Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Gankutsuou The Count of Monte Cristo - Complete Set|
Director: Mahiro Maeda
Genres: Television, Anime & Manga, Animation
The best adaptation of Dumas' original story
Lee D. Owens | Memphis, TN USA | 01/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gankutsuou is the Japanese anime interpretation of Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. Although nothing can surpass Dumas' original story, this interpretation is very fulfilling. Gankutsuou is a futuristic retelling of the story that focuses on Albert and the relationship with his best friend Franz and the mysterious Count. The story can get confusing at times, so it helps to be familiar with either the original story or the film adaptations. The animation style is truly unique. The background art is extraordinary, but what sticks out is the use of matted patterns as decorations and costume. The music is also very good. The opening theme seems out of place at first, but is eventually woven into the story. Fans of Classical and ambient pieces will enjoy the music within the context of the story. The story itself is very emotionally gripping. You will become attached to these characters over the 24 episode arc. This is probably the best work that GONZO animation has produced. It is very much a cerebral anime, so fans expecting tons of action should look elsewhere."
"You won't see me coming until I strike."
trashcanman | Hanford, CA United States | 04/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow. This is the initial impression one gets upon stumbling onto this masterpiece of animation. The visuals of this television series are on par with anything I've ever seen anywhere in any format. Stylish, otherworldly, beautiful, and unique are just a few of the adjectives that I'd use to describe the look of this show; a retelling of the classic vengeance tale in a first-rate science fiction setting. In this version of Dumas' legendary story, the lust for vengeance is literally a malignant parasitic entity, Paris is the seat of earthly power, duels are settled in the most Japanese way possible (giant robots with swords!), and corrupt officials with falsified titles(and skeletons in their closets) tear each other to pieces grabbing at money and power. My kind of show.
Not enough can be said about the art and animation of this show. Colors go from muted to vibrant depending on the scene, CG is integrated seamlessly in truly creative ways, the character designs are among the finest I've seen in anime, even the backgrounds are outstanding. You could spend an entire show marvelling at any one aspect of the art design: the character's hair and costumes, their faces, the settings. Magnificent. But visuals alone don't make for a great show. Thankfully, the Gankutsuou universe is filled with endearing characters with well fleshed-out personalities, plenty of personal drama, and -as I mentioned- some serious skeletons hiding in their closets. The Count himself is an outstanding protagonist/sympathetic villain who carries himself with all the predatory charm of a suave vampire and even in his most heartless moments forces you to admire him. Pleasant and debonair one minute, sorrowful the next, and utterly menacing at other times, this is a great character, period. The hero of the story is Albert, a young pawn in Monte Cristo's game of revenge. He may be the least interesting character in the show, but his blandness and purity of heart makes for a great contrast taht allows the rest of the cast to shine.
If you are into animation in any way, shape, or form consider this a must-see. The ending let me down a little bit as the final epilogue is literally 20 minutes of anti-climax that answers no questions and offers precious little of what made this series such a fantastic ride. But, corny ending aside, there is absolutely nothing I didn't love about this anime. I deserves to take it's place as a modern classic."
The Path to Despair
Aion | England | 02/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gankutsuou, my favourite anime series. I enjoyed it enough to read the 1250 page novel it's based on (The Count of Monte Cristo) after finishing the series, and I'm far from an avid reader. In the end, not only did Gankutsuou become my favourite anime, it also helped me find my favourite book.
I decided to start collecting the series after watching it. It wasn't an easy task to accomplish with me living in the UK and Geneon being dead in the water, but I'll save you the details and simply say that I'm now the happy owner of the art box and all 6 volumes of this truly fantastic series.
The art box, much like the series itself, is most artistic and looks very expensive thanks to the lovely gold font used. The cover of the box has an image of Albert and Edmond standing together, both looking in opposite directions, with Albert holding a sheathed sword and Edmond holding the golden scepter you see him walk about with in the series. The back of the box is equally impressive, showing Albert and Franz looking shocked, with Edmond in the shadows behind them (once again, holding his golden scepter). The spine of the box shows a rather bizarre looking Edmond running, his mouth open in a smile and his left hand held out in front of him. You can tell just by looking at it that a lot effort was put into designing this art box.
The DVD covers aren't bad, either. Like a lot of the DVD's Geneon released prior to their sad demise, all 6 DVD's have reversible covers, meaning both sides have different artwork. Since nearly all the Gankutsuou artwork is beautiful, it's great to be able to turn the covers around if you want a change - It makes me wish more DVD's had reversible covers. I'd also like to add that the reversible covers can be quite useful if, for example, you order a copy of Vol. 4 from SecondSpin and the copy your ordered arrives with one side of the cover damaged.
