Chrono Crusade Vol. #1 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Kim Wolstenholme
Review Date: Friday, May 13, 2005
Release Date: Monday, April 18, 2005



What They Say
The action Anime series Chrono Crusade imagines the 1920s as a hotbed of jazz, speakeasies, flappers, and...wealthy socialites, who dabble in the black arts and unleash a horde of demons upon the world! The only person who can stop the unholy terror is Sister Rosette, a nun trained as an exorcist in the sacred Order of Magdalene.

With the help of a devil named Chrono, Sister Rosette wages war on the demonic legions in this first volume of episodes from the uniquely-themed Anime series.

Episodes comprise:

1. Sister Rosette
2. Contractor
3. The Servants
4. Sinner

The Review!
When devils are summoned by the bored citizens of New York they are dispatched by the exorcists from the Order of Magdalene.

Audio:
I watched the show alternating between both of the audio tracks provided on the disk. The Japanese Stereo track is perfectly functional with all dialogue and sound effects coming from the front sound stage. There are a couple of directional sound effects that use the left and right speakers but not too many. The English 5.1 track utilises all of the surround speakers and there is some good directionality with both dialogue and sound effects. Both tracks are perfectly clear and I noticed no dropouts or distortion.

Video:
Chrono Crusade is presented on disk in its original aspect ratio of 1:33.1 and I didn’t notice any major problems with the transfer, although at times it did appear to be a little soft. The colours used throughout the show came across well and there is a nice distinction between the daytime and nighttime scenes. Colours are noticeably brighter and more vibrant during the day and these same colours are given a more muted appearance at night. The nighttime scenes are also softened by the use of fog, which is a nice atmospheric touch.

Subtitles were in the usual ADV font and yellow in colour, I noticed no grammatical errors or spelling mistakes.

Packaging:
ADV have produced a nice looking cover for the first volume of Chrono Crusde with Rosette taking centre stage with her guns drawn and Chrono in his devil form in the background. The volume number and name are also included on the front cover and the spine. On the back we have a squat cross taking up most of the space, which provides an overview of the show, along with several screen shots. The usual ADV information is also displayed on the bottom of the cover. The disk comes in a clear keepcase with a reversible cover that displays Chrono in the foreground with Rosette in the background in her Casino gown; this alternate cover has a much lighter feel to it and I actually preferred it over the main cover design. The reversible cover also lists more information on the episodes included on the disk and displays screen shots taken from each episode.

Menu:
The menu continues with the cross theme, with another cross taking up the centre of the main menu which displays scenes from the show. The menu options are in separate boxes around the outside of the screen, and the cursor is also displayed as a cross. All the menus are accompanied by music from the show and all access times are quick.

Extras:
We get quite a few extras on the first disk and they all complement the show nicely. Along with the usual clean opening and closing sequence we have the original on air openings for episodes 1 – 4. Each one of these original openings is slightly unique and appears to have been tailored to the episode it was shown with.

Next we have Azmaria’s Extra Classes, two short segments that explain a bit more about the time period that Chrono Crusade is set in. On this disk we get more information about America in the 1920’s and the history of the Magdalene Order. Following on from this we have the Chrono Crusade Chronicle, which is in the form of a newspaper with four ‘headlines’ to select. Famous People Sighted gives profiles for Rosette and Chrono, Weapons Cause Destruction contains information about Rosette’s gun, Best Places to Visit provides a bit more information about the Statue of Liberty and Casino and finally Mysterious Powers Discovered contains information on Astral.

There are also around 30 production sketches for various characters and items found in the show, this is in the form of a slideshow set to music. ADV previews are also included for several other ADV shows.

Finally we have a commentary track for the first episode with Hilary Haag (Rosette), Greg Ayres (Chrono) and Matt Greenfield (ADR Director). While not at all technical this is an interesting track with some fun anecdotes and it’s clear that all three are very proud of the work done on the series. There are a couple of lulls in the conversation when they all watch the show but these are not that long and apologies are usually forthcoming when this happens.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Gonzo are beginning to get a well-deserved reputation for the shows they produce and develop. They were one of the first studios to combine CG animation with hand drawn animation with the release of Blue Submarine No. 6 and they’ve not stopped since. Their shows are full of style with interesting characters and situations and from the first disk it looks like Chrono Crusade is no exception. Set in New York in 1928 just before the great depression they’ve taken the concept of exorcism and devil worship / summoning to an all-new level.

We’re quickly introduced to the main two characters in the show, Sister Rosette and her devil sidekick Chrono. They both work for the Magdalene Order, a quasi religious organisation that fights the demon menace that is becoming more and more prevalent as people are indulging in devil worship and summoning.

The first episode starts the action straight away as Rosette and Chrono are dispatched to deal with their second assignment of the night. They quickly arrive on the scene and dispatch the devil, but all does not go quite according to plan as Rosette not only manages to crash her car, but also destroys the building where the devil had been summoned. This level of destruction does not go down well with Sister Kate, their superior, though it soon becomes clear that Rosette has something of a reputation for destroying things during the course of her missions. However this does not stop the duo from being sent out to vanquish devils, and Rosette and Chrono are quickly dispatched again, only to cause even more destruction the second time around.

