-== What is it? ==-
Gankutsuou is an anime series that retells the classic Alexandre Dumas story The Count Of Monte Cristo. The series aired in Japan from October 2004 to March 2005. It is directed by Mahiro Maeda of Blue Submarine No. 6 fame and animated by studio Gonzo (Basilisk, Samurai 7, Desert Punk, etc). It is currently being published by FUNimation.
There is some brief nudity in the series but it is not gratuitous. Gankutsuou also has some bloodletting but it is not excessive. The thing the movie has a lot of is adult themes and subject matter. Gankutsuou is rated “17+” at RightStuf.com and I think that rating could be a bit high. I might go as low as “15+”.
The boxed set I purchased is known as the “Complete Set”. (The one I purchased is shown in the image attached to this blog post.) Gankutsuou is comprised of 24 episodes that total roughly 600 minutes of content.
-== What I Like ==-
The story of Gankutsuou is very close to the classic story of the Count Of Monte Cristo. There are a few very important differences. First the series is told from the perspective of Albert (i.e. the son of Fernand) NOT the Count’s. This is an interesting choice as Albert is not a serious character in the novel. In this story he is the focal point and his friends, most of which are created for the anime series, add a lot of depth. The second major change is that the series is catapulted into the future (i.e. to 5053). In this version of the future there are colonies on the various planets and the wars are interstellar in nature but politics are still hot and heavy in Paris. In essence moving the timeline forward does not affect the main plot points to any large degree. The final change in Gankutsuou is that it does not start with the story of the Count. It starts when Albert meets the Count with his friend Franz. The background of the count is told in flashbacks and clues that are uncovered during the course of the series. I think this change really gave the writers of the series a chance to shine. I thought this change made the story incredibly fun to watch especially if the viewer is not familiar with the Count Of Monte Cristo story. As you might guess from my description I was fascinated with the story in Gankutsuou. It captures the best bits from the Count Of Monte Cristo then adds it own flair. First rate storytelling.
The various characters in Gankutsuou are just wonderful. They are intricate, have their own motivations, and add so much to the story. Some of my favorites include the Count, Albert, Mercedes (Albert’s mother), Haydee (the Count’s harp player), Eugine (Albert’s eventual love interest), Valentine (Prosecutor Villefort’s daughter), Franz (Albert’s closest friend), and Peppo (mysterious employee of Fernand’s and new friend of Albert’s).
The English voice acting in the series is very nicely performed. I particularly liked the actor who portrayed the Count, Jamieson Price. His booming voice really hit home in several scenes. Johnny Yong Bosch of Mighty Morphin Power Ranger fame also did a great job as the main character Albert.
The main thing that most animation fans will notice when they first see shots of Gankutsuou is the art style. The art style in the series is VERY different. For the costume textures and some background elements the animators replaced the color with detailed patterns that have a static feel but add a lot of life to the characters. I’m betting that most folks either hate this artistic approach or love it. Personally I think it is utterly breathtaking. Every time one of the characters, especially the women characters, came out in a new outfit I literally gasped. Another interesting choice with the artwork is that even though the setting for Gankutsuou is in the future they left the 19th century fashions and artistic style. This produced fantastic period dresses with a modern appeal and cool vehicles like the Count’s mechanical carriage.
-== What I Don’t Like ==-
As I mentioned earlier in the review the way Gankutsuou retells the story of the Count Of Monte Cristo is masterfully done. Saying that it is VERY intricate and can get quite tricky. You have to pay attention to remember how all of the characters relate and who has slept with whom.
Probably my main gripe with Gankutsuou is with these large robotic suits of armor that nobles use for dueling. These suits of armor were generated with CGI and did not mesh well with the fantastic art style of the rest of the series. More importantly they just obscured emotion from the viewer. You couldn’t see when characters were cringing unless they decided to do a cutaway shot. I did not like any of these scenes because it pulled me out of the narrative.
-== Summary ==-
If you want to watch a beautiful anime full of court intrigue and mysterious nobles then Gankutsuou is for you. Even if you don’t buy the series hunt up some video so you can check out the art style. Fantastic stuff.
You can pickup the S.A.V.E. pack at RightStuf.com for $22.49 at this URL. For the exact same price Amazon has it at this URL.
I give it 8 out of 10 paws.