The Count of Monte Cristo, the 19th century epic by Alexandre Dumas, might be considered as one of the greatest revenge stories every told. Perfectly examining timeless themes like free will, judgment and the loss of innocence; it is rightfully considered a masterpiece.
Saying that, one could say it lacks a thing or two. Like space ships. Or giant robots. Thankfully, that is where the anime industry stepped up.
Initially a faithful re-imagining of the source material, before shifting lanes towards the end of its 24 episode run, Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is a haunting and mysterious trip into the dark underbelly of the French aristocracy. Complemented by an art style that is simply hypnotizing, the story unfolds at a somber pace, as the naïve protagonist is drawn into the alien world of The Count.
If this heart-wrenching and eye-watering adaptation left you craving for something more, here are six similar anime that might help scratch that itch.
Similar Anime to Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
- Episodes: 74
- Aired: Apr. 2004 – Sep. 2005
Considered a quintessential anime series, Masayuki Kojima's Monster is a disturbingly realistic thriller and features one of the greatest villains in animation. Dr. Kenzou Tenma has the world at his feet. Considered one of the most talented brain surgeons in Europe, with a promotion almost guaranteed and a beautiful fiancée by his side, the mild-mannered doctor is driven by a desire to help people and a personal philosophy that every life is equal.
When a young child and the mayor are brought in, both desperately needing surgery, Dr. Tenma ignores the orders of his superiors and performs surgery on the child instead. This one moral act sends his life into a spiral.
After establishing its setting and rules of the world, with a seemingly clearly defined divide between right and wrong, Monster proceeds to subvert every expectation an audience member might have held. Although it can be somewhat described as a simple cat and mouse story, like Gankutsuou, the focus on character development and psychological drama results in an anime that is both entertaining and thought-provoking.
2. Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance)
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: July. 2014 – Sept. 2014
An unexpected hit in the summer of 2014, MAPPA's Zankyou no Terror is a mature and socially conscious series that fits well within recent history. After a terrorist group hits a nuclear facility in Japan, leaving only the vague phrase VON as a calling card, the disenchanted public watches helplessly as the government fails to act and the police fumble their way to a dead end.
Six months later, a viral video announces the arrival of the terror group known as SPHINX, who are actually just two teenage boys, as they challenge the impotent police to catch them before their next attack.
At its heart, Terror in Resonance is about the relationship between Nine and Twelve, the two teenage boys behind SPHINX. During the painfully short 11 episodes, titbits of their background are made clear, allowing a greater understanding of how they were twisted into these two degenerates.
Similarly to the relationship between Albert and Franz in The Count of Monte Cristo, Twelve is governed by his emotions while Nine is the logical one. They complement each other perfectly while always being at each other's throat. As Albert and Twelve are lured into the enticing world of another, Nine and Franz try to protect them.
Terror In Resonance Trailer
3. Ergo Proxy
- Episodes: 23
- Aired: Feb. 2006 – Aug. 2006
While Gankutsuou expands man's reach to beyond the stars, Ergo Proxy suffocates humanity within a handful of walled cities. In Romdo, one of these remaining few, humans struggle on with assistance from AutoReivs, humanoid robots whose purpose is to help with the day to day lives of the dwindling populace. Unfortunately, the AutoReivs have started contracting the “Cogito Virus”, an illness which grants them sentience.
Re-l Mayer is partnered with Iggy, an AutoReivs, to investigate this strange development before it spirals out of control. Their investigation drifts away from the routine, as they are forced to peek behind the curtain to reveal Romdo's darkest secrets. Eventually, their path leads them to an AutoReiv specialist named Vincent Law, whose life has turned slightly surreal recently, and a humanoid child known as Pino.
With a theme of self-discovery and self actualization, Manglobe's modern classic blends sci-fi, psychological thrillers, and mystery together to create a one of a kind experience.
Ergo Proxy boasts a fascinating world that needs to be explored, one that is brimming with stories and truths desperately begging to be revealed. Like Paris in Gankutsuou, Romdo manages to feel both foreign and identifiable at the same time. Narratively, both shows incorporating flashbacks to slowly reveal their mysteries and place heavy focus on the philosophical implications of their characters choices.
Any Anime Like Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo ?
