Chrono Crusade (2003-2004)
Directed by Yuu Kou

Artistic Value: * * *
Entertainment Value: * * * ½

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In New York City in 1928, Sister Rosette Christopher, a nubile sixteen year old nun with a fondness for skintight habits and powerful firearms, and her colleague, a demon named Chrono, work for the Magdalene Order, an organization dedicated to fighting against the diverse fiends that have emerged to threaten mankind. Unfortunately, one of these devils, Aion, plans to use a group of children, called "Apostles," who have been born with special powers, to reshape the world. What is worse, one of these persons is Joshua, Rosette's own brother.

Yuu Kou's twenty-four part animated television series Chrono Crusade may never provide more than an entertaining diversion, but it does provide that. Actually, it is often exciting and usually visually and emotionally appealing.

Admittedly, the story the director tells is initially fairly episodic, but, in fact, its most enjoyable moments occur towards its beginning. Rossette's personality in the first half of the program is so rambunctious and perky that it is genuinely infectious, and her adventures, most of which involve her and Chrono fighting some demon who is threatening the people of New York, are all filled with weird dangers, thrilling battles, and even with moments of comedy. As the narrative grows darker later in Chrono Crusade, many of these elements are lost. Consequently, while the series becomes more coherent as it moves along, it also becomes less amusing.

Happily, thanks to the presence of a number of recurring themes, the looseness of the story presented in Chrono Crusade's early episodes does not create a sense of disjunction between these and the series' second half since. While the protagonists are engaged in their early fights with different fiends, they uncover one mystery or another and encounter several persons whose lives draw them into Aion's plots. They, for example, rescue Azmaria, one of the children that devil is hoping to use and run into Satella, a witch who is on a personal mission to rid the world of demons. Both of these occurrences, and many others, have implications for what will happen later and so help to tie the program together.

Admittedly, none of the protagonists is given any great depth, but several of them are genuinely likeable. Rosette, in particular, is a joy to watch. She is wonderfully feisty, kind, and slightly unhinged, in an endearing sort of way. Actually, she such a pleasant, entertaining character that she is easily able to carry the series. Chrono is, nevertheless, provided with a number of conflicts that become increasingly important as the narrative progresses, and some of the minor characters are given troubles of their own. None of these are, however, especially affecting.

That said, even if the viewer is not able to involve himself with Rosette or any of her companions, Chrono Crusade contains a sufficient number of mysterious schemes, half-revealed dangers, and fast-paced action sequences that it is likely that he will still find something to entertain him, so long as he can get past the odd embarrassingly contrived or corny moment. The action sequences, most of which involve Rosette, Chrono, or Satella battling some supernatural monster either with their own mystical powers or with firearms, are particularly well choreographed and exciting.

What is more, although it is never stunning, the animation is almost always pleasant to look at. Many of the character designs seem to have been recycled from other programs, but many are appealing, nonetheless. The series' female characters are especially nicely realized. Azmaria is always cute without being saccharine. Satella is so outrageously busty that her frequent jiggling repeatedly puts her in danger of exposing herself, and Rosette is, at once, so adorably vibrant and curvaceously sexy that the viewer cannot but sympathize with her. Fortunately, although the designs of persons and of places do vary in quality, the animation is, for the most part, technically well realized and fluid. Towards the program's end, however, there are times when it deteriorates markedly.

Lastly, I will have to concede that the overwhelming prevalence of Christian themes that not only fill but structure the program can initially be a little tiresome. Happily, the director's version of the religion is so cracked that it bears very little resemblance to that practiced in reality. The viewer is, as a result, not going to get the impression that he is watching a religiously themed program.

I cannot say that Chrono Crusade is anything more than an enjoyable diversion, but it is that. The series is fun, exciting, and often innocently sexy. It is well worth watching.

Review by Keith Allen

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