warnings ushered in Albert's direction by his best friend the Baron, Franz. Unlike Albert, Franz becomes skeptical of the Count from their first encounter, but he is initially unable to find any evidence that will reveal the stranger's true intentions. It is not long before Albert and his friends get caught up in a series of unfortunate and dire circumstances.
Bit-by-bit, things are revealed, and as the lives of all characters involved are shaken up, as a mere onlooker I could only sit back with my heart beating rapidly as everything comes together...and falls apart.
I loved it. The story itself may not seem very original at first, but as we get deeper into things we see that there is more to everything than meets the eye.
The music used is absolutely fitting, the opening and ending songs are very in keeping with the actual storyline, and although they may sound strange at first - especially the opening song- they had me humming along in no time. The scores used within the series was actually very appropriate. For those heart-breaking and sad scenes, if what is transpiring on the screen isn't enough to make you shed a tear, the music surely won't let you off that easy. The scores used for climatic moments and suspense really did their job as they stirred emotions even more.
There was nothing outlandish or over the top, no big orchestrated pieces, but the music worked and it worked well.
I have to go ahead and give a great for characters, as they were indeed that.
Every main character has some depth, and everyone had a part in the storyline - there are no wallflowers. The most intense ones to watch were the Count, Franz, Albert's dad and Albert.
The Count was wonderful. He was charming, seductive, kind, and yet...very dark and even scary at times. One moment you think that you understand him and his intentions, and then the next you aren't so sure.
Albert's naivety was at times frustrating, but it was good because it enabled a great chance for character growth. He is far from perfect, and at times he is a bit unbearable, but still I could not dislike him.
Franz was by far my favorite character. His dedication to Albert, the passion in his voice and actions, all made him simply wonderful.
Albert's mom - Mercedes - and Haydee were perhaps given the most detailed artwork, so it was always a pleasure to look at them because they were so darn gorgeous.
The parents of the three friends whose lives are deeply affected as the series goes on, was a pleasure to watch.
The only character design I disliked was Eugeine's. Her emotions never showed in a majority of her actions, and the story may have had a bit more impact if she would have actually done something worthwhile throughout all 24 episodes. She had a tremendous part in the storyline, but a majority of her screen time had her sitting behind a piano while everything was going to hell in a basket for those she supposedly cared about.
I really enjoyed this series. There was a slight period in the middle where things seemed to drag on, but i think that was more due to me being overly anxious. I could not tell from watching the first few episodes that I would soon be so caught up in everything that certain events would have me bawling my eyes out later...repeatedly. I liked the fact that secrets still lingered very close to the story's end, even though things had continuously been revealed.
This is definitely a series that I plan to own as I can watch it repeatedly. I'm very happy that I didn't give up on it after the first few minutes into the first epsidose because of the art.
It's filled with drama, very little (but some) action, and a lot of heartbreak. A real gem.
While I will admit that I have not read of the classic revenge novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, Gankutsuo certainly appears to be a more interesting entry into the ever-growing heap of remakes of this tale. However, it failed to make a real impression. It certainly has some commendable qualities, but in the end, its jumbled and inconsistent visuals, stilted dialogue and murderously slow pace ruin any chance of redemption.
The most immediately striking thing about this series in the visual style. Let me make this clear- there is a difference between visual style and animation. The show's visual style is rather stunning. It's main
trick is that it employs complex textures and patterns in the coloring of any and everything. This looks pretty cool as long as things are still. The animation, however, suffers greatly because when all of these detailed textures begin moving, all depth and illusion of real texture is lost. Instead of the designs moving with the items that they are transposed on top of, they just stay still. Thing look like jarring kaleidoscopic acid trips more often than not and its just way to much to take in. Interestingly, this visual style is actually extremely reminiscent of the way that thing seem to form complex patterns when under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs. Perhaps the first anime conceived on acid? Somehow I highly doubt it, actually.
Gankustsuo, overall, just ends up being a case of the good being slightly edged out by the bad. There is a good foundation plot from the original source material… but the they end up adding mechs, immortal demons, space travel and a plethora of needless non-sequitors. The story actually ends up in a very different place than the original tale, actually. While there is some genuine moments of emotion near the end of this overly-long series, the majority of the plot points are played out with the stilted melodrama of a high school play. The English voice actors, aside from the titular character, are awful. The main protagonist, Albert, is possibly the most whiny, insipid character I have witnessed in an anime, ever. The dialogue between him and best friend Franz is particularly uninspiring. It really is an example of just how bad anime translation can get, both actors doing what they can to make sense of a conversation that has more holes and ridiculous lines than the Matrix movies.
The setting of the show is a rather baffling juxtaposition of 19th century aristocratic France and science-fiction space-opera. The characters travel in space freely and battle in giant mechs, yet they still write letters on parchment and travel in horse drawn carriages. It's like the artists couldn't decide on a consistent motif so they just threw all of their influences into the tub and saw what came together. All of these sporadic technologies and settings create a lack of believable space and time. If you have no relatable setting and no relatable characters, what is there? Just a somewhat-interesting story which takes entirely too long to reach its climax. This series could have easily been a 13 episode series instead of a 26. My mind literally goes blank when trying to recall important plot points from the middle of the series. The big question of the series, whether or not the Count is really evil, just ends up being answered 3/4 of the way through when we find out his back-story. The 15 episodes after the beginning but before that are often mind-numbingly boring. I honestly struggled to finish this series along-side Lucky Star. Lucky Star, dammit!
Gankutsuo is actually pretty critical acclaimed and I'm not really sure why. Perhaps it's story is a subtle one, revealing itself slowly through repeated viewing ala Neon Genesis Evangelion. Maybe the dub is just garbage and left a bitter taste in my mouth. However, I really don't feel like this should weigh so heavily on the overall experience. Plenty of great pieces of entertainment has cheesy, stilted dialogue. Quentin Tarantino, anyone? Maybe it's the visuals, filled with ambition and moments of beauty but ending up looking like a few too many ideas thrown together. Gankutsuo wants to be a series that is sophisticated in the classic sense of French materialistic excess. However, as we see here, all that glitters in not gold.
