What They Say:
In New York, 1928, the seals between Earth and Hell are breached. Hold on to your rosary as professional exorcists rage against depravity in this iconic series from the creators of Afro Samurai and Trinity Blood.
Brandishing sacred weaponry, Sister Rosette and her partner Chrono dutifully serve the Magdalene Order, a divine organization that cleans the streets of demonic filth. Their main target: Aion, an indomitable devil raining apocalyptic horrors upon America. A doozy of a devil himself, Chrono’s true powers can only be released at Rosette’s command – draining her own life in exchange. Staring morality straight in the face. This dynamite pair races against time to destroy Aion and restore the balance between good and evil.
This is based on the original release except with one noticeable exception is that we have a 5.1 audio release in English as well as the standard 2.0 stereo release in Japanese. There were no complications of the audio throughout the release and the 5.1 option definitely comes through well with no need to adjust default settings on the audio system I was using. There were no problems with the video synching in with subtitles so definitely acceptable as a DVD release.
The video is different as it is back in its original 4:3 chrome style release so we don’t get full screen HD and it is in the original format of the black bars on either side – and like the original release sadly does suffer from blurring effect when you pause it – it would have been nice for an updated version (if possible) but this is pretty much a re-release from the original ADV Films release that did get one in the UK (I think it was 2005 when it came to the UK originally) so in that regards, disappointed – the show still works well as the gritty 1920s New York/San Francisco shots combined with some of the more colourful scenes do still work in today’s shows and market, just at times you may have to get closer to the screen…
There was no packing for this test release.
The menu is pretty basic – each disc (4 in total) has an image of some of the characters, disc 1 has Chrono and Rosette for example in a trademark pose with the selections being Play All, Episodes, Set Up and Extras on discs 1, 2 and 4. All are easily maneuverable and selectable, in a standard font with the pocket watch in one of the Os in Chrono. It can return to the main menu via the show easily as well, so standard but workable.
There are quite a number of extras here, and I pretty much remember most of them from the original releases so this is quite a bit of nostalgia when you consider the actors involved.
On disc 1, we have a dub commentary featuring two of my favourite dub voice actors back when I was starting into anime – along with director Matt Greenfield, we have Hilary Haag (Rosette) and Greg Ayres (Chrono). They talk about a lot of things, ranging from the serious as they talk about what a period piece it is (what slang/words to use) to wondering if Rosette is the sexiest character Hilary has ever voiced ^^ – They talk about how the time period used affected their voices, inspiration of the voices (Greg doing a very distinct voice as the bigger Chrno), look of the show, how the foley has affects in a show like this, cartoon vs. dark, comedy vs. serious, dark vs. comic relief, etc – it is definitely a hybrid of things that is discussed.
On disc 2 we have a commentary involving Matt with yet another favourite of mine, Chris Patton (Joshua) – very similar speaking to Chris although it is focused on how his voice was affected due to the amount of screaming he had to do, the points of voice acting you never realized had to work within the booth, and quite a few booth stories (glad I remembered that he and Monica Rial always like to pick on each other…)
The other big extra is on the 4th disc, with Azmaria’s Extra Classes. I believe these were on one at a time in the original releases (7 discs) but here all on one. They are special tid-bits that Azmaria (both in English and Japanese) explains to the viewers – these range from the historical time period (1920s, World War I ended and what the development was like in America, the creation of Fords, mail order, Prohibition act, Great Depression) to the anime specific stuff (Magdlene Order, the weapons, the jewels) to the religious aspects (devil worshippers, seven deadly sins, Mary of Magdalene, stigma, Lucifer/Pandemonium) – these basically fill in the blanks for the viewers whilst an adorable chibi-Azmaria explains.
