Gankutsuou, designer-director Mahiro Maeda's adaptation of Alexander Dumas's novel of revenge, shifts the action to a sci-fi future of easy space travel. The series opens with the carnival on the moon (instead of Rome), wh... more »ere Albert de Morcerf and Franz d'Epinay meet the title Count, whom Maeda has reimagined as a cross between a Byronic hero and a Yoshitaka Amano-esque vampire. The designers put elaborate patterns on the characters' hair and clothes, but the patterns don't move with the characters. As a result, Albert, Franz, and the Count often look like disembodied heads floating over a patterned background. The overly detailed settings and cheesy 3-D CG effects add more discordant visual notes. But the overripe imagery can't disguise the limits of the animation or the ineffectual storytelling. The Count of Monte Cristo has been filmed at least five times previously, but Maeda's is the first version to make Dumas's characters uninteresting. (Rated 16 and older: violence, brief nudity, sexual innuendo, alcohol use) --Charles Solomon« less
First Impressions: Gonzo's Magical Interpretation of a Class
Antonio D. Paolucci | Beaver Falls, PA | 11/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a lover of the Count of Monte Cristo. It still tops my list as one of the world's most important works of fiction, and many I think would agree with me.
So when I found out that Gonzo has remade the Dumas classic, I felt a cringe run up my spine. Never has there been an anime based off of a classical work of literature such as this, or at least I have yet to see one. I felt I was forced as a fan of the original to be skeptical of the anime version.
I was wrong, and I realized this very quickly. Not from actually seeing the anime itself, but from seeing Samurai 7, which is also a remake of a classical work of entertainment (Seven Samurai by Akira Kurisawa). Gonzo spun its own magic with the samurai remake, one that doesn't attempt to mimic Seven Samurai but to add a new vision to the classic. I figured from Samurai 7's example that Gankutsuou would likewise add a new vision to the Dumas classic.
Here, I was right. After watching the first episode, it was clear that Gonzo had in no way attempted to remake The Count of Monte Cristo, but instead went for a different interpretation of it. It turned out magical, in the end. The style of story-telling, while certainly jarring at the beginning, is unique in that it doesn't exactly follow the Count but one of the supporting characters who observes from the outside the Count's quest, and who suffers through his own conflicts. It also starts somewhere near the middle of the Count's journey, after he attains his status. The setting is futuristic, with the first episode based on a Las Vegas-style moon and eventually moving to a futuristic Paris later on (though I haven't yet got there in my viewing). The animation style, which is hard to describe, follows its own rules and fits in well with the setting and story. It adds a lot to the atmosphere, as well.
I'd recommend this to all Gonzo fans, as it will, I think, turn out to be one of the best to come from the studio. I would also recommend this to fans of the Dumas classic open to new things. It may at first seem a bit much but as the story progresses you'll sink into it quickly. This is Gonzo's magical interpretation of a classic."
A Feast for the Eyes
Art addict | USA | 10/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow. This anime just blew me away (I was captivated from the very first episode) and now is one of my all-time favorites. This anime really goes all out visually, combining patterned overlays and 3d imagry to create a rich visual atmosphere that is gripping. The 'moving patterns' may be a little much for some people the first episode, but after that it becomes really easy to flow in the wonderful world created here and watch it entirely undistracted. It is really fun to see the way the period style is meshed with a sci-fi environment. Immense detail has gone into every scene to maintain high-quality animation.
Having watched the entire series I can say the storyline is supurb and not at all lacking. It veers dramatically from Dumas' original plot, but not to any detriment. It is the Count of Monte Cristo re-invisioned, told from the point of view of Albert. There is a higher focus on the younger characters, and each of these is treated with care to create a depth and emotion. Director Mahiro Maeda really flushes out characters like Franz and Euginie who don't play such a large roll in the original. I loved the novel; and then the anime made me love the characters all the more.
This is a thrilling drama with lots of romance and scandal thrown in which will leave you eagerly awaiting each new volume."
A brilliant, mature series
Ashley Cope | St. Petersburg, Florida United States | 09/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gankutsuou should be allowed to stand on its own merits. Comparing it to the classic novel from which it draws its characters and much of its plot robs a viewer of the innovative, unique, and emotionally charged experience this series offers. The Count is no longer the main character in this retelling. Focus shifts to young Albert and his relationship with his best friend Franz, his betrothed Eugenie, his parents, and the Count himself. The Count is not the hero (nor the antihero). Albert is our hero. The Count becomes a sexy, dangerous, sympathetic villain forcing Albert to grow up and fix his father's mistakes.
It is a brilliant, tragic, occasionally melodramatic tale that stands the best chance of pleasing fans of character driven dramas. There is nothing light-hearted about this series. The plot drives on, darkening at each twist, until you stand with Albert near the end, sharing his desolation.
In addition to a lush, operatic soundtrack and the groundbreaking visuals, Gankutsuou has much to offer to yaoi fans. Though much of the main male characters' intimate interactions can be explained away as French foppishness, there is an important subplot involving Franz' romantic feelings for his best friend. This combined with Albert's infatuation with the Count and his intended make for a heartbreaking love quadrangle that may just have you rivetted.