Anime version of The Count of Monte Cristo with an additional title "Gankutsuou?" Interesting. the opinions of this review come from a person who never read the book nor the novel adaptation but has researched enough.But this is a review written without a comparison to other pieces of work.I watched the anime thrice. But a phrase to summarize this review; simply the most artistic anime I have seen in my life.
My rating for this anime is so high that I can't believe it.
It's a creative adaptation of the original novel with a lot of changes, but the core is recognizable nonetheless. Gankutsuou's story itself
can be wrapped up to this; soap opera. That somehow correct, its about lives of Parisian high status families entangled in a series of deception, thirst for power and money, revenge and of course, love. The plot can already be very familiar to most viewers, but this plot itself brought life to a very memorable and engaging story.
In a surrealistic world of unexplored galaxies and lunar habitations, the rich merry themselves under their large spaceships while some poor criminals are condemned to the guillotine. However, with this backdrop, the circumstances that makes the story flow comes from the peripheral of the main character Albert. He's young, naive, compassionate and trusting, but when he meets a mysterious man, the Count of Monte Cristo, everything changes.
Little by little, greed, lust and treachery are exposed from each one's family, hidden away like the past. Those sinful desires and acts of the adults are now reaping what they sow; those people involved cannot escape his revenge. And sadly, the blameless younger generation is suffering as well.
The revenge itself inspires sadism, with its intelligent words and substance, intrigue is played out very well. From the polite and formal speech of the characters to the concerts, balls and invitations as a guest the story does not fall short of pure mystery, foreshadowing and the rising of impending darkness whereas the true forms of people are known.
But with all the darkness in this story- shattering of innocence, and things falling apart, the story is also about maturity and friendship. It's amazing how they effectively portray the feelings of the youths in the story, their reactions and reflections of what is happening in their supposedly peaceful and merry lives as nobles. Purity, especially in the simple sense of love, shines out to show the true faces hidden within the facade of naivety.
The pacing is perfect and no episode is inferior to the rest.
Art and Sound: 10
Those two are inseparable in Gankutsuou.
Simply the most artistic anime I have watched in my whole life. Pure surrealism of the Renaissance period setting with a touch of futuristic aspects of space travel, seemingly magical places and supercomputers. It is beautiful, enthralling and captivating in a sense that everything, from doors and curtains to the cobblestone streets and night sky, is intricately designed. It doesn't mean that each object looks weird or distorted; its is the colors and patterns.
In every part of the picture, there is a particular design of a pattern that does not move and stays there. With those patterns, made they be floral, abstract or European in nature, textures are also plentiful to be appropriate complements. The way they blended those elements together, offers a contrasting or striking set of colors. And certainly, also because of noticeably good cinematography, the art certainly makes every scene dramatic, going well with the dark themes of the anime.
Notably, the plain designs of the characters, compared to the background, gives balance to the art. And because they are plain, ironically, they are easily noticeable. Also, it gives the feeling of how little and insignificant an individual is in a vast, complex and populated world.
Drama. So much there is that many little encounters, lines and actions are either epic or beautiful. The music is themed like the setting- both being an adaptation to the Renaissance period and a surreal future- actually, it features several famous classical pieces. The heavy strings in an orchestra give a wave of emotions. Its amazing how it helps in foreshadowing; dramatic music is put on a scene of significance, no matter what that is.
But it is also noteworthy how they are able to put variation and juxtaposition. An example is the plain mix of piano and vocals in a relatively simple song as the opening of Gankutsuou, the visuals is as plain as it- sketches in a coffee colored paper of people and peaceful scenes. But when you hear the lyrics, its full of anger and remorse sung in a mellow melody. Then the ending features heavy rock and full of flashes of distorted or grotesque images that are difficult to describe- also, they are dark and seemingly show a nightmare.
But probably the style and musically that raise my rating up is the is simple melody of piano in certain heavy and intense scenes. It is the alternate version of the opening and there is a another one which is very repetitive and enhanced by some effects. Yet with its simplicity it has effectively stirred the hearts of the viewers for its not distracting or heavy like the scene, but light and pure, like the young characters involved. Another brilliant balance in different elements.
The heart of Gankutsuou is its theme of human emotion. And that theme is portrayed differently through a "web entaglement concept." (My own invented term to describe it.)
Seemingly, the only character that's exceptional and unique on his own is the Count of Monte Cristo. He's an obvious allusion to evil itself from the beginning of the series. However, he's disguised under a mask of mystery, power and character. He's the web, and the characters are trapped in him. Interestingly though, the other main protagonist, Albert, is intentionally pursuing him. This boy Albert, innocently fascinated in this Count, dragged everyone else with him. Or did he?
The cast of characters is a roster of families, a set of young people and a set of adults. Their personalities is what you would typically expect from high status, educated and individuals with personal problems. None of them show extraordinary skills or a high level of intelligence or empathy but rather they are just entangled in a series of events that are destroying their lives. There is also a generation gap that runs deep between the parents and their children...
From the naive Albert and his "perfect" yet secretive parents, the caring best friend Franz, the devoted and loving Haydee to the lonely fiance Eugenie, political corruption, betrayal, adultery, incest, and even a hint of homosexuality is fleshed out. With these, anger, sadness, guilt, fear and hatred coexist with young love, optimism, forgiveness and faithfulness. Other opposing pairs include emotional manipulation and adoration,and honesty and deception. This anime is so rich with internal aspects in contrast to the colorful, yet untackled society and setting.
