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Anime Review: Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (2004)

Updated on April 2, 2020
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Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

Gankusuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (2004) DVD cover.
Gankusuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (2004) DVD cover. | Source

Quick Info

Director: Mahiro Maeda
Distributor: Geneon Entertainment/Funimation Entertainment
Release Date: April 28, 2009
Availability: On DVD, buy on Amazon or RightStufAnime, streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, YouTube, and FunimationNow

Story Summary

Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (2004) is an anime adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Albert de Morcerf and his best friend Franz d'Epinay arrive on Luna in time for the carnival. He becomes intrigued by the Count of Monte Cristo after returning his lost pocket watch to him. After he is rescued by the Count from bandits, they become friends, but the Count has his own motivations for befriending Albert.

It’s a Different Adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ Classic Book

There are many adaptations of the book The Count of Monte Cristo. Many people remember the 2002 movie starring Jim Caviezel, or the miniseries starring Gerard Depardieu. There are many movie and television adaptations but if you’ve seen this anime you won’t forget it, mainly because of its bizarre and unique visual art style which hasn’t been done by Studio Gonzo since this adaptation or done by any other anime studio for any other anime.

Gakutsuou (2004) is also a unique adaptation because it focuses on the second half of the book, while many other adaptations try to adapt the entire book, to varying success.

By shifting the focus to the second half of the book, the writers make the Count’s identity a mystery, and shifting the point of view character from the Count to Albert makes it interesting because unlike the Count, a man who knows what’s going to happen to someone who has no idea that his life is going to come to a crashing halt makes the story unique and interesting, even as an adaptation of the book.

The Count of Monte Cristo: Gankutsuou - Box Set Trailer

The Animation Is so Unique It Has Never Been Duplicated

First thing I must mention is the art style of this anime because you will always remember it after you see it. Everything looks like sparkling wallpaper, with glitter and everything is very brightly colored and ridiculously trippy. There is also some conspicuous CGI for the mechas in this anime, also some of the ships too, and it looks incredibly dated and ugly compared to today’s CGI. It does look very nice, but it takes a lot of time to get used to, you can’t really marathon the series because the animation could possibly give you a headache. This anime is also not recommended for anyone who might have a history of seizures. It’s also a very unique art style that could turn off some viewers who might not like it. The first episode is on YouTube and if you don’t like the way the art looks you can drop it.

If you can get used to it, you’ll enjoy the anime, but the art style is very polarizing.

Audio and Subtitles

English (Reviewed) (FunimationNow)
English (Crunchyroll, YouTube, and Hulu)
Japanese (Crunchyroll, YouTube, and Hulu)

The Voice Cast Is Excellent

The voice cast is also very good. Jamieson Price is excellent as the Count of Monte Cristo. Johnny Yong Bosch plays Albert de Morcerf and he does a good job, but he does tend to have a whiney character.

Ezra Weisz did a great job voicing Franz d'Epinay. I think his voice work was excellent and he embodied this version of Franz and his work was fantastic.

Paul St. Peter plays Fernand de Morcerf and he’s really good in his role, I usually hear him in many bit parts in various anime by Bang Zoom Entertainment. I like hearing him in the role of the main character.

It was a surprise to be sure, but a pleasant one to be sure, to hear Karen Strassman as Mercedes de Morcerf, partially me not recognizing her voice even though I love her as Kallen Stadfeld in Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (2006), it just flew over my head that she was in this anime until I looked at the credits. I really like her work so I’m happy that she was in another anime that I enjoyed. It’s also interesting because she can speak French but doesn’t get the chance to in this anime.

Michelle Ruff voices Eugenie Dunglars and she did a great job in the anime. This isn’t usually the type of role she voices often so I did enjoy her work in this anime.

Liam O’Brien did a fantastic job as Andrea Cavalcanti and he’s great in this anime. It’s one of his underrated roles that no one talks about.

Stephanie Sheh plays Haydee and I liked her voice work in the anime. She did a great job and it’s a shame that they changed her role in the anime by changing the ending because Haydee’s character is very important in the book and even though she’s important in this story, her role was still demised.

There are so many good voice actors in this anime, Yuri Lowenthal, Beau Billingslea and many others. The English cast is excellent and I enjoyed the English dub a lot.

If you don't like the art style it's okay, it takes time to get used to it.
If you don't like the art style it's okay, it takes time to get used to it. | Source

Jean Jacques Burnel - You Won't See Me Coming ( Gankutsuou track with lyrics on screen )

The Soundtrack Is Amazing!

