Gankutsuou is my favourite anime I’ve watched this year. Despite that, I don’t really have an awful lot to say about it, beyond “it’s great, go watch it now”. It wasn’t a story that made me think or leaving much in the way of lasting impressions. It was just pure entertainment that kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. But no particular moment stood out. Was I really going to go through these 12 days of Anime posts without mentioning my favourite anime I’d watched in the year?
Well, no. There was one scene. When the protagonist’s gang stepped into the Count’s room for the first time.
Sorry, but this spanish sub is the best I could find. Skip forward to the 2:30 mark and watch the next 2 or so minutes to see the scene I’m talking about. Don’t worry, there’s nothing even remotely resembling a spoiler in there.
Gankutsuou’s artwork doesn’t really have a purpose. There’s no particular reason why it chose that crazy CGI and pretty layered patterns, beyond the reason that it looked cool. But in choosing that crazy artstyle, they were allowed to rewrite the physics of their world. They weren’t confined by the standard methods of animation. They could throw out any which what sort of scene and it would mesh in fine with the rest of the series. Outfits could be as colourful and large as you liked. Architecture didn’t need to follow any real rules. This was the future. Science had developed fabulousness as a stand in for sound structural design by this point. Your armour could have as many spikes on it as your budget allowed for. Generally they kept this crazy artwork to a reasonable degree, occasionally flashing out with a ladies dress or a spaceship.
But every now and then, Gonzo’s animation team went full out. The first time they really showed off their animation capabilities was in this scene. When the troop entered the counts underground chamber and revealed his living quarters, if you could call them that. Gold ceiling, gold pylons, gold floor all layered and shiny that seemed to move as the characters move. An elevator that seemed to fly through a different dimension. A non-existent ceiling where constellations and solar systems with eyes for suns floated above, like something out of a beautiful nightmare. Standing amongst all of that, ready to greet his guests, was the Count. Where as previously he looked out of place where-ever he walked, reducing the architecture of futuristic Paris to backdrops to his grace, here for once he looked at home. Here was a room that could contain the might, will and fabulousness of the Count in full.
My moment in anime #9: The one time in the entire series that not everything was simply backdrop to the Count.