January 2, 2008

Chapter 1: Act 02: Until the Sun Rises Over The Moon (Gankutsuou)

Posted in Anime, Gankutsuou tagged at 3:18 pm by j128

1st DVD

Cover of the first volume (DVD) of Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo, containing the first 4 episodes

Until the Sun Rises Over The Moon is the second episode in the first chapter of Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo.


Albert has just been kidnapped, thanks to the trickery of the “girl” he met, named Peppo. Meanwhile, Franz is attending the ball, but he is distracted. After inquiries of the whereabouts of Albert, he discovers the legend of Luigi Vampa and his gang of bandits who prowl the streets of Luna. Despite reassurance that Albert is probably safe, he becomes even more concerned for Albert.

While Albert is led down into the catacombs and imprisoned, Franz reminisces about the first time he and Albert met, which was at his father’s funeral. He decides to go back to the hotel, and Luigi’s messenger – the criminal who was pardoned – gives him a letter demanding fifty million ducats by sunrise, otherwise Albert’s life will be forfeit. Franz then tries to find a means to arrange the large sum before he finally has to turn to the Count for aid.

The Count easily comes up with the fifty million and the Count and his men, Franz, and the bandit race against time to the catacombs in the Count’s carriage.

Meanwhile, in the catacombs Albert is to be tortured before being killed. He is near death but Peppo intervenes shortly before the Count’s men attack the bandits and free Albert. While that happens, the Count visits Luigi Vampa and it is hinted at that the head bandit is killed.

To express his gratitude for being rescued, Albert offers to introduce the Count into Paris’s high society. The Count accepts and gives the pocket watch that Albert found in the opera as a token of their friendship. Franz announces that their trip to Luna has to be cut short and they’ll be returning to Paris but Albert contradicts: he has plans to meet up with Peppo, the “girl” whom he believes he may have fallen in love with. The Count tells him the unfortunate news, however, that Peppo is a boy!

Franz and Albert pack for Paris and the Count is calculating his revenge.


Chapter 1: Act 01: At Journey's End, We Meet (Gankutsuou)

Posted in Anime, Gankutsuou tagged at 3:10 pm by j128

Gankutsuou, Chapter 1

Cover of the first volume (DVD) of Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo, containing the first 4 episodes

At Journey’s End, We Meet is the first episode of the first chapter of Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo. Excerpt from DVD case:


Born into an aristocratic family in Paris, Albert sets out on a journey with his best friend, Franz, to escape his privileged yet dull life. They travel to Luna, a city on the moon, and meet a very wealthy man named The Count of Monte Cristo. Becoming completely fascinated with The Count’s mysterious charm, Albert welcomes him into Paris high society. But soon Albert will discover the Count’s true motive – revenge…


In Luna, a city on the Moon, the aristocrats Franz d’Epinay and Albert de Morcerf are enjoying themselves during Carnival. A girl tosses a flower to Albert, who becomes smitten.

They meet a friend of Franz’s, addressed as Marquise, and the three attend an opera. A mysterious man in the audience throws a bouquet of blue roses to the opera singer and the audience cheers. Marquise explains that Luna has been abuzz since the arrival of the man and is fancied as a count. Wild rumours abound that he is an alien, or even a vampire. His name is the Count of Monte Cristo.

Albert finds a golden pocket watch near an elevator after he followed the Count and his bodyguards. He races up the stairs to return it but before he can, the Count glides past him and boards his ship.

Next day, one of the Count’s men deliver Albert and Franz a message saying that the Count would like to make their acquaintances. Franz is dubious and wary, while Albert is delighted and overjoyed. They meet the Count and he hosts a splendid lunch, but does not eat any himself. Before the friends depart the Count invites them to an execution and Albert shakes hands with the Count, and later tells Franz the Count’s hand was cold as ice – like a corpse.

On the day of the execution the Count is joined with Albert and Franz. The Count has a letter of pardon from the Cardinal and the three cards that he has placed on the table have the initials of the criminals and the one card that is picked will spare one of the criminals; it is only a game. Franz is disgusted and says it is wrong to play with human lives but Albert has mixed feelings. At last, being persuaded by the Count, he picks one of the cards, and to the outrage of the crowd the murderer is pardoned. The remaining two are executed via the guillotine.

