Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo, Vol. 1
written by Mahiro Maeda and Yura Ariwara
Viscount Albert de Morcef and Baron Franz d’Epinay are best friends and sons of Parisian aristocrats. Franz decides to take Albert to the moon to experience his first Luna Carnival. Carnival is a time of lights and partying, but it is also a time when criminals are publicly executed. For a while, the boys are enjoying themselves in the company of a local countess. It is there that they first hear about the mysterious Count of Monte Cristo, an enigmatic man from the far reaches of the galaxy.
Albert catches only a glimpse of the count but notices that the gentleman had dropped his watch. Albert follows the count to return it and finds himself walking into an awe-inspiring illusion. Grateful to have his possession returned, the count invites Albert and Franz to join him for the public execution. Albert finds himself utterly fascinated by the count while Franz remains rather indifferent. When the execution arrives, the count demonstrates to the boys just how influential he can be.
The next day, Albert gets robbed by a girl he met, but the count helps him out by giving him new clothes and transportation home, promising to come visit on May 22. His family is skeptical at first, until the count makes his grand entrance. What none of them realize is that the count had been betrayed by Albert’s father and his friends. Now he has returned to exact his revenge in a matter they will never see coming.
Gankoutsu: The Count of Monte Cristo is based on Gonzo’s animated series and certainly holds its own quite well in manga form. This series puts a sci-fi spin on Alexandre Dumas’s classic tale and has a certain Willy Wonka quality to it that makes the story and artwork fascinating. It’s almost hard to believe that the images on the pages are actually black and white.
It is unlikely that the storyline will follow the classic exactly, but this manga could serve as a good transition piece for a teen reader in need of a gateway book to the classics.