Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Gankutsuou: the Count of Monte Cristo

Now I know what you’re thinking… ,,Count of Monte Cristo – haven’t we seen that before ?”. Yeah, many versions of it. I saw the French version, the Russian version and the American version, and I even read the book. So the questions arises… Why the fuck would you even bother with this one ? Well for starters it doesn’t take place in the 19th century but in the far future. Plus this time around the story focuses on Albert and his friends and inter-relationships. Still not interested ? Well then let’s analyze it more thoroughly. The plot is that Albert de Morcerf had it all: wealth, loving parents, great friends. The only thing lacking in his life was excitement... until that fateful day on Luna. After a chance encounter with bandits and a daring rescue, Albert invites his newfound friend and savior, the Count of Monte Cristo, to his home in Paris. Little does he know what fate has in store for him and his loved ones. Just who is the mysterious Count, and what does he want? As tragedy touches the lives of those around him, can Albert’s only recourse be to wait and hope? Well hell fucking no because otherwise there would be no fun. One thing which I like the most about this one is that Gankutsuou is set in the far future, during the year 5053, whereas Alexandre Dumas's original novel takes place during the 1800s. Though Gankutsuou incorporates elements of science-fiction and fantasy, it also retains many aesthetics of France in the 1800s, particularly in regard to social classes and wealth. In addition, each of the episodes begin with a summary spoken in French. So it has a good mix science-fiction and history. One fuck up is the opening. The music sounds like a fucking lullaby, and together with the ,,artistic” images shown, always puts me to sleep. But the ending makes up for it. You can hear a part of it from the end of the trailer that came with this review. The ending song describes very well the atmosphere in this anime, and also gives the feelings of revenge and hatred of the Count. What other minus a have is that the first 7 or 8 episodes are kind of boring. But these are the episodes that introduce all the characters and also give start to each persons drama. So you can’t skip them, cause boring as they are, they are important. Now after that, it gets interesting as the Count’s plan of revenge slowly unfolds. Now let’s talk about the characters. First of all you will notice two things: 1) It’s diverse and 2) They usually represent French aristocratic society. And they sure feel like it. Depending on what position a character has in the aristocratic society ( e.g. banker or general ) they’re features as well as they’re sins, are defined. Example: a banker’s care is only money and how to become rich. And in this anime you can well see those features, so it has a good sense of real life. Everything else about them works out perfectly: everyone has his own well defined personality, and you can’t really feel at first who is a villain and who is a good guy.
Another thing that I like about this anime is how good it keeps you interested without the use of action. Not that action is lacking, there are fight scenes which take the form of one on one duels, and there are also brief scenes of intergalactic war, but they are to few and short to matter. These war scenes are there only for the sake of the plot. It would’ve been nice if there were more such scenes and lasted longer, but they aren’t that important, and you can do without. Remember, this anime is more about revenge and relationships, not war. What keeps you watching is the good drama and mystery. I mean you know that Count is bad, you know who betrayed him ( if you read the book that is ) but you still don’t know how he will do that, and what role will Albert play in all this, cause remember the plot here focuses on Albert more than the Count.
The sound is good, effects are realistic and voice work is done with talent and professionalism. What really sucks in this anime are the graphics. Usually when I complain about graphics I point out the fact that they look outdated, but here they just went way too far with innovation. The visuals are fucked up. Why ? Cause they fuck up you eyes. I mean it’s not that bad, they don’t cause blindness, but they strain your eyes, which is no fun. Bodies and shapes look good and real, and the background is rendered 3D which is nice. But coloring is God awful. They somehow layer Photoshop textures into digital animation, it’s hard to explain but trust me, it’s bad. At first I didn’t know what’s going on, and I couldn’t tell apart bodies and background, but in time my eyes adjusted and it was easier, but still fucked up. They tried something new, but I think it would’ve been better if they just made it with usual texture and color.
In conclusion I’d like to say that this is a nice addition to all the representations of Dumas work. The Japanese never cease to amaze me with they’re imagination. You’d think the would fuck up with an idea like an anime version of Dumas novel, but the showed us that even an old idea can get new and entertaining if done right. Gankustuou…. TWO THUMBS UP.

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