The classic tale of a man wrongfully accused of a crime he didn't commit in order for a few men to rise in the ranks of the French aristocracy. No revenge story does it any better than The Count of Monte Cristo as we go through the time when Edmond Dantes was a humble man with everything he wanted who was later sent to prison and orchestrates the ultimate revenge after his escape. Gankustuou unfortunately cuts down on the first two parts and concentrates solely on the revenge part. However not only that, but Edmond Dantes isn't even the main character! It is Albert, the son of one of the men that The Count has targeted, whom we follow in a slice of life way as he experiences the high life while The Count plants his seeds of revenge with him as the centerpiece. Gankustuou was actually disappointing in that not only did they completely water down the jail scene into a couple of seconds in a flashback, but overall it felt like there was a lot more to be desired. Gankustuou really lacks the energy and excitement the movie had, though other than that the anime does great in having an excellent cast of rich characters, a unique visual with overlapping backgrounds--a homage to Angela Anaconda and Stickin Around--and a wonderful paced story.
I just can't stand watching movies set in the time of the Renaissance era; something about its culture makes it seem boring. Gankutsuou does a wonderful job of blanketing the boringness with its sophisticated visual style and incorporation of a futuristic universe. An 18th century culture incorporated with 50th century technology. Where rocket ships allows people to travel across the stars, city folk sometimes prefer their carriages and horses. Newspapers are still the way to find out about the latest gossip but the images are moving like small movie clips to offer a greater insight of incidents. Wars are still fought by sword but with giant mechas. Oddly enough the universe of Gankustuou is fascinating to look at, its characters are a bit dull looking, almost as if they were created by amateurs. Perhaps it had that in mind as the simplistic models are a nice change from the perfect curved shiny bodies with big eyes many of us are used to seeing in anime.
Characters were wonderful for the most part but don't really excel in anything other than being flawless. They all served their roles were, were all very likable, but nothing truly memorable save for The Count of Monte Cristo. In fact he might have been the only interesting character as he had a pair of different coloured eyes, odd blue skin, a strong, patient, and charismatic character, and a weird entity in "gankustuou" that gave him all the knowledge of the world. Outside of him there was never a time where you would feel you had a real connection with any of them. A cast that is great but lacking a certain flare to truly make it memorable.
While the story replicates one of the greatest novels of all time, perhaps making Albert the main character and not Edmond Dantes was a mistake. A certain energy was present when Dantes made his escape from jail that it became a hotblooded adventure. For months he would train and learn about the world with another character in the jail determined to escape. In the anime he meets gankustuou and in just a second has everything he needs to know to plot his revenge. No fun at all! The story mainly follows Albert live his life through while he sees first hand how it turned upside down when he meets The Count. He lived a pretty average life coated by riches and status. Little by little The Count plants his seed of revenge in a pretty satisfying but a bit slow manner. You would wish he would have hurried it up. Like the characters the story didn't really stand out that much. Edmond Dantes' background was ruined by the fact that everything good about it was stripped away by creating this entity called gankustuou. He worked for everything he had but here it was all given to him.
There really isn't much flaws to this show at all, just that it doesn't excel in anything. It is like having a great friend who prefers to stay in doors and socialize as opposed to another friend who is adventurous. The lack of energy is what is really holding down this anime portrayal of The Count of Monte Cristo. It concentrated too much on polish and not on flare. Even dramas need suspense and there just wasn't that much of it here. If you're a big fan of The Count of Monte Cristo, this is definitely an interesting watch with its incorporation of a futuristic interface while maintaining its Renaissance feel, but don't expect anything too big.