Again, juxtaposition- everything is focused on the deepest thoughts and emotions of the characters amid the vast, unexplored, surrealistic, fantasy universe. And the development and maturity of the young characters, embracing the future is a good contrast to the folly of the adults who are running away from the past or burying it.
Again, enjoyment is based on preference and I'm a huge sucker for humanistic dramas. This one is definitely a treat for me who is a music appreciator. It's definitely not a jovial piece of work; it's full of drama and all sorts of emotions. If you're seeking for fun don't watch this show. Also, about the issue of its art being "painful" to watch, I don't find it like that. Actually, I fell in love with the art from the start.
Also, this is a mature anime. I don't recommend this teenagers who are new to anime or have just watched a handful shonen/shojo animes in their lives.
To sum it up: Gankutsuou is exceptionally aesthetic anime with its mastery in combining the juxtaposed elements of music, art, and different themes of humanism. There is an excellent balance between its emotional and dramatic aspects, further beautified by its appropriate complements.
Based on a classic novel, Gankutsuou tells the story of a man bent on revenge and the boy he changes the life of. The first episode of the series introduces the Count of Monte Cristo, a man with power, influence, and a real sense of danger about him. Albert, a teenager who has his share of power and influence, although not much knowledge of who he really is or can be. At its core, the story is a rite of passage for Franz as he learns about life, people, and what it means to be an adult. In addition, though, many other topics are covered:
the romantic lives of Franz and his friends, for example. And, more importantly, the true nature and history of the Count, and how this ties into Franz and his own life and history.
Initially, one of the most notable things about this series is the art style. Instead of things (mostly hair and clothing) being colored and shaded as they would be traditionally, bright, busy patterns are used. When characters move, the pattern usually will not move with them, almost as if certain areas of the character were cut out and moved in front of a static pattern. It seems awkward at first, but is fairly easy to adapt to as the series goes on. Ultimately, this becomes a likable aspect, not a downfall. Watching things as simple as a character turning his or her head becomes more interesting to watch, and the atmosphere seems very rich because of the lack of solid colors. A bit overwhelming? Perhaps, but very worth the while.
The background music also adds to the atmosphere well. The creators really knew how to add emphasis to a scene with the right music, or lack thereof. The same cannot be said of the opening theme, however, which has lackluster lyrics and an unskilled vocalist. The closing is much better, although the rapid-paced closing animation paired with the fast song has perhaps a bit too much happening. Nonetheless, the song is quite good, as is the music overall.
What stands out the most in this excellent series is the characters. Every single one of them is amazingly complex, with their own personality, motivations, and journey. Take the main character, Franz, as an example. At first glance, he seems like a fairly normal teen, though perhaps a bit too trusting. Over the course of the series, little things are reveled about him. He develops insecurities about the world around him; his positive traits help him; his negative traits hurt him; he makes mistakes and learns. And, unlike some series, it is not just the main characters that grow: it is all of them. The cast of Gankutsuou might just be the richest one in anything I have ever seen.
The one notable element of the series that really bothered me is the ending. Not the content of the ending itself, mind you, but rather that the climax seemed rather misplaced. The most emotional, and, in my opinion, best, episodes are in the late teens and early twenties rather than at the end. In addition, the final battle ends in the second-to-last episode, so the entire last episode is solely resolution. While resolution is important, this series has a little too much, especially since it mainly reinforces what we already can infer about the character's futures. Still, this is a minor complaint and my only real one in regards to my enjoyment of the show.
If it seems that I have been describing the series rather than pointing out its good and bad points, that is because there are not many specific pluses and minuses to speak of. Rather, every element of Gankutsuou blends together to create a fantastic story about living, growth, and revenge.
I've been intending to watch this show for over a year and I just could not get past the first episode. The animation just was... too much. But I kept on watching the first one over again every few months and eventually, I guess I just got used to it. The other thing is that I don't particularly care for the story of the Count of Monte Cristo, so the idea of watching a retelling -- even in this fantasy space backdrop -- even with a twist -- didn't really make me try any harder to get used to the animation.
Even though I'm trying to make sure I don't spoil anything about the anime specifically, my review does assume you're familiar with the very basic premise of the novel and the implications of that premise. Just in case, I've put spoiler tags in.]
Story: So, if you don't know by now... this is a retelling of the Dumas classic, The Count of Monte Cristo. And despite the fact that I'm not so keen on the original, I actually found this series to be really compelling. I thought that showing the story through Albert's eyes made it so interesting. I thought that showing the viewpoint of an innocent bystander of an arguably justified revenge was such a revealing and insightful tactic and explored an overlooked facet to a relatively common plot device.
You have to see the style to fully understand it, but the art is jarring. And, for me, it took a lot of getting used to because it was a little overwhelming and overbearing in my opinion. There's a lushness and a richness to the scenery in the background that's incredible and nothing else I've seen even comes close to it. It's amazing. When you see the detail and the color on these lavish walls, carpets, and flowers and landscapes, cityscapes... it's breathtaking in this heavy sort of baroque way. But, at the same time, some of that same texture and color and pattern in the forefront was distracting -- I would end up staring at a character's neckcloth, jacket or hair instead of the subtitles or their expressions. It took away from the experience even as it added to the atmosphere and the intent of the show.
There's a part of me that thinks this is probably one of those instances where reading a subtitle has a greater cost to the viewer than usual -- because if I could just listen instead of reading, maybe I wouldn't have noticed my obsession with the way the clothes looked so much. If you're more adaptable than I am or less fascinated by the style of animation, I think you'd enjoy the art a bit more than I did. I personally would have loved to see the same style used with a lighter touch, maybe -- at least on the characters themselves -- even though I understand that the very ostentation of the art kind of underlines the overindulgent wealth of the aristocracy. And I never, ever, ever got used to those noses.
