Le Chevalier D'Eon Vol. #2 (also w/box) - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • 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

Le Chevalier D'Eon Vol. #2 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     April 11, 2007
Release Date: April 17, 2007

Le Chevalier D'Eon Vol. #2 (also w/box)
© ADV Films

What They Say
Searching for clues to her murder, D'Eon discovers his sister's life in the King's court was more than jeweled gowns and priceless perfumes. It involved dark sorcerers, manipulative royals, and a violet-eyed vixen whose dangerous power turns innocent mongrels into slobbering, rabid monsters. D'Eon and his comrades slip from Versailles to Russia, seeking an emperor who appears to control magic-wielding followers. And serving a queen who seems far too pleased to have Lia's spirit possess her brother's body. A tormented beauty's soul that is not resting in peace, but is alive and well "and looking for vengeance.

The Review!
Having failed in their initial mission, d'Eon and his companions find themselves facing a new challenge with their lives at stake.

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. We've seen a number of new series with foil covers but this title is one of the first that I've seen from them that has a cardboard slipcover over it. Designed to look like a dark leather, it features some good gold embossing on top of it to give it a very European and historical feel. In the center it provides both a small portion of the character artwork and a nicely stylized logo with the volume number. 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 the series writer, a partial script as well as a breakdown of a couple of scenes.

The disc+box edition of this series mirrors the slipcover style in that the heavy chipboard box has some really elegant designs to it. The focus on character artwork is fairly minimal as there are small pieces on the three main sides of the box but that's about it. The background uses the same as the slipcovers and has some nicely ornate gold embossing throughout it. There is a good deal of green throughout this as well that gives it a very high class feeling. This box stands out strongly in comparison to boxes that just slap character artwork on it and a logo. Similar to most other ADV Films boxes, there are no pack-ins or bonuses to be found here.

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 first volume had some good extras and this one continues with that. The historical notes make a return here and once again appear to be well researched and cover a variety of things that help to flesh out the shows origins even more. A pair of commentary tracks are included as well. One deals with the swordsmen of the show talking about their experiences while the other tackles the royal women. A promo event from Japan is included which runs about 17 minutes. This a neat piece if just for the opening alone with the dolls and outfits on display. The Q&A session is amusing in how they have to answer things as well. Rounding things out are the clean versions of the opening and ending.

There is one extra worth mentioning here separately that appears to be coming up on at least another volume. With Steven Foster being behind the English language production for this series, it seems inevitable that it will have some sort of photo shoot attached to it. I loved the one he did for Steel Angel Kurumi years ago. I've enjoyed most of what he's done with the voice actors in terms of making them both accessible to the audience and elevating their innate beauty. For this one, called Crossed Swords, voice actors are paired up and are photographed in a setting related to the show in drag. The first ones to do this are Taylor Hannah and David Matranga. Taylor looks great with her serious look as she takes on the proper suit and disrobes throughout it. David, in the words of the great Wayne's World, simply makes me feel funny. Though his initial images in the red dress aren't the best (come on man, remove the arm hair!), as he begins to shrug off the top half of the dress it really works quite well. With both of them in the same shot it becomes a very good piece of work. I'm looking forward to seeing more of this.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Le Chevalier d'Eon builds upon what has come before in its first volume by not resting on its laurels. Many series tend to suffer from a bit of a sophomore slump as the second volume focuses more on either introducing new character or trying to do some simple routines to make the existing ones more familiar. With Chevalier, the show is far more intent on pushing its storyline forward and making progress.

With their mission having failed in the previous volume, d'Eon and his crew find themselves in the unenviable position of figuring out what to do next. They have little choice in it though as Comte Saint-Germain has already made that decision by offering them the mission of heading to Russia in order to find the man that escaped their clutches. Of course, this choice is something of an easy one as they have been dismissed as members of Le Secret de Roi which means that not taking the mission will see them either imprisoned for life or simply executed. d'Eon isn't sure what's really going on here in terms of the political implications of how Saint-Germain is working this but what is clear to him is that he has a chance to finish the original mission as well as getting to Russia.

In a way, Chevalier could turn into a rather bad show at this point because the remainder of the volume is essentially a road trip. With d'Eon and his comrades now out on the road on their way to Russia, it could take quite a bit of time to get there and it could lose a lot of its momentum. Knowing this, it not only shortens the time involved fairly well yet still makes it exciting to watch. Great little nuggets are brought into it as they travel, such as the cathedral that's six hundred years in the making, which gives someone like the Master a reason to talk about coming back from the mission. Their trip isn't one without danger either as the forces opposing them have Conte Cagliostro hunting them down like foxes across the countries that they're traveling through.

The political side of the series continues to have some really interesting moments to it as well. As the core group travels to Russia, we see various little strategies going on that begin to setup some larger things. Cagliostro's attempts to hunt d'Eon and the others runs into some trouble while in Russia that sets a potential confrontation in the works. Saint-Germain's ploys are slow and subtle but you can see him moving the pieces where he wants them to be. The queen herself with the little skull she carries around is alternating between hilarious and creepy but engaging. Though the main focus continues to be on d'Eon, the background motivations and plots are what keeps this moving along so well as it lets the larger story build up around them.

In Summary:
Le Chevalier d'Eon doesn't exactly lose its momentum from the first volume but it rather redirects here in an interesting way. With it being a bit of a travel show for a bit we do get to know some of these characters better as the larger plot elements play out in the various countries. The show begins a massive up tick in the last episode though as the group arrives in Russia and we begin to see what Empress Elizaveta is all about. The show is a beautiful piece of eye-candy but it's also one that has some great pacing, plotting and moments that make you tense as you wonder what will happen next. Le Chevalier d'Eon doesn't fall into the usual storytelling techniques that anime and manga series use but rather continues to be something that rises above all of that. It's simply one of the best shows out there right now.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Historical notes,Crossed Swords and Cross-Dressing: A Photographic Profile, Conversations with Knights: Commentary with the Swordsman of Le Chevalier,The Royal Mystique: Commentary with the Royal Women of Le Chevalier,Japanese Le Chevalier promotional event,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 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.


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