I can't recommend Gankutsuou more to lovers of lush design and dark tragedies. It's a truly unique work of art."
Much better than you'd expect
S. O'leary | Allentown, PA USA | 01/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I first discovered this series, I'd seen it on a shelf in a DVD store and immidiately judged it pretentious and boring, leaving it sit on the shelf to collect dust. A short time later my younger brother bought the first disc and raved about it. I expected to be let down by bad dialog, poor animation, and and rediculously rehashed story that no one would be surprised by.
The term "Don't judge a book by it's cover" comes to mind.
First off the art style of the series uses a paletting technique rather than traditional paint texturing on things like clothing, hair, and backrounds. Thus the texture will remain in place even as the object moves. While it's visually jarring at first, the eye quickly becomes used to the effect, and it lends itself quite nicely to adding to the detail of the various settings and backdrops of the various environments. The majority of the characters are supposed to be high society, wealthy individuals so when this effect is used on clothing and hair, I think it helps to give the impression of extravagant wealth and eccentricity.
The soundtrack was very very well thought out. It makes use of theme and variation. Some of the key moments in the story are made that much more tense by a simple chiming tune building to a crashing cresendo. Considering that both the opening and closing themes are in english, one can appreciate the attempt in emulating western musical styles for a western story. All in all the opening and closing themes are not overplayed at all, with the opening theme used only briefly to symbolize a bond between characters.
The use of CGI throughout the film was also put to creative use and despite how others may feel, I don't believe it was over used or cheesy at all. Starships and location backrounds make up the majority of the cgi effects of the series, but the most obvious use was the mech duels. Yes, I said Mechs. There are two scenes where duels are fought in cgi mech suits. When this was initially a corny idea to me, I quickly appreciated how much attention was given to those scenes. The formalites of a traditional european duel are presented in much more detail than I've seen in any other anime (or animation -period.) as well, as the fencing stances and styles. The joint movement of the cgi seems awkward at first, with elbows and wrists of the mechs seeming herky-jerky when in movement. But I quickly realized that this was done on purpose to show the need for expertise in piloting, as well as giving the impression that this armor was built during a futuristic renaissance.
The dialog is well enough written. They did put effort into trying for a more victorian era dialog style, but it mixes only so well with the futuristic backdrop. The mediocre dialog however is made up by some spectacular voice acting in the dubbed version. (Although, there are a couple of points that I think the Voice Director left the studio. It's pronounced "Mar-key" not "Mar-quiz".) Outside of a few pronounciation hiccups here and there the voice acting is excellent
The story. No Gonzo did not stick to the traditional Dumas tale of the Count of Monte Cristo, as the story is told mostly from Albert's view point. While many may not initially like this idea, (Albert was a fairly minor character from the book) the character's personality differs somewhat from the Albert in the book. However, none of the characters, with the exception of perhaps Albert, play intrisically different roles from those they play in the book. While situations play out with similar end results, the overall plot manages to be intense, stimulating, and once in a while will throw you the plot-line curveball that will raise your eyebrows. Admittedly, the story moves slower at the beginning, but as the plot takes some unexpected twists and the situation becomes more and more tense, the story telling draws you in and any complaints that you might have had die off. By the end of the series, you won't be able to put each DVD in your player fast enough.
Make no mistake; this is NOT a direct from the book translation. This is an interpretation. This is not like the kind of bastardization that Disney does to classic tales like The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It's a new and fresh vision on an old and rehashed story.
It's worth every dime spent on it."
Not Your Average Count
Sammy | Washington, DC | 03/13/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am a huge fan of Dumas and The Count of Monte Cristo in particular. I also like many different movie genres. As such, this set worked for me. I would caution purists, however, to start slowly as this set is not for everyone.
The series is told from Albert's point of view. It's set in the future. It begins in the middle of the book. And, it does have some homoerotic overtones (Albert and his best friend, Franz d'Epinay). That said, I thought the adaptation stuck fairly close to the actual plot of Dumas' work...more in keeping with the Depardieu French version of the film than the Chamberlain version of the early 70s or the remake with Caveziel (both great in their own right.)
The only thing that was jarring for me was the depiction of the Count. He's drawn as a vampire (in anime, this means blue skin). He has vampiric teeth and is a very remote and cold figure (readers of the book will recall that Dumas' description is almost vampiric...perhaps influenced by Stoker.) So, while the depiction was on point with the original work, it was odd to see. This, because I have been conditioned to expect handsome men in the title role, not "vampiric" actors!
I think fans of the book should try this version if they are adventurous and open to different artistic forms and visions. Start, however, with the first DVD/VHS tape and see how you feel before continuing.
Anime fans w/an interest in classic literature (although some argue the point when it comes to Dumas) may well be pleased and find themselves interested in returning to the source material.
If the novel is taught to students over the age of 15 or 16, I think this version could be shown (along with the Caveziel or Chamberlain versions), in order to provide the students with an opportunity to compare/contrast the material.