Nuns with guns, conjurers up a few images doesn't it? Usually of late night movie oddities and exploitation cinema, or for the anime fan one of them might be this 2003 series from studio Gonzo. Originally released in the early 2000's by ADV (hands up who remembers them), and long out of print, this new DVD only release comes courtesy of Anime Limited. So, is this older show a lost classic or should we pray for it to be condemned back into obscurity?
Sister Rosette Christopher is a member of the Order of Magdalene: an elite, highly trained, group of nuns and priests dedicated to hunting down demons and protecting the innocent. All this set in the world of 1920s New York. Rosette is rather unique, even among the gun toting sisters, and her partner is an honest to god Demon called Chrono. This is something that does not sit well with the rest of the Order. Together they make quite an effective team, however both of them have more invested in their demon fighting duties than is apparent at first. Tied into this is the strange device Rosette wears around her neck, and the unbearably smug demon Aion. To discuss any more of the plot would stray into spoiler territory, and this is a series that works best if you go in knowing as little as possible about the story. While saying that, it doesn't mean the story is worth following…
Chrono Crusade is run of the mill, middle of the road, it’s okay. This review was more than a little challenging to write due to this, it’s difficult to be critical of something that has no real flashes of brilliance or true awfulness to make you fall one way or the other on it. For most of the runtime it’s entertaining enough, though at times it can be a bit of a chore to sit through. I suppose the best thing I can say is that it kept my interest enough to see it through to the end, and what an ending it is. Chrono Crusade sticks to its guns once its main plot is established, it pushes the cast into dark places and follows that through to the logical conclusion. There are no 'power of friendship saves us all' or last minute reset buttons, the writing is on the wall early on and the writers deserve kudos for refusing to change things for an audience pleasing finish.
The cast are a somewhat rote bunch with only Rosette, Chrono and Satella Harvenhiet getting any real character development. Rosette is the nominal lead of the series (to the point where you wonder why it’s called Chrono Crusade), and she’s a feisty, capable, ass-kicker who deserves better from the show. Chrono is just sort of there most of the time, he only gets some, rather dull, development near the end of the series’ run. And he spends the majority of the action scenes standing around watching Rosette kill the demon of the week. Satella is fun enough, a snarky German redhead voiced by the legendary Tiffany Grant in the dub (meta casting alert there) and her small arc is interesting, if rather out of the blue. The only other character worth mentioning is Azmaria, if only to say how terrible she is. Replacing her with an inanimate object would make no difference to the plot, and this is made worse by the fact that everybody loves her and tells her how wonderful she is. She’s not folks, she really is not.
The animation is-run of the mill for its time, with it being perfectly functional most of the time. The animators do a decent job with the look of the 1920's setting, they perhaps went too heavy on the fog in some of the outdoor sections. Speaking of issues, the review disks I received seem to contain an audio problem. Any scene with a character speaking off-screen sounds like they are conversing from the end of a long corridor, which lead to me needing to crank up the volume to avoid missing vital plot points.
Contains both the English dub and the original Japanese track with English subtitles. On-disc extras: Episode 1 & 10 Commentaries, Azmaria's Extra Classes shorts, Original On-Air Openings for episodes 1-5, Unused Opening for Episodes 21-24, Textless Opening & Closing title sequences.