Wow, you guys were not overhyping this one. Gankutsuou is ridiculously awesome.
Concerning the Secret Santa anime recommended to me, the three I received were Genshiken, Moribito, and Gankutsuou. All three were really well-loved anime that I had planned on seeing anyways, and thanks to participating in this blogging project, I finally got the motivation to stop making something out of my life and indulge in my loser hobby. Which caused me to nearly fail my semester, but it was totally worth it! So how was my experience watching those three? Well, Genshiken was awesome, but there isn’t really much to talk about in regards to doing a review of that. Moribito was well-directed, but its characters and dialogue were pretty boring, so I dropped it after two episodes (the fact that it got taken off of Netflix the day after I started to watch it also contributed). Final one was Gankutsou, which was the one I was looking forward to the most due to everything I’ve been hearing about it. And let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint. In fact, I was so in love with this anime that I gave it a “10” on that MAL thing, because this thing was just absolutely perfect from start to finish.
Since I have seen many people already go into great detail regarding how this anime is an adaption of a famous French novel and have practically picked its themes apart, I’m just going to be describing my experience watching it for this review. Now first of all, I watched it on Netflix, so that meant the dub was the only version I could watch. Didn’t bother me though because I like Johnny Young Bosh and Jamieson Price, plus it’s Funimation, so that usually meant great dub quality. Also, the setting isn’t Japan, so no fear of losing something in translation with this anime. I also didn’t know jack about what Gankutsuou was actually about going into it, other than the fact that the source material was about a count seeking revenge against those who wronged him. And since anime has a tendency to take liberties with prized source material (Romeo x Juliet anybody?), I figured to just screw it and let the anime speak for itself.
Man, Gonzo was capable of some great stuff, weren’t they? First thing I noticed watching this anime was that sparkly style it was using that gave everything this grand majestic vibe to it. This animation style is probably controversial, but I absolutely loved it. It contributed to the tone pretty well and it never got in the way of this anime’s powerful scenes. In fact, almost 90% of the time, it made those scenes all the greater. This was a beautiful looking anime and watching it just made me sad that Gonzo fell so far with fucking Rosario + Vampire. Combine that with the setting and classy clothes, and you’ve got an anime that’s worth watching just for the visuals alone.
The cast of characters is great too. The Funimation dub helps, but I loved how likable and interesting all of the characters were, as well as how they played off each other. I thought Albert would be the guy I would like the least, but honestly, he’s a very good example of how you can make an “everyday protagonist” interesting. Mostly by, you know, giving him a proper personality and story. The Count of course steals every scene he’s in. I was a little sad that aside from Episode 2, he didn’t get to show off his cool powers more, but I got over that fairly quickly. The way he worms his way into the aristocracy and subtly crushes the lives of those who wronged him was just awesome, particularly since I wasn’t aware of half of the stuff he was doing until it was too late myself. Plus, the reveal of who he really is and what happened to him in the past was quite frankly beautiful.
I honestly couldn’t describe the full story to you guys if you asked me. I was trying to marathon this as fast I could, which left me not paying attention to some key details that I could look up on the Internet, but prefer not to. I remember being impressed by how the aristocracy was revealed to be corrupt, I remember the various love stories and how melodramatically awesome they were, and I remember the cool robot fights. But other than that, I wouldn’t be able to tell you much about the story that you couldn’t get from Wikipedia. I will say that I was gripped the whole way through and I absolutely loved how everything built up from the first episode to the last, resulting in some fantastic climactic episodes that I struggled to hold myself back from because I had work tomorrow and it was late.
The final resolution? Well, I thought it was fantastic, but I was a little sad at the same time. It wasn’t like Hikaru no Go where even though the ending made sense, it wasn’t what I wanted to see. It was fitting whilst also satisfying me. Okay, the last episode might have tried a bit too hard at wrapping things up the same way the last episode of SAO and the ending of Return of the King did, but the difference is that for the most part, all of the resolutions were for the major characters rather than mostly inconsequential characters I couldn’t give a shit about. Not that I think any character was really inconsequential, which goes to show how highly I think of this cast.
In the end, what else can I say? I really loved this anime. I immediately bought it after finishing it, and it now sits on my shelf. Untouched. Waiting to be watched. I’ll give it a rewatch someday, but for now, it’s just going to have to make do with staring at that nice shiny “Perfect” score I gave it on my MAL.