The second episode starts off in a similar format to the first episode with Rosette and Chrono sent to dispatch another devil, although this goes even more awry than previously as the devil manages to get hold of Rosette’s gun which contains a new bullet called Spirit. This bullet actually contains a devil that it meant to destroy the target before becoming a spirit itself. The devil then attacks the Order and uses the power of Spirit to make him even more powerful than before. During the course of this attack the devil manages to hurt Rosette, which unleashes a previously unseen side of Chrono as he starts to take on a devil form in order to defend Rosette. Thankfully Rosette is all right and calms Chrono down before the Order finally manage to destroy the original devil.

This confrontation starts the exploration of the bond between Rosette and Chrono, which is certain to become one of the focal points of the show. It seems that Chrono also has a devil form as well as his normal everyday persona as a young man – something that many of the other girls in the Order were unaware of. The discovery of this new side to Chrono obviously changes people’s perceptions of him despite it being something that he manages to hide pretty well. This episode also starts to introduce the back-story regarding the relationship between Rosette and Chrono as we get a flashback to the time when they first met. This vignette also introduces us to Rosette’s brother, Joshua who disappeared at the same time and hasn’t been seen since.

The next two episodes move away from the ‘demon of the week’ approach as we have a nice two-part story arc, which brings with it some interesting revelations. These episodes revolve around Azmaria Hendrick, a young girl who is a modern Apostle. It appears that Apostles have specific gifts or powers that can be used for good or evil. Hotel magnate Ricardo Henrick and his devil sidekick Viscount Lerajie, have kidnapped Azmaria, and plan to use her powers to their own advantage. Rosette and Chrono are dispatched to rescue Azmaria and these two episodes follow their rescue attempts.

During these episodes we not only get to see how Azmaria uses her power, but we also finally get to see Chrono in his devil form and find out even more about how Chrono and Rosette are bound together and the significance of the ‘watch’ that Rosette wears. During the course of these two episodes we also learn that Joshua is also an Apostle and his disappearance may have been caused by the devil Aion.

These four episodes successfully manage to introduce the two main characters of the show, as well as some secondary characters such as Sister Kate, Father Rimmington and the Elder (whose main purpose initially seems to be to add comic relief to the series). Rosette’s clumsy nature is established early on in the series with the incidents that occur during the first two episodes, and while this clumsy-ness is exploited it’s only one aspect of her character. Although she sometimes comes across as quite ditzy, her heart is in the right place and her dedication to her job shines through. She can also be quite devious, hot headed and has no qualms in bending a situation to her advantage.

Chrono on the other hand is more measured and thoughtful, and very aware of what people think of him. He tries not to antagonise people and as a result he’s more than willing to do the normal everyday chores around the Order so as to appear helpful, trustworthy and approachable. Due to the bond they share Rosette and Chrono are very protective of each other, this is something that other members of the Order (especially Sister Kate) are unable to understand.

As to be expected from a Gonzo show the overall look and feel is wonderful, and they’ve done a good job of recreating the time period in which the series is set - even down to the car that Rosette drives. I’m not sure how historically accurate the cityscape of New York actually is, but it certainly looks authentic and the sepia toning for certain scenes makes it look interesting and even forbidding. Overall the animation is fantastic, detail is excellent and the battle and fight sequences are very well done. The highlight of these is the aerial battle between Chrono and Viscount Lerajie, a spectacular battle that involves elements of proper hand-to-hand combat and is imbued with a sense of urgency as Chrono has a limited time with which to destroy his enemy.

There’s also something about Chrono Crusade that reminds me of Hellsing. The animation styles are quite similar and some of the action sequences are also depicted in a similar fashion. However Chrono Crusade is quite different in terms of tone, where Hellsing was consistently dark with little light relief Chrono Crusade is much lighter, with a fair bit of comic relief thrown in for good measure. This mix works surprisingly well, the battles with the various devils are all depicted with the right tone, and only when the devils have been vanquished do we get to see the destruction that’s been caused and the reactions that this elicits.

In summary:
It’s always hard to judge a series by the first disk, but so far I like what I’ve seen of Chrono Crusade. These first four episodes do a really good job of setting up the series and the early introduction of the overall story arc was very welcome. It’s always nice to get an idea of where a show might go early on and Chrono Crusade drops enough hints in the first four episodes to make me think that the rest of the series could be very good indeed.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Voice actors' commmentary with Hilary Haag (Rosette) and Greg Ayres (Chrono),Clean opening and closing animation,'Azmaria's Extras Classes',Original on-air openers,Production art,Chrono Crusade Chronicle

Review Equipment
Panasonic 42” Plasma, Arcam 88+ Prog Scan DVD Player, Kef Egg 7.1 Speaker system with a Ruark log sub. Denon 3802 amplifier.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: ADV Films UK
MSRP: £19.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Chrono Crusade