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[R1 DVD box art]
AKA: シュヴァリエ (Chevalier)
Genre: Historical fantasy action / drama
Length: Television series, 24 episodes, 25 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed and distributed by FUNimation; out-of-stock DVD from ADV Films
Content Rating: 16+ (violence, suggestive themes, mild nudity)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Gankutsuou, The Count of Monte Christo
Notes: Based on the manga written by Tou Ubukata and illustrated by Kiriko Yumeji, itself loosely based on the life of Chevalier d'Eon (1728-1810), a French historical figure who lived the first half of his life as a man and the second as a woman. It currently runs in Kodansha's seinen magazine Magazine Z, and is available in North America via Del-Rey Books.

The YouTube link provided at the end of the review works for residence in the United States and Canada. Unfortunately, it might not work for some of our international readers. Sorry.
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars
 

Le Chevalier D'Eon

Synopsis

The time period: mid-18th century, pre-Revolutionary France. When his older sister Lia is killed, Charles d'Eon de Beaumont (usually just called d'Eon) puts it upon himself to find her killer. His only clue is the word "Psalm" on her coffin, which he finds floating in Paris' Seins River after her death. His journey shortly after takes him to Russia where, along with three others, he seeks to find out the truth behind his sister's death, just one of many that has happened recently in Paris. Things get especially interesting when d'Eon is periodically possessed by Lia's soul in the heat of battle..


Review

It's been officially a decade since I started watching anime as a serious hobby. In all that time, it's kind of interesting to note and look back at how many "historical" anime I've seen. Upon further insight, the number is actually quite small. It's not a genre I'm typically up to date with. As such, Le Chavlier D'Eon is just about as far from the usual series I review here on this site as possible. Loosely based on the events of Chevalier d'Eon and other historical figures from 18th century Europe, it tells a long, detailed journey of a murder mystery that leads into much more over the course of twenty-four episodes.

Leading the series is d'Eon and the mystery involving the death of his sister Lia. This journey leads up from Paris, France to Russia, where a good chunk of the rest of the series takes place. One thing I particularly liked is that unlike a lot some anime, Le Cheavlier D'Eon never loses focus on the lead. Near anything that in the series involves d'Eon or his sister somehow. Speaking of his sister, I kind of like how Production IG chose to explain the circumstances that led to Lia's life up to her death across the series - it gives the viewer the incentive to keep on watching to find out what happened. It also wraps up quite nicely with the final scenes of the series, which leads d'Eon back to where he started from, showing how much had changes since he started back in episode one.

Joining d'Eon on his journey are three other men. First is young prodigy Robin, who fights with a pistol as opposed to a sword like his comrades. The series makes the obligatory jokes about him being a child (one of the rare recurring jokes in the series), but they never overdo it. Main character #3 is Durande, a competent though fairly suspicious swordsman who wields both a rapier and main-gauche in battle. Lastly we have the oldest of the group, veteran knight Teillagory, who himself taught d'Eon and Lia how to fence. The quartet, dubbed "The Four Musketeers", are a decent cast of characters that compliment each other well. Despite some hardships, they get along well and look out for each other like good friends do.

Another acquaintance of d'Eon's is Anna, his cute fiancee / obligatory childhood friend. After he leaves, she mainly serves as a narrator and talking transition scene between the events going on with D'Eon in Russia and Anna and Queen Maria back in France. (The latter who holds a talking skull head with her with the voice of a little girl. Yeah..)

We also have a set of antagonists in this series as well. Known as Poets, they posses the power of the Psalms, fragments of words tingled with spiritual power based on the similar-named readings from the Bible. They can easily kill/control a person just with words, as we see quite often in the series. Most noticeable among these users is Maximilien Roberspierre (loosely based on the historical figure of the same name), a French Poet with connections to the Psalms, as well as Lia's past. Two other antagonists include Count Cagliostro, who doesn't use Psalms but sees how powerful they are, fancying liquor instead, and his teenage partner Lorenza, who does use them (and she isn't afraid to kill people with them when the need arises, either). They are several other antagonists (including Pyotr), but most of them either do not stay around long or live long.

And mind you, those seven characters barely make up half or so of the recurring cast in the series!

Despite the intimidating size cast, Le Chevalier D'Eon succeeds in keeping its audience interested with its story. Though if I had any criticism to give Le Chevalier D'Eon, it would be that it's a very wordy series. A lot of dialogue goes on across twenty-four episodes, and over 30+ times during the series I found myself pausing my DVD player to to backtrack to what was being said. If there's one anime that benefits from an English dub to help clarify what the characters are saying, Le Chevalier D'Eon is it. Be sure to keep a list of character names and/or Wikipedia open, because you might be needing it!

Le Chavlier d'Eon is a decently animated series, though the awkward character designs in screenshots or promo art won't help convince you of that. Although not cute/pretty like most anime, it's kind of refreshing to watch a series with a cast of mostly adults in it. (No giant-chested moe girls from outer space / alternate dimensions here!) It also helps that the characters' costumes are diverse and help tell about the series' quite large cast. The animation isn't always top-caliber, but when it's time for fight scenes, the series certainly doesn't skimp on them! (Especially when Lia takes over d'Eon's body. Those fights can get quite gruesome, let me tell you.) The J-Pop opening and ending themes clash quite a bit with the (appropriate) orchestral music in the series, but I guess I got to stop being surprised by that at this point in my life when I watch anime.

Overall Le Chevalier D'Eon is a great series. It can get a little violent and/or dramatic at times, but it helps to tell its tale, not distract from it. If you have the time to commit to 24 episodes of a historical drama that tells a whole story across twenty-four episodes, you'll probably enjoy Le Chevalier d'Eon. You can check it out on FUNimation's official YouTube channel of the series for yourself if you want to see whether or not you'd be interested. I'd recommend it.

A long but satisfying anime. Subtract a star if you don't like the character designs or like your series a bit shorter.Tim Jones

Recommended Audience: (Tim) This is quite a violent series. People are seen dying frequently on-screen, often with lots of blood. The series carries around a dark tone quite often: definitely not for kids or young teenagers. There is some nudity, but it's quite mild compared to the violence. The series also has villains that use Psalms from the Bible to kill people. Christian parents should take good note of that.

(Allen) Youngsters won't be able to follow the plot (I often couldn't, and I'm OLD.) They also shouldn't be seeing the skewering (it's not just mercury that's spilled, alas), nor should they be seeing Lorenza's occasional nudity (there's NO WAY that girl's mid-teens- or did I say that already?) Older teens and up, OK.



Version(s) Viewed: Netflix stream (English dub); R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (24/24)
Le Chevalier D'Eon © 2006 Tow Ubukata / Production I.G / Project Chevalier
 
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