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20 January 2008 @ 09:53 pm
that anime called Gankutsuouououwhozawhatzit  
"The Count of Monte Cristo" by Dumas is among my favorite books, and so I am always interested in seeing it in different forms. I finally got around to finishing Gankutsuhoweveryouspellit, and have a few thoughts on the series vs. the tome.

Alas, the anime weakened the character of Edmond Dantes/Monte Cristo. I'm not very fond of the addition of Gankutsuou (hereafter referred to as The Gank) as some sort of separate will or entity that Dantes made a "deal with the devil" with. Part of the strength (and power) of the book character is that the motives and actions displayed by Dantes are wholly of Dantes. It also depresses me a great deal that they took away all the touches of good upon Dantes post-betrayal, which made the character much, much thinner. How sad that they removed the positive (if futile) influence of Abbe Faria and gave Edmond nothing but the Gank, which only serves as a sci-fi element that isolates him further! How different would he have been (and how much more potent would his revenge had seemed to us?) had he been allowed to touch the happiness espoused by the book Maximillian and his family? In the book, he's someone so close, yet quite apart. In the anime, he never achieves that level of being in the same room, but on a different wavelength. (p.s., anime: to lose humanity is not to lose feeling altogether, as your Gank-taking-over-Edmond's-body plotpoint implies, it is to lose sight of the full variety of emotions we can experience.)

...

To be quite honest, I've yet to see a rendition where poor Mercedes gets a break. She is consistently unable to explain why she married Mondego. (In the movie starring the guy who was also Jesus Christ, she finally gets to let the cat out of the bag, but not before insinuations and insults are made.) I don't think the issue of Albert's parentage is ever directly discussed in the anime, although it is hinted at. It always drives me crazy when the characters just accept that shit happened and shit is happening now, so they take a few potshots at Mercedes to let off some steam. You're a whore, you're to blame for this, etc. etc. etc. Albert's commentary about being caught in her love triangle was completely out of line, and she should have slapped him then, not later when he put himself down.

...

I'm not sure why they did such a number on Eugenie's character. Turning her into a blonde aside, the hints of lesbian leanings are entirely removed. Further, they took away her strength by having Albert help her run away ... it's romantic, sure, but in the book she was a much more independent soul. Amusingly, Dumas gave her a somewhat offputting appearance, because as a dead French dude, he had a really messed up perspective when it came to women independent or otherwise, and it always came out when he described their looks. In the novel, Eugenie orchestrated her escape herself and left in the company of her female governess/associate/friend/person. They had her recapture a little bit of that when she ripped up her dress, but it was only a pale comparison to the original. (p.s., self: I like the wedding dress, minus the bow in back - it ruins the nice line of the gown - and am going to add it to the "Cosplay Someday" list, as well as Haydee's "Denunciation Gown.")

...

Allowing Haydee to reclaim the throne is an interesting choice, considering her very limited, passive role in the novel. They gave her a bit more spirit, which I appreciate. Poor Valentine, however, remained as much a limp noodle as ever. I think Dumas always considered Valentine to be the ideal woman (why else would he pair her up with Maximillian, whom Monte Cristo holds quite dear for his good heart?), but her inherent lassitude never fails to revolt me. (p.s., anybody: the truth is, now that I've read the book a few times through, I always skip the parts with Valentine.) I always look for a backbone in her and always grow frustrated when I fail to find it.

All in all, not bad, but definitely not quite in the same league for me, either. I'm happiest with it if I consider it an "alternate universe" where they lifted names, surface traits and a bit of the plot, and then just went to town in a completely different direction. I do like the atypical animation style, as I'm always up for a creative take on things that doesn't involve gratuitous and glaringly obvious CG sequences. (Gankutsuou does have some of these, but I'll just look at the pretty patterns instead.)
 
 
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
 
 
 
Maxine of Arc: Lia Romance Aurora Vanderbosch photomaxineofarc on January 21st, 2008 02:58 am (UTC)
Valentine is very much the "ideal heroine" of many books written around the same time. It bites, but nobility and goodness and purity were the ideal womanly virtues of the 1840s-- you see a lot of similarities with Dickens' heroines, for instance-- and self-reliance and spunkiness were not, so that's what you get in novels of the period.
One Who Wanders: thoughtfulabiona on January 21st, 2008 03:12 am (UTC)
I have to admit that when I read novels from around then, I always have to do it in limited doses (and never in association with school), because I tend to read very personally (if that makes any sense), and their concept of a woman is so far from my own experience and culture. My "Let's Read Lots of Books by Dead French Dudes" idea hit a wall and fell down twitching because I forgot this.

It is always hard for me to see such heroines even possessing the traits that they supposedly represent ... they simply come across as wan before I lose patience and/or interest in them.
Maxine of Arc: Lia Romance Aurora Vanderbosch photomaxineofarc on January 21st, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
Unfortunately it's also a common trait of these writers to continually TELL us how good and patient and pure and honest and noble etc. etc. etc. these girls are, instead of SHOWING it. Admittedly, since these are all incredibly passive traits, it might be the kind of thing that's tough to broadcast through one's actions. But still.