Production IG presents a lavish murder mystery set in the France of old.
What They Say
Paris, 1742. A coffin floats in the shimmering Seine. On the lid, a word written in blood: "Psalms." Inside, the body of a beautiful woman: Lia de Beaumont.
Now her brother, D'Eon, seeks the reason for her mysterious murder and uncovers an evil that casts shadows in both the palaces of kings and the dark alleys of Europe. A power wielded by spell-casting poets and manipulated by royalty. A force so powerful it brings Lia's soul back from beyond to seize the only weapon she can possess to avenge her death - her own brother.
Contains episodes 1-24.
D’eon comes equipped with 5.1 tracks for both the English dub and the original Japanese. I chose to watch the show in English and was, on the whole, very impressed with the work done here. The soundscape is incredibly open- birds chirp in the background along with other light, believable atmospheric touches and when cannons fire, their shots ring out as if they are reverberating throughout the countryside. The latter is assisted by some deep bass which packs more than enough oomph for those who want to shake their floor and annoy their neighbors (especially in the opening and ending credits). Dialogue is always crisp and clear. A virtually perfect track.
D’eon is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Production IG went all-out in their presentation of this show so it’s fortunate that this Funimation release portrays it admirably. The lush environments and colorful costumes are vibrant and the show only seems hazy in scenes that would call for it. D’eon also incorporates a lot of CG work and it’s usually integrated flawlessly but the only real moments to complain of come when some minor noise surrounds the computer-generated objects cast against the painted background. These moments are rare though. Overall, the video presentation is very striking.
The boxset contains five discs inside three slimline cases housed in a decently-sturdy box. The box features a stunning painted image of D’eon and Lia in front of a wall of flame with a skull looming over the scene while the back gives a fair description of the show and a strip of screenshots. The slimlines all feature book-style art with a character shot on the front and the included chapters on the back, each featuring a screenshot. All of the well-designed artwork is appropriate to the material and it’s hard to choose which attractive image to use on the reversible covers inside.
Continuing with the simplistic leather-bound book theme from the slipcases, each disc’s menu’s features direct access to the episodes via large roman numerals printed over the episode titles while the setup and extra options are presented below. Light music accompanies each menu. Access times are fast and it’s always easy to tell what’s selected thanks to bright yellow highlights. Simple yet elegant.
I’ve been impressed by the amount of extras on some Funimation releases in the past, but the quality and quantity of extras here are overwheling. To start off, every disc features in-depth historical notes that give the viewer insight into the real people and places that the story revolves around. (In one commentary, it’s mentioned that someone went to the library to study up on the pertinent history, and if these are her notes, she did a great job.) Speaking of commentaries, there are 9 presented on the first two discs of the show and they present a good mix of light conversation and insight. As if that wasn’t enough, Funimation also included an entire disc of extras that includes the requisite clean opening and ending credits and trailers, a photo gallery and Japanese extras in the form of interviews with the original cast, a promotional video and trailer. Good job, Funimation!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
D’eon De Beaumont is a devout French nobile who swears loyalty to both God and his country. He is even a knight who operates in secret for his king and queen, Louis and Marie Antoinette. D’eon’s life is thrown into shambles when his sister, Lia, who was also in Louis’s employ turns up dead with the word “psalms” etched into her body. Her body was treated so it would not rot, leaving it unnatural in the eyes of the Church so she is not granted funeral rites so her soul can be at peace. Louis grants D’eon’s wish to start tracking those that did this to her in a mission which takes him and three others across France, England and Russia as they uncover a deep-rooted conspiracy by an organization seeking to disrupt the entire world. And they aren’t alone; Lia is constantly with them and surfaces in her brother’s body.
I was unprepared when I started this show for just how authentic Le Chevalier D’eon is to the time and place it portrays. Production IG opted for a more reserved style for the anime that marks it closer to European style and the sensibilities of France pervade every moment of the series’ runtime. The titles of episodes are even scrawled in French underneath the title at the beginning of every show.
This believability extends to the historical aspects of the show. It’s not uncommon for anime (or TV shows) to fictionalize famous historical periods and people. What sets D’eon apart is that these characters (both the fictional and the fictionalized) are set in a living, breathing Europe that is sprinkled with insight into the culture that elevates this murder mystery above the run-of-the-mill pulp story set in a well-known time period. A great example of this spattering of cultural insight comes when one of the nobile characters grimaces at a prostitute but is quickly rebuked a more sage gentleman who tells him that the ‘ladies on the street help keep the women at court chaste.’
Although supernatural elements quickly get infused in the plot, the historically-based characters never get involved in anything too outlandish and the storyline buries itself nicely for those that know the history rather than taking it way off track and leaving the history buffs scratching their heads like some other series that randomly pick people out of history for seemingly no reason other than style. The show also remains grounded with a methodical pace rather than over-the-top action lending the show a far more refined feel.
The European style also shows in the Gothic presentation of the series. Any scholar or student of the traditional Gothic style will tell you that the term has been bastardized over the years to the trend that draws the Hot Topic crowd or the ‘Gothic Lolita’ movement. D’eon gets so many things right in its Gothic presentation that it feels almost as true as one of the original novels that spurred the movement. Religion and architecture all lend to the darker moments of the show and the intimacy of death is shown without delving into melodramatics. The characters are even confronted by ‘gargoyles,’ whch are explained as creatures that the famous statuary are modeled after and are under the control of someone using religious incantations. (Interestingly, all of the spells spouted in the series are presented in the vein of psalms from the Bible. All supernatural elements of the show are tied to religion in similar ways.)
So what of the idea of Lia possessing her younger brother? The first moment of possession throws the audience for a loop since it is certainly the most out-of-the ordinary moment the show has presented at that point and leads the audience into the more stand-out supernatural moments of the plot. It also heralds in more believable drama and tension though. The dramatic moments had left me cold for the first few episodes, but there is a scene after Lia’s first appearance where Marie Antoinette calls Lia forth. The scene fades and we came back to it as D’eon wakes up and is confronted by message left by Lia for her brother: “I am with you.” It is surprisingly touching and unusual to the anime form which is awash in similar situations. D’eon/Lia also run into another character possessed by their sister which leads in the idea that D’eon is slightly worried about losing himself as Lia grows stronger. (This is underscored with slight stylistic choices- D’eon is drawn with a tight mouth as a line while Lia has painted lips. As the series progresses, D’eon develops lips even when Lia is not possessing his body.)
These little attentions to detail are scattered through the show and make it more enjoyable. Panning shots reveals legs on a carriage that shimmy and shake as they ride along the road. Chandeliers feature small digital flames that flicker instead of stationary painted bulbs. The direction of the series is something to behold and it is just as immersive as the satisfying and in-depth plot.
Le Chevalier D’eon is the rare historical show that presents a fictional story that works for both history buffs and those largely ignorant of the events. Intricate design, believable characters and cultural hints are peppered throughout the show and make this anime feel like a product of France rather than Japan. The successful infusion of several genres and the setting make this an easy recommendation for fans of French productions like Vidocq or Brotherhood of the Wolf provided the audience remember the show’s deliberate pace. Funimation has accrued a staggering amount of extras for this release and video and audio are both top-notch. Put simply: Buy this now!
Japanese 5.1 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Multiple Commentaries, Cast Interviews, Clean Opening and Closing Animation, Japanese Promotional Video and Trailer, Japanese Promo Event
37” Olevia 16:9 LCD HDTV, Sony Playstation 3 (upconverted to 720p through HDMI), Yamaha YSP-900 Digital Sound Projector