Chrono Crusade Vol. #4 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, February 28, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, March 08, 2005



What They Say
The quest team's journey to find Joshua has begun, but all hell literally breaks loose when a certain well endowed Fraulein and an old enemy both show up on the train. As the jaws of a nightmarish trap snap shut only the Magdalene Order's elite training will keep them alive, but is even that enough? The forces of good may be hopelessly outmatched!

The Review!
After all the revelations in the last volume, even more are due here after a bit of action to sate the audience.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese due to two of my favorite voice actors working on this show. 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. Throughout the four episodes, we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, Chrono Crusade is presented here in its original full frame aspect ratio. 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. 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.

Packaging:
Going back to basics of the two main leads to the show, Rosette and Chrono take the center stage of the front cover once more while the charm Rosette wears takes usp most of the background set against darkened flames. The character artwork is decent enough though their facial expressions don't seem to match all that well. The back cover goes with the minimal religious symbol look with a squat cross taking up most of the background and providing lots of shots from the show, a brief summary and the usual array of production information into the various blocks. The discs extras are clearly listed as well and the increasingly becoming standard technical grid at the very bottom keeps all the key information easy to find at a glance. The insert has a full length shot of Rosette so that she can show off her legs and white stockings and is set opposite of the black and white stylings of Duffau. The reverse side provides plot summaries for the individual episodes as well as information on Azmaria's Extra Classes. Not missing a chance to do a good looking reversible cover, this volume's reverse side gives time for the bad guys with a shot of Aion and his assistant who is amusingly enough carrying a bag of bread. The reverse side back cover lists the episodes and titles, provides a slew of shots from the show and fleshes it out with the production information and the technical grid, making it a very useable reversible cover.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
The extras essentially mirror the previous volumes though it does drop the commentary track. The big extra to me continues to be the Extra Classes sections which take you on a trip to tell you about the world this show inhabits. There are more classes included in this release that helps flesh things out nicely. In addition, there are some good standard extras included. The home video version of the opening and closing sequences are provided in textless. 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.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the fourth volume, the series hits its halfway section and barrels forward with the main plotline that'll occupy most of the second half likely. With one less episode on this volume, it goes by obviously faster but at the same time it leaves you in a place where you really want more information. Being that the show is shifting from its original New York location to San Francisco, we get a road trip!

While they're not traveling first class, their ride on board the train has them heading towards their destination with little issue for most of the ride. With the trains as crowded as they are, Rosette does the kind of thing that a good nun would do and she gives up her seat to a woman with a couple of children who looks very tired from her own journey. While she goes through the motions on this, she ends up bumping into another passenger who, of course coincidentally, turns out to be Satelle. She's heading to the west coast for an assignment of her own and is traveling in style, having rented an entire car. So bringing the woman and her kids with her, Rosette forces her way into the rented car and takes over a couple of rooms, which Satelle has no issue with. Her mindset is that she's never traveled by train before and wasn't sure how much space one needed so she rented as much as she could. Which of course just stabs right at Rosette.

Satelle's not the big issue on this ride though as Rizel shows herself to be the real enemy and has captured quite a bit of the trains passengers as her prey and she uses all of her abilities to their fullest to try and take Rosette and Chrono down. But knowing that the big events are all going to happen in San Francisco, they move past this fairly well and with some really good action but the results leave the gang walking their way towards the Golden State. Satelle's finding herself in the worst of places lately and ends up with this crew again and she takes them into her west coast residence so that they can get somewhat cleaned up. Rosette's a complete mess and as it turns out after being there briefly that Chrono is actually ill for the first time since she's known him.

This leads her and Satelle on a wacky serious of small adventures as they try to procure some medicine in the city, medicine for a demon mind you and spend most of the day getting precious little accomplished and simply wearing themselves down. The two of them spending time together is a good bit of fun and they play off of each other well here as they try different approaches for getting the medicines, but overall it's a relatively filler episode that helps create an additional buffer episode between the New York and San Francisco adventures. Satelle's butler and Azmaria provide some good little bits throughout it as they deal with living at Satelle's but this episode is mostly a loss.

While the Rizel episode had some interesting bits to digest from it, it's the last episode here where all the things start coming together. On Aion's side, he's getting things prepared with those who have allied themselves with him by showing them just how close he is to bringing apocalypse to the world and thereby wiping everything out and having Aion become the new "Creator" of all. Those that have been working with him for some time are all for parts of this but some things still leave them unsure. Some of those who had dealings with Aion ages ago appear out of the woodwork, and we're introduced to Duffau, a creature from Pandemonium who has old ties to Aion and a vested interest in stopping him from whtaever he's doing based on past experiences. Duffau's arrival here brings an interesting change to things since he's considered one of the bad guys but is openly willing to help Rosette and Chrono, which causes massive waves back in the Council that Sister Kate and Minister Remington have to deal with. I really liked the way they ended up dealing with it and just how much Chrono's arrival in the Order has affected the make-up of the place.

In Summary:
Though the bulk of the revelations are held off until the last episode here, the road trip aspect of the series isn't too bad and we do eventually get Rosette out of her usual outfit and into something a bit classier as well as into far less. The first two episodes are standard material for a road trip and could easily be skipped without really losing too much. Combined with the one less episode here and the heavy filler feel to it, this volume is saved really by the last episode with Duffau's arrival and many revelations about Aion and Chrono's past that helps clarify just what the real plans are all about.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Azmaria's Extra Classes,Clean open and ending animation,Chrono Crusade Chronicle,Production sketches

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Chrono Crusade