|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Gankutsuou is a loose anime adaptation of the classic French novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, written by Alexandre Dumas. Set in the far future, the series focuses on a young French aristocrat named Albert de Morcerf who befriends a mysterious self-made nobleman called the Count of Monte Cristo, and acquaints him with members of Paris’ high society. Unbeknownst to Albert though, the Count has ulterior motives for wanting to befriend the young man that stem from wrongdoings and corruption committed against him years earlier by three influential aristocrats that Albert is close to.|
Before I dabble into this review, I do want to concede that I have yet to read the original source material of this series thus I don’t have intimate details on what’s been changed or removed in adapting the Count of Monte Cristo. At least from what I gather, it seems that the plot of the novel was streamlined to a good degree so it could better fit into the anime’s 24-episode runtime and the anime is more focused on Albert’s perspective of the events that transpire while the novel was more focused on the Count’s point-of-view. In spite of the changes, I’d at least say Gankutsuou stands on its own merits as an adaptation and that it is at least accessible to anyone lacking knowledge on the novel.
That matter aside, Gankutsuou mainly dabbles into Albert’s character during his interactions with the Count. His character is clearly shown to undergo a good deal of development throughout the show’s run as he is at first naive to signs of the Count’s ambiguous moral nature while befriending him. As Albert starts to learn more about the Count’s machinations though, the boy finds himself wondering what is the truth concerning his aristocratic life and how true to his feelings should he be in defiance of the Count’s manipulations. I’ve heard of some not being a fan of Albert’s character due to his naive nature from earlier episodes. But I’d argue this is a flaw to his character due to his youth and aristocratic upbringing that he finds himself having to grow from as he learns more about the Count’s past.
The Count is another character worth mentioning due to the complexity of his character explored throughout Gankutsuou. He is depicted to have an otherworldly feeling to his character shown from his unique physical features and morally ambiguous nature in his interactions with other characters. There is a clear difference in how he conducts conversation with Albert, his servants, and those among Paris’ elite to show how he regards each of them. All this helps add layers to the Count’s character as the series gradually drops hints of his past connections to the mentioned aristocrats and shows some of the inner conflict he goes through with going through with his plans and gradually coming to care for Albert.
Outside of the two lead characters, Gankutsuou also offers a solid amount of exploration on a number of other major characters throughout its run. Some characters throughout the series close to Albert find themselves either victim to the Count’s plans in some form or are attempting to learn more about the history of the Count’s true identity and the mentioned aristocrats. Plus, some have their roles with shaping the developments of Albert and the Count with the inner conflicts both face throughout the series. Said characters lack the heavy focus and complexity found with Albert and the Count, but a number of them are still affected by their developments throughout Gankutsuou’s run.
Outside of characters, the story of Gankutsuou is one focused on revenge and the pitfalls of obtaining power and wealth. The revenge element is mainly explored through the Count’s character. While he has justifiable reasons at wanting to go after the three aristocrats in question, his plans have the consequence of affecting members of the aristocrats’ families who are innocent of any wrongdoings and he does gradually become conflicted with whether or not to advance with his plans as he befriends Albert and becoming consumed by his feelings of vengeance on those who wronged him in the past.
The power and wealth angle plays out with the three aristocrats that the Count is conspiring against. Limiting spoilers, two of the three are depicted to be irredeemable characters who are fanatically devoted to maintaining their power and wealth by any means, even at the expense of their family relationships. This results in the audience not feeling any sympathy for them when they eventually get their comeuppance. The last aristocrat is depicted in a more sympathetic light with how he treats his family and why he chose to go through with his acts, even coming to regret what he has done in later episodes as he realizes how far gone he becomes when his corruption becomes exposed.
As far as presentation goes, Gankutsuou is a unique beast as far as anime goes. Visually, the series employs a 2D-cel animation style with designing its scenery and characters, yet chooses to get quite elaborate with it. Scenery is quite detailed and elaborate with depicting its settings, most notably the secret underground apartment and spaceship owned by the Count that are quite spectacular to see in their splendor. My thoughts on character designs are a bit more mixed as character hair and clothing is often depicted with a texture-like pattern that remains stationary, even when characters are moving around.
