First off, I have limited internet access right now. I’m taking advantage of the current moment to post something, but until I have full on access again, my posting is limited. What’s going on is a variety of things, mainly I had a mental breakdown and found out my meds aren’t working.
Admittly, when I picked up Gankutsuou, I was not familiar with the original Count of Monte Cristo material. I was watching is because my sister wanted to watch it, as she had read the book, and when I had questions, I usually fielded them to her. However, I finally got to see The Count of Monte Cristo movie (color version) that I realized what a magnificent piece of work the anime was. Not only is The Count of Monte Cristo a fascinating story but Gonzo shows how to successfully do an Alternate Universe, not only doing an Alternate Universe in way one but multiple ways.
The first thing is the obvious. Gankutsuou is set in Outer Space, a science fiction version of what was originally a story set after the fall of Napoleon. While it does make things different, it doesn’t really alter the story itself, the characters and their motives are the same (well, similar.) .
The second thing is not an Alternate Universe thing so much as something Gonzo chooses to do differently. While the movies adaptations of The Count of Monte Cristo choose to focus on, well, the Count (Edmund Dantes) and his elaborate revenge, Gankutsuou choose to focus on Ferinand and Mercedes’s son, Albert and his friends, some who are children of the adults that hurt Dantes. Through this, we see how the parent’s life choices have affected the children, for better or worse, as well as how the Count’s revenge hurts the children. Furthermore, greater focus is placed on the relationship between Albert and the Count, leading up to the Count’s inevitable betrayal. This approach adds a new angle to the story that while a part of the book, is often left out in the movies to save time. The main disadvantage to this is that the Count is definitely a less sympathic character then he is in the movies. We don’t get to see his past in as much detail. Then again, I do feel that the anime relies somewhat on the viewer already knowing the story. While it’s not essential to have watched the movie or read the book to know what’s going on in the anime, it’s definitely helps.
The third use of the Alternative Universe is changes in the characters that changes the choices they make. For example, one minor change is that Albert’s fiancée doesn’t run off with another girl. The biggest change however is probably in that of the Count himself. In the book/movie, he repents in his quest for revenge. This doesn’t happen in the anime, rather, it explores what would happen if the Count didn’t repent. Needless to say, the results are rather dark.
However, with not only an alternate setting, but alternate character choices and approaching the story at a different angle, I feel Gankutsuou honestly excels at catching the nature of an Alternative Universe and demonstrating the enormous potential an Alternate Universe has and should fulfill.