Gankutsuou -The Count of Monte Cristo- Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & 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-

Gankutsuou -The Count of Monte Cristo- Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     January 09, 2006
Release Date: January 10, 2006

Gankutsuou -The Count of Monte Cristo- Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
"Do you love your fiancee?" Confronted by Maximilien's question, Albert is forced to examine not only his arranged marriage to Eugenie, but also his parents'. Did they marry for love, or was it a merger of money and prestige? In a fury, Albert instigates a duel and endangers his own life. The Count steps in to save him, but Albert gets drawn in even closer to his web of cold and bitter revenge.

The Review!
The counts masterful manipulation of the children of the powerful continues as he manages to tweak just about everything to his expansive agenda.

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.

Just as busy and colorful as the first volume of the series, this installment gives over much of its landscape to the servants of the Count as they present themselves alongside some of the other secondary characters that become more important in this volume. The mix of the logo being both the Japanese and English titles is a nice plus as well. 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 great looking illustration of Eugenie and Franz in a traditional pose that you'd find in many of these homes..

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.

This volume has a nice selection of extras to keep things going. While the clean opening and closing sequences aren't here, we get another installment of the comments by the Japanese cast as the episodes progress which aren't quite full of spoilers but will certainly be more enjoyable after the episodes have been watched. Also included is what's called the "classic version" of the promotional trailer which has different animation used and it set to more classical music as well as not having its text sections translated. This one has just as good a feel as the one we've seen previously but I think it has a touch more epic nature just due to the music alone.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Slipping back into Gankutsuou after a long wait between volumes due to a very early review copy proved to be very easy once the show got underway. With our unfamiliarity with the original novel and a very expansive cast of characters that's rich in detail and history, Gankutsuou continues to make itself extremely accessible while still letting so much play out in subtle moments, gazes and implied connections. This set of episodes brings the Count's plans further into action as he manipulates and essentially toys with everyone that he comes into contact with.

The Count has spent much of his time so far by being in the presence of the next generation of those who will hold power. In a society such as this, family name and wealth continues to be the area where it decides who will control things. The Count knows this plain as day itself so with his initial contact with Albert, he's able to bring himself into the social circles of many other key people. The start with General Morcerf alone gives him plenty of room to maneuver since he's looking at a run for the Presidency. By dealing so closely with Albert and giving him such a feeling of trust, it brings him into Eugenie's circle which has her father as the leading banker of the city and her mother who has the best horse in town. This seems like a strange avenue to take as he overpays for such a horse and essentially steals it outright from Eugenie's mother who is so attached to it but his play in taking the horse and returning it, complete with new visual sensors, gives him a greater in with the family in ways they don't know.

It's the way the Count inserts himself into these people's lives that's so fascinating. He further takes advantage of the horse situation when it's taken out for a drive later and causes it to go wild, allowing his subordinate to be able to stop it and save the lives of not on Eugenie's mother but that of Valentine's stepmother and stepbrother. With Valentine's father being the Crown Prosecutor, there's an indebtedness that slowly becomes apparent there and the formal introduction of the man brings about some fascinating relationships that were previously unknown to those of the next generation. All of this slowly ties back to the beginning of the episodes on this volume where there is talk with the young men and the Count about how the city and its people have come to a time and place where marriages are made solely for money and connections and not love.

With Maximilien so completely in love with the cool but stunning Valentine and Albert having such confusing images of his own mother and the possibility of her having married not for love has set him on the path of proving that love can be found first. But Maximilien is able to counter this easily by simply asking him if he loves Eugenie and this only adds to his confusion and sets his mind on a desperate path to prove what he believes. The Count is fascinating to watch during all of this as for the most part he says little but is able to prod properly here and there until he can get Albert alone and inject some more conflicting but striking thoughts into his mind to further his own goals.

Gankutsuou is so rich in its dialogue and intrigue that it's really difficult to express just how fascinating it all is if you enjoy this kind of material. Watching it all play out, this is the kind of show for me that has me on the edge of my seat far more than any big action adventure epic. The dialogue and interplay between the characters is simply very detailed and carefully spoken where even a sigh can mean a lot. Equally as rich is the animation here with its lush style. I can still certainly understand why people have an issue with it and those whose eyes can't deal with the way its presented, but every scene in it is simply striking to me. Be it the simple areas such as Albert sitting around in his check jacket or the opulent scenes of his mother in her room going through a jewelry box where it just screams out decadence, it provides such a distinct view of a world that's firmly removed from our everyday reality.

This volume also provides one of the most stunning sequences I've seen in TV animation in a long time with the elegant entrance of Hadee into the opera house up through her scene where she focuses on the General. Many shows have tried to reach such a level of definitive beauty that stands out above the rest but here in this show, Mahiro Maeda has achieved something none of the others have done I think. The images from this simple but powerful sequence is some of the most beautiful animation I've seen..

In Summary:
Gankutsuou has taken what came in the first volume and built beautifully upon it as the Count moves himself effortlessly into modern society with connections through the next generation and some deep dark knowledge of what's been in their parent's pasts. He's able to manipulate many of them without them really realizing and simply letting them further their own agendas as he makes them his own. The series covers so much ground in these four episodes that it could do twice as many and still feel like it wasn't enough. It's beautifully animated, filled with evocative performances and overall one of the best set of opening episodes in a series that we've seen in the last several years. I cannot recommend this series enough.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Comments from Voice Actors,Promotional Trailer - Classic Version

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.


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