Moving onto the DVD's themselves, the DVD's have some very nice extras. All 6 DVD's have comments from from multiple Japanese voice actors/actresses, each voice actor/actress briefly summarising an episode each and sharing their thoughts. These comments allow you to put faces to the voices, giving you an insight into their personalities and are, quite frankly, great to see when anime DVD's very rarely have extras. The other extra worth mentioning is an interview with the director of Gankutsuou, Mahiro Maeda, who (if my memory serves me correctly) was interviewed after he watching episode 1 on a cinema screen with the press.
...I'll move onto the anime now. Just believe me when I say that the series is well worth owning on DVD.
Not having read the novel prior to starting this, I had no idea what to expect. I knew about certain vague details, such as a young man becoming fascinated with Monte Cristo, but that's all. But, as a result of having no expectations, I was blown away by the story of Edmond Dantes; The Count of Monte Cristo.
In a nutshell, Gankutsuou is a fairly simple revenge story that's executed extremely well. Edmond, posing as The Count of Monte Cristo, is kind on the surface, yet you can tell there's this hatred inside him waiting to explode. He manipulates and kills as his plan to drag the three who wronged him into despair is slowly revealed. There's a twist added to his character in the form of a sort of pact with the devil - He gained the power to get revenge by giving his soul and body in exchange, meaning he loses his humanity bit by bit while getting his revenge.
In order to add mystery to Edmond's character, the story is not told from his perspective (unlike in the book). Instead, the story is told from the perspective of Albert, a young noble and son of Fernand de Morcerf; a general and one of the three Edmond wants revenge against. This brings both bad and good points - the good being the added mystery and a different angle on the story, the bad being Albert having the IQ of a dog. I wanted to kill him when he failed to work out that it was in fact Edmond pulling the strings behind the awful sequence of events unfolding around him for the 10th time.
The setting was quite a shock at first, with the story taking place in the year 5053, where as the novel takes place during the 1800's. It was a further surprise to discover the story starts during the Rome part of the novel, the only difference being that the writers replaced Rome with a city on the moon. I do kinda wish the story had been told in the 1800's instead since very few details are given about the futuristic universe and the setting becomes more of a distraction than anything.
One thing that might upset purists is how the story goes in a different direction than the novel at around episode 18. With Edmond's character being key to the story, Edmond only caring about revenge in the anime was the reason behind the change of direction towards the end. In the novel Edmond was persuaded by Mercédès to alter his plans, yet in the anime Edmond turned a deaf ear to her and continued... This one seemingly minor change had a huge impact on how the story progressed beyond that point. Thankfully, Gonzo handled the changes very well, making the finale interesting for people who have read the novel since, if like me, those people would find themselves fascinated by the new angle on Edmond's character.
All in all, the story was a wonderful ride. An adaptation of a timeless classic with artistic differences, it was executed excellently, at times perfectly. You do have to wait for the 'main event' before you discover just how amazingly well told the story is, the first half in particular being nearly all build up, but I still felt compelled to keep watching even without any major twists/events occurring.
I liked pretty much the entire cast...apart from the main character, Albert. Although I knew he had to be made rather stupid for the sake of the plot, his stupidity and inability to see the obvious became very annoying after awhile. You'd think he'd be able to put two and two together when Edmond just randomly kept appearing and Edmond himself had told Albert that there were no coincidences!
After reading the book, it became even more clear how stupid Albert had been made in Gankutsuou in order for the story to be told from his perspective. Although Albert was quite impulsive in the book, stupid was not one of the words that entered into my mind whilst reading... If anything he came across as a rather intelligent and likeable character. Believe me when I say that Albert was neither a crybaby nor an idiot in the novel.
Franz, Albert's childhood friend in Gankutsuou (they aren't that close in the novel), shares a close relationship with Albert, the two being near enough inseparable. Unlike in the book, there are definite homosexual overtones, Franz obviously viewing Albert as more than a friend and Albert unable to see it. Franz, like in the book, is a calm and very intelligent character, in many ways being the exact opposite of Albert in the anime. Albert and Franz fall out many times in the anime over Edmond after Franz tries to warn stupid Albert on various occasions about Edmond not being all he seems.