Normally, I never notice sound outside of shows about music, but I couldn't help but notice the music here. I thought it was very well chosen for the atmosphere and the mood of the show. The op and ed were a little... out of sync with the rest of the show, I thought, but I actually did like the music there too, which is super-rare for me. More importantly, I thought the voice actors did a great job and whoever cast them did an excellent job. Their voices were age and life-style appropriate, I thought, and there wasn't an annoying one in the bunch.
Character: I thought the portrayal of Albert was stunning. To put the whole show through his eyes and have him go from boy to man during what can only be considered a life-changing series of events when none of it was truly in his control -- basically, following him through this vicious storm going by the name of the Count of Monte Cristo... brilliant.
With something like this, I don't know how much of the character development of the other characters should be attributed to the producers and how much belongs to Dumas himself. But I do know that as much as I didn't like Albert for his foolishness, his naivete and his stubbornness... his character and the events that shape and mold his character throughout the series was one of the most compelling, original and powerful portrayals of the loss of innocence that I've seen.
And I shouldn't even get started on the Count himself -- this would end up 40,000 words and you'd lose all will to finish reading, if you haven't already. ;D But there's so much going on with him and the cost of revenge and the loss of humanity... oh, man.
If you can't tell, I ended up liking this show more than I thought I would. And this is despite having a few issues with the ending. And to be honest, I don't know if I'll ever want to rewatch it, but I was impressed and enthralled while watching it this time. This is partially because I kind of have a lower tolerance for rewatching things that assume I don't know what's going to happen next (it's a different experience when you know exactly what's going to happen next and how, right?).
But I'm really, really glad that I got to experience this first watching of the series because I think it was not only a very good show but also a nice reminder of how much "new" and "innovative" and "daring" is still out there. It's kind of a duller version of that feeling I had when I first saw Cowboy Bebop (and all I had seen of anime before that were the various DragonBalls, Pokemon, Yugioh, Sailor Moon type shows) and first realized, "Look at what they're doing with animation and music in storytelling... holy cow. Amazing." Now, look at what they're doing with art and character and perspective in storytelling... holy cow.
I can't believe I was just sitting on watching this for so long. In a way, I'm just really sorry that I let the style of animation drive me away from the show for as long as it did. I grew to appreciate and enjoy the art and I thought the story and the character development were way beyond my original expectations. And the nice thing is... if you don't want to think about any of the stuff I've been talking about, the plot can stand on it's own two feet. I think, even ignoring the art, the allegory, and complexity and nuance of emotion, there's a solid drama/suspense story that will hook a lot of people.
Also, I think there's so much to the story that even if you are familiar with the original version or the movie or whatever, there's still so much going on and there's so much that's different from original that Gankutsuou is still interesting and entertaining to watch. I mean, it's been a while since I've read the book, but I remembered the skeleton of the story... and I was still at the edge of my seat. Maybe you will be too? =D
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is a rare thing in anime: Unique. This is perhaps expected is an adaptation of a 19th century French novel, updated to a Space-age setting, but nonetheless, it's something you're unlikely to find a decent parallel to. Which is a shame, because the world could use more shows like this one.
The show begins on the moon-based city of Luna, a culturally-rich metropolis, where our protagonist, Albert de Morcerf, meets a strange man calling himself The Count Of Monte Cristo. After he winds up owing his life to The Count, he helps him to integrate into Parisian society in return.
However, it quickly becomes quite apparent that The Count has an ulterior motive in coming to Paris...
Now, if I don't get this out of the way now, i'll spend most of this review gushing over him, but I really can't stress enough how good of a character The Count actually is. The entire show hinges on his worth as a character, and he absolutely delivers. Complex, yet instantly loveable, and with charisma in spades, he makes the show what it is: fantastic.
While it does take a few episodes to really pull you in, once you're there, you'll be glued to this show. The ever-deepening mystery of who The Count really is, and what he's after, grows with every episode, and makes for some of the best dramatic tension ever committed to film. As his plan begins to unfold, a stunning rampage unfolds... while I would like to explain more, I don't want to spoil anyone. This is something everyone should really experience for themselves.
Now, at this point, this may sound like flawless material, but sadly it has some setbacks that really damage an otherwise amazing show. The first, and by far the most obvious, is the art. It's an incredibly dodgy, alienating use of textured backgrounds and colouring, all of which stay in place while everything they're attached to move around. Usually, this means that the shading on somebody's clothes will stay in place while they move. It can easily be argued that this is for the sake of art, but this argument is devalued by the fact that the idiosyncrasies with the art extend far past the colouring, and notably by the fact that it is produced by Studio GONZO, who are infamous for poor animation.
The second, however, and by far the most significant, is that almost every character is incredibly unlikeable. With the obvious exception of The Count, most of the characters are greedy, selfish bastards, motivated only by money and personal gain. To make things worse, the absolute nadir of the main cast is probably our protagonist Albert himself. The fact that we're supposed to sympathize with a character who does nothing but whine all the time, and cry to a clearly villainous man for help, makes it really hard to enjoy the show at times. On top of that, the homoerotic subtext between the two can be really offputting... I mean, at one point, he actually says the line "I'm just so frustrated!" whilst crying into The Count's chest.
I really wish I was making that part up.
Aside from the art, though, everything else from a technical standpoint is well-made. The soundtrack is great, barring a lacklustre OP and a somewhat dated-sounding ED. The dub, though, makes it inexplicable Jamieson Price only has a few roles in anime, because is his performance as the Count is nothing short of stunning. The voice suits him so well that you couldn't possibly imagine him being voiced by anyone else, and unlike so many other dub actors, he can actually act, something he proves on numerous occasions. While the rest of the dub is non-stellar, if not terrible, Price alone makes the dub a better bet than the sub.
