Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
Posted October 14, 2011on:
Think anime is all mechas or outer space bounty hunters or weird jokes you won’t get or Tokyo getting exploded? Think anime isn’t for you? think again.
Take Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, and put it far in the future. A future where a walled Paris is one of the few habitable places left on Earth and the moon has been fully colonized. A future where the rich marry for political reasons and machinations and everyone else just tries to get by as best they can. A future where the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Loosely following the original material, yet told from the point of view of the overly naive Albert, Gankustuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is as visually stunning as it is fascinating. This is an anime that you want to watch because it is well written, well voiced, and simply beautiful to behold. The fact that you’ll be digging around for old Dumas titles afterwards is just an added bonus.
An oversimplified summary of the original story goes thusly: shortly before the sailor Edmond Dantes is to marry Mercedes, he is betrayed by Fernand, a rival for Mercedes. Dantes is imprisoned in the Chateau d’If, and Fernand marries Mercedes. During his imprisonment, Dantes befriends a fellow prisoner who claims to know of a buried treasure. When Dantes escapes the Chateau, he finds the treasure, and returns to Paris. It’s been 15 years, and Mercedes and Fernand have a son, named Albert. Introducing himself as the Count of Monte Cristo, Dantes plans his revenge on the man who destroyed his life, a slow revenge that is as beautiful as it is brutal.
Never read the original book? Don’t let that stop you from enjoying this stunningly beautiful anime. In fact, if you’ve never read the book, you might even like the anime more, because although you might know what’s coming, how it happens will be the kind of wonderful surprise that can only happen once.
Speaking of beautiful, the whole point of talking about this anime is to bring the stunning visuals to your attention. I suggest watching this in English, just so the subtitles aren’t a distraction. (The voice acting is great in the English and the original Japanese, by the way) My guess is that the anime was 100% CGI’d, as I can’t think of another way to create these kinds of effects. First off, the character’s outfits aren’t so much painted one color or another, as they are painted one patterns or another. As people move around, the patterns change, but not in the way you’d expect. A little disconcerting at first, but incredibly stunning and creative once you get used to it. Created in 2007, the visual style of Gankutsuou is way ahead of it’s time.
I’ve so far watched 12 of the 24 episodes, and while the story is told from Albert’s point of view and starts when Dantes returns to Paris and then attempts to loosely follow the source material, I’ve been led to believe that the ending of the series goes in a different direction.
But a scifi space opera of The Count of Monte Cristo? how could you not want to watch this? and trust me, once you see the visuals of this anime, you’ll feel the same way.
and probably itunes.