I was taking a quick glance at the DVD shelf at my local library and spotted a couple DVDs in the anime section which I had not seen there before. So I plucked one from the shelf and gave it the once-over. I almost put it back right away since the garish colours and psychedelic confusion on the cover gave it the look of something in which I would have no interest, but then the subtitle caught my eye. The anime was called Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo. The Count of Monte Cristo being one of my favourite books of all-time, I of course decided to give it a try despite the off-putting cover art. I was fortunate that the library had on hand the first two DVDs so I could give the thing a proper trial.
So far, it’s not too bad. The animation style is, as I feared, garish and silly, though they have avoided using too many or too extreme face-faults. The setting is in the distant sci-fi future yet they still have people using horse-drawn carriages and driving automobiles that would be at home in the 30’s. The Count himself looks like some kind of space-alien/vampire, though it’s not quite as bad as that description might seem. I don’t like the fact that they essentially cut the first third of the book starting with Albert and Franz in Rome for Carnival and telling the reasons that the Count is out for revenge via flashbacks. Finally, they have played fast and loose with some of the relationships between characters and minimized certain characters and added material for others.
On the plus side, very few characters are actually missing and none of the major characters is completely AWOL to this point. They have stayed quite true to the broad outlines of the story and more of the detailed events have been kept than in the disappointing recent film adaptation. On the whole I am pleased because it was better than I expected based on the DVD case, but it still falls well short of what I would want.