But I digress... despite my grievances, the show has a lot more to its credit than it does to its detraction. The problems this show has would kill a lesser anime in its tracks (i'm looking at you, Eureka Seven), and while I can't explain too much about the positives without spoiling anyone who hasn't seen it, it's truly a must see... the presence of the Count alone makes it worth watching, let alone the fantastically-constructed plot.
Final Words: I've heard that the novel is significantly better, but it's shocking that anything could be significantly better than this.
English Dub: 8/10
To be honest this is an insult to Alexandre Dumas' genius and his masterpiece.
this review contain slight spoilers.
let's get into it:
First of all they start the anime by the middle of the books, and put the start of the books at the end of the anime, they then took an insignificant character from the book and turned him into the main protagonist, then they took the protagonist of the book and made him the main vilain/antagonist of the story. They took random names of characters from the book and put them here and there, created new characters out of thin air instead of
using the multitude of characters from the books and made some important character being completely useless and unimportant here (poor Bertucio...). then they tried to follow the books story but by the middle of the anime diverged into incoherent and poor alternate story that is to me a slandering attempt at the book. and then the ending is so awful i refuse to mention it here.
They have some good ideas here and there, i like the whole sci-fi setup, supernatural and alien elements, spaceship instead of ships, even the mech battles were ok in my books BUT why did they have to denature and take a piss on the original story is a real mystery to me, everyone saying this is a faithful adaptation is really out of his mind. If they had kept the same story this whole show would have been a solid 8/10 for me.
You are gonna love it or absolutely hate it, i'm the latter. the issue is not the cgi that was actually good for it's time, nah the real issue is just the constant mix between an acid trip and a david bowie clip. with those "psychedelic rococo" textures splattered on absolutely everything. It is headache inducing and made me want to puke multiple time during my watching of this abomination.
the only redeeming parts of this whole anime was the solid seiyuu acting of Jouiji Nakata as Monte Cristo, and the soundtrack during the episode with some of the classics played. rest of the characters acting was just average if not flat, mc with the most annoying voice, the opening theme was not fitting for this kind of story at all, it felt like they just looked for a french singer able to sing in english because they wanted to be a link with france somehow. the ending theme is just bad. oh also as a french the broken french narrator voice at the start of each episode was impossible to understand, had to mute it and read the subs instead...
Only good character was Monte Cristo, but they decided to make it the main vilain instead of the hero of that story, doesn't make any sence, all the others were your traditional cliche and devoid of emotions anime characters (i admit i laughed at Eugenie being a tsundere) besides that nothing much to say here.
If you do not care about the book or haven't read it you might find some enjoyment there to be had if you treat that as an independant story, but the pacing was atrocious and they even had the luxury to skip lots of development from the books to show you random stuff that have no link whatsoever with the source material.
They are plenty of far superior adaptation to the book, and this one is absolutely not one of them, if you had to watch a good adaptation the one i recommend the most is the 1998 tv-drama movies with Gerard Depardieu as the Count.
This show can simply be described using two words. "Beautiful" and "Masterpiece".
Based of the novel The Count of Monte Cristo, you can expect the story to be well put together. The setting used however, is a futuristic era where man has already set off into space. Despite that, it is very well molded into the story and does not come off as too outrageous.
The pacing of the episodes was also very well done and made full use of the 26 episodes without being too quick-paced or dragged on.
To be honest, this art style will not suit everyone. I however, found it to be particularly enjoyable
past the first episodes when I became used to it. The visuals are very vibrant and do well to captivate the viewer. It also seems natural when used in Gankutsuou, and is probably one of the few shows that are able to utilize the textiles and distinct art style without coming off as being too forceful.
The soundtrack is simply amazing. The music used for various scenes are very well suited and will definitely catch your notice. There are also various pieces of classicals used within, so fans of classic music will be pleased. Overall, it matches the theme of the story as well as the situations used.
As for the voice acting, the Japanese voices were perfectly done. Especially that of the Count. Nakata does an excellent portrayal of the Count which cannot easily be topped. The whole cast generally does a good job, except Fukuyama (Albert's VA), whom I'm a little biased against from hearing too much of his other roles.
Can't comment on the english dub, since I've never watched it.
This is where Gankutsuou truly shines. The characters are very well fleshed out. The characters are very well written with quite an amount of depth, and easily serve their purpose. Characters which are meant to be hated will make you hate them. Pitiful characters will be pitied, and so on. The relationships between some of the characters are truly beautiful and will not fail to get through to the viewer.
Gankutsuou is one of my favorite (and probably most) anime. I was hooked throughout each episode which was beautifully done. Sometimes when I have higher expectations for a show, I get a little disappointed after I watch through it. This was not the case for Gankutsuou.
Although you might not find it to your preference, no harm giving it a try. Just as many have done before, you may find yourself enjoying this more than you thought you would.
A gripping story of relationships, growth, revenge and redemption, Gankutsuou never fails to captivate and draw in an audience deeper into the story as secrets are unraveled, past uncovered and truth brought to light. Several key elements hold the story together, though one might be more apparent than the others, it soon becomes clear that all of them are key to connecting everything together. Though lacking flair, or rather due to the lack of it, Gankutsuou manages to channel a powerful story as well as the emotions behind the various characters actions to the viewers, creating what could truly be considered a masterpiece.
[POTENTIAL SPOILERS BELOW:
I have refrained from spoilers as much as possible. Read at your own risk.]
Story & Setting
An adaptation of the French Novel "Le Comte de Monte-Cristo", Gankutsuou is set in the distant future in the year 5053, primarily in the City of Paris. The story centers around the life of Viscount Albert de Morcerf and his friends as he meets and befriends the Count of Monte Cristo. There is a clear theme of growth, maturity and change in all the characters as their lives are slowly but surely affected by both the Count as well as each other. Though unbeknown to them however, the Count has other plans than simply befriending them and on the other hand, has started his grand plan of what could be considered, the ultimate revenge. The depth behind this revenge however is too deep to be said with words and as such I will simply move.
