Shounen – Action, adventure, historical, sci-fi, supernatural, romance, comedy, drama
8 Volumes (complete)
Despite the U.S.’s prosperity in the Roaring 20s, dark forces still cause chaos. Sister Rosette works as an exorcist, but she often ends up causing more destruction than demons. Fortunately she has her partner, Chrono, with whom she shares a deep bond despite the Order’s objections.
Chrono Crusade‘s biggest strength is in its two main characters.
As you can see from the description, Chrono Crusade covers quite a few genres. The story is a bit ambitious, but it generally incorporates all the generes all fairly well. I would probably say the weakest aspect is the comedy. The story is not unfunny, but it’s a bit of a mix bag when the Big Bad is neurotic about his companion’s tie. Repetitive gags like Rosette’s habit of breaking things also gets a bit old. In addition, the sci-fi is light on the science, and the romance is also on the subtle side. Don’t expect any long confessions or lots of physical affection. I like it the way it is, but I just wanted to note that. And while two females join the group, but despite Chrono being outnumbered, this is not a harem (a trap too many manga fall into). It’s not a master of any genre, but the story does have aspects to appeal to a wide range of readers.
It’s also unusual for a shounen work to have a female as the main character. What’s even more unusual is to have a female protagonist who isn’t a sexy seductress or a cool beauty. Throw in a rather gentle male titular character, and you have a combination not typically seen in shounen manga. Yes, the two have many typical manga and anime characteristics (most notably Rosette’s quick-temper and penchant for mischief), but it feels different when the lead is a female.
Essentially, Chrono Crusade is a save-the-world story, but Rosette and Chrono’s goal is much more personal to them than that. The manga begins with a couple of “solve the monster-of-the-episode crisis” chapters before delving into a couple of longer arcs. The second half of the series then launches into a full-scale war. The theme of “time” is well-demonstrated in the manga, from Rosette’s pocket watch to Azmaria’s hope that this time will be different. Unlike in most manga, readers see right from the start the two leads are quite close, and throughout the series, we see how strong this bond is. Many authors begin the story at the characters’ encounter and then strengthen their connection. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, and it is often the preferred way of telling a story. But Chrono Crusade provides a nice way to mix up the standard before laying the groundwork for the “chase after the Big Bad” plotline.
However, while I have praised many aspects of Chrono Crusade, it is far from perfect. While the concepts of demons and exorcism are established right from the start, several details remain fuzzy. I still don’t fully understand Pandaemonium and Eden, and the final chapter is sure to lead to much head-scratching. The climax is certainly emotional, but the time skip just leaves me confused. I feel like some details were planned out well in advance, but other details even Moriyama doesn’t understand. I wouldn’t go so far as to call these plot-holes, but not everything is clearly explained.
Despite the Order technically being under the jurisdiction of the (Catholic) Church (Rosette’s a nun after all), not much about religion is discussed here. Of course, some people may find offense in “nuns with guns” aspect, but I doubt those who are are still reading this. References to Mary Magdalene, sinners, and apostles are included here, but the manga doesn’t degrade or promote Christianity. Most lectures are of the “believe in yourself” variety rather than “believe in God”.
Rosette is quite strong, both mentally and physically. She has the “never give up” spirit that you often see in protagonists, but she also knows she’s only human. I like how Rosette isn’t some destined hero but a girl who got caught up in a multi-world war. Rosette has no special powers, so she has to rely on Chrono. Despite being the stronger of the two when powered-up, he is, in many ways, the weaker of the two emotionally. The bond between the two is the highlight of the series. The two may bicker (Chrono wakes up Rosette one time by dumping her into the pond outside), but their antics are based on their trust in each other. Their companions Azmaria and Satella make up the cute girl and sexy girl quotas. They both have their own personal tragedies, which is why it’s nice that these four become friends. The antagonists get a good chunk of page time, but the manga does not go deep into their personalities and motivations. Really, this is Rosette and Chrono’s story, and I like it that way.
Chrono Crusade was Moriyama’s debut work. The art is quite impressive for a new mangaka. There’s a few awkward poses (Chrono’s final blow at the end of volume one looks like a bow rather than an attack) and the action can be hard to keep up with, but he improves. Being that guns are the primary weapon in this series, a lot of the battles involves explosions with big plus signs (okay, crosses) in the midst. This makes it hard to follow the action sometimes. Lots of demons swarm in some scenes, and it is very easy to feel the characters’ fear. Characters themselves tend to have wide faces, but at least the races look different. Despite being set in the 1920s, Moriyama doesn’t include a lot of period fashion. Pages tend to be dark with lots of inking. The author pace the chapters nicely between the exposition and action.
No honorifics are used. I don’t know why you would want them. Anyways, since this manga is set in the U.S., there’s a lot of English words. So there’s a low number of terms that needed to be translated or adapted. The dialogue is a little wonky at times, but this is an older title. (“You made me very angry!” just sounds more comical than threatening.)
ADV Manga often kept parts of the Japanese text. I don’t mean parts that would be hard to retouch, just whenever they felt like leaving it alone. Granted, it’s mostly more touching scenes, but having both Japanese and English text clutters the pages. I do appreciate it when they left certain text that was part of the artwork alone but had the translation at the end of the book. Readers understand what is being said, but the pages aren’t altered or overfilled. In the early volumes, the lettering is often small, and I have to squint to read it without my glasses.
The manga also includes color pages, a nice touch.
The story has its weaknesses, but Rosette and company are characters you can’t help but root for. Chrono Crusade is a nice choice for readers looking for a good female lead in a shounen series. The male lead not being a jerk is just icing on the cake.
As this series is out of print, you will need to turn to the secondary market to purchase it. The entire series has been selling between $25 and $35 shipped on eBay, which isn’t too bad considering it’s out of print.
This series is also known as Chrno Crusade. However, despite the theory that this was to prevent confusion or legal trouble with the games Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross, the Chrno Crusade spelling is just a typo that the series kept for its run. The recent manga release uses the Chrono Crusade spelling with a different logo.
ADV also released the anime, but it has been rescued by FUNimation.