Le Chevalier D'Eon Vol. #2 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Dani Moure
Review Date: Thursday, July 19, 2007
Release Date: Monday, July 16, 2007

What They Say
Created by Tow Ubukata (Pilgrim Jager) and produced by Production I.G. (Otogi Zoshi, Ghost In The Shell), the supernatural anime series Le Chevalier D'Eon is a masterful fictionalization of the real life Charles d'Eon de Beaumont, a diplomat, writer, spy, and Freemason known as one of the best swordsmen in France, whose true gender was a source of speculation well into the late 18th century.

The anime series is set in the years immediately prior to the Revolution, when women in Paris begin disappearing-including D'Eon's beautiful sister, Lia. D'Eon is determined to catch her killer, and along the way he's mysteriously transformed into the spitting image of Lia. D'Eon moves back and forth between both identities, and becomes embroiled in a web of murderous intrigues.

The Review!
With four more episodes the mysteries deepen and Le Chevalier D'Eon just gets better.

For this volume, I decided to listen to the English 5.1 mix for my main viewing. From a technical standpoint it's excellent. Dialogue this time flows more around the speakers (though the majority does still come from the centre as you'd expect), and the music and effects are extremely immersive. I didn't notice any technical problems with the track. A word for the English dub, too, because it's exceptional. Without a doubt, it's one of the best dubs I've heard. The performances are all spot on and keep you involved in the show and its setting, and dialogue flows so fluidly it's unreal, especially considering how close it sticks to the Japanese track.

I also checked out the Japanese 5.1 track, and there were no problems I could see with dropouts or distortions, and it had the same qualities as the English mix.

With this being such a recent show, having only aired last year, you'd expect it to look great, and it doesn't disappoint. Presented in anamorphic widescreen, the show looks extremely vibrant with the French backdrop providing some rich colours, and it's all reproduced with no noticeable artifacting (at least on my setup) even during the darker, night time scenes. The whole package just comes across very well, including some nicer than usual credit placement during the ending.

Subtitles are in a nice yellow font (ADV's usual), and I didn't notice any grammatical or spelling errors.

Differing from the US release, we don't get a slipcover but we do get a really nice cover this time featuring Robin, Teillagory and Durand, with a nice grey-ish toned background. The series logo is at the bottom, using the Japanese logo more prominently with the English subtitle. The volume number is in the top-right, and listed on the spine. The back cover is nicely laid out with some screenshots, a description of the show and then some feature listings and credits. ADV UK's usual technical information boxes are at the bottom. The reverse cover also has information inside, with character art for Robin and Durand.

Also included is a lovely little book with all sorts of information on the series, from character art to interviews with the staff and even a mini-scene in script form. It really adds to the great production values already present for the series. The packaging really does exude a bit of class.

The menus are simple but work well. The main menu has a wall image at the top with a picture frame containing a revolving picture of the cast of characters. The bottom half is like the fireplace, with flames covering either side, and the episode selection and sub-menu links. A piece of music from the show plays over this screen. The two sub-menus are both static, in the same theme and with music playing. In fact the extras menu has the opening theme playing over it. The menu system is functional and really in-theme with the show.

The extras continue to show how much effort ADV have put into the show. The first extra is another excellent, extensive set of historical notes that really help expand the setting of this world and what was going on in it at the time of the show. I was actually quite astounded when I looked at them at how in-depth they are. We also get a photo shoot in video form featuring David Matranga (d'Eon) and Taylor Hanna (Lia) showcasing some costumes from the time period.

There are also two commentaries, one with the men from the show and the other with the women, both providing snippets of information. Then there's a Japanese promotional event video that features some of the staff that runs about 17 minutes, and the usual clean opening and ending.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first volume of Le Chevalier D'Eon did a fantastic job of introducing a grandiose setting, intriguing story and some really interesting characters. Coming off such a strong debut, you can't help but wonder if the second volume will manage to keep up the pace in the same way. Well, thankfully, the people behind the series have done a remarkable job and have managed to make the series more and more interesting with each passing volume.

Vorontsov, and the surrounding chase, form the focal point of the episodes on this disc, and it's confession time so the group of d'Eon, Durand, Robin and Teillagory decide they'll crash his and confront him there and then. Things don't quite go to plan though, and after d'Eon has a nice moment with Anna in which he realises that he is not alone because he has her, he comes face to face with Vorontsov himself in the middle of the street. Face to face with the man they've been chasing, he falters somewhat and the Russian escapes.

This all leads to the series' latest twist; King Louis offers the group the assignment of going off to Russia to track down Vorontsov and uncover his true motives, since he has now fled France. After a bit of internal deliberation, all four agree and go off on their way. Things don't go quite as well as they would've hoped though, and they are ambushed several times on their journey. But eventually they reach Russia, and decide it's time to book an audience with the Empress.

It's actually really hard to talk about these episodes without giving away too much; the series has so many nice little twists and turns that it'd just be a shame to spoil them. But it's safe to say that there are some outstanding moments both in terms of characters and story scattered throughout the four episodes.

Anna gets a chance to feel a little appreciated by d'Eon, who, finally with a little bit of prodding, realises that although he doesn't have his sister anymore he does have someone who cares for him a great deal. His showdown with Vorontsov is very cautious, but some of his plays towards the end of the disc, particularly the nail-biting face to face with Empress Elizaveta of Russia, show how much he has matured in a short space of time. He is also beginning to come to terms with Lia inhabiting his body and is starting to embrace her presence (of course it helps that everyone else talks of the five of them, instead of four).

It's not just all focussed on d'Eon though. Durand and Teillagory get a few nice moments as the group prepares to depart for Russia, and Durand as always shows off his more charming, lady-killing side. We also get to see him visit Lia, and his feelings for her really seem genuine. Robin has an opportunity to learn some more from Queen Marie, who continues to talk to Belle, the random head, and knows a lot about the psalms and some of the more darker aspects of the world. Probably my favourite moment with the supporting cast comes from Louis when he visits the Duc D'Orleans. Their face-off is so well played out and is just one of a number of superb moments on the disc.

Story-wise, the series is really moving along. The darker and more sinister aspects of the series are starting to come to the fore, with some of the recurring characters showing their allegiances (usually on the opposing side of d'Eon and the gang). Madame Pompadour makes her play here and we get to see her true intentions, and the new characters of Conte de Cagliostro and Lorenzia make an immediate impact.

Like the first volume, the production values of this show continue to be of the highest calibre. While there are a number of more intimate moments that are well-animated, as well as some great action, the stand-out scenes continue to be the heavy-hitting fight scenes. The memorable one here is of course the showdown between the group and the gargoyles on their journey to Russia " it really is a joy to behold. When combined with the classy music and excellently styled production designs, the series really does just ooze quality. It's hard to think of anything that really goes against it, and that's no mean feat a third of the way in.

In Summary:
Le Chevalier D'Eon is arguably the best series on UK release at the moment. With fantastic animation and character designs, believably recreating France of old, a tightly plotted story and well-developed characters, it's a real winner. It's one of the few shows that manages to give me chills every time I watch it; it's so easy to get absorbed into the world and what is going on, and develop a real attachment to the characters. Quite simply, Chevalier is a masterpiece in the making. If they can keep up the quality for the rest of the series, the show will easily rank alongside anime's finest offerings.

Japanese Language (5.1),English Language (5.1),English Subtitles,Historical Notes,Commentaries,Japanese Promotional Video,Clean Opening and Closing

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.

Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A
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: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Le Chevalier d'Eon