Anime Review 31: Gankutsuo and Nodame Cantabile
Gankutsuo: The Count of Monte Cristo
Sorry this is so late in coming. I was going to include a third anime, but wasn't able to watch it online at all, plus I've been busy with school lately (it's now my final semester at community college and soon I'll be transferring to four-year college, so this semester's been crazy for me).
Anyway, both animes I'm reviewing this go-round are incredibly sophisticated, so get out your white gloves, monocles, and top hats. Go ahead, I'll wait. Ah, splendid.
Gankutsuo is a stunningly beautiful and uniquely styled anime retelling the story of The Count of Monte Cristo, a classic work of literature, in a zany sci-fi/steam-punk world. The story revolves around two young aristocrats in Paris (but not any version you've seen of Paris on Earth, while awake and sober) and their interactions with this mysterious older man of exceptional taste and refinement, but for whom no name is given, only his title, The Count of Monte Cristo. Also, this man just happens to be blue and have pointy genie ears and possibly vampire teeth. The young men talk about him and wonder about what he is, an alien, vampire, or more mundane possibilities. One of them seems to like him, attracted to his apparent wealth, power, charisma, charm, personality, wit, and wisdom. The other is suspicious, causing a conflict between the two good friends. The Count seems to stir up trouble among the nobility by making them feel uncomfortable with the social status quo; he makes the young boys choose one out of three prisoners at random to be spared from execution when one out of the three is a terrible man and the rest are begging for mercy and pleading innocence, and he causes a noble to start a duel with a newspaper reporter over the allegation that aristocrats don't marry for love. The Count and his gleaming hair are able to stay aloofly out of trouble while pushing others to their emotional breaking point. Or so it seems, but later episodes reveal more and more emotional depth to the Count and the viewer catches a glimpse of his tragic back story. This anime is rife with stirring, emotional melodrama and is one of the most beautifully designed shows I've ever seen. Definitely a must-see!
Nodame Cantabile is about students at a music school who are all working hard to learn to play or conduct classical music. Megumi Noda (known as Nodame) is a girl with spirit who plays piano whimsically, while Shinichi Chiaki plays in a very precise, analytical fashion and at first is annoyed by Nodame's many mistakes.Nodame is a somewhat stupid ditzy girl who can't cook and lives in filth; thus she relies on the kindness of Chiaki to help her with basic grown-up tasks like cooking, cleaning, and taking out the trash more than once a decade. At first I hated this empty-headed moron and growling asshole routine, which was supposed to be comedic but made me cringe more than laugh because of how sexist it seemed (a girl who can't cook and clean and doesn't must not be worth anything and how horrible and funny it is to make a man do that kind of thing), but it is funny at times besides being a bit sexist. I'm not a fan of girls being The Ditz, The Cloud Cuckoolander, Manic Pixie Dream Girl, The Ingenue, or anything else that suggests that women don't have the intellectual capacity men do, and the aforementioned stereotypical roles are all too common. However, when you realize that Chiaki really cares for Nodame even though he is sometimes cold and distant towards her, the beauty of their romance begins to shine through and you realize that Nodame isn't a stereotypical Ditz any more than Chiaki is a true Jerkass, they both have their moments but overall I think care was made to show them as people instead of flat stereotypical characters.
Over time, the mismatched pair learn to work together with each other and also with a group of students chosen to form an orchestra by a visiting foreign professor. Said professor is a dirty old man and also just about every stereotype Japanese people have about Western men (horny, brash, unconventional, arrogant, disrespectful, lazy, and not very understanding of Japanese culture although he does speak Japanese well but with an accent). However, despite this being the butt of many jokes at first, when this guy gets down to the business of teaching, he proves to be more than worthy as a conductor and as a mentor figure for Chiaki.
The show is basically a sitcom-style story but each episode does need to be watched in order, unlike schtick-based shows like Shin-chan, there is sequential plot development, mostly concerning the addition of more and more characters and the evolving romantic relationship that develops between Nodame and Chiaki. I would definitely recommend it for the serious classical music fan (the music in it is from the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra and sounds awesome!) and to anyone who likes a realistic, but still whacky, romantic comedy.
Next Anime Review
- Anime Review 32: Grave of the Fireflies, Ouran High School Host Club, and 20th Century Boys
Anime Review 32: Grave of the Fireflies, Ouran High School Host Club, and 20th Century Boys
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- Anime Review 30: Yotsuba&!, Ga Rei Zero, and X/1999
Anime Review 30: Yotsuba&!, Ga Rei Zero, and X/1999