4. Alice to Zouroku
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2017 – Sept. 2017
Paying homage to another literary classic, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (yes, that was actually the original title), Alice to Zouroku adds sci-fi and anime tropes to this timeless tale of imagination and nonsensical whimsy.
Born and raised in a research facility secluded from reality, Sana, a child with the supernatural power known as “Dreams of Alice”, escapes to the real world and develops an unlikely friendship with an older, and world-weary, man named Zouroku. With her goal to seek revenge for the experiments she was forced to suffer through while at the facility, and to free the other children still held captive there, Sana learns about the real world and the consequences of her own actions.
Although nowhere near as dark as Gankutsuou, the budding relationship between Sana and Zouroku plays out like the heartwarming alternative to that of Albert and The Count. The younger protagonists are both just starting to expand their understanding of the universe, through the guidance of their mentors, allowing them to glimpse the beauty, and danger, that can be found. Sana is rather confrontational, but she automatically believes that Zouroku is a good person.
Although featuring a more conventional animation style, the “Dreams of Alice” power allows these children to bring the unbound splendor of wonderland into the real world. This mixture of surreal with the mundane makes for an entertaining experience, where anything can almost happen.
Alice to Zouroku PV
5. 91 Days
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2016 - Sept. 2016
Set in the fictional Italian city of Lawless during the Prohibition Era, 91 Days is a bloody and brutal series centered around one character's pursuit of vengeance. As a young child, Angelo Lagusa witnessed the horrific death of his family at the hands of the Vanetti mafia family. Just about managing to escape, Angel changes his identity to Avilio Bruno and disappears.
Seven years later, Avilio returns to the city of Lawless with only one thing in his mind: Revenge. This opportunity comes in the form of Nero, the son of the mafia’s don, who he befriends as a means to infiltrate the family . Using the tools he has gained over the last years, Angelo will not stop until he tears down the family that destroyed everything he held dear.
91 Days does not hide the motivations of the protagonist, starting off immediately by showing why Angelo ends up as the cold and calculated Avilio that he is for the majority of the 12 episodes. The setting is also quite unique for an anime series, and the European architecture adds to the sense of maturity this Shuka produced series strives for.
The Count and Angelo are cut from the same cloth, two people on a journey who are willing to use their enemies, or betray their friends, in their pursuit for closure. 91 Days is faster paced and does not leave as much up to the imagination, but its dedication to violence and morally ambiguous characters make it an easy recommendation for fans of Gankutsuou.
91 Days Trailer
6. Le Chevalier D'Eon
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July. 2007 – Feb. 2007
Going full circle, we are back in France for the last entry on the list. Le Chevalier D'Eon is not based on a book, but instead takes directly from history, throwing a lot of famous names into one large chaotic adventure. Maximilien Robespierre, Catherine the Great, King Louis XV of France, and King George III of England all get involved at one point or another, although that does not actually mean that Production I.G. were attempting to create a historically accurate period piece with this one.
The aristocratic landscape is shaken when Lia de Beaumont, a servant of King Louis XV, is found dead. This greatly traumatizes her brother D'Eon, one of the King's Spies, who sets out on a journey to find his sister's murderer. His investigation leads to a strange discovery, as Lia was behind her own murder and she is now possessing his body. Faced with uncovering the shadowy secrets surrounding the royal French family, D'Eon has decided whether he is willing to risk the fate of the entire nation for his quest.
Betrayal is the name of the game here, as Le Chevalier D'Eon is overstuffed with untrustworthy characters trying to better themselves at the expense of those around them. A critic of the arrogance of the higher class, Production I.G really did not hold back the budget with this one, as the animation is absolutely gorgeous.
Like The Count, this is a slow burner that tries to keep the story grounded and recognizable before veering to do its own things towards the last few episodes of the series. Overly dramatic, at times, nearly each character is given the time and attention needed to develop beyond 2D cut outs. If you enjoyed the elegant mix of the supernatural, mystery and politics found in Gankutsuou, then Le Chevalier D'eon is a show that cannot be missed
This brings an end to our recommendations list for this time. Honestly, finding shows that can stand alongside Gankutsuou's unique art style, mature themes, and unorthodox storytelling is not the most obvious of tasks, but all of these choices have a strong dedication to mystery, suspense, and revenge. They also offer unique settings that are not too common within the industry.
Did you find this list helpful or are there any other shows you would recommend for fans of Gankutsuou? We look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments below.