Overall, Gankutsuou offers up a strong story with its focus on the Count’s plans for revenge and exploring how those caught in them are negatively affected, making for a rather unique adaptation of Alexander Dumas’ classic revenge novel with the sci-fi elements implemented into the series. The visual presentation is likely to be divisive among fans though due to how strongly it sticks out throughout the series, as I’ve heard of some dropping the series due to it. But if you don’t mind the aesthetics, you are likely to be entertained and engrossed into this unique take on the Count of Monte Cristo.
Last updated Sunday, February 16 2020. Created Wednesday, December 22 2010.
3 Episodes Watched
It's Vampire Hunter D meets the German Artist for Elfen Lied.
So far it's nice but I really can't get past all the CG they do with the clothes and hair. Sometimes the CG backgrounds stay static and sometimes they move with the character. Either way I found it extremely distracting.
The story is very nice. Nice little mystery unfolding on the 3rd episode. Sorta a little look into each person's soul.
It's not very funny at all so I can't give it the bonus point but for drawing and style, it's top notch.
Last updated Wednesday, November 09 2005. Created Wednesday, November 09 2005.
Reminiscent of how the series "Reign"” retold the "Alexander the Great"” story, but with a strange high-tech and magic edge, "Gankutsuou" respins the "Count of Monte Cristo" classic into a futuristic eight-hour (24 episode) tale of love and loss, and of revenge and redemption. Against a science fiction backdrop, the main character, Albert Mondego comes to learn of the harsh truth as to his parents past, a past history that they have tried very hard to suppress, forget, and hide from their only beloved son.|
Forget any of the 2-hour movies based on this story and just read the book. But, f you like intense movies based on great stories, then there is the 1998 four-episode mini-series with Gerard Depardieu (What about that Nose!!!) that will tell this tragic tale. And if you like to suffer, and are into intense dark and serious anime based on a great original story, then you might just enjoy the anime series titled "Gankutsuou".
Set in a futuristic time when high tech toys and space flight are just some of the privileges of being the elite aristocracy of a quasi-feudal society, the young viscount Albert and his childhood friend, Frantz have ventured out to attend an annual festival held on Luna, the primary city of the Moon, when they first encounter the mysterious Count de Monte-Cristo. At the height of the festival Albert is kidnapped for ransom, and Frantz unable to secure the demanded ransom, is forced to turn in desperation to the Count for assistance in helping his dear friend. And so the story starts....
The setting and differences in this story are distinctive enough to keep it fresh and different, but it is the subtle use of CGI (computer generated imagery) that can take a bit of getting used to. The wardrobe of the main characters is an overdone collage, but the anime-digital pattern is fixed, so when the main characters move, their clothes move against a fixed backdrop. While being a bit distracting for such an intense (slower moving) storyline, it does have an effect, which succeeds in heightening the suspense and mystery moment. But it is the main character, Albert Mondego, that drives this story. Appearing at first as a very innocent and naïve young man, he is charmed and amazed at the foreign and almost-alien Count. It is only later, when tragedy and misfortune befall both his parent and the parents of his close friends, does he begin to see the Count in a very different light. All the while, he is completely unaware of a forgotten history that ties both his parents and the Count together some twenty years ago.
If you can not guess by now, I am really enjoying this series. It takes both the time and attention to take a classic story and retell it with a very interesting and futuristic spin.
UPDATE - anidb.net gave a collective (GOLD) star rating for this series, a decision which I can agree with. This series should be rated a RENT++++, and perhaps, a BUY rating if you are into this type of anime tale which retells/respins an older classic story.
Last updated Friday, July 29 2005. Created Friday, March 25 2005.
|Official Japanese (Language) Web Site||http://www.gankutsuou.com/|