To describe the story in one word, that word would be spectacular. The story captivated me to the point that it left me utterly breathless at times, full of rage and hate at times but yet at other times, filled me with an almost overwhelming urge to tear up. I had started watching Gankutsuou with high expectations and after completing it, I fear my words do not do it justice. The sheer intricacy in the plot in not only creating a believable story but one full of emotions is just breathtaking. The emotions and feelings which the characters go through, though admittedly might not be that which we face on a day to day basis, are not only believable but experience-able. The shock, rage, anger, happiness, sadness, regret of the characters is so clear that it almost feels that the same emotions were flowing through me as my eyes were fixed upon on my screen. The whole story connects itself beautifully with the characters, relationships which once seemed crystal clear are actually clouded and full of deceit. Lies abundant and truth veiled, it almost makes you start to question your own life which you live.
On the part of the viewer, not only are emotions channeled clearly to the viewer but in addition to that, many things are kept hidden until much later in the story. Naturally, hints are given as well as succinct but yet not complete explanations about anything happening through the anime leaving you gasping for more. As the truth behind things is unraveled later through Gankutsuou, everything starts to join and connect together, almost like puzzle pieces combining to form a complete and glorious picture. Jam packed with suspense and unpredictability, such a captivating story is one which definitely should not be passed by.
The animation is one of the unique types in anime and stands out sharply from the norm. Simply overwhelming at times but yet frustratingly simple at others, it however does manage to very effectively help the story move along. Not that I'm criticizing the animation. While it might take some getting used to, due to the sheer difference between normal anime-type animation and what is seen in Gankutsuou, once you get used to it, you never cease to be in awe of the fantastic scenes it creates. There are also some hidden meanings in the animation itself as well as being very effective in generating emotions in the various scenes. As mentioned earlier, the sheer contrast between the simple at times but overwhelming at others allows the story to create two extremes of emotions in the viewers. While at first glance it might seem less than appealing, don't discount the story simply because it strays from what you might be used to.
Though definitely fitting and in line with how the story moves, the music was hardly what captivated my attention. As a matter of fact, the music was far overshadowed by the sheer pressure of the plot. I found myself hardly noticing it at all, which in fact does help to intrigue viewers even further. By having music and sound which does not overwhelm but instead, serves the purpose of setting the scene and provoking thought, what might have been seen as an oversight is in fact a key to drawing viewers deeper into the story.
As relationships is one of the key themes in the anime, naturally this is one of the major focuses throughout the whole story. Both the obvious as well as the less obvious relationships are developed, all to a certain degree. The relationship between the Count and Albert de Morcerf is one of the big focuses as Albert changes radically throughout the whole series as this progresses. The Count too is further exposed to the rest of the community Albert surrounds himself with, through both Albert's introductions and also through his own efforts. There is clear development in both the relationships as well as the individual characters as they are affected by those around themselves. Motivations for actions are shown clearly though at times it can be rather shocking even if believable.
Emotional turmoil is very obvious at parts and in-spite of that, the anime manages to draw you further into the characters so that you not only feel for them but also feel with them. While some might seem shallow originally, the sheer depth of change which they go through by learning about and from those around them is just breathtaking. There is no doubt that a great deal of effort was put into their creation.
The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Death is certain, it's hour uncertain. This anime is one too good to be passed by. Though it could be considered shallow at first glance, in reality, Gankutsuou is a layered masterpiece, one which pays close attention to detail, delves deep into both characters and story and yet manages to do all this without creating even a single moment of boredom. Truly a great piece of work and most definitely deserving of the awards it has won.
[AFTERWORD: As this is my first review, please do give any comments of which I could learn from and improve on for any reviews I might do in the future!]
I feel obligated to write a review about this anime immediately after finishing it just moments ago so I can keep it fresh in my mind...
Le Comte de Monte-Cristo, or, as they know him in the anime, Gankutsuou. Even with it fresh in my mind, it'll be difficult to write a review about this series, for it's hard to find the right words to describe something that should belong in an art museum. Yes, this anime is truly a work of art. The Count of Monte Cristo, roughly based on the original novel written by Alexandre Dumas, which had been turned into a movie back
in 2002, and a few years later, it has been turned into a 24 episode anime.
First of all, when I saw this while browsing My Anime List, I was instantly intrigued. Having both read the book and seen the movie, I wondered, "How could they possibly turn such a classic piece of literature into a fully animated series?". After pondering that for a while and reading the reviews from other users that were praising the series, I went online and bought the box set. Now, I will admit, it has taken me quite a long time to fully get into the series. Having spent most of my anime life watching anime such as One Piece, OreImo, The World God Only Knows, Space Dandy, etc., it was a major change to go from genres such as those to historical fiction. As of 2 days ago, I had decided to finally sit down and finish the series. It was a long ride, but don't get me wrong... what I had watched was truly beautiful.
For starters, let me just say to those expecting a perfect adaption from the novel/movie: Gankutsuou is indeed a story about revenge and betrayal, but there are many differences compared to the novel/movie and the anime. The anime takes place in the 51st century, so space travel is possible, in fact, it's used throughout the series. Enter our main protagonist, Albert de Morcerf, a noble on vacation with his best friend Franz d'Epinay, in the city Luna. As fate would have it, Albert befriends the dark and mysterious Count of Monte Cristo. From there, their lives are entangled, and thus begins a journey full of romance, revenge and betrayal. An interesting concept once the series starts progressing. About halfway through, things start getting even more in depth, and shocking discoveries are made with each episode you watch. However, despite the series progressing so well, the last episode left much unanswered, and I felt a little bit robbed of a happy ending. Yes, it's a story about revenge and betrayal, so you can't really expect one, but in the end I was lead to believe there might be a glimmer of hope to the ending I was wishing for.
