Chrono Crusade

Review covers the full series

As time marches on and as historical periods and events get buried further and further into the depths of the general population's collective unconsciousness, it seems that people as a whole: (a) forget the exact details; and (b) will care less when other people get the details of the event or period wrong, or just generally do something offensive.

And so it is Japanese plot-writers seem to have more... let's use the word "flexibility"... when dealing with historic events. For example, it's probably too soon for a series featuring an undead Albert Einstein stopping evil demons from destroying the world. However an undead Francis Bacon saving the world from said evil demons has been done, and did quite well. You wouldn't have pope John Paul II leading a holy order of priests and nuns to fight those evil demons either, but set it back in time a little bit and suddenly it's acceptable!

OK, so just in case you've not guessed yet, Chrono Crusade features various members of the Christian Church fighting off demons. Well, I say Christian; the only reference material the author seems to have had was a few pictures of how people of Christian faith tend to look like. Which he then ignored, siting the lack of machine guns and complaining that none of the women were showing suitable amounts of skin to provide enough fan-service for any male members of his audience. Fans of realism may despair, but it makes for a good action Manga.

The stars of Chrono Crusade are Rosette (a Nun) and Chrono (a Demon). Chrono's name (and its occurrence in the series’ title) is very relevant. Chrono is a powerful demon with many strong abilities, but he has no source of power and would have died without Rosette. As well as keeping him alive, Rosette can also give Chrono the ability to use his abilities, however at a cost of her own life-span.

Although Rosette doesn’t seem too bothered about her shortened life-expectancy, it does cause a big problem. Chrono and Rosette are not just hanging around waiting for a plot to happen. They have been tasked to find Rosette’s missing brother – and preferably find him before their time runs out and Rosette dies. We’re never told how much time is left while the story progresses, but it still gives the Manga a race-against time feel.

The main characters are very well crafted. For a Manga to be enjoyable and funny you need to be able to generate a laugh at the main characters, and Rosette and Chrono’s characters are well written – they are serious when needed, but switch to being over the top for laughs when not.

My only major complaint with the Manga is the whole “stopping evil demons from destroying the world” bit. Any comic should make the reader eager to turn over each page in order to find out what happens next, but so many Manga, Anime and Videogames have used “let’s save the world” as an overarching plot it’s just not interesting anymore. In Chrono Crusade’s defence it does to a good job of explaining the villain’s motivations, but as no-one tries to talk them down, their reasons for wanting to destroy the planet never really affect the plot.

Chrono Crusade is only 8 volumes long, and plot relating to the ending starts roughly half way through, meaning that the characters only have a few volumes to be laid back and funny before they face the apocalypse. It’s not as if you would expect the characters to be laughing in the face of the end of the world, but this does mean that later on the series becomes more, well, boring. The action sections are quite well written, managing to pack in several twists and turns, but Chrono Crusade just isn’t as good without the humour shown initially.

However one of the draws of Chrono Crusade is that while the story is in progress, it is not at all clear what is going to happen to the participants at the end. And as soon as the story is over, the Manga doesn’t just end telling us that they all lived happily ever after. Cleverly quite a long time is spent detailing what happens to each of the main characters afterwards. This is a nice reward for any reader who stuck through the series, wondering what would happen to their favourite characters – though the author doesn’t hold back, so expect a few tears in your eyes!