Gankutsuou / The Count of Monte Cristo : 5 of 5
I first heard about this unusual anime series back when I used to read NewType USA, so when I noticed it was available on Netflix streaming I decided to give it a try. Of course I was hooked almost instantly, but when I was halfway through the series (watching it dubbed), Netflix dropped it. I thought I would have to rent the DVDs, but then I discovered I could watch the rest of the series on my iPad via the Crunchyroll app in Japanese! Although I haven't read the classic Alexandre Dumas novel, I was impressed at how this story was transplanted into the future, where pleasure trips to the moon are common and duels are fought in giant mecha that look like medieval armor. The visual style of this anime takes some getting used to, since everything (from clothing to hair texture to wallpaper) has been digitally filled with elegant and often garish textures, which makes everything look totally bizarre while still nodding to the historical Paris of the original story. The plot is a long revenge story that unfolds beautifully, and it's amazing how the young aristocratic characters (sons and daughters of the families being destroyed) are affected and grow from the Count's evil manipulations. The friendship of Albert and Franz is wonderful, and there are lots of subplots going on at once (which always kept me busy keeping everything straight!). The Count himself is an incredible character, whose story demands sympathy even though he's been overcome (actually taken over by a literal demonic force in this telling of the story) by his need for revenge. Everything about this series has a high-culture feel, including the haunting opening theme leading into the French prologue that begins each episode. Watching Gankutsuou every day for a month was an incredible experience, and I definitely recommend it!