We have some traditional extras as well – the clean opening and ending, and some trailers for Rideback, Gai-Rei-Zero, Excel Saga, El Cazador De La Bruja, Dragon Ball Z, FLCL, Soul Eater and Hero Tales, as well as some unused openings and some Japanese original openings (unused for episodes 21-24, Japanese originals for episodes 1-5) which showcase more the focus on the specific episodes and clips from said episodes.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Chrono Crusade is one of quite a few attempts of bringing back classics at a decent price (look soon for the Peacemaker Kurogane review) – aired in Japan in 2003, this was when the ADV boom was in its stride as even the UK got releases not far after the US release as pretty sure the UK release of CC came in 2004/2005 time. I owned the series so it is good in the memory of me – the question is does it hold well in today’s market?
The short answer is yes – in fact it could definitely be superior to a lot in today’s market, but the long answer? Read below.
Set in New York during the 1920s, the show took a lot of facts and fiction – combined them into a mythical religious/demonic/buddy story/romance hybrid with some added extras (the commentaries make mention of the lingo used and how they went to keep it up) with some surprising back-story and action and whilst it does take a different route from the manga (and argue has a more downer ending) it still works completely.
We start with our two main characters – Rosette Christopher, a member of the Magdalene Order in training – spunky, beautiful, has an attitude, she is a competent, albeit reckless member of the Order who has her partner…perhaps the most unlikely of one’s…a demon named Chrono. Whilst his story soon gets expanded, he is quite the opposite of what you’d imagine a demon to be. Short, handsome (cute could be a better word), he’s almost Rosette’s caretaker yet as a demon, the head (Sister Kate) has concerns whilst a fellow officer Father Remington seems to be fine with it, though also has his issues.
The first episode is quite comical, as the two fluff a mission but then get asked by the perverted Elder to try out a new weapon of theirs, which they use to success (albeit with some destruction of property…kind of Rosette’s MO for the time being)…
So their job is to hunt down rogue demons for the most part, but clearly there is more to that. The first major issue is when Rosette gets hurt, Chrono goes ballistic and seems ready to transform into something more demonic…yet she calms him down to avoid this. It’s here we also learn of her brother Joshua, who seems to think someone else is his sister…and is being taken care of by the big bad of the series, the demon Aion, a former buddy of Chronos…
We get their first teammate as well, a young girl named Azmaria who is an ‘Apostle’ who can heal with her singing – unfortunately demons are aware of that and have kidnapped her – it’s here we properly see Chrono’s full power…but at the cost that it is bound by his contract with Rosette – in other words, draining her soul. To quote Rosette herself, she says ‘I probably won’t live past 30’ which immediately sends alarm bells for this series…
Rosette learns that she can work on her own investigations as part of the militia (mainly to find Joshua) so she successfully joins them and this clashes with the other main character, a beautiful German lady named Satella, a member of a jewel summoner family (who also looks like who Joshua thinks is his sister…hmm…curioser and curioser) – the two initially clash because Satella hates demons but she and Rosette are surprisingly similar as they are both hot-headed yet caring and looking for a lost sibling. The 4 of them become closer throughout the series as they help each other out intentionally or not, as Rosette fights other demons to try and find Joshua…
We learn of the back-story of both Chrono, Rosette and Joshua – how the two became partners and how utterly tragic it was when Joshua unleashed his own powers as Aion is looking for the apostles to cement their power to take over the world into his own demonic strata…unaware other demons aren’t quite happy with what he is planning…
There are some fun moments – Azmaria having her first Xmas whilst Chrono and Rosette exchange gifts (and showcase that there is some attraction between the two as well), they go to a festival when things are a bit down and the episode when Chrono gets sick and Satella saves them but it goes back to serious as they fight Aion’s minions and lackeys as well as getting surprising allies from renegade demons like Duke Duffau, the duke of Pandemonium (a.k.a. Lucifer) to do an alliance to fight Aion who they classify as true sinners (Aion wants a world where desire is sinless – his plan is basically to get the Apostle, the head of Pandemonium together with one other element…) whilst Rosette suddenly gets stigmata marks all over here…making her have the power of an apostle, and something Aion mentioned about being a Mary of Magdelene suddenly becomes full circle..
