Manga Review: Chrono Crusade Volume One by Daisuke Moriyama

Chrono Crusade, Vol. 1
Available on Amazon

Chrono Crusade is an eight volume manga series with a twenty four episode anime series that is completely different from the manga. (The manga is superior to the anime series, in my opinion. The anime goes off in a completely different direction and generally weakens a lot of the character interactions and relationships.) Our Heroine and Hero are Rosette Christopher and her partner Chrono.

The setting is the United States during the 1920s. Rosette is an exorcist working with a religious organization known as the Magdalen Order, and organization that fights various supernatural monsters. (Appearance wise they seem to be a Catholic Order though it is Extremely Clueless Japanese Nuns are Miko Manga Catholicism.) This is not a new series, but it is a favorite series and the one that made me actively interested in manga and anime. (I only had a very occasional interest due to not finding anything I really liked until I discovered this series at a library.)

The first volume begins with Chrono and Rosette who are both sleeping in their car after a mission. A phone rings and Rosette picks up the phone and receives orders to head out on another mission. Rosette is exhausted and does not want to go but her superior insists–and Rosette realizes that something bad has just happened because a ship in the harbor bursts into flames. Rosette tries to wake up Chrono who would actually like to sleep a little longer. How long? “About ten hours.” This is not deemed an acceptable amount of time by Rosette’s standards.

Rosette and Chrono arrive at the harbor and do something totally awesome. They hand over documentation and take control of the scene from the first responders. (Yes, to me, this is awesome. Shut up.) The ship apparently has been invaded by some kind of monster that is eating the crew. Our intrepid demon busters go into the ship where they discover that the spirit is using the ghosts of the dead crew to run the ship. There is some direct combat with the monster, which tries to attack her soul (prompting Chrono to yell that her soul belongs to him prompting Rosette to be really annoyed at Chrono). Rosette learns during the attack that the spirit was the guardian spirit of a looted temple, and it just wants to go back home. She contains the spirit, and after some argument with Chrono, convinces him to use some of his power to send the idol the spirit was contained in back “home.”

From this exchange, we learn some important things. The first is that Chrono apparently considers himself the boss of Rosette’s soul. Next, we learn that Rosette is the one in charge and does not agree with this opinion of Chrono’s. The third thing we learn is that Rosette has some kind of control over Chrono’s power, and this control is represented by a pocket watch that acts as a “seal” on his power.  As a result of all of this, it is clear they have a very close relationship. We also learn that Rosette has a deep and meaningful relationship with Murphy because somehow, the boat has run aground on Ellis Island and Lady Liberty has been run into.

We’re introduced to more of the people in Rosette’s life when Rosette reports to Sister Kate, the head of the New York Branch of the Magdalen Order. Sister Kate is very strict and has a lot of things to say about some of her previous missions which were successful, but extremely destructive of property. Then we meet Father Remington, who is Rosette’s mentor who has apparently just come back from a mission. He interrupts the scolding session, Sister Kate receives a call from “the Elder” who wants Rosette’s help with a project. As Rosette heads off, Father Remington and Sister Kate discuss Chrono, who is More Than He Seems.

The Elder is your typical dirty old man. He is also the Order’s resident mad scientist, and he would like to know if the new “Gospel” bullet she was using was effective. Rosette says yes, but there was a lot of recoil. The Elder lets her see a different bullet he’s been working on and is not at all surprised when she sneaks off with it. (Apparently, letting her sneak off with a bullet will save him expenses in testing it.) This experimental bullet uses demon parts, and is extremely unstable, which Rosette very quickly discovers when the gun is fired.

The demon escapes and immediately goes on a rampage and a battle ensues. Rosette gets hurt, and Chrono completely loses it. We discover that Chrono is in fact a powerful demon who has made a contract with Rosette. His powers have been “sealed” and in this “sealed” form he looks like he’s about twelve or a little older. Rosette is able to snap him out of his berserker rage and they sort of collapse into each other’s arms while the rest of the Order takes out the monster.

Rosette and Chrono’s next mission is going to Las Vegas to rescue a young girl with an amazing singing talent and even more amazing powers of healing. Azmaria Hendric had been adopted under shady circumstances by a man named Ricardo Hendric, casino owner and sorcerer. Hendric has plans to use Azmaria’s powers for his own benefit.Our heroes are more or less successful in their rescue attempt and are able to get her back to the Order. Azmaria is a very shy, sweet kid who has basically been shifted from one relative to another since her parents died when she was still very young.

One of Ricardo’s familiars is a “Pursuer” named Lerajie who had previously fought Chrono. He had been badly injured and Ricardo had been able to get control of him as a result. Lerajie is able to kidnap Azmaria again, blowing up some scenery along with Rosette and Chrono (much to Azmaria’s horror). He carries her off and we discover what Ricardo has planned for Azmaria. She’s been chained to a throne like “altar” and has a lot of wires attached to her at various places. Whatever they plan on doing involves a tank with a woman floating in it.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Rosette and Chrono are not dead. Chrono had sneaked some power from Rosette and created a barrier. Rosette is not happy about this, even if it saved her life. It turns out that Ricardo has a small zeppelin and that’s where Azmaria is right now.

We shift to Azmaria who is waking up. Ricardo tells her that the woman in the tank is his wife, who had died during the war. Lerajie had apparently been able to use a combination of human resources and demon technology to clone her from a finger that had been recovered. We learn that Azmaria was kidnapped in order to restore the soul of Ricardo’s wife to her body.

This scene is cut by Rosette and Chrono who are standing out on the wing of a biplane being flown by Father Remington. They are able to board the zeppelin they slide down a rope that was anchored between the plane and the zeppelin) where they are confronted by a lot of people who are actually more of Ricardo’s familiars. A battle ensues.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Lerajie has completely conned Ricardo Hendric. This entire set up had only been a plan on Lerajie’s part to acquire enough energy to break free of Ricardo Hendric’s control. Lerajie kills Ricardo and then goes after Chrono, with whom he has a grudge. There is a lot of dodging around, and then Rosette decides to release the seal, which Chrono does not want. They argue a bit, but Chrono eventually agrees. He changes to his real form which is appears to be around nineteen or twenty years old and involves a pair of metal caps that appear to be bolted to his head, long ears with fluffy tufts, a triangle of spots on his forehead and a second spine coming from the base of his neck that acts as a kind of prehensile tale. He also has wings and is still much cuter than Lerajie.

Azmaria is really surprised, and Rosette fills her in on Chrono and his being a demon with “a lot of names.” She also explains in detail the contract she has with Chrono. It seems that since Chrono does not have horns (which is how he would normally get energy) he is using Rosette’s soul as his battery. In order keep him from draining her too fast, the stop watch acts as a kind of “dam.”Azmaria is horrified because Rosette is risking her life. Rosette is very at ease with the knowledge that she’s drastically reducing her lifespan.

We then turn to Lerajie, who has decided to attack Chrono by attacking Rosette. Rosette however has put up a barrier. She shoots Lerajie and Chrono finishes  him off. Azmaria is able to use the last of her power to fly Rosette from the falling zeppelin to the bi-wing plane where Chrono is able to catch both of them. (Chrono has regained his younger form.)

In the epilog, we learn that Azmaria is temporarily drained of power. She appears to be under the impression that this means that the Order doesn’t need her, because it will be a while until she’s at full power again. Rosette however says there is an opening in the Order’s choir and that Azmaria can join.

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Filed under alternate history, Chrono Crusade, fantasy, Review: Manga, science fiction elements, steam punk

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