Tag Archives: supernatural

Chrono Crusade

Chrono CrusadeType: TV Series
Episode Count: 24
Genre: Supernatural / Adventure / Comedy
Vintage: 2003

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 19 Oct 2012

Grade: B-

The original Japanese title for this series is Chrno Crusade.

“Like a nun with a gun, [she’s] wonderful fun.”
adapted lyric from the song “Happy the Man” by Genesis, recorded in 1972

Plot Summary
In 1920s America, there’s a bit of a problem with demons and other unsavory types causing havoc and mayhem. That’s when the Magdalene Order is consulted, and Rosette Christopher with her partner Chrono are called upon to exorcise these demons. It is a bit of an unusual working relationship though; Rosette is a nun and Chrono is a devil.

The Review
Chrono Crusade tries hard, it really does. It goes for an unconventional setting as far as anime is concerned, but rather than feeling like the United States in the early twentieth century, it feels more like western Europe. The historical aspect never really plays into the story at all; it’s just when things happen to take place. Setting aside the fantasy or sci-fi elements, manners of speech and wardrobe simply don’t seem to fit in a 1920s America setting. A piece of the puzzle which could have contributed a historical slant to the story ended up a missed opportunity, which is a little bit of a disappointment. If you can overlook this flaw, there is still an interesting series to be found here.

Chrono Crusade starts out as an adventure comedy. Rosette and Chrono are an unlikely duo, fighting off demons and other vile creatures which rear their heads in New York City. Spiritual guns are the weapon of the day, and the Magdalene Order has an entire arsenal of holy weapons at their disposal, with more being devised by their inventor, a lecherous old man who looks like one of Dr. J‘s relatives. When he’s not inventing new weapons, he’s busy trying to get a peek at the nuns’ bloomers. Rosette is prone to crashing the Order’s cars, but she’s one of their best exorcists. Chrono has his hands full trying to keep Rosette in line, and that’s a challenging job. Since he is a devil, Chrono does offer a bit of an advantage in that he knows the enemy’s background well. When things get in a pinch, Rosette and Chrono do have a secret weapon: Chrono’s full power. There is a price to this option, however…

As often happens over the course of a series, the later parts show a shift in style; the lighthearted adventure turns into a somewhat darker and more serious story. This is in sharp contrast to the first part of the series where things are highly comedic. There is also a surprising amount of fanservice for a series which often takes place in a convent. Chrono Crusade is a bit bipolar in its approach between these two tones, but it doesn’t necessarily take anything away from the story.

Chrono Crusade is both a decent series and a missed opportunity. The historical aspects aren’t nearly integrated enough and serve mainly as window dressing. The story itself is interesting and kept my attention all the way through. For those who follow seiyuu, the late Tomoko Kawakami (perhaps best known as the title character from Revolutionary Girl Utena) does a fine job as Rosette. In all, I enjoyed Chrono Crusade, but I couldn’t help feeling just a little bit disappointed by some of the choices made in telling its story.

Boogiepop and Others

Boogiepop and OthersStory: Kouhei Kadono
Illustrations: Kouji Ogata
Translation (Publisher): Andrew Cunningham (Seven Seas)
Genre: Supernatural / Sci-Fi / Horror
Vintage: 1998

Version reviewed: English Translated
Date of Review: 21 Mar 2012

Grade: B+

The launching pad for the world of Boogiepop, which spans several different kinds of media.

Plot Summary
At Shinyo Academy, there have been many reports of girls running away and never being seen or heard from again. Also, there is a secret amongst the girls at Shinyo that there is a shinigami on campus named Boogiepop. Is Boogiepop the one taking these girls away, or is something else going on?

The Review
The world of Boogiepop begins here. This is the novel that spawned a live-action film adaptation, manga adaptation, manga sequel, short stories, fourteen subsequent novels, and an animated sequel. If you are curious about Boogiepop, this is where to start.

Boogiepop and Others is a very simple story on the surface, but it is the way in which it is told that gives it a certain appeal: it is nonlinear. This is the story of a single event told from the points of view of several different characters. Only by reading through each person’s account of the events which take place at Shinyo Academy can we the reader begin to piece together what actually happened. Each of them has a different level of involvement, and during each character’s part of the story, we see the events as they passed through their eyes. Each character’s story is told independently from start to finish, so there is no criss-cross of narratives over the duration of the novel. The stories do intersect, but it is up to us to find these crossing points in order to put the story together.

For those not familiar with light novels, the “light” generally refers to the fact that these kinds of books are fairly easy reading, but that isn’t meant in a negative way. It is almost like reading a screenplay, as dialogue is the driving force behind the narrative. Boogiepop and Others can be easily picked up and read for brief periods at a time, as the chapters are fairly short and there are plenty of stopping points. There is also a color-illustrated introduction to the characters before the novel begins, and there are a few black-and-white illustrations within the body of the novel as well.

