Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (巌窟王 Gankutsuō?, literally The King of the Cave) is an anime series loosely based on Alexandre Dumas, père's classic French novel, Le Comte de Monte-Cristo. Spanning 24 episodes, it was produced by Gonzo, directed by Mahiro Maeda and broadcast by Animax across its respective networks in Japan, East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Latin America, and other regions.
Gankutsuou's unusual visual style layers Photoshop textures into digital animation, with backgrounds often rendered in 3D. The series features several famous pieces of classical music, including Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony, the Donizetti opera Lucia di Lammermoor, and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2. Gankutsuou is set in the far future, during the year 5053, whereas Alexandre Dumas's original novel takes place during the 1800s. Though Gankutsuou incorporates elements of science-fiction and fantasy, it also retains many aesthetics of France in the 1800s, particularly in regard to social classes and wealth. In addition, each of the episodes(of the Japanese dub) begin with a summary spoken in French.
Geneon Entertainment acquired the North American release rights for Gankutsuou released it under the title Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo. As of September 12, 2006, all six volumes have been released on DVD. A box set was also released as a compilation of the six DVDs. On December 27, 2008, Funimation announced that they had acquired the license and planned to release the series in 2009.
The story takes place in the far future of the 51st Century, during the year 5053.
While visiting Luna for the festival, Viscount Albert de Morcerf and Baron Franz d'Epinay make the acquaintance of the Count of Monte Cristo, a self-made nobleman. When they part, the Count promises to visit Albert in Paris. After he arrives, he introduces himself to the most powerful families in France (the Morcerfs, the Danglars, and the Villeforts).
The general plot of Gankutsuou, while broadly the same as the novel on which it is based, changes many aspects of the source material. In the novel, the narrative arc follows the Count chronologically; in the anime, the story begins with Albert and Franz meeting the Count on Luna (which occurs, in Rome, many hundreds of pages into the book), and the Count's back story is pieced together throughout the series. The anime's plot includes supernatural elements, different fates for some characters, the disposal of several side-plots, and an altogether different ending.
- Le Comte de Monte-Cristo (モンテ・クリスト伯爵 Monte Kurisuto Hakushaku?)
- A mysterious nobleman living in luxury, The Count approaches and befriends Albert in Luna as the first step in his plan of revenge against the people who once betrayed him. The Count's previous identity was Edmond Dantès, a sailor who worked for the Morrel family's shipping company. Edmond was imprisoned in the Château d'If on false charges, and it was there that he met Gankutsuou (known as The Ruler of the Cave in Animax's English adaptation). In exchange for the strength and means to gain revenge, he allowed the cold-blooded demon to possess him. Because of Gankutsuou, he is afflicted with an odd condition which causes his body to be crystalline, revealing his bones and internal organs.
- Gankutsuou (巖窟王 Gankutsuō?)
- The demonic presence dubbed 'King of the Cave' that dwells within The Count of Monte Cristo, and the driving force behind his revenge plot throughout the series. The demon's origins are tied to the Chateau d'If where Edmond Dantes was imprisoned falsely, as he was calling out for death but gained Gankutsuou's power and drive and helped him to escape. Gankutsuou is suppressed by a special drug, but fully manifests near the end of the series as a triple set of dual colored eyes that run down the greater length of the Count's face.
- Vicomte Albert de Morcerf (アルベール・ド・モルセール子爵 Arubēru Do Morusēru Shishaku?)
- A naïve fifteen-year-old, Albert encounters the Count while vacationing on the moon colony, Luna. Taken in by the Count's poise, sophistication, and mystique, Albert serves as a tool for the Count to immerse himself in Parisian society. His naiveté is his defining flaw, blinding him to others' faults and intentions. Nonetheless, his purity of spirit penetrates the hearts of others.
- Le Baron Franz d'Epinay (フランツ・デピネー男爵 Furantsu Depinē Danshaku?)
- Albert's best friend who accompanied him in the carnival in Luna. He seems to be more mature than Albert, cautioning him against the Count. He holds deep feelings for his best friend and he risks his own life on several occasions to save Albert.
