Geneon // 2004 // 92 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart // March 9th, 2006
"In fate, there are no coincidences."
-- The Count of Monte Cristo, to Albert Moncerf, talking about their first meeting
As Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo, Chapter 2 begins, Albert still doesn't know who the Count really is, but he's aware that the count's return has had an effect on his mother. We see it in his anger when his friends contemplate how aristocrats put strategic interests above love in their marital choices. One friend in particular, Maximilien Morrel, is upset by this discussion as well, for more personal reasons. When Maximilien rages against the aristocrats of Paris, Albert draws a sword on him, prompting a duel. Even as they spar with swords, the discussion continues.
"Is it true what I've heard -- that you really don't love your fiancée?" Maximilien asks Albert.
After the duel, these concerns weighing on Albert's mind prompt him to have serious talks with his parents and with his fiancée Eugenie, who's considering running away to escape the control of her parents.
Meanwhile, the true intent of the Count of Monte Cristo becomes clearer as Albert introduces him to Baron Danglers, the wealthy banker father of Eugenie. The banker sizes the Count up and wants to do business, but there's a troubling clause in the contract...
This anime version of The Count of Monte Cristo continues with four more episodes in the second of six collections. Gankutsuou has a breathtaking art deco futuristic setting -- the Count joined Paris society after a meeting with young aristocrat Albert on Luna -- but the story of revenge shaping up doesn't seem too far away (at least so far) from Alexandre Dumas père's original. For more details on Chapter 1, check the link at right. In Chapter 2, we meet Baron Danglars and Count Villefort, the targets of the Count's revenge.
There are four episodes here:
* Episode 5 -- "Do You Love Your Fiancée?"
* Episode 6 -- "Her Melancholy, My Melancholy"
* Episode 7 -- "The Secret Flower Garden"
* Episode 8 -- "A Night in Boulogne"
By the end of Episode 8, this Japanese take on the classic French serial leaves a lot of questions unanswered, at least if you're unfamiliar with the story. It ends with a revelation about the Count of Monte Cristo, with another revelation on the way for one of the Count's targets. The possibility that the Count is a vampire still looms over the proceedings, hinting of twists that will take the story in a new, unforeseen direction.
The animation is done in Photoshop for a striking collage effect, with the pieced-together images often taking on a symbolic quality, such as when Albert's body seems to be lost against the Paris background as he rides through the streets on a motorcycle. Another example: when the money-mad Baron Danglers is introduced, his modern, wild hair and dark glasses give him an air of conspicuous consumption, and his greed is depicted by the floating holographic images of something like a futuristic version of CNBC that surround him at the breakfast table. As we get the first glimpse of the Count's plan for revenge taking shape at a dinner party, his face falls into shadow and his eyes glisten red. As with the last chapter, I found the backdrops beautiful, especially the Count's vast underground lair and the gardens and greenhouse of the Villeforts.
I liked the promotional trailer attached to this volume, which sets scenes from the show to a classical-style score. There are more Japanese TV promos done by the voice actors, giving the audience a glimpse of the original people behind the voices.
Not guilty. I don't know whether the Count will prove to be a vampire or just a little pale from his prison years, but I do know that I'm waiting to see how Chapter 3 shapes up.
Review content copyright © 2006 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Comments from Japanese Voice Actors
* Promotional Trailer -- Classic Version
* Geneon Previews
* Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo, Chapter 1 review