Wrongfully imprisoned for 15 years despite his innocence, a man manages to eventually escape his demise and makes a thrilling return as a fresh new character—unbeknownst to everyone from his past, who believe he is dead. This is a drama about a man whose remaining passion is for vengeance against those who stripped away all the good things in his life for their own gain. Through elaborate maneuvers and clever entrapments, he sets into motion a unique revenge plot in which his enemies' inner demons and come to the surface to wreak havoc on their carefully cultivated success, all built upon their betrayals and past sins. As he seeks to force their ugly secrets into the the light, he seeks to reconcile his belief that justice is worth the destruction it can bring. Based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo.
(Source: Fuji TV) Add Synopsis In Portuguese
Cast & Credits
Many anime fans are familiar with Gankutsuou, but is more of a creative interpretation and is not set in current-day Japan (future-future!), so it can't really be compared imo. There's also the 1979 Nihon Gankutsuou starring Kusakari Masao, which is set in Edo period. And while there have been a massive number of adaptations into other cultural or time settings, it's an extremely twisty story, so I always feel it must be wickedly hard to adapt completely into a modern-day setting in a satisfying and believable way... without taking major artistic license with the plot.
However, writer the writer has a lot of experience with novel adaptations, as well as twisty plots (i.e. Boku no Yabai Tsuma), and along with creative directing and generally great performances by the cast, this difficult feat was achieved with class.
While there are certain elements that require some suspension of belief such as the fictional country involved at the beginning (although creating fictional countries is pretty common, especially when there's anything negative involved!). I guarantee you will be absorbed in the plot at least by the third episode. The first two are filmed in a with a kind of generic light tone, as the past and present timelines for the characters needed to be massively contrasting. But starting with the third episode, the tone goes darker, and the cinematography gets heavy into suspense (in a great way).
If you're not familiar with the story already, feel free to just go in cold and enjoy even more surprise and suspense. But even if you've read the book or seen other movies, I would say that you will probably shockingly find the suspense and intrigue elements still compelling. I initially wasn't sure if I'd be a little bored in the beginning, because everything sticks so close to the original plot, which I'm familiar with, but I quickly got so absorbed in the characters and storytelling, I couldn't stop watching.
While dark, it wasn't just straight-up depressing revenge film. One would think that everything about the nature of vengeance and justice has been explored in the genre, but I think this actually was even more interesting an exploration of it than the original book. I wasn't sure how much artistic license they would take with the plot, so I never knew what the characters would or wouldn't do as they felt so believable thanks to the great acting and compelling dialog and pacing. They somehow managed to stick to the plot/characters of the original, but made each one very real and unique in their modern-day Japanese setting.
The cast is great. For the most part, the main characters nail their roles, and Dean Fujioka really surprised me. I've really liked him in a variety of dramas, but he went beyond with his enigmatic character here. Of course he lays on the innocent exuberance heavy in the beginning since there's a big time gap between it and the the majority of the story, but it's kind of stylized, basically the way most actors in Japan will play a younger version of their character for past events. For his current-day role, though, he's so good as the conflicted but brilliant Shinkai, who can be cold and calculating, but who also has this admirable sense of justice that makes him not-quite devious or cruel. Rather than simply trying to punish, he seems to want to find the truth of these people who destroyed his life. His character is impossible to not feel for, considering all he's gone through.
Music was spot-on...the two pop songs, especially Dean's (ECHO) are almost too catchy (fyi they sound really good with the tempo sped up!), and the score provided that extra sense of unease and suspense that kept the overall tone just right.
Rewatch: I'm too familiar with the story to want to rewatch, but if you've never encountered the plotline, this could be really cool to go back and watch with the knowledge of who is who and what will happen even if the suspense would be gone.
I'll leave it at that since I don't want to create any quasi-spoilers for anyone who doesn't know the original story. I definitely recommend even if you're not into revenge dramas (I'm not—I like some of them, but not all!). I never felt dragged down at all. If you like well-crafted dramas that are entertaining but also have some depth, while also being psychological and clever, I think you'll enjoy this.