A Tale of Manipulation and Revenge…
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is a crazy, complicated roller coaster ride from its name, which is quite the mouthful, to its plot. The series does borrow loosely from Alexander Dumas’s novel The Count of Monte Cristo. The setting is a Sci-Fi futuristic setting, where space travel is a typical thing and various alien species interact with humans. The plot focuses on two characters specifically: The Count of Monte Cristo and Albert de Morcef. Albert is a young French aristocrat who one day meets the enigmatic Count on Luna, the colony established on Earth’s moon. As first strangers, Albert is drawn to the Count, like many other characters in the series. Over time the viewers find out that the Count has deep vendetta against the men who betrayed him and is willing to use Albert to obtain his vengeance. From their first meeting onward, there are plots, schemes and a colorful cast of characters who bring life to this story.
Something that is apparent from the moment the first episode begins is the art style. The art style is, to state it blatantly, that everything in this universe is made of wall-papery substances. The clothes, background and even the hair and eyes of each character has a distinct pattern. The most interesting thing is that, at least with their clothes, that as the characters move the patterns on their clothes stay the same. This creates a very unique visual effect, which can be either really cool or really distracting. Once or twice, the patterns are so weird and out there that they are visually offensive. However majority of the time the patterns and art style are combined in ways that make some of the scenery and characters look amazingly stunning and beautiful. If you get past a few episodes, your eyes can usually adapt to the unusual art style. As for the opening of the anime, well let’s just say that I’ve skipped over it after the third episode, for every episode after it.
As stated in the introduction Albert meets the Count seemingly by chance, but of course in this anime series nothing and I mean NOTHING happens accidentally. From the first episode onwards, The Count is enacting a scheme to get revenge the people who betrayed him around fifteen years previously. Albert as well as the huge cast of minor characters are just pawns in the Count’s scheme. The plot itself is rather complex, as the connections between all the characters is diverse and complicated, you might need a flow chart to keep track of it all. Still by the end of the show, the plot is explained and all is explained. The fate of some characters and the ending itself of the anime is different from the original manga, but the anime’s ending is quite well done.
All of the characters in this anime are very interesting, from Albert and the Count to the huge cast of minor characters. All of the voice actors do a pretty good job, both in the english dub and the original japanese version. It would take pages and pages to describe each character, but the best and most intriguing characters are the Count and Albert. The Count, voiced by Jamieson Price, is quite an amazing character, every time he talks he has this air of elegance and class. However once he starts scheming and plotting, his true nature of bitterness and desire for revenge twist him into this dark and devious character. Albert on the other hand is a young fifteen year old aristocrat, who basically is just a pawn for the Count to use. He is very childish, foolish and easily manipulated by the Count. Johnny Young Bosch does an excellent job giving life and energy to Albert. The main problem with Albert is that his actions and decisions are just so impulsive and are clearly extremely stupid no matter how you look at it. However by the end of the anime, Albert develops and matures however it takes him most of the series to achieve this.
In the end this anime is quite the hidden gem. The intriguing character and manipulative nature of the Count, the unique and beautiful visual style and extremely complex and intriguing plot really combine in one unique wallpaper-infused pack edge. Both of the English and Japanese versions are solid and once you get past a few episodes, the unique style of clothing grows on you and truly demonstrates its potential. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is a unique creation, whose art style has (to this day) never been imitated.