Edmond, the Count of Monte Cristo himself, remains a mystery for most of the series. He acts kind, yet you can tell that underneath he's more like a devil waiting to unleash his true self, wearing a mask to fool those around him. His character differs considerably from the character you see in the book because, where as Edmond views himself as a servant of God in the book, Edmond views himself as a demon of revenge (actually giving his soul to the devil) in the anime adaptation. Gankutsuou's Edmond is certainly an interesting take on a famous character, one that I'm sure would likely have created more discussion had more people read the novel Gankutsuou is based on.
There are many other important characters that also need mentioning:
Note: There are minor spoilers below. Nothing too extreme.
- Eugénie Danglars
The daughter of one of the people Edmond is planning his revenge against, she acts as Albert's love interest in the anime due to the pair being engaged thanks to their parents arranging a marriage. Interestingly, she was a lesbian in the book. It's strange that the writers decided to make Franz homosexual and remove Eugénie's homosexuality in Gankutsuou...
- Mercédès de Morcerf
The wife of Fernand de Morcerf, the mother of Albert de Morcerf and former lover of Edmond Dantès. She's of vital importance to the story, yet she doesn't appear very often in either the novel or anime. Mercédès is the reason Fernand betrayed (I say betray because, unlike in the novel, Edmond and Fernand were friends in the anime) Edmond - he wanted her love, which was impossible for him to get while Edmond was around.
- Fernand de Morcerf / Fernand Mondego
A man whose successes in life have all been based on various acts of betrayal, he married Mercédès after condemning Edmond to (what he hoped would be) death by accusing him of something he hadn't done, using Edmond's naivety against him. Since then, he managed to move up the ranks of the army, eventually becoming a general and changing his name to hide his past. At the start of Gankutsuou, it's revealed Albert is his son and that he's attempting to become president of France (anime only).
- Gerard de Villefort
While Fernand was the one who set the ball rolling, Villefort was the one who chose to condemn Edmond when he could've freed him. After seeing the name of his father on a letter Edmond had been given (Edmond not knowing what was in the letter), the ambitious judge decided to destroy the evidence and destroy Edmond's life in order to protect the name of his family. Honour is the only thing that matters to Villefort.
- Baron Danglars
The father of Eugénie, Danglars is the third of the three Edmond wants revenge against in Gankutsuou. Edmond, being honest, stood in the way of the greedy future banker when they worked together in the past. Seeing the chance to get rid of him, Danglars was the person who gave Fernand the plan he used to destroy Edmond, being careful to distance himself from being directly involved. Danglars cares only about money.
...Ok, those are most of the important characters in Gankutsuou - I'm going to be typing forever if I don't stop now. As you can see, the cast is both huge and diverse, which is something you'd expect when this anime is based on such a lengthy and famous novel.
The one glaring omission from the anime cast is one of the most important characters in the book: Abbé Faria. Faria saved Edmond from killing himself after he had spent many years alone in the prison of Château d'If, giving him renewed hope and someone to converse with. Faria soon become a sort of mentor to Edmond, giving him the vast amounts of knowledge he had inside his elderly mind, ending up changing Edmond from a silly boy to a respectable man. Faria also ended up leading Edmond to fortune by telling him about the treasure hidden on the island of Monte Cristo on his death bed.
In the anime, no explanation whatsoever was given for how Edmond transformed from a naive boy to the charismatic man you see as The Count of Monte Cristo. He doesn't even go to the island of Monte Cristo in the anime, his cave of wonders being moved to underneath his house in France. Although this does work and goes with the changes made to Edmond's character (demon of revenge; not the servant of God he believes himself to be in the novel), Gankutsuou would've had more depth if Faria had at least been shown.
Overall, Gankutsuou has an amazing cast of characters. I do recommend you read the novel if you wish to understand them fully, though - a 24 episode anime can only fit in so much.
The first thing that hits you about Gankutsuou is the rather bizarre CG effect clothing and hair has. The effect is hard to put into words; it's as if the characters clothing and hair are reflective. It certainly takes a few episodes to get used to it. If nothing else, you have to praise the studio behind Gankutsuou (Gonzo) for the huge amount of effort they put in.
The second thing to hit you is the bright range of colours used. 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'd be completely wrong since it's anything but dull, vibrant being a much better description.
As expected of a Gonzo production, Gankutsuou also has a fair amount of CG outside of the clothing/hair effect, including some epic mecha fights. The CG is stunning at times, almost jaw dropping for a TV series.
Overall, Gankutsuou is a joy to watch...once you get used to the unique animation effect. Production values were clearly not low here.
