Gankutsuou -The Count of Monte Cristo- Vol. #3 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, March 10, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, March 14, 2006



What They Say
Suspicions mount about the Count's true identity, and Villefort confronts him with a gun to his head. The plotting, scheming and back-stabbing makes this story impossible not to watch, as the Count continues with his cold and determined mission to destroy the powerful families who wronged him in the past.

The Review!
The Count's plans move forward with the help of Cavalcanti now being involved and the children of the elite find their world skewing in unbelievable ways.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Both tracks feature a very solid stereo mix that captures the life of this show very well. There's a great sense of directionality across the forward soundstage right from the start and is well used from the large loud scenes down to the eerily quiet scenes. Voices in particular come across beautifully here and these tracks are very easy to get lost in. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing across 2004 and 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With the visuals being such a key part of the presentation here, a clean and problem free transfer is almost essential and that's exactly what we get. The show is done with such lavish and vibrant colors and designs that if it didn't capture it just right it wouldn't work as well. Between that and the blacks and various shades of darkness that come out, this is just a gorgeous looking print. It has a certain life to it that I don't think I've seen in many other shows before.

Packaging:
The cover for this installment gets a good bit more personal as it provides a tender moment between Albert and Eugenie but it doesn't step away from the kind of colors and designs we've seen before which only serves to give it an even more enticing feel. The warmth of the colors between the two of them is wonderfully done here. The back cover is a bit more subdued for its background but it has a nice layout that covers a simple summary of the premise and lists the shows episode numbers and titles as well as a very complete listing of the discs features and extras. The insert uses a similar background on one side and provides a few more images from the show as well as the episode numbers and titles as well as a breakdown of the series release schedule. The back of the insert does a length shot of the city with a few of the characters overlooking it from the outside. The reverse side cover has a gorgeous close-up illustration of Albert's mother in all her finery.

Menu:
The menu layout here is one of the more toned down versions of what Nightjar usually does but like pretty much all of their menus it's beautifully in theme. Almost like a stained glass window, it uses elements from the front cover to create an image of the Count with the drapes hanging around him. The bottom portion keeps it simple with the navigation strip that's easy to move about. Access times are nice and fast but unfortunately the disc didn't properly read our players language presets, something that's been happening more and more with Geneon releases as of late.

Extras:
The extras in this installment are pretty close to past ones as we get a new round of commercials for the show but also another round of voice actor comments as they go through the changes their characters go through in these episodes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Gankutsuou has quickly reached its halfway mark with this volume and the show continues to spiral out in such a slow and fascinating manner that even when the changes are afoot and the plots move more into an open realm, it only gets more and more exciting to see the new revelations and how things are tied together. With the tale still mostly being told throughout the eyes of the children, it's interesting to see how they react to their parents pasts as well as how their parents react to the children finding out about it.

This volume goes through some very interesting changes with a lot of things launching from the results of the party that the Count had thrown. Villefort's past dalliances have brought about a surprise for his former mistress as the case that Albert presents is given to the idea that it contains something that came from both of them in the past. So much of it is still through inference, but there's a stunningly beautiful scene early on here with the Count standing over a hole in the ground and holding the case while the rain pours down across the darkened sky that simply lets the imagination run wild with what may have been in there. Even as we deal with all that's happened during this party, Albert finds himself to be the latest to suffer from it as the water at the Villefort table appears to have been poisoned. He's only saved by the fact that the ice had diluted things but it puts a whole new on what's going on among the elites now.

The potential assault on the Villefort family isn't realized quickly though which leads to more attempts made on their lives. With the relationship between Maximilien and Valentine now growing, apparently due to some of the intriguing revelations Franz makes about making people happy and marriage not being the only way for that to happen. The make-up of the relationships at the younger generations level is interesting as it goes through the changes that are happening as a result of what their parents are trying to hide. Franz isn't terribly concerned about his relationship with Valentine to the point where he's essentially openly accepting her being intimate with Maximilien as well. This disturbs Albert pretty strongly and it makes him realize how much he truly does value Eugenie. Of course, nothing is lasting like they all imagined it would and the Counts arrival has caused many specters of the past to start showing up.

The party when it ended was certainly and not on a good note and as everyone returns to their lives and positions of power, things start to feel out of place for them. What was once before something that was surefire is now unsure. The Count is able to make more subtle movements by using Cavalcanti as well which forces some relationship changes that turn out to be fairly dramatic when revealed. In a way, what we're seeing with them is the same as kids in their high school years who haven't really looked forward to the future yet but have general ideas of what they want to do and be while still not realizing the things that will change and be sacrificed once they step outside of the cradle that they're in now. With the wealth and power around them, they're all quite oblivious at times. The offhand way that Albert deals with his father's running for office alone speaks volumes.

In Summary:
Gankutsuou continues to be a mystery that's unfolding slowly and in unusual ways as it reveals its core storyline. Each new piece expands on things from the previous episodes and simple phrases from before now mean ever so much more. The Count's moving into society proper has now put more people on his past and the connections are drawing looks from people who've been away for some time and things are surfacing that are definitely scaring the elder generation that's now in power and trying to reach new heights. Their look to the top is now finding new weights on their feet and their gaze is being drawn downward to where they see the Count. The way the show reveals itself doesn't lend it well to deep review without giving away pretty much everything but what this volume does is shift the show from one where we wondered what was going on to one where the Count's plots are now in full swing and we're seeing their affects. It's masterful, suspenseful and simply mesmerizing.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Staff Comments,Commercial Collection

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A+
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Gankutsuou -The Count of Monte Cristo-