Le Chevalier D'Eon Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, December 17, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, December 18, 2007
What They Say
After subterfuge and sin, the blood-stained Royal Psalms are returned to France and d’Eon’s mission seems complete. Or is it? For traitors still reveal backstabbing loyalties, royals show their true, shocking identities, and horrible secrets are finally confessed. And, at last, we discover who really killed d’Eon’s sister Lia. And, more shockingly, why? But discovery means many will meet their violent demise in this terrifying saga of justice and judgment. Discover the reasons the time-transcending Le Chevalier d’Eon has become the most critically-acclaimed and frighteningly fascinating animated horror thriller of this—or any—century.
Events draw to a close and the body count only continues to rise during it.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. Both language tracks are done in a 5.1 mix at 448 kbps and sound quite expansive throughout. Dialogue is well placed along the forward soundstage with crisp distinction and the swordplay comes across strongly as well. The series has a lot of quiet moments to it, much of it taking place at night or in dark dank places, which works well with both the echoes that it sometimes creates as well as the way the nights feel so empty. This is a very good sounding mix across the board that's free of dropouts and distortions.
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Production I.G. has managed another great looking show here and the transfer for the most part deals with it well though not without some minor problems. The series in general has a very good solid feel to it with little in the way of noticeable break-up or background noise. This is quite good since the show has a lot of night time scenes as well as the dark gray alleys and buildings of the time, both of which are areas that traditionally look noisy. Colors look good and the few truly vibrant ones really stand out when they come into play. Where the problems tend to show, and I believe this is more of a limitation of both DVD and the source, is that the CG areas tend to have more of a shimmer to them when there are panning motions. This shows up in some character animation as well once in awhile though it is far less noticeable. With the show averaging around 7 mbps and two 5.1 soundtracks encoded at the upper realm, this looks good overall.
Le Chevalier d'Eon continues the way ADV Films is choosing to market their titles in terms of packaging. Unlike the first three volumes, this cover isn't embossed and has changed from the book design to one featuring character artwork of Lia and D'Eon walking in front of a flame filled background. It still maintains the overall design elements but it feels cheaper than what we were getting before and this late in the series release conveys a message that the show simply isn't selling like it was hoped for. The back of the slipcover works in much the same way but without the embossing. The center portion features the summary of the shows premise and a very clear listing of the discs features. Due to the way it's laid out there isn't a technical grid here but it's set up well enough that you can find the information without hunting around too much.
With the keepcase, the front cover uses the Japanese cover artwork but zoomed in slightly. The other change is that the white background is now black which gives it a much darker and more serious feel than the Japanese cover. Unlike other releases from other publishers, the back cover here doesn't mirror the slipcover back side but instead provides four strips of shots from each of the episodes and a fuller listed of the production credits. The technical grid doesn't show here either but it's laid out similar to the slipcover but with a bit more space to work with. Also included with this release is a very slick and informative booklet which covers character designs and details, an interview with Lia's Japanese voice actress, a partial script and some very cute designs of the characters in "super deformed" mode.
The design for the menus works out well in a somewhat understated way as it has the interior wall of some building where the top portion is old and stained while the bottom is more ornate. The top portion has an elaborate frame in the center through which various character shots in painted form rotate through while the bottom portion has the episode selection and other navigation. Overlaid on top of it are some flickering flames and pieces of wood falling from the ceiling which when combined with the somber instrumental music truly sets a good mood. Access times are nice and fast and the layout works quite well for what's here. The player language presets weren’t an issue with our Panasonic player but it defaulted to English language with sign/song subtitles on our PlayStation 3 when we checked out some of the technical bits.
The extras for this volume contain the solid standbys by also brings in something new. The historical notes once again convey a good deal of information and some of the liberties taken and there's also the inclusion of the clean opening and closing sequences. The big new addition is a twenty-four minute video interview piece with the main Japanese voice actors for the series. It was done after the series had completed so everyone had a full perspective on the show and the roundtable discussion was actually quite entertaining. If there are any disappointments with the series in terms of extras, it's that they didn't get to continue the photo shoots for whatever reason. Beyond that, the show has done a good job by providing the historical notes and other pieces along the way, all of which has helped to flesh out the story quite well.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the final four episodes of the series, Le Chevalier D'Eon really cements itself as a series that needs to be watched several times. Though it isn't terribly deep or complicated, it's layered in its approach as to who is doing what and what their real motivations are. As those layers are peeled away as Revolution is about to dawn in France, the truth about the past and what people have done becomes crystal clear and that alters the perceptions of earlier events as we previously saw them. That alone makes it worth revisiting the show from start to end in quicker fashion in order to see how it all really ties together and how subtle some of the deceptions were.
