The roaring twenties is the backdrop for the end of the world where only a nun and a devil can stop it from happening.
What They Say
The year is 1928. Jazz is hot, bootleg liquor is king and the idle rich of a nation have discovered a horrifying new past-time: summoning demons! To combat this growing threat, a new order of Holy Warriors has arisen. This is the story of Sister Rosette, an elite Exorcist in the Order of Magdalene, whose soul has been bound by alchemy to that of the devil Chrono. Armed with Sacred ammo, they form an unstoppable team, ready to wage war at a moments noticeα because when the gates of hell are opened, someone's got to put the devils back!
Chrono Crusade retains its original mixes which is the Japanese in stereo at 192kbps and the English 5.1 mix encoded at 448kbps. The show has a very solid stereo mix that makes really good use of the forward soundstage. You can hear a lot of effects being thrown to each of the stereo channels and the dialogue flowing across nicely during some of the action sequences. The music as well fills it nicely and has a very warm feeling to it. The English language track benefits with its 5.1 format as well, though it’s not all that useful for the rear channels, but the forward soundstage comes across as cleaner and with a bit more impact throughout.
Originally airing in 2003, Chrono Crusade is presented here in its original full frame aspect ratio. This collection has the original seven discs that came out in single form, so expectation are pretty much being met with how it looks. Being a Gonzo show, it's a very up front show with its color and style and just goes all out with it. On the plus side, it handles the color gradient issue fairly well though there are some noticeable instances of it. Part of this is muted at times due to the general intentional softness of the scene while some others are stronger. This series definitely shifts in the clarity level of the scene. There are some soft scenes based with lots of fog and the creepiness that's intended and then it'll shift to an outdoor daytime scene that's just as clear and beautiful as any other Gonzo animated moment. Other than the color gradient and softness, neither of which are actually problems but inherent in the source materials, this is a very solid looking print with great solid colors that don't show any blocking, blissfully absent cross coloration and only some very minor aliasing.
This release of the series is really… weird. ADV Films did a bit of Christmas style branding at one point to put a few shows out and this was one of them. And it’s creepy. Azmaria in a Santa Claus outfit certainly isn’t bad, as she sits on a bag of presents, but Chrono doing a pose in a reindeer outfit is just cringe worthy, especially as he sticks his stomach out for it. And reducing Rosette to a hand puppet on Azamaria’s hand? Well, at least she’s on Azmaria’s hand and not Chrono’s. The back cover is more traditional with the cross format used to break everything down where you have a decent summary included on it and a number of small shots from the show. The episode count and disc count are well placed as is the push for the number of extras and that this is a limited edition set. The remainder of the cover is given over to the usual production credits and technical grid as well as the only non-creepy shot of a character with Rosette. This collection is done in an oversized keepcase with hinges inside to hold all the discs instead of a stackpack that’s more common now. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu style for the release goes with some of the quasi-religious feel, heavily felt due to the choral style vocal piece that plays briefly to the menu. The layout is centered with a small cross in which sepia toned animation clips play through while the menu selections themselves are cast around it in various blocks. It's a good looking little menu though a bit plain in some ways but it sets the mood nicely. The transitional animations for this are among the briefest I've seen and work very nicely. Access times are nice and fast and the disc properly read our players language presets without a problem.
There's a really healthy mix of extras in this set with most of them carrying through each volume to different extent. The big extra for me is the Extra Classes sections which takes you on a trip to tell you about the world this show inhabits. The classes we get describe this version of 1920's America as well as the Order that we're introduced and so much more relevant to each volume. As a real plus, ADV did go and provide a dub for this release. In addition, there are some good standard extras included. The home video version of the opening and closing sequences are provided in textless format and we also get the original broadcast openings for the first four episodes. I believe these are the same as what's on the Japanese release so they're clean versions as well. The Crusade Chronicle is a small subsection that lets you check out the people, powers, weapons and locations of the show in what's basically an art gallery form mixed with liner notes. A full series of production sketches is also included separately. For the dub fans, there are a few commentaries to be had across the first few volumes with various actors along with Matt Greenfield providing direction for it along with a number of amusing little anecdotes about the production. While it's a dub commentary, I think both sides of fandom can get some really interesting things out of it. And Greg Ayres completely rocks in the first commentary by having the Mrs. Grundy comment. "Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." Indeed.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When Chrono Crusade was first released in the US, it was riding a large crest of popularity from its run in Japan and the end of the manga itself. ADV Films had quite a lot of promotion going on for the show, highlighting the voice cast which was at the top of its game at the time and bringing over the manga creator for conventions. During the time of release, at least at the start, fandom revolved a lot around Chrono Crusade. Originally released as seven volumes, those discs make up this collection which brings us back to how many shows were done once, long ago. Going back to this series after several years has certainly been fun.