The first episode aired on October 5, 2004, and the final episode aired on March 29, 2005. On April 10, 2005, Geneon Entertainment received the license for U.S. releases. The U.S. version went straight to six DVD compilations and was distributed by Madman Entertainment. FUNimation has now gained the rights and released the complete series in a 4-DVD package on April 28, 2009.
The manga version of Gankutsuou was serialized in Kodansha's Afternoon manga magazine since May 2005. There are altogether 3 volumes which were later translated and released in the west by Del Rey; the first volume was released on November 15, 2008 the second on March 24, 2009, and the third volume on August 25, 2009.
Drawn after the anime and by the creator Mahiro Maeda himself, the manga is a slight departure, focusing on the Count instead of Albert. Instead of retelling the story, it chooses to answer a few questions the anime never did concerning Edmond Dantes' time in prison, the origin of the Count's vast fortune, and his strange physical appearance. The manga is also dramatically darker and more grotesque than the anime, suggesting a far different and much more depraved and violent ending for Villefort.
Gankutsuou's opening and closing themes are both by Jean-Jacques Burnel of The Stranglers, as is much of the music from the series, augmented by music from Kasamatsu Kouji and a selection of classical excerpts. The opening theme is "We Were Lovers" and the ending is "You Won't See Me Coming", which was re-recorded by The Stranglers as "See Me Coming" for their Suite XVI album from 2006.
The original soundtrack for the series was released on February 23, 2005 in Japan; it contains 8 tracks from Jean-Jacques Burnel including the opening and closing themes, plus 12 pieces from Kasamatsu Kouji, as follows.
- Kasamatsu Kouji - "Shanikusai" (7:26)
- Jean-Jacques Burnel - "We Were Lovers" (3:24)
- Kasamatsu Kouji - "Prologue" (2:05)
- Kasamatsu Kouji - "Yami-Iro no Yume" (2:55)
- Jean-Jacques Burnel - "Anger (Edomond Kara no Tegami)" (4:22)
- Kasamatsu Kouji - "Joukei, aru Hareta Hi ni Kare Ha" (2:06)
- Kasamatsu Kouji - "Tohi kioku" (2:04)
- Kasamatsu Kouji - "Montecristo" (6:50)
- Kasamatsu Kouji - "Tentaigi" (2:12)
- Jean-Jacques Burnel - "Sorrow (Shukumei)" (4:08)
- Kasamatsu Kouji - "Auteui" (3:34)
- Kasamatsu Kouji - "Shounen no Hi" (2:05)
- Jean-Jacques Burnel - "Waltz (Waltz in Blue)" (2:23)
- Jean-Jacques Burnel - "Desire (Fukushu Ha Tada Ware Ni Ari)" (5:17)
- Jean-Jacques Burnel - "Mercedes (Nagisa Nite)" (4:52)
- Kasamatsu Kouji - "Chikakyuden" (2:50)
- Kasamatsu Kouji - "Tsukiyo" (2:35)
- Kasamatsu Kouji - "Kaishou" (6:49)
- Jean-Jacques Burnel - "You Won't See Me Coming" edit (1:50)
- Jean-Jacques Burnel - "You Won't See Me Coming" full version (3:54)
The classical music used throughout the episodes includes movements from:
- Manfred Symphony by Tchaikovsky
- Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti
- Kinderszenen by Schumann
- Preludes deuxieme livre by Debussy
- Robert le diable by Meyerbeer
- Piano Concerto No. 2 by Rachmaninoff
Gankutsuou was acclaimed when released in North America, with sources such as Anime Insider, Newsarama.com, Animeondvd.com and Anime News Network judging it to be among the best releases of the year.
Reviews have generally been extremely positive. Reviews mainly focused on the visual effects of the show, both to its benefit and its detriment. Stig Høgset of THEM Anime Reviews commented, "While beautiful most of the time, the show can be quite hard on the eye at times."
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- (Japanese) Official Gankutsuou website
- (English) Geneon's official website for Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
- (English) Madman Entertainment's official Gankutsuou website
- (English) FUNimation's teaser site for Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
- Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Gankutsuou at the Internet Movie Database