First of all, let me say that I didn't think very much of the opening (OP) song: The OP, while fitting, was so dull and slow I had to skip it after watching it once. The ending (ED) song, on the other hand, I did like, the lyrics fitting the show perfectly and the song being fast paced. I feel the ED song would've worked better if it had been used for the OP.
The soundtrack is very high quality, as you'd expect. There aren't too many tracks I'd listen to outside of the series (although there is one AMAZING track), but the music fitted the show like a glove and helped keep the story epic.
I have to mention track 18, one of the best pieces of music I've ever listened to. It was cheek-tinglingly stunning to listen to when it played during the best episode in the series (strangely enough, episode 18!!!), making the sequence even more thrilling than it was already.
Having watched a fair amount of anime, I'm hard to please. Gankutsuou pleased me.
I recommend this series to everyone: Those who have read the novel and those who haven't. My only suggestion is to watch the anime before reading the novel if possible since we all know how people can be picky when it comes to adaptations."
"Bide your time, and hold out hope!"
Voren | 05/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Studio GONZO has never really been known for anything great except for a few surprise hits like Last Exile and others. Most of the time, they produce duds or simply decent shows. When they opted to adapt The Count of Monte Cristo, in the form of their anime Gankutsuou, some probably snickered while others likely felt a little bit of themselves die. There were those who wanted to believe that it would be good but you can never hope for too much with Studio GONZO. Luckily GONZO defied the expectations of apologists and naysayers and produced high art.
Fortunately this is not a slavish adaptation of the original because there would be no point in seeing it if that was the case aside from seeing classic characters and events animated. Instead, the storyline takes place in futuristic Paris and the main protagonist is Albert and his friends. He meets the Count on the moon in contrast to the novel in Italy. The Count is also seemingly a blue-skinned alien as opposed to human within the novel. Albert is taken with the Count and after being rescued by bandits on his part, invites him to Parisian society. However, not everyone is so worshipful of the Count as Albert is. Albert's mother acts strange around him, some of Parisian society is suspicious of him, and his private dealings are explicitly malicious. The Count wants something and his mere presence worries people and spins a web independent of his intents that ensnares them, forces them to confront their past misdeeds, and ruins them and their loved ones. No one is safe.
The plot is essentially the same in the Count wants revenge and the characters' roles in society are parallel to the book too. However the story is drastically different in the characters' reactions to the events around them as well as how the story twists. Franz is far more of a central character than he was in the book and Eugenie's actions and relationships with the other characters are different too as well as carry more weight. The different plot decisions still carry the spirit of Dumas's work and some betray the true nature of the characters that were only hinted to in the book. Gankutsuou exists both as a superb anime as well as a sound literary criticism of The Count of Monte Cristo.
One of the best things done in this show is how every scene and character has a point. There is not a single filler episode with a villain or character narrating the entire thing or the entirety composed of flashbacks. Fortunately every scene is a development in itself, packed with emotion that develops the characters. The scenes and imagery used also convey an objective symbolic quality to them, something rarely seen in anime. The characters can all be related to each other in the story's terms or for storytelling terms such as foils and doubles, even those who rarely interact with each other. Director Mahiro Maeda conveys a strong sense of confidence in telling the story in a no-holds barred manner since there are no long dramatic scenes dealing with mourning characters' deaths or events. That is not to say there are no mourning scenes or such. But they are used to establish character motivations and frameworks for future decisions and then quickly move onto other aspects of the story. It is done in such a fashion so that you never feel your time is wasted.
The animation is different and has received applause and criticism. Some textures of characters' clothes will not have a single color applied to them but instead have an artsy static pattern imprinted onto it that is not animated. The effect in itself is stunning but there are scenes when the effects are required to be marvelous. For example, instead of a simple blonde texture in her hair, at the opera Eugenie will also have sparkling effects imprinted upon her hair like glitter. It really adds to the atmosphere of a scene.
The music is also something behold. The show will invoke classical pieces at times and the music composed by the studio's staff is also excellent. The English dub leaves something to be desired and is simply competent against the Japanese voice actors who convey their actions with appropriate emotion. The English dub also left out the introductory narrations to episodes in French, which it must be mentioned, sounds superb. The show knows that it is a high class affair and the French adds a level of authenticity since this is Parisian society. Given who the voice belongs to, the French language also lends a sense of other-ness to the character contrasted to the Japanese speakers.
There are few legitimate classics in all mediums of storytelling. Anime has its renowned classics such as the works of Hayao Miyazaki and others that are relatively unknown to the mainstream public such as Metropolis. Gankutsuou is a member of the latter and should further assure those who appreciate real art."