Chrono Crusade takes place in the roaring twenties, but the focus is on members of the Order of Magdalene, a church organization that deals with the devils that invade our lives. The Order is quite extensive in the country with numerous offices and members all around, but the initial focus is in New York City where we’re introduced to the team of Rosette Christopher and Chrono. They’re a high unusual and unique pairing as Rosette has made a contract with Chrono who is actually a devil. Several years ago when she was younger than her teenage years already make her, she and her brother Joshua stumbled upon a crypt where Chrono was being held. The two siblings befriended him and spent a lot of happy times together, but those times came to an end when Joshua’s life changed as hidden powers came out and he disappeared.
As it turns out, Joshua is an Apostle that one of the big devils named Aion has been looking for. Aion has taken Joshua under his wing and secured him away so he can slowly brainwash him into believing what he wants believed, which includes replacing his sister with someone else that will look after him. Rosette can’t believe that her brother is gone, but after seeing the devastation to the orphanage the two lived in that he caused, she knows she has to find him and try and make things right by helping him. Joshua had been scouted by the Order already and now Rosette made sure that she’d go as well in order to become a proper Sister to help hunt demons and devils while searching for her brother. With a bit of luck and manipulation by others, she manages to do so while being paired with Chrono.
With having been about four years since Joshua was spirited away, the time is now ripe for change as Aion’s plans are coming to fruition. His gathering of the Apostles has been his main work, though he has lost the last one to Rosette. A young girl named Azmaria was discovered and Rosette and Chrono rescued her from her fate and she has joined the Order and works with the pair when she can. The group also grows a bit with the introduction of Satella, a “jewel witch” who uses mystical powers derived from gems in order to work as a very wealthy bounty hunter of devils. Satella is much like Rosette in that she’s looking for someone, an older sister that disappeared some time ago. With a few other similarities, it’s no surprise that the two grate on each other and cause all sorts of friction when they do encounter each other, which is often as time goes on.
Chrono Crusade does play out rather well as the story advances. There are issues where the Order has to go after various minor devils that appear and cause trouble, but by and large they tend to deal more with the larger issue of Aion and his manipulations. Even Aion’s plans aren’t all that good for other devils as some of them throw their lot in with Rosette and the Order once they realize what Aion has planned. The driving force is Rosette finding her brother, and that brings about a lot of collateral issues along the way. Rosette is very much a catalyst for this series, as is her place as the lead character, and that keeps her in the foreground most of the time. Interestingly, she’s actually pushed to the background during the last arc and is turned into a doll of sorts with her personality, which allows for Chrono to become more of a central figure. The relationship between the two has been a strong underlying theme to the series and through the flashbacks and their present day interactions, it really does cause others to question things as they see a Sister and a Devil that quite obviously have very strong feelings for each other.
The visual design of the show is pretty good, especially since it works in areas not usually seen. The 1920’s isn’t an expected era for anime to work in, especially set in New York City and San Francisco, but they did some nice work here making it look good and of the time. The costume design in general is good for the regular crowd while the lead get to be a bit more showy and less tied to the day. Rosette’s outfit actually manages to avoid being fanservice heavy in a way as there is very little skin showing. It’s certainly tight at times, but they have her in big bloomers as well which offsets it in several scenes. None of the other women in the show are played up much either, though we have a maid and a few other Sisters running about, so there are a few costume fetishes that get attention. By and large though, the design of the series helps it stand apart from other shows and while it may not be terribly historically accurate for the nitpickers, it does look good to the casual viewer.
Chrono Crusade is a fun show that’s held up fairly well over the last couple of years. Taking it in over the course of two days rather than the several months of the original release shows a much tighter series that is free of what you could call filler. While it does have a few subplots that are alright but not terribly engaging, it spends the bulk of its time dealing with the core characters and that storyline. This release is spot on with what we get here with the original discs, lots of extras and a great presentation overall. Well, except for the holiday themed cover art which is just bizarre looking and really makes me cringe each time I look at it.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Azmaria's Extra Classes, Background Info, Production Sketches, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Original On Air Opening, Episode Commentaries
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.