Lots of action happens as Satella is nearly kidnapped by Aion (and learn more of her family), fights between the two demon pacts occur, Rosette meeting Joshua, (who doesn’t recognise Rosette due to Aion’s manipulation) Satella finding her sister Fiore (who doesn’t remember she is her sister and believes herself to be Joshuas’ sister via Aion’s manipulation…he truly is a magnificent bastard) – and then all hell brings loose. Azmaria is captured, Chrono is shot, the ritual of atonement is done, and Rosette is captured by Aion to be transformed into Mary of Magdalene…
After some heated battles, some rescues are happened (Azmaria) and a lot of confusion (Satella over Fiore) – here we learn of Chrono’s true past and his relationship with the real Mary of Magdelene…who stunningly looks like Rosette – we see how Aion came to be, how Mary’s truths were the truth and how she gave Chrono the timepiece that Rosette now has. With the other demons now defeated by Aion and Joshua losing his memory, it’s all up to Chrono.
Chrono is set up to fight Aion thanks to the Elder, Satella joining him whilst Aion manipulates the world as he is the holy one and Chrono is a sinner – in the midst of this, Satella and Fiore fight…which is the first of many tearjerkers in these last couple of episodes. Chrono finds Rosette who ‘blames’ Chrono for what has happened to her life but he does manage to break her out of it, and also defeat Aion…however at quite a cost. This leads to the final episode that Rosette and Chrono vanished after the fight, with Joshua amnesiac but healthy, Azmaria singing for the orphans but still trying to find her friends along with Remington – and when they discover them…oh boy. And even that isn’t the worst as the prophecies forecast right at the start of the series continue and it feels like…did they even win? It’s a bit of a downer…
Chrono Crusade is one of those shows that subtly does character development in the midst of high action scenes and even a bit of comedy and romance here and there. Rosette at first seems like the typical tsundere anime heroine – a bit hot-tempered and takes it out on her male counterpart, however this isn’t the case – in fact the two are much more comical at times (an episode where Rosette is finding Azmaria she is wearing a rather revealing china dress which Chrono has to stare and get embarrassed…she doesn’t get violent, instead is quite teasing to him) – you add that with her issues with Joshua and Aion, and her infectious charisma (Azmaria, Sister Kate and Satelia all pretty much get drawn to her) make her very likeable and very developed.
Chrono as well hits the mark as the secondary lead – you learn bits about his contract with Rosette and the fact he has to drain her life every time he has to go badass mode, but when you learn his back-story with the original Mary of Magdelene, you see what he has to get through and brings you the idea of angels vs. demons full hardy. The other leads aren’t as developed but Satella does get her moments with Fiore and Aion, and Azmaria as someone who wants to be like Rosette has that chipper attitude despite everything that has gone on. And with Aion as a totally fantastic villain as one who is just so forth planning, it really can chill your spine.
The ending will also bring some tears for you, and with the gritty animation throughout combined with an ahead of its time dub, it’s still holds water today. If I would say any weaknesses with it bar not as much development on a few characters (Remington was interesting but his arc just flew by, Azmaria had potential but seemed to downgrade to token cute girl sidekick, and the other demons had moments but not enough screen time, even Joshua and Fiore are quite downplayed despite their relationships with the main characters), it would be that some stories were too short and some were too long despite their connections to Aion and could have built much more about the Apostles for example or the story of Pandemonium. However, these are nitpicks as the series is still a recommended one even today, and if you didn’t see it when it originally came out, it is in a nice cheap package now, so give it a shot.
Chrono Crusade came out when the UK saw a small boom in anime releases in the UK – however instead of £17.99 per DVD you now get that for the complete collection so it is definitely worth the hunt. Chrono and Rosette are a great duo who have moments of comedy, romance and tragedy all in one, and with a great villain and fun albeit not as developed side characters, this holy story will have you clinging for the action, awing at the back-story and then crying at the ending. Definitely one that has aged like a fine wine and perhaps gotten better over time.
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A-
Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: December 18th, 2017
Running Time: 600 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.