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

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, July 28, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, August 02, 2005



What They Say
Aion’s plans have reached fulfillment, and the thin blue line of the Magdalene Order is powerless to stop him. Will the ultimate plan of the Master of the Sinners reach fruition? All that remains to complete the overthrow of Heaven itself it is one final act of betrayal… a betrayal carried out by a Devil in a blue dress! The future of all Creation hangs in the balance in the final apocalyptic volume of Chrono Crusade!


The Review!
Everything comes to a head as Aion's plans for Rosette bear fruit while Chrono and friends try their best to rescue her before it's too late.

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:
The perfect cover for the final volume, it brings the four main characters together as we will best remember them with the soft glow of a fire behind them. The designs and detailed illustrations look really good here and this is probably the best cover of the entire series. 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 good looking cast image of the four leads after getting done at a festival as they're all smiling and looking happy. 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 time it's a good image of Chrono and Rosette together laying on the grass with their hands together which is a really nice image with which to end things. 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 again drops the commentary track. The big extra to me continues to be the Extra Classes section and this volume is definitely helpful in going over some various religious items that are talked about in the show fairly heavily. Also included in this release is the unused on-air opening for all three episodes in which bits from those episodes are mixed into the general opening sequence. 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)
While Chrono Crusade wasn't an uneven series, it was one that had a few areas that weren't as good as others. With the last volume however, it provides so many scenes and a script in general that is so reminiscent of my memory and nostalgia for older series that it redeems itself completely for whatever minor flaws there may have been before. Very few shows these days end with any sense of finality and a series like this simply cannot have finality yet it closes it just right.

Each of the episodes manages to play out a particular piece of the end and each of them does it in a really enjoyable way. With Aion now pulling goth-loli Rosette's strings as easily as can be, she's walking out amongst the people and doing what she wants to do by saving and healing people along the way. Not consistently or anything but with that kind of walking on air sort of "oh, I'll heal you and then move on" kind of attitude. But her arrival and the obviousness of the stigmata has set into motion a chain of events where believers are now everywhere and follow the Holy Woman and pray unto her. It gets so bad that over the course of the next few months it creates riots across the country and a new breed of criminal called a Crusader who commits violence and destruction in the Holy Woman's name.

When Satella was first introduced in the series I wasn't much of a fan and her subsequent appearances didn't do much for me either. As she got along with the group she became less of a problem for me but still nothing that I really felt all that interested in. With the last volumes revelation about Fiore being her sister Florette, that felt like an incredibly tacked on subplot in order to give Satella a real reason to be involved in all of this. With this volume, she managed to move up from what I thought of as essentially a useless character to one with one of the best scenes in the series yet as she fought against Fiore. Fiore's manipulated bond with Joshua and her devotion to Aion is so strong that it overwrote everything else and watching this play out here in battle was just perfect. I even loved how Azmaria brought it all to a proper close, something I haven't been too fond of at times.

When it comes to Chrono and Rosette, this gets pretty much its own episode as well as the resolution between them must take place. With her being tied to Aion and Chrono going through despair and reminiscing about his past love and all that happened there, he's finding that he's almost to the point of being ready to run again. His internal revisiting of his past in a new light has shown him how he's actually responsible for much of what's going on and that all he's done in the past is run away from things. This gives him the courage to finally face up to things and confront Rosette head on in order to try and bring her back to reality and out of Aion's grasp. Much of this fight has been a long time in coming for Chrono in terms of Aion and Rosette has simply become the tool by which Aion is tweaking Chrono but also using in order to achieve his own goals. It's an epic battle on a very small scale and as such feels a bit incomplete or quick, but it does have so much behind it that I'm not exactly disappointed with how it came to closure.

As an epilogue, the last episode does a fantastic job of slowly bringing most of the events we've witnessed to closure as it covers four years of time. We get to understand some of the larger issues involved with what's happened and the real world consequences, such as the Black Thursday event, the growing violence around the world and the first hints of what's to happen not to far from then in Europe. The continued appearances of more people bearing the stigmata has the Order busy as well and the battle has changed shape once more. What we witnessed from Aion in his use of Rosette is but another salvo in an ages old war and through the eyes of Remington, we're able to see the much larger picture of what's come before and what's really to come in the future. This is a fascinating ending to the series that mixes some neat ideas together and in its own way, draws the curtain closed by showing you a much larger and intriguing picture.

In Summary:
With how this series ends, Chrono Crusade is elevated from a fun series that will have some good memories to a series that reaffirms my faith in how some of the best series are done and how there are still some writers and creators out there that are far more interested in telling a story than creating a new franchise. In a way, there's always room to hope for more of it and there are avenues to pursue, but I hope that things are simply left as is and Chrono Crusade stands on its own. This is one of the best endings I could hope for this series considering how it changed along the way and its real intentions became much more obvious. Very recommended.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Azmaria's Extra Classes,Chrono Crusade Chronicle, Production sketches,Unused on-air openings for episodes 22 - 24,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

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



Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 15 & 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