The series is based on the novel 'The Count of Monte Christo' by Dumas -- but of course Gonzo had to add several twists. The first twist is that the series is set in the 26th century. So the opening scenes are on the Moon, there are frequent travels through space, and the duels are fought with mecha.
The second twist is that the Count's fortune is not a bequest from a fellow prisoner, but that he has become some sort of undead. Gankutsuou, the 'ruler of the dark' is some sort of spirit that has taken control of the Count's body -- slowly turning his body crystaline. Gankutsuou helps Edmond exact revenge on the families of those who wrongly imprisoned him, while Edmond surrenders his body and his humanity to Gankutsuou. The Count's struggle to stay human while exacting his revenge, and the conflict between his friendship with Albert and his cold drive for revenge is shown at great depth.
I've never read the original, so I don't know how the anime series compares to the novel. However, I had little trouble of matching events in the 26th century to their renaissance counterparts.
This is another big-budget Gonzo production. The character designs are lush, the animation is impressive and the voice acting is great. The music didn't make any sort of impression on me, except the ending theme that roxx0rz my soxx0rz.
The one thing that takes some getting used to, visually, is that whole surfaces are replaced with a single texture that doesn't move. For example, instead of showing the folds and creases of a shirt someone is wearing, the whole shirt is simply filled with a single texture. If the character moves, the texture doesn't move with the character, but merely stays in place. This gives the series a unique appearance -- one that takes some getting used to.
The story ends at the 23rd episode, but there are 24 episodes in the series. The last episode is an epilogue which gives a great sense of closure.
- Great visuals;
- Great animation;
- Very interesting story (perhaps even more so if you know the original story!);
- The story loses some of its narrative thrust at some parts.
- Visuals take some getting used to. Not really 'bad', but not good either.
I give this series my recommendation. It is a visual feast and features some great story-telling. I'll give it a 8.5 -- it would have been a 9 if the story had kept its pacing tighter.