I'm trying to find the right word to describe the sort of art style that Gankutsuou has shown us... a few words come to mind: radiant, gorgeous, unique, and amazing. This is bound to be the most original art style I've seen in the history of anime. There have been some good styles I've seen, such as Nagi no Asukara, Another, and Steins;Gate, but none were like this. It's as if each set of clothing, hair, and inanimate object was made with real life fabrics, and the setting was just magnificent... detailed, extraordinary, brilliant. One of the most incredible pieces of art I've seen in a long time.
I'll be honest... I really, REALLY enjoyed the English Dub for this series. Johnny Yong Bosch did an excellent job playing the role of Albert, Ezra Weisz's best acting role I've ever heard was as Franz, and I've never heard Jamieson Price's voice until this... his Count of Monte Cristo role was amazing. Perfect match. I have not yet heard the Japanese Dub for this series yet, but before I listen to it in Japanese, I'm going to be watching the FRENCH Dub for this series. I'm hoping the reason why is pretty clear to those who have watched Gankutsuou before. And then there's the soundtrack... a beautiful opening song, a... slightly different closing song (meaning it goes from peaceful and dramatic to heavy rock and roll), and an amazing OST that will leave you speechless.
Characters... characters, characters, characters. Let me say, there was a fairly long amount of time where I actually liked most of the characters in the show... but then the betrayal aspect of the anime started kicking in, and there were quite a few characters that I instantly started despising up until the very end of the series, and even those I didn't hate had their low ends at some points. Albert was a good protagonist for the most part, but his flaw was that he was fairly selfish for a good portion of the series. Franz was the loyal best friend, but at times he took things too far. Any other details about characters' flaws would be giving away many spoilers to the series. But overall, for the most part, the characters were decent.
Now, the big question, did I enjoy this series? For the most part, yes. However, for most drama series, there will always be a few times in some episodes that might leave you depressed or angry. It's hard to enjoy an anime that makes you yell at a fictional character to get their act together. I have found myself guilty of doing that at least 6 or 7 times. But for the most part, Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo was indeed, as most reviewers say, a work of art. For those of you who love drama, stories based off of classic literature, and music so beautiful it will make you want to download the entire soundtrack, I recommend that you watch this series. Don't marathon it, take your time. It takes time to fully appreciate art. As for the studio that gave us Gankutsuou, I must tell you one thing... Well done.
No doubt I'm not the first person to use this cliche in a "Gankutsuou" review... probably not even the first person to open the review with that line, but it's excruciatingly hard not to use it. While some might say this is because of my limited imagination and questionable writing ability, I'd like to think that the real reason is because out of the plethora of works that the overused phrase has been applied to in the past, very few if any has done it justice the way "Gankutsuou" has. It is a show that the phrase seems to
be tailored for, a show that fits the phrase so perfectly that you might think it's where the phrase is derived from in the first place. For in "Gankutsuou", revenge is a dish that gets served very cold indeed, and nobody serves it better than the Count of Monte Cristo.
[Note: I'm gonna assume most people, like me, have a cursory knowledge of the original story, and therefore this review contains minor spoilers]
"Gankutsuou" is a bizarre sci-fi adaptation of the Dumas classic "The Count of Monte Cristo"... but then you probably know that already. Or if you didn't, you'd most likely have gleaned that info from all those other reviews by now. So let's just skip the introduction and go straight to the juicy part of the review where I can drool and gush over the anime like an obsessed fanboy, because this show is that awesome.
Lets start with the appearance, because that's the first thing about "Gankutsuou" that will catch your attention. "Gankutsuou" goes for a very avant-garde look, filling the artwork to the brim with audacious, experimental CG. It's something that's impossible to ignore as it overflows and visually overwhelms you from all corners of the screen, I hated it at first. Gonzo must have spent an absolute fortune on it, and all it did was make my eyes blurry and my head hurt. The way the patterns on clothes stayed still whilst the people wearing them moved around got to me especially. The animation isn't the only thing about Gankustsuou that's eccentric. The artistic direction of the anime is very abstract and surreal, and I generally dislike this kind of stuff. But that's the thing - "Gankutsuou" takes a lot of weird sh*t (most of them of the type that I hate), throws them together, and... it just kind of worked out! The melodrama, the embellishing orchestral score, the aristocratic society (that's er... set in space) and the eccentric direction worked in tandem to make the whole thing into something that has a feel of a large scale theatre production, and I was able to just lap it all up without trouble. Even the ending theme - an unorthodox punk disco song - which should have come off as disastrously out of place, but instead fits the anime like a glove, and adds an extra intensity to the (often cliff hanger) ending that often psyched me up into watching the next episode straight away. Not long into the series, and the animation was probably the only thing I still wasn't keen on, but at least I was getting used to it, and it has moments that impressed me as well - the shimmering gown that one of the characters wears to the opera in one of the episodes is breathtakingly beautiful... it's the kind of scene that makes me think THAT is exactly the thing CG is made for.
The central attraction of this anime is the Count and the mind boggling story. Despite the Count being a bit of a bastard, the guy oozes so much charisma - gotta give credit to the voice actor here, for pulling off the performance of a life time and bringing this larger-than-life character to life - that it's practically impossible to hate him despite the things he does. His general badassery even manage to make that cliched manic laughter used by so many lesser villains seem cool. He didn't just charm nearly everyone in the anime with his quiet confidence, strength and eloquent mannerisms, he damn well won me over too. Even when he eventually showed the ugly depth of the darkness within him, I still wanted to believe there is more to him... just like Albert did. Unlike the book (which I've not read, but I heard a bit about), Albert is the central character, and to tell the truth, he comes across as a little bland initially, but possesses such an innocence and sincerity that it's difficult to dislike him. Even though the count is the star of the show, Albert is able to shine through in his own way and garner a lot of sympathy for his cause. His dogged persistence in his incorruptible beliefs eventually wins over most of the cast - again, an effect that's replicated on me as well. This remarkable ability of many of the "Gankutsuou" characters to influence the viewer in the same way that they influence other characters makes the viewing experience a very convincing one - when you feel what the characters are feeling, you can be pretty sure you're completely engrossed in the show.
