Le Chevalier d'Eon Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, May 14, 2007
Release Date: Saturday, June 30, 2007
Writer/Artist:Tou Ubukata / Kiriko Yumeji
Translated by:Ikoi Hiroe
Adapted by:Ikoi Hiroe
What They Say
A mysterious cult is sacrificing beautiful young women to a demonic force that has promised them the Kingdom of France in return for the blood of their victims. Only one man can save Paris from chaos and terror: the Chevalier d'Eon!
It‚€™s not often that I give a series an A for content right out of the gate, but this historically tainted story provides action, mystery, and powerful art in spades.
This volume‚€™s cover shows Lia, Chevalier Sphinx, wielding her sword, which wraps around to the back cover. The background is white with gray text, which really makes the Lia leap out from the page. The printing is solid from start to finish, with no faded pages that sometimes plagues Del Rey releases. There are a lot of extras, including four pages of dialogue between d‚€™Eon and Robin about historical facts, letters from both the author and artist, extensive translation notes dealing with both the French and Latin language aspects of this story, and finally a Japanese language preview of volume two.
The art has a definite flair with lots of rough, heavy lines and detail-laden characters, giving the art an overall sketchbook appearance. A lot of effort went into drawing heavily detailed character‚€™s, hair and clothing especially, but relatively little into their eye detail. The panel layout is varied and designed to fit different situations. During calm scenes, the panels are very square with a cinematic flow, but then switch to odd shaped rectangles of varying sizes during action scenes. This gives the action a real sense of motion along with heavy usage of speed lines. The long limbs of the characters during battles reminds me somewhat of Kohta Hirano‚€™s art style in Hellsing. There are also many wonderful one and two-page panels, but sometimes the characters seem somewhat disproportioned. There are also quite a few grisly/bloody horror scenes, which readers afraid of dismemberment might want to avoid.
The text read quite well, as manga with stories based in Europe or America tend to. There was only a single line that made me stop to consider the way it was written, otherwise everything else seemed plausible for that timeframe. Well, maybe ‚€˜batshit crazy‚€™ wasn‚€™t necessarily used in that era, but it made me laugh. Many French words and some honorifics are in place. Like all Del Rey releases, the original SFX remain with smaller English translations along side.
Contents: (Oh yes, there may be spoilers)
Most of the characters in this story are real historical people, just twisted into positions and personalities to make a plot. As crazy as a 18th century transvestite may sound, d‚€™Eon did live around this time in history and he was a spy for the monarchy. So the author took these characters and created a world where France is being threatened by revolutionaries (also historically based) and a mysterious occult group that draws it‚€™s powers from killing virgins in order to create ‚€˜Psalms‚€™ (I don‚€™t remember this from history class). These men call themselves ‚€˜Poets‚€™ and they use the blood of virgins to write the verses of their poems, or Psalms. There seems to be an individual behind the scenes pulling the Poets strings and as the Poets continue to write Psalms, their bodies begin to transfigure into grotesque snake-like creatures. Yumeji‚€™s art really shines when it comes to depicting the monsters.
So far, this volume introduces d‚€™Eon, his attendant, the young Robin, and his chess-playing cat, Nell (seems to be able to turn into some kind of demon). D‚€™Eon is a very capable secret agent but as a policeman he leaves much to be desired. His whole ploy is to play stupid in front of his police chief, which makes him look like a useless oaf and ultimately frees up his time to work in secret. This is rather easy for d‚€™Eon since the chief often punishes him with dreary work that he can put off. This volume also establishes d‚€™Eon‚€™s relationship with the King. The whole reason behind what the Poets are doing remains a mystery. However, the King‚€™s interest in stopping them relates to both his sense of duty to his people to stop the killings and the affliction affecting his daughter. The King‚€™s daughter, Sophie, has been struck nearly mute since the killings began. Now the only word she says is ‚€˜Palms‚€™ and verses from the Poets have been appearing on her body like tattoos, only flipped like a printing press. With each new poet‚€™s appearance, more verses appear on Sophie‚€™s body. She is very cute and infatuated with d‚€™Eon, and even though she can no longer speak, she does know things about the poets and spells out riddles with letter blocks to help d‚€™Eon and Lia track down the Poets.
This volume jumps right into the story with plenty of well-rendered fight scenes and promises to continue at a steady pace. Overall, I really enjoyed this volume and for those that enjoyed the anime adaptation, I strongly recommend picking up the manga too. It seems Ubukata initiated the Chevalier story as a manga and then eventually ended up working on the stories for the novel and anime. Even though the protagonist stays the same for each incarnation, the ultimate direction for each is quite different (there is a great interview with Ubukata in the Aug 2007 issue of Otaku USA ).
The manga has a much different feel with d‚€™Eon working as a policeman in a standard police uniform and so far many of the characters in the ‚€˜3 Musketeer-like‚€™ anime are absent. D‚€™Eon‚€™s personality is also a little different and he is much closer to the King. So both the anime and manga have the same plot and main characters, but go about telling the story in noticeably different ways and are both worth picking up.
Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 17 & Up
Released By: Del Rey
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Le Chevalier D'Eon