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Reviews Comments: Classic literature=Classic anime? Gankutsuou whole series review by maninahat

So much to say! The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favourite novels, and whilst there have been dozens of attempts to transfer it to the big screen, they have always fallen flat on their face.

This is where Gankutsuou comes in. I have reduced my review to bullet points to save space:

  • The anime is in series format, allowing the writers to retain much of the intertwining subplots that make Monte Cristo so brilliant.
  • The anime uses a fascinating layering technique in the animation, giving it a unique (if slightly nausea inducing) aesthetic.
  • Gankutsuou takes a new approach to the 18th Century novel by placing it in the far future.
  • The eponymous Count is badass in every endeavour, and it is splendid to watch.

  • The writers forgo the chance to get into the mind of one of the greatest literary characters of all time by making a minor character into the lead, instead of the Count. We end up stuck with a whiny, spoilt, bratty, naive, little shit for a protagonist. This alternate perspective is not a good one.
  • Because this thing is set in the future, I couldn't help but think that the Count's devious schemes could have easily been disrupted through the use a sophisticated piece of technology known as a "telephone".
  • Whilst the previously mentioned layering technique is cool, the CGI and hand drawn elements look pretty tacky.
  • The anime keeps faithful to the original text for the most part but has a suprise alternate ending which, frankly, is total shit by comparison.
  • Monte Cristo is noted for being largely devoid of action. Films have often tried to pep it up by adding a sword fighting scene or two. Gankutsuou ups the ante by adding trashy, sword fighting mechas. Monte Cristo works better without it.
  • Gankutsuou has possibly the worst opening theme tune I have ever heard. What makes it all the more terrible is that it is worked into the story as a plot device, meaning we have to hear it repeatedly in some episodes.

The cons outweigh the pros. Gankutsuou is a nice try, but no cigar.


  • Sanyolock
  • 21st May 09
Disagree on most on the Cons, so I guess YMMV indeed. Very good review though, clear and to the point.
  • Nemo
  • 21st May 09
Not seen the series, but would just like to note that the idea of the Count of Monte Cristo in Space was previously done in a sci-fi book from the 60's called (depending on edition) "The Stars My Destination" or "Tiger, Tiger".
  • ScudEast
  • 2nd Jul 09
19th-century novel.
  • Barano
  • 27th Jul 09
Actually, 'Tiger, Tiger' was one of the main inspirations for 'Gankutsuou': the Count's facial marks are an homage to the novel.

Anyway, this review is a serious case of YMMV. Hope someone writes another one to balance it out. (I'd do it if I had more time on my hands.)
  • insofar
  • 22nd Aug 09
I agree with all your points, especially with the ending and the ridiculous fucking mecha.
  • Highwind
  • 22nd Apr 10
The mecha were a bit much, but I happened to like We Were Lovers. Overall I liked the anime, even with the odd style.
  • Anarchy
  • 25th Jun 10
I agree that the opening theme was terrible. Not the song itself, but the singer was just atrocious.
  • Cherruyue
  • 23rd Mar 11
  • maninahat
  • 24th Mar 11
It is not supposed to be critical analysis. That is what the essay section is for. The review section is for opinions, and YMMV should go without saying. I suppose if you don't mind the mechas or the opening theme or the alternative ending, then your experience will be different from mine. But as a fan of the book, I found these to all take away from the experience. For instance, Monte Cristo isn't really about swash buckling, so the inclusion of lengthy, giant mecha fight scenes seemed to be a silly diversion. I don't mind changes to a story, as long as the changes are sensible or provide an interesting alternative. Putting the story into the future allows for interesting visuals, but it creates plot holes (like how people who have mastered inter-stellar travel are seemingly unable to warn each other about important events of the phone.)
  • Muzozavr
  • 4th May 11
The rest are YMMV but the twist alternate ending point is bullshit. From the start, Gankutsuou is a completely different character than the book's Count. Equally badass, yes, but completely different characters. In the book, Eduard's death and Maximillian's love for Valentina stopped the Count dead in his tracks, because he was still Edmond Dantes even after being consumed with revenge. Not so here, he is now Gankutsuou, a vengeful spirit who wants vengeance and ONLY vengeance. Badass as heck, but in the book I cheered for the Count and the final "Bide your time and hold out hope" while in the anime, I'd be PISSED if the ending remained the same as in the book, it would be totally illogical. Fortunately, it was completely different, logically following from the anime's events instead of taking it straight from the book.

In short: I'm a fan of the book and I still love this anime. It's awesome.
  • cillianflood
  • 10th Oct 16
\"The writers forgo the chance to get into the mind of one of the greatest literary characters of all time by making a minor character into the lead, instead of the Count.\"

This isn\'t at all different from the book. From the moment we swap to Rome (where the anime starts) the book completely stops showing us Edmond\'s perspective. The entire rest of the book is made up of other character\'s observing and talking about the count. The Count manages to be intriguing and powerful because the audience is also locked out of his mind. We know he\'s planning something but we don\'t know what or how. Only why. After the first three hundred pages or so he becomes the villain of the book right up until the end. The only difference in the anime in this regard is which characters it focuses on to give a perspective of the count. In the original book it\'s mainly the Count\'s enemies we get to spend time with and a rather large chunk of it being dedicated to Maximilian and Valentine\'s romance. The anime instead focuses more on the other child characters and gives us a definitive protagonist in the form of Albert. Something the original novel actually lacked aside from the section where Edmond is imprisoned and searching for the treasure. Even at the very start of the novel Edmond isn\'t the focus character until he gets arrested.

TL;DR, not getting into the mind of the Count is the entire point of The Count.

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