As evening draws close, Franz and Albert walk through the streets of Luna. Franz and Albert have an argument, in which Franz takes his leave to change for the ball. Albert continues to wander the streets and when he sits to rest, a flower lands next to him. The next moment, the girl that Albert saw in the festivities of Carnival, and seduces him.

See Also

Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (main article)



August 24, 2006

Howl's Moving Castle

Posted in Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli tagged at 10:19 pm by j128

Howl's Moving Castle (Australian)

Howl's Moving Castle (Australian DVD cover)

Howl’s Moving Castle is an animated movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli, based upon the book of the same name by British author Diana Wynne Jones. It had its world premier at the Venice Film Festival on September 5, 2004. It was released in Japan in 2004 and in North America in 2005.

Originally the chosen director was Mamoru Hosoda, but after he abruptly left the project the then-retired director Hayao Miyazaki was chosen to take up the director’s role.

Diana Wynne Jones, probably mostly well-known for her fantasy series Chrestomanci, did not have any input or involvement in the production of the film. She did meet with the representitives from Studio Ghibli, however. She says that she is a writer of books, not films, but did agree that it would be a fantastic movie and I agree.

Much of the story takes place during a war, reminiscent of World War I and located in a nation similar to pre-WWI Alsace. Many of the buildings in the town scenes are identical to the Alsatian town of Colmar, which Hayao Miyazaki acknowledged as the inspiration for the setting.


The protagonist of the story is Sophie Hatter, who works in her father’s hat shop. Her sister, Lettie, works in a bakery. Their mother is constantly coming and going and is always physically youthful-looking, despite the fact that she is probably twice the age of her daughters. In fact, Lettie looks like a miniature of their mother.

Sophie is rescued by a mysterious young man after being teased by two soliders. Clearly, the man is magical, as he and Sophie begin walking high up in the air after being almost caught by creepy black oozing creatures, which are the Witch of the Waste’s henchmen.

Soon after Sophie is trapped by the Witch of the Waste and is cursed to appearing as an old woman, she cannot tell anyone of her plight (it’s part of the curse). She flees her hometown and settles in Howl’s Castle.

The inhabitants of the castle are Calcifer, a fire-demon, Markl, a very young boy who seems to be an apprentice of some sort, and Howl, the young wizard that rescued Sophie earlier in the film.

Sophie becomes the cleaning-lady of Howl’s Castle, cleaning top to bottom, and also organizes Howl’s bathroom which leads him into an outrage (tantrum) when his hair is dyed orange instead of its usual pale blond.

Howl spends most of his spare time in the bathroom having baths and beautifying himself. Almost everytime he comes down he has a new haircut.

Many of the characters in Howl’s Moving Castle are modified for the film. Markl, originally Michael Fisher, was a teenager in the book, but instead a young boy in the movie. Sophie has only one sister in the film while in the book she had two, however, the other sister is early on in the film implied as an aside. The Witch of the Waste, a beautiful and young woman, is instead a large woman in the movie who is later restored to her true age by Madam Suliman, and was Wizard Suliman in the book rather than Madam. Calcifer looks like a cute fireball in the film while his book counterpart was portrayed as a scary-looking demon and Howl shies away from the war and worms his way out of helping, suffering the consequences. Sophie and Howl (even though Howl has a different background) largely resemble their characters in the book, but with more of a gentle personality and less selfish motivations.

Personally, the best option is to watch Howl’s Moving Castle in the original Japanese version. The English version is okay, too, but after watching the Japanese version it is truly the best viewing option to get the most out of it; as the English version (and maybe perhaps the French version) have certain dialogue omitted or modified.

Howl’s Moving Castle is my top Hayao Miyazaki movie at the moment! Well done!

Howl’s Moving Castle Trailer


Howl’s Moving Castle – Answers.com article describing the story of Howl’s Moving Castle in back-to-back detail, etc.

Howl’s Moving Castle official website

How’ls Moving Castle – Google Video, full length, English dub

Howl’s Moving Castle Merchandise – GhilbliWorld.com, lots of merchandise including a special edition DVD with 4 discs containing interviews with Hayao Miyazaki, Diana Wynne Jones, and other points of interest, also toys and a paper kit to recreate the Castle.


Sophie & Howl

(Old) Sophie cleaning the Castle

Howl when he was a boy