With a series like this, the last episodes are mostly about revelations and big moments that cement everything. The small motions and plots that have permeated the series bear fruit, good and ill, and the effects are quickly realized. Much of the series has been focused in a way on having D'Eon recreate the journeys that his sister had made for the King over the years. Through France and into Russia and then on to England, he saw much of what she saw and began to really learn what she was up to and how she saw the world. The time spent in each of these countries changed his perception of the world and of the changes that are coming, mostly because of how the Americas were heralding a new order. His desire to serve France was trumped only by his desire to avenge his sister but in a way, those two things combined over time.
D'Eon has been forced to shed some of his beliefs about the way of the world but he's also been forced to shed some of his friends as well. With Durand lost to him, events turn even worse now that he's been captured by the Duc d'Orleans and is being told that he must read the Royal Psalms in order to reveal what the country needs. With Teillagory serving the Duc in order to fulfill his vision of what a Knight of France should be like, a pillar of stability in D'Eon's life is removed. What proves more tragic, though not quite as apparent I think, is the realization that even Robin has moved away from the original stated goals and has now aligned himself with Robespierre in his quest for revolution. So much has been done in order to protect France as he knows it, D'Eon has a difficult time taking in what's being talked about as the future and isn't sure where his role in it really should lay.
What is still first and foremost though is to deal with what happened to his sister, and through events that bring him into the presence of King Louis, the truth is finally revealed. The body count is surprisingly high as the final days of the series plays out and seeing so many familiar people return even for a short time, such as Saint-Germane, Queen Marie and Anna, really drives home the impact of what's going on. There are so many players in this game, some of them unaware of their roles, that as everything comes to a head in Versailles it's hard to keep up with it all. Robespierre's plans have turned out surprisingly well all things told, once we learn the truth behind his past with Lia, and even what King Louis has in mind makes a great deal of sense. Understanding what the Royal Psalms contains and how it's going to change in the future really brings the series full circle. Change on a personal level and revolution on a national level, Le Chevalier D'Eon tackles some big topics in a historical context and works wonders. That they did it all with some rather well done supernatural elements only makes it all the more impressive.
Looking at this series as a whole, it's really quite an excellent piece of work. Coming off of the high expectations of something like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Production I.G. wasn't going to really get the kind of recognition that a show like this deserves. The two are so completely different yet similar that it's hard to make it appeal to the same crowd, not that they were trying. The story plays to similar strengths about political upheaval and changes in society but in this time period it's far more personal and engaging. As is said, you can kill dozens of people easily with a bomb or an automatic weapon, but it's not really killing someone until you do it with sword in hand, up close and personal where you can feel it happening. That's what Le Chevalier D'Eon is, an up close and personal story of revolution and change tinged with some fascinating supernatural elements. With what is really one very long story that's tightly written, it succeeds smashingly well in doing what it set out to do. These last episodes really do a wonderful job of giving the series closure and pulling the curtain down on this time period.
As a finale, I couldn't ask for better for this series. While I admit to enjoying watching the number of people who have manipulated events get their due, they aren't the only ones who suffer. And to my surprise, those deaths actually hurt when they occurred since I hadn't realized how strongly I had connected with them. Some of the stories are a bit weaker and could certainly use more time being fleshed out, such as Queen Marie and Lady Pompadour, but as a whole work, Le Chevalier D'Eon succeeds as one of the real gems in the last year. Rich in production values, tightly plotted and wonderfully scripted, it's a show that shines as something that you don't see every day that succeeds in just about every way. This is a series that really deserves to be seen and be on most everyone's shelf. Very highly recommended.
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Historical Notes,Japanese Cast Interview,Clean opening,Clean closing
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: TV 14
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
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