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GANKUTSUOU: THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO #1 - - Watch & Learn

The count's got a space ship, blue skin and elf ears. Remember?

A not-quite-fatherly embrace.
A not-quite-fatherly embrace.

Exquisite.

That’s the best word to describe this very creative take on Dumas’ revenge classic. It would actually have been enough of a spin to tell the story through the eyes of the Count’s long lost son (who I assume this Albert is mean to be,) leaving the larger part of his revenge saga to backstory and to revelations gradually revealed throughout the course of the tale. It does change the audience’s sense of the character significantly if we’re introduced to him as the mysterious Count instead of seeing him the naïve and wronged Edmund Dantes who conspires to concoct that persona. Even if we discounted the lush, texture heavy visual style (making me think of TATAMI GALAXY and a more sophisticated vision of CHOWDER) and the transplanting of the plot to a futuristic setting (which is cool, but keeping the French names and titles is a little jarring,) that’s a strong enough of an angle to make even something as minimalistic as a black box theater production worthwhile.

The lightly homosexual curve that’s been added is a little intriguing. Maybe there’ll be nothing more to it beyond this first episode, but young Albert’s excited interest in the Count - - going as far as to chase after him after a glance at the opera - - would seem the same as what he’d have for one of the beguiling Parisian ingénues who catches his eye. The embrace they share in the promo image above doesn’t seem like the sort of pose two platonic dudes would find themselves in; let alone a father and his grown-up son. Such an angle might actually be pretty intriguing, though I'd question what the intention would be then of reinterpreting their relationship as even vaguely incestuous.

Enough musing, though. Either way, the last time I was this impressed by such lavish, baroque fantasy was when MOULIN ROUGE came to theaters a good ten years back. And it's certainly the most interesting adaptation of the novel I've seen since the Kevin Reynolds version.

Watch this episode, "At Journey’s End, We Meet” below and decide for yourself.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here & here. Follow him on Twitter: @tompinchuk

Lurkeroon Nov. 4, 2011 at 11:07 a.m.

I found the animation style intriguing, but the plot was too blah for me to stay with it. I would follow a watch and learn though.

It would have been awesome if Chowder was as extreme as this though (animation wise, not plot wise).

Masako_Hihashion Nov. 4, 2011 at 11:30 a.m.

this series is freaking awesome!

AURON570on Nov. 4, 2011 at 12:50 p.m.

Oh man are you in for a treat. I don't know how knowing the outline of the plot will affect your viewing experience, but I can say that this anime is no slouch in storytelling!

fetchfoxon Nov. 4, 2011 at 1:39 p.m.

This is an interesting and beautiful series that twist the universe of Dumas enough to make the space part believable. Recommended.

Little_Socrateson Nov. 4, 2011 at 5:57 p.m.

It's a fantastic series, in my opinion. I'll point out that Chowder began two years after Gankutsuou, though.

Catolfon Nov. 4, 2011 at 6:20 p.m.

such a lovely series, i still have yet to finish it, by the time I was going to buy the last DVD the store went out of business i was getting them from cheap. ;_;

AgentJon Nov. 5, 2011 at 12:48 a.m.

When I first watched Gankutsuou, I didn't really pick up on a homosexual vibe. In retrospect, maybe that was naive of me, since it sort of explains some later scenes between Albert and his FIANCEE.

Oh, and if I've learned anything about Japan from Anime, it's that incest is not on the same level of taboo there as it is here.

So glad you've taken time to watch the first episode, now hopefully you'll get through the whole thing.

kemuri07on Nov. 5, 2011 at 1:09 a.m.

Ah Gankutsuou. A friend recommended the show to me when it appeared on Netflix, and I'm glad that I took the plunge. It starts off slow for the first couple of episodes, but when it decides to get real, shit gets real fast. Possibly one of the most epic anime I've ever had the pleasure of coming across.

Maximuson Nov. 5, 2011 at 8:14 a.m.

This si definitly my favourite series. The music, the animation, the plot, the way they moved the clasic to a more futuristic version is just perfect. A highly recomended series.

thekokapellion Nov. 5, 2011 at 9:21 a.m.

This was one of the most pleasant surprises I have ever watched. I was fully expecting it to be ridiculous, because The Count of Monte Cristo, a perennial favorite of mine, is famously difficult to adapt to screen, and this was The Count of Monte Cristo in space. It sounded like one of Japan's unintentionally offensive ideas, like manga Jesus or Hetalia. Also, I saw the advertisements and Edmond Dantes looked like a vampire smurf. It's now one of my favorites, and the best adaptation of the book I've ever seen.

Karkarovon Nov. 5, 2011 at 8:53 p.m.

Actually Tom even though Albert is in fact the Count's son (originally anyway) some things change in this show. For example that bit of information is simply never even brought up. So it never plays into that. The big gay reveal doesn't even involve the Count but it is sort of funny though it is clear Albert had the wrong... idea.

Anyway it is a great show that takes an interesting but still mostly faithful look at the story.

zaldaron Nov. 6, 2011 at 5:32 p.m.

@thekokapelli: Being pretty much of a purist when it comes to classic books I adore I was all ready to be upset and spitting mad when they made this (the Leonardo version of Romeo and Juliet still makes me want to kill everyone involved) ...dumas in space? Absolutely ridiculous visual style? I was so ready to hate this...I know own it..and though I have been watching anime for ten years I own less than twenty complete series...

CrackedOnyxon Nov. 9, 2011 at 10:52 a.m.

Several years have passed since I read the unabridged brick that inspired all these adaptations, but I do remember that Albert is most definitely Mondego/Morcerf's son in the original. I'm pretty sure that Edmund was still locked up in the Chateau d'If when Albert was born.

Anyway, canonical nitpicks aside, this show is absolutely fab so far, and I'm thankful that someone jogged my memory of its existence so I could look it up in my quick queue and give it a try. The visual style is a bit shocking in the first episode, but once I grew accustomed to it, the show became a pleasure to watch. The plot seems remarkably loyal to the original serial in terms of what really matters, and the leaps that the writers have made from canon have kept me on my feet.

Dig Deeper into Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

Gankutsuou is the Anime adaption of the famous "The Count of Monte Cristo" of French background. This version adds a new character, Albert, as the main character in this story of betrayal and revenge.

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