When Geneon went down they took a lot of quality shows with them. Thankfully FUNimation was able to rescue some of them from the abyss and because of their efforts today we're looking at the complete series release of Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo. In case you're unfamiliar with the show, Gankutsuou is arguably one of Gonzo's most striking projects. It's a unique looking anime, features a striking story, and is loosely based on the classic tale, "The Count of Monte Cristo", though I suppose you could have figured that one out.
Originally released in Japan between 2004 and 2005, Gankutsuou made its way to the States in the latter part of 2005. Now, almost four years later, FUNimations has compiled the defunct Geneon series and are presenting all 24 episodes on four DVDs. It should go without saying that if you missed this show the first time around this is your best bet unless you want to piece together a collection from out of print bargain bin fodder. But just what is Gonzo's take on the classic tale of the Count of Monte Cristo all about?
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo's take on Alexandre Dumas's tale of revenge is set well into the future (by a couple thousand years). Technology has advanced to a point where humans can travel deep into the universe and they seem to be spread out all over the place. For the purposes of this story though, the action mostly centers on Earth; Paris, France to be exact. It all begins on the moon during the Carnival of Luna, which is basically a spatial version of Mardi Gras. A pair of young nobles, Viscount Albert de Morcerf and Baron Franz d'Epinay, is visiting for the celebration. While there they are living the high life and meeting many other aristocrats, including the enigmatic Count of Monte Cristo.
The boys catch a glimpse of the Count during an opera and right away his striking appearance and mystique captivate young Albert. He looks for an opportunity to be introduced to the Count, but little does he know that the Count is actually orchestrating things to meet up with him. You see, it's Albert's family whom the Count is looking to exact revenge upon. You learn this very early on in the series and it's a tale of vengeance that grows and grows more with each episode. At the start of the show you just have a sense of foreboding as Albert goes from one situation to the next and meets with the Count on several occasions. All the while Franz, who cares for Albert very deeply, tries to be the voice of reason and constantly tells Albert how the Count is up to no good. Those words fall on deaf ears though and soon enough the Count winds up moving to Paris.
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo's rich tale continues from this point and the plot becomes enriched with twists and tension. As the viewer you simply know that things are going to go bad for Albert very soon, but it's a series of events that slowly build that brings that about. With 24 episodes at its disposal, the revenge tale is long and arduous and there are plenty of side stories to fill in the blanks.
For instance, in this show the Count has been possessed by some other life form that best resembles a demon. It has become a part of him and the two live symbiotically for vengeance. We also learn during the course of the show what has Monte Cristo's panties in a bunch and why exactly he wants to kill Albert's family. Franz has his own motives in the story as well, a transgender boy named Peppo is introduced early on, and we also get familiar with Albert's fiancÚ, Eugenie. Quite honestly there are many more characters thrown at you during the course of the show and they are each developed to an appropriate degree.
From start to finish Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is a breathtaking anime that will keep you on the edge of your seat. This powerful and complex tale of revenge grabs hold of you and doesn't let go, even after the final episode's credits have rolled. If you missed Geneon's release the first time around then consider FUNimation's collection your best bet. This is an incredible anime that deserves to be on everyone's watch list and it easily comes highly recommended.
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the most striking shows you're ever going to watch. The visual nature of this program is about as unique as it gets and it's easily one of the finest examples of anime as an art form. Everything from the character designs to the environments, 3-D elements, and even the powerful use of colors and textures pops from the very first moment you lay eyes on it. This is a show that has a life all its own and stands as a benchmark of Gonzo's skills at production. In other words this is one of the best looking shows you're ever going to see.
The presentational quality of this DVD stands out just as much. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is presented with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and has been enhanced for anamorphic playback. While the show's production values and art design easily draw the most attention, it's nice to note that the resolution of the image and all around cleanliness is up to par as well. There's virtually no grain, no blocking, and no aliasing to muck things up here. At times there is some light interlacing that crops up, but it's not entirely distracting. Overall this is a crisp and clean picture from start to finish that serves as a fine canvas for the show's style.
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo hits DVD with 2.0 stereo tracks for the English and Japanese languages. With how robust and lively this show was it's truly a shame that the original production didn't adopt a 5.1 surround track. Sure it's mostly dialogue-driven, but the musical cues and life of the city around Albert and company deserved much more attention than it received. With that being said the quality for both dubs is exemplary with clean, sharp audio that is free of distortion and dropout. Both casts did a great job as well, though in all fairness I felt the Japanese language dub was the better of the two.
Some trailers are about all you're going to find here for bonus features.
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is breathtaking in just about every way imaginable. The story is robust, well-developed, and it's full of rich characters and a fascinating world. From beginning to end you'll be glued to your TV simply salivating to find out what happens next. On top of that, Gonzo's production of the series is absolutely stunning. The dynamic art design pops from the very first moment and doesn't cease to dazzle even after 24 episodes have gone by. The bottom line is if you missed this show before, there's no reason to do so again. This collection by FUNimation is a must buy because, quite frankly, Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the better shows to come long in a number of years. Highly Recommended.