There are three composers for this anime, Jean-Jacques Burnel did the opening and ending themes, “We Were Lovers” and “Won’t see me Coming”. It was nice to have an authentic French musician have their music in a Japanese adaptation of French literature.

Koji Kasamatsu and Reiji Kitazato compose the music for the anime and it’s very good music. There’s also the very memorable instrumental piece, “Kaishou” which is a theme associated with the Count scheming and plotting his revenge.

Overall, it’s an amazing soundtrack for an underrated anime series.

There Are Major Divergences From the Novel

The story of Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is very good; it is also a unique adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo novel. It does take a lot out of the story, as the novel is very long, but it does leave in things that other adaptations take out, and it is a very good story, despite a lot of changes.

This anime tends to change the reasons for some of the events that occur in the anime, while the same event occurs in the novel; the reasons are different compared to the anime.

The anime also tends to kill characters that survived in the novel and spare characters in the anime that died in the novel. It is very strange, especially if you read the source material. It’s also weird because they don’t really do much with the characters they decided to spare in the adaptation; they just use them for a second and do nothing with them later.

The only thing I had an issue with was the ending because it threw out the main theme of the book entirely, but a lot of people liked the ending. It’s not bad or anything, but it’s just not one that I liked. While the ending is good, it pales in comparison to the book ending, which I like more.

There’s also Eugenie Dunglars who was a lesbian in the book, although Alexandre Dumas didn’t outright say it due to the time period he wrote it, it was obvious in the story. Ironically, they gave all the Ho Yay to Franz and Albert. The main straight couple was Maximilian and Valentine and their relationship played a major part in the ending of the book and that was completely changed in the anime.

Parental Warning

This anime is meant for a mature audience. It has blood, graphic violence, sexual content and adult situations. This is not for anyone under 17 so viewer discretion is advised.

The Count of Monte Cristo goes to rescue Albert.
The Count of Monte Cristo goes to rescue Albert. | Source

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It’s a Faithful, yet Unfaithful Adaptation That Is Polarizing in Different Ways

Because of the changes to both the settings and the point of view character, Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (2004), it becomes the oddest anime adaptation I’ve watched. While it is faithful to the book in many ways that other adaptations aren’t, it still deviates from the original novel in odd ways that makes it an odd adaptation, especially if you’ve read the book and you know how the book ends.

It’s also odd to move the timeline from the original setting to the far-distant future is just a strange decision that seems to be so they could have a variant of the giant robot in the anime.

The ending is disappointing compared to the book because the book handled the ending in a way that it works out for the Count to have his revenge while learning to forgive his enemies. The animators didn’t want to feel they were glorifying the theme of revenge, but since the theme of forgiveness shifts from the Count to Albert, the theme just doesn’t ring true for Albert’s character, especially since his character arc is different in the novel.

Other than moving the settings to outer space and adding giant armor mechas, it still follows many of the books’ plotlines even if it changes a lot of the circumstances and events.

It’s an excellent adaptation, but it’s not completely faithful and you can’t use it as your cliff notes in high school because of major changes to the story, while it is an enjoyable anime, it’s not a perfect adaptation of the book, but it’s still highly entertaining.

Quick Summary

What Works:
What Doesn't Work:
Interesting, story, characters and world-building
Unique art style is polarizing
The unique art style is memorable
The changed ending isn't as good as the book's ending
Excellent English and Japanes dubs
The decision to spare certain characters isn't always the best decision when it comes to the plot
Unique adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo
Dated CGI is ugly

My Grade: A-

I highly recommend Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (2004), it is a unique, one-of-a-kind anime experience that you’ll either love or hate due to its unique and memorable art style. The story is amazing because it’s based off one of the best pieces of classic literature and it still managed to be unique in its own way.

I bought this used because I’m cheap and it was only $13.00 on eBay for me, but it's available for free on YouTube and Crunchyroll subtitled with Japanese audio and FunimationNow for the English dub if you want to watch it.

I understand how polarizing the art style is, so give it a shot on YouTube for at least the first episode and if you’re not feeling the art style you can drop it, but if you’re intrigued by the story and you like the art style then watch it to the end, despite all the changes it’s still a great story, but the ending is much better in the book than the anime.

I did enjoy this anime. If you enjoyed the original book or the movie, you’ll probably like it, but the ending might not satisfy everyone. If you want a unique anime with a good story and a memorable art style, you’ll like this. I would recommend trying it out on Hulu, YouTube, or FunimationNow to see if you like it before buying. It’s worth having in your anime collection if you’re old enough to handle the themes. It was formerly licensed by Geneon Entertainment, but now Funimation has the license for it.

My Rating

5 stars for Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (2004)

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