So, I watch a lot of anime. With this, I’m only two reviews away from my 700th review on this site, and I really try to watch as much anime as possible. So with that in mind, I do not make the following statement lightly: Gankutsuou is my favourite series of all of the anime I’ve watched during the past year and a half, and perhaps even longer. It’s often referred to as one of Gonzo’s masterpieces, and I wholeheartedly agree. This is everything that I look for in an anime, and then some.
Good Gonzo has always stood out with how damn innovating they kept trying to be. Gankutsuou is a fantastic example of this, but that’s far from everything about this series. Aside from being consistently experimental, it’s also extremely well executed.
I have not read the story of the original Count of Monte Cristo, but regardless, the creators did a fantastic job of converting it into a story that fits perfectly into 24 episodes. They took the entire setting and turned it into a futuristic setting that at the same time retained the atmosphere of France of more than two hundred years and the aristocratic culture of the days before the french revolution. It’s completely fiction and even through the weird graphics style, it feels strangely authentic. The setting here is really solid, and yet it’s the part of this show that impressed me the least.
Instead, we have some fantastic acting from the cast of characters that really brings them to life. There is a ton of character development in this series, and the creators even managed to make an often whining teenaged lead into a compelling character (though granted, before his development he does not stand out as the strongest member of this cast). The characters in this series all have a ton of flaws, and this series uses those brilliantly. The entire plot weaves together all of the different characters and their backstories, and just about everyone gets his or her moment to really show off his or her character.
And the way in which this is done was a really emotionally resonating one. This series knows exactly when to be subtle, and when to release all brakes and go over the top. The delivery in this is just perfect, with creative poses and animation in which a lot his happening at the same time, yet the story remains focused on what it wants to show. It’s really well shown with a lot of detail in how the characters are reacting to each other.
And as for the graphics… they’re some of the best you can get if you don’t mind the intrusive CG. This series is full of excellent visual ideas. I mean, just about every shot is absolutely gorgeous and it’s ridiculous how creative the visuals can get. The creators really tried to stuff a ton of ideas into the visuals here, as long as they all fitted into the story. The result is a show that looks absolutely unlike anything else. The animation itself isn’t the most consistent, but when it delivers, it really delivers some amazing and hard hitting inbetween animation that combines perfectly with the storytelling. Gankutusou really was a show in which Gonzo could show off what it was able to do with its CG, and while this show is obviously heavy on the CG, it doesn’t feel out of place. Instead, the graphics create this gorgeous whole.
Overall, I found this series one heck of a ride, and Gankutsuou is very likely going to end up in my top 20 favourite anime, somewhere between #15 and #20. I absolutely adore these kinds of series that can get a huge emotional response out of me. It’s obviously not a show for everyone (and I did hear that this anime changed a ton of stuff from the original novel), but to me, Gankutusou took a while to build up, but as soon as it hit its stride just about everything fitted together perfectly.
|Storytelling:||10/10 – Wonderfully paced and balanced, just about every episode significantly advances the plot and comes with new developments that are delivered strongly, knowing exactly when to be subtle and when to be over the top, all culimnating into an amazing ending.|
|Characters:||9/10 – Excellent dialogue and acting with really dynamic characters. There are a few stereotypes like the angsty male lead, but even he is portrayed and developed wonderfully.|
|Production-Values:||10/10 – Unique. Stuffed with tons of visual ideas, both in terms of art and animation.|
|Setting:||9/10 – Takes France of centuries ago, and successfully transforms it into something futuristic and unique while still remaining authentic.|