Without a doubt, The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favorite books. A tale of lost love, betrayal and revenge, which made for a great ride through and through, with the writing and the characters as the driving forces of the events that followed. After reading a bit about Gankutsuou, I was unsure how it would remain faithful to the source material, with it being all futuristic and trippy (A bit on that later). I checked out the manga and found myself hooked, but I only found the first volume and left it at that. So until (relatively) recently, I left it unwatched. But as soon as I started it up, I found myself hooked beyond reason and once again dragged back into the world of the Count.
First and foremost, the story begins on Luna in a festival, which according to events in the book, is right in the middle. This avoids the first half; when the Count was betrayed, his imprisonment in the Chateau d'If and his inevitable escape. With the sci-fi setting, it was a bit annoying, as I assumed at first that the prison isn't like the one in the original novel, on Earth but I assume the manga would go into it deeper. Apart from that, the start was great, as it followed the book for the most part. But as the story goes on, it shows that it can be it's own beast at times, as it has twists and turns that help separate it from the book without deviating from it completely. As a side note, it cuts a bit out of the Valentine/Maximilien sub-plot which I found unfortunate.
The visuals are simply stunning. I was amazed by the screenshots but in motion, it's simply crazy. The colours, how the clothes and hair work... it's like the patterns stay put even if the characters move. It's kinda disorienting but it does work with everything around it. And right off the bat, the viewer is assaulted with bright colours and a taste of the style and artwork of the anime. It's also a great point to help the viewer decide if they would be able to enjoy it or not. It does tone it down a bit, but is still pretty trippy throughout. Also of note is the beautiful OP, which is a severe contrast to the actual animation, but it felt so right, and seemed to completely suit it. The EP, on the otherhand, is a complete trip, but not in a bad way. The only thing I didn't enjoy about it was some of the CGI parts, in particular some of the cars on Earth. It seemed so out of place, but otherwise, it's a feast for the eyes.
What I couldn't get enough of was the voice at the beginning of an episode, of the second onward that starts off with "Madames, messieurs, bonsoir". Sheer brilliance on how they added that, made even more brilliant on it being in French. For the other voices, I can only vouch on the sub being pretty much spot on, in particular the Count. But then again, he is what he is. The music is great throughout and I particularly enjoyed the OP, as it feels like it would totally go with the book on it feeling more of a classical piece. the EP, once again, suits the anime more, but still worked for me and grew to love it over time.
The Count is amazing, and is what he is; amazingness. And filthy rich. Rich to the point where... ah heck, that would ruin how rich he is. More often than once I found myself clapping or giggling in glee as his plans moved forward. Albert, on the other hand, is youthful and ignorant (Or naive might be a better word). He's a contrast to the Count and yet reminds me of the Count before the betrayal. That much I know, but for other characters, they're there. I remember them from the book, they play their roles and I still enjoy them nonetheless for the most part.
I can honestly say this is one of my favorite anime out there and that a main reason I enjoyed it so much was because I loved the novel. I do recommend that one reads the novel before watching the anime to get a rough sense of the events prior to the festival, but it should still be enjoyable if one skips right to the anime. And ocne again, those visuals... an absolute trip.
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