Gonzo's anime are famous for their stella animation and production coupled with a half baked story, and if, like me, you always had that nagging feeling that they just need to work with a half decent story (i.e. one that they didn't write themselves) in order to produce something amazing, then "Gankutsuou" will go a long way towards convincing you of that theory. The source material is considered to be of an extremely high standard, and boy did Gonzo deliver this time round. The plot development is nothing short of superb. I found opening episodes to be a little slow, but the sense of being at the tip of an iceberg presented enough intrigue to keep me going. As the story unravelled bit by bit, the momentum quickly picked up, and by the time the series is half way through, it was fiendishly difficult for me to stop watching at any point. It just kept getting better and better as everything clicked into place and the full extent of the web the Count had been spinning was revealed. The later parts were peppered with so many astonishing twists and shocking revelations that I was nearly overwhelmed (in a good way) trying to get to grips with everything that was happening. And then it was all over... in the penultimate episode, oddly enough. The last episode is a bit like a gentle epilogue showing the aftermaths of the event. I bet a lot of people yawned through it, but I quite like it as it provides a nice calm closure after the hectic non-stop events of the previous 15 episodes or something. It's actually told in a weird non-linear fashion, and the point of doing this in a trivial closure episode is totally lost on me - it just made things more confusing, to the extent I had to backtrack and watch some parts more than once in order to confirm what I thought had happened. These are very minor complaints though, to be honest, and is nothing compared to the horrendous lack of story clarification found in most Gonzo works. The good thing is that by working with a well established story, Gonzo was able to avoid most of its usual cock ups, but its trademark mistakes are still evident in the parts it did change. The primary one is that they've changed the back story of the Count to involve some supernatural being... but they only touched on that briefly, and I was still a little bewildered by it after I had watching series. Typical. They've also thrown in mecha battles for no apparent reason - just another thumbprint of Gonzo's quirky habits, but it just about worked out for them in this particular case despite coming off as a little odd.
Nitpicking aside, Gonzo has undoubtedly transformed Dumas' classic novel into a classic anime. If you still need convincing, then I've got one more argument up my sleeve. Firstly, Gonzo's repertoire contains quite a lot of popular hits, but they tend to be unanimously shunned by critics over their lack of coherence and substance. Secondly, adaptations from books often get ripped to shreds almost as a knee-jerk reaction from the fans of the book, ESPECIALLY when it deviates significantly from the original material. "Gankutsuou" bucks not one but BOTH these trends - not only is it praised by the general (anime-watching) public and critics alike, but it also received at least a level of grudging acceptance from fans of the book, despite it being an audacious re-imagining of the original tale. These are no mean feats, and an anime that has achieved them is surely worth a try, right?
Gankutsuou is a rare hybrid that is ambitious in what it is trying to accomplish. What is even more rare is that Gankutsuou perfectly executes what it seeks to be.
Gankutsuou is based upon the Count of Monte Cristo, the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas. The classic French novel has the story told from the perspective of The Count, but the anime shifts the perspective to Albert de Morcerf. This fundamental change shifts the tone of the story as a whole. It grants The Count and air of mystery, since instead of the narrative following him, it now follows a third party who views him
from afar. Morcerf serves as a viewer surrogate, and through him we relate to his naivety and adoration for The Count. In the aspect of story it can be said to perhaps even surpass the original source material, turning a cold hearted story of vengeance into something with a lot more heart.
While it is debatable whether the story benefits from the shift in perspective, it is not debatable that Gankutsuou takes full advantage of the medium of animation. This is one of the most beautiful anime TV series to have ever been created. Some of the motion can be rough, and the CGI is clearly dated (a hallmark of mid-2000s Gonzo productions), but the art direction is both gorgeous and fitting. The colors and designs on clothing evoke the flamboyance and fabulous wealth of early 19th century France. The inclusion of science fiction elements weave seamlessly into the overall tone of the setting to create a feeling of grandeur and awe that is evoked by a Paris of old that has long since passed. Gankutsuou has clothing designs that are the height of fashion, and some outfits dazzle the eyes with their intricacy and detail. Yet nothing is ever over-designed. Every character is unique and memorable, and you will never find yourself asking, "who was that guy again?" as you do with many other shows of lower caliber.
Complementing the art direction is the music choice. The synthesis of 19th century romantic pieces, operatic overtones, electronic dance music, and French pop songs is both fresh and unique to this particular show. The classical pieces ground the show's setting in the original novel, lending believability to the setting involving aristocrats, noblemen, and old-school gentlemen's duels. While the electronic music emphasizes the sci-fi nature of the show, evoking strong connections to Cyberpunk, a genre known for its depiction of dystopian societies and systemic corruption, themes that find their home within the heart of Gankutsuou.
The strength of the characters largely owes itself to the original Alexandre Dumas novel. With such a huge cast it was a daunting task to flesh them all out with an interesting story and memorable aesthetics. This show does it all. A special kudos to the character design department for their depiction of The Count of Monte Cristo. The choice to give him such an endearing yet alien visage was perfect for his character. He looked both sinister and respectable: a smile that you could trust and yet an air about him that exudes menace.
Mech duels, vengeance, gorgeous backdrops, gorgeous clothes, murder, betrayal, deceit, secrets, action, drama. Saying any more would spoil too much.
One of my favorite anime of all time, and I only hope this review helps convince at least one other person to watch this legendary show.