Gankutsuou -The Count of Monte Cristo- Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, September 08, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2006
What They Say
Bide your time, and hold out hope.
The final revenge of the Count of Monte Cristo is at hand. Danglars' financial empire is ruined, Villefort is irrevocably disgraced, and Morcerf, revealed as Mondego, has been cast out of Paris. What is left for these men to live for?
Albert, struggling to understand the chaos around him, finally learns the horrible truth of the Count's relentless pursuit. Does the Count really have the iron determination to see his ultimate act of vengeance through to the end?
The Count's revenge hits a crescendo while Albert struggles with trying to minimize the damage and keep those he loves safe.
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.
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.
Drastically different than the previous covers, the final volume looks fantastic here as we get the shadowed illustration of the Count's face with a full black background which just looks both creepy and powerful. It's the perfect way to cap this off with its minimal look. 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 side of the insert has a really nice shot of Albert and the Count back to back with Paris in the background. The reverse side cover for this is also really quite good as it features a shot of the three men responsible for all of this together as Paris is in flames behind them.
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 and Albert 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.
The final volume of extras has a few more pieces to it than previous ones but not too much. The voice actor comments section is done up once again as they did these throughout the Japanese run but we also get a new set of them with the actors and the director as part of an "after recording" session of the series. There are two galleries as one, one a far to brief one of Anna Sui's designs for a couple of characters and the other a video gallery with music for the mechanical aspects of the show such as the armors.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Gankutsuou comes to a close with its final four episodes and it's almost entirely all about the payoff of what the Count has been planning on for so long. We've seen things going his way for the last couple of episodes as the impact of his revenge has been makings its force felt through the children of his targets but now it shifts to those directly responsible for his situation. And as it does so, you cannot help but to get a thrill and root for him as he brings the past into the present and makes sure they know exactly how they wronged him.
One by one the Count makes his way through the men who have risen up high in the last twenty-five years. Danglers finds his financial empire is in ruin and has fled into space with whatever cash he can find and we see through news reports that things are just not going well for him. The Count uses his ways to get on board the ship and to provide some beautiful psychological manipulation of the man who is all about money. Danglers' becoming unhinged with the possibility of his own death on board the ship makes him much more open to talking about the past and we start to see more of how the Count, as Dantes, had things go against him without his realizing it.
This kind of piecing together of the past comes across further when the Count hits up the trial where Villefort is being prosecuted for his supposed crimes. This turns into a hugely dramatic piece as Andrea is brought in to the court to testify and he reveals his own past and how his connection to Villefort is so strong. The reactions in the courtroom are priceless but the moments that are meant to both titillate and disgust are the best, particularly when Villefort's wife realizes what's happened and we get the very quick flashback to when Andrea seduced her. It's a layer of revenge that seems to positively vicious yet beautifully executed that you can't help but admire the way the Count has worked all of this. Of course, things have gone far better than any plan likely could have gone but it's great to see something like this play out without any real snags until the very end.
One of the highlights of all of this is seeing it all come together in one episode where we have two key events going on. One is the arrival of Morcerf with a loyal military fleet that's come to install martial law on the city and the General as the new President. Violence erupts in the streets and the National Assembly is abolished as chaos reigns throughout the city. As this happens, we get a very quiet conversation between Albert and the Count on one of the bridges over the water where the Count tells the tale of how all of this happened twenty five years ago. The storyline shifts between the past where we see the way Edmond was caught up in something larger than himself, the larger actions in the present with the violence in the streets and then the quiet calm where Albert and the Count are talking, though you can see explosions and troops moving in the distance.
With a storyline that's as complex in terms of the size of the cast and the interactions to all of it, you have to wonder how much of it will be wrapped up in the end or if there will be a lot of loose ends. Gankutsuou manages to take care of just about all of the major issues but they sneak in some quick closures in the epilogue episode by doing quick shots of even some of the very minor characters at this point like Peppo as well as giving nods to others like Baptista and Bertuccio. This kind of closure is surprising for characters we really haven't seen in an age like Peppo or others such as friends of Albert who haven't been around much since the beginning, but the larger picture it paints allows us to see how things have progressed between the end of the main storyline and the epilogue. These kinds of moments are the ones that I find really make a story have a sense of finality about it.
Uncultured and all of that, I went into this show knowing nothing about the original other than its name and historical context. While this series doesn't exactly have me chomping at the bit to go and read the original, it has left me with a bit more appreciation for it. The series is one that used a lot of flash and style early on in order to stand out among the sea of new series that come out each season but they did it in a way that really worked in the context of the show as it has a very distinct level of opulence about it. As the series progressed though, the flash and style became less noticeable and simply more a part of it. The story itself, the complex character interactions and the slow build of revenge plots coming to fruition are what carried it the full length of the series. It's a series that left me with the feeling that there were no real filler moments, that every line had an impact and that it was very tightly plotted. Few shows have kept me as enraptured as this one nor as giddy as various plot elements were revealed and turning points hit. I simply adore this series and look forward to revisiting again with all the knowledge I have about it now to see more of the details. Very highly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Comments from Voice Actors,After Recording Comments,Mechanical Setting,Anna Sui's Designs
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, 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.
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-