Overall, the book is presented well, and North American publisher Seven Seas has a translation policy which aims to preserve the intent of the original Japanese as much as possible. The only awkward moments in the translation appear when the Japanese terms sempai and kouhai are retained in English. As these terms have no practical equivalent in English, they are kept to preserve the cultural significance of acknowledging one’s superior or junior in Japan. On a side note, there are a few typographical and copy editing errors which somehow made it through to the final draft. These are only a few isolated incidences, however.

Boogiepop and Others is an easy read, yet it still challenges due to the puzzle-like nature of the story. Equal parts high-school drama and supernatural horror, it is a good story with a wide range of characters. If you’ve heard about Boogiepop but never knew the best place to start, this light novel is the answer.

El Cazador de la Bruja

El Cazador de la BrujaType: TV Series
Episode Count: 26
Genre: Adventure / Supernatural / Sci-Fi
Vintage:
2007

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 24 Oct 2011

Grade: B

Translating the title from Spanish is almost a spoiler. If, like me, you don’t know Spanish, don’t look up what the title means until after you watch the series. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Bee Train studio (Noir) gets a second chance with me, and surpasses my reserved expectations.

Plot Summary
Bounty hunter Nadie has been given a job: find a girl named Ellis and protect her. Not the usual kind of task expected of a bounty hunter, but as it turns out, Ellis is not the usual kind of girl. Ellis has a clouded past, and together with Nadie, she sets out to solve the mysteries of both her past and herself.

The Review
“If you have any last words, say them now.” That’s Nadie’s catchphrase. Only minutes into the first episode of El Cazador, and I knew that taking a chance on Bee Train again might actually pay off. The studio has earned itself another chance in my book with this series, and got itself off my black list, which it found itself on after Noir. Don’t misunderstand; I enjoyed Noir, but soon after having watched that series, I learned of Bee Train’s reputation for nearly all of their work following a similar format: meandering plots which tend to be variations on a theme. If I wanted to watch a cut and pasted version of Noir, I’d just watch Noir again. That sounds reasonable, right? I expected El Cazador to be not much more than a copy of Noir, but in a western setting. As it turns out, it was much more than Noir with the places and names swapped out. This was a good thing.

First off, El Cazador is funny. Humor was all but absent in Noir, but it’s all over the place here. Ellis is one of my favorite character types – the space cadet – and has her own catchphrase (the cutest “Yessir!” you’ve ever heard), and there is a running joke throughout the series with a taco restaurant jingle. These things alone made watching El Cazador very entertaining for me.

The series doesn’t completely break my impressions of Bee Train, however. The story does still wander aimlessly for most of the show’s duration. In fact, El Cazador is primarily a “road trip” series. In itself, there is nothing wrong with that. The central narrative involves Nadie and Ellis on their journey to find Ellis’s past. And follow their journey the series does. There is very little plot advancement in the middle twenty or so episodes of the series, and were the story streamlined, it could have been told completely in perhaps as few as six episodes. But that is not how the story is told. We are instead tagging along on Nadie and Ellis’s journey, and fortunately it is a good one to watch unfold.

Characters are engaging and varied. The main duo of Nadie and Ellis is a good example of opposites attracting. Other characters include another bounty hunter: a man named Ricardo that one might expect in a western, and his travelling companion – a cute little girl named Lirio, who almost serves as the show’s mascot. Also worth noting is one of the most effectively portrayed antagonists that I’ve seen in a while: L.A., an unhinged obsessive mental case. Rarely is it that an antagonist on screen makes me wish for physical harm to come to them and want to hurl heavy objects at my television, but L.A. easily accomplishes this. Fortunately, he wasn’t enough to make me dislike El Cazador. The wonderment that is Ellis kept me drawn in for all twenty-six episodes.

El Cazador de la Bruja is the third installment of a thematic “trilogy” of girls-with-guns series by Bee Train and director Koichi Mashimo, the first two being Noir and Madlax. With El Cazador proving to me that Bee Train is capable of mixing up its formula just enough to not completely be a one-trick pony, I may now look into Madlax at some point in the future. Though the shows share similar elements, they aren’t connected in any other way, so they need not be seen in any particular order, nor does one necessarily need to watch all three.

El Cazador de la Bruja is a fun ride with some good characters, though the story is rather simplistic and not particularly strong. This is a series where the journey is more important than the destination, so as long as you don’t go into it expecting something groundbreaking, it should not be a disappointment. I went into El Cazador not expecting much, but I came away from it pleasantly surprised.