This show, Le Chevalier d'Eon, really threw me for a loop. I think I liked it for it, but I'm not sure if I would have enjoyed it more had I been better prepared for what was to come. So, for that reason I will leave it up to you if you wish to be spoiled. If you want to know nothing beyond what the promotional flyers and shit are selling, just read the paragraph following this one and then skip to my rating at the bottom of my review (the text in red, retard). If you want to REALLY understand what you're getting yourself into with Le Chevalier then you just have to read everything. Yeah, you're wishing you stuck with Hooked on Phonics now, aren't you.
Le Chevalier d'Eon starts off in Paris under Louis XV's reign (i.e. the mid 1700s, you history major, you), when a casket bearing the body of a beautiful, young woman comes floating down the Seine. She was Lia de Beaumont, and she was the sister of French secret policeman d'Eon de Beaumont, who then makes it his life's purpose to find out how she died, who killed her, and most importantly WHY his fine-looking sibling was whacked. D'Eon then meets a few allies, tons of enemies, and travels the globe in order to bring his sister's murderer to justice, and possibly save a royal or two, and maybe the world at large.
Now, if you don't want to find out what Le Chevalier d'Eon is REALLY about, skip to the end.
Le Chevalier d'Eon is actually all about supernatural alchemists, secret global societies of heathen poets, undead mercury-filled zombies, betrayals between comrades-in-arms, holy Psalms, and paranormal gender switching.
Quite honestly, when the zombies started showing up I thought that the DTs were kicking in again. I had just made it to the end of the first episode (which totally blew me away with its style, characters, setting and animation budget) and was already more than happy with the adventure taking place in 18th century France (instead of futuristic Tokyo, or present day Tokyo, or old-time Edo), and then, out of fucking nowhere, the zombies began attacking. As they are wont to do.
The first episode had so much shit going on in it -- so much story being told about the secret police, secret rebellions, secret alliances, etc. -- that it, by itself, would have filled the entire first half of any other (average) 26 episode show. I was simply trying to wrap my head around all of the basic information concerning the plentiful alliances, deceptions and plots against 50 different royals, and then BAM! Zombies. At first I was kind of pissed at this supernatural aspect of the story, but before I could even fully react to the undead direction of things something even bigger and stranger occurred. It may sound gay to you, as it did at first to me, but hear me out and let me 'splain it to you before you start claiming that this shit is below you (yeah, like anything is below you, Mr. DBZ Fan-fic Writer... Ugh, seriously, get the fuck off my site now).
So the zombies struck, and then our hero, d'Eon, finds himself cornered by a comrade in arms who has just been turned into an undead assassin himself, and then.... d'Eon becomes possessed by the wandering spirit of his vengeful sister, body and soul. D'Eon TURNS INTO Lia, and she is pissed, and she kicks some major ass.
At this point I think I was shouting "Oh COME ON! Didn't they already make a manga and anime series about this kind of thing?" but I gave it a chance, and in the end I was especially glad that I did. Yes, there are fantasy elements in this show, but the curious mix of real history and the phantasmagoric actually turned into the series' bright spot. It was kind of like Ghost in the Shell: SAC mixed with Rose de Versailles, with bits of Fullmetal Alchemist thrown in for tasty excitement. Oh, and some Shaun of the Dead chucked in as well to cover the zombie aspect.
As stated before, the money spent on the animation was top notch... well, at least a good portion of the time it was. The sword fighting (both the fluidity and the choreography) made me rewind each man-to-man (or man-haunted-by-ghost-woman-to-man) battle several times before proceeding. Some of the duels were simply brutal. The background art and the character designs (especially their clothing) all had tons of extra detail painted in (compared to your average television show) -- so much so that any number of frozen frames from this series could be considered works of art worthy of hanging alongside any of those old-time paintings of fat, naked women that wallpaper the Louvre. Just the technicality in the architecture was enormous! So meticulous and precise. And not only do they capture mid-18th century France, but Russia, Germany, and England as well. That must have been a helluva field trip for the animators.
Basically though, Le Chevalier d'Eon is like a 1700s version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the comic, not the movie... NEVER the movie), but with actual historical figures instead of famous fictional heroes. Sure, some ficties are entangled in the plot, but d'Eon, Louis XV, Count Cagliostro, Lord SanGermain (from Mosquiton!), Empress Elizabeth, Catherine the Great (who whenever she showed up just reminded me of that Venture Bros. episode where Dr. Orpheus' master appeared as her horse, and his partially lovely assistant, Ms. Manyfaces, dressed up as Cathy herself in order to teach Orpheus a lesson about biting off more than he could chew), Robespierre, King George III, and hell, a shitload of others, were all real people. Yes, quite a few liberties were taken with the real timeline (mostly so that everything could take place within the confined window of a few months [historically, all the events that d'Eon stumbles and fights through like a non-retarded Forrest Gump took place over the course of several decades, which would be like somebody in the future making a show or a movie that merges the time between 1985 and 2005 into the space of half a year. You'd have Ronny Reagan scheming against Putin, and the war in Iraq that finally kicked Saddam out of power was really caused by Margaret Thatcher and her under the table dealings with Kim Jung-Il]), but it was very entertaining in the end — though anybody using this series for a high school history report would most deservingly get an "F", unless his/her teacher based their lesson around the show (or Wikipedia) too. Anyway, most of the historical figures do meet their end the way they historically did though, but now we see the secret political goings-on that caused their downfalls (or ascensions).
Chevalier is nothing but backstabbings and revolutions galore, and it is spectacular for it. True, I got lost so many more times in this show than in either GitS: SAC series, but they do a good job of spelling everything out for you in the end (well, you'll have to watch the last two episodes at least twice to catch everything that is said about who was switched with whom and why). Very few questions were left that my encyclopedia could not answer.
The only disappointment that I had with this series was that we never did get to see the New World (which is referenced many times in the second half of the series). True, d'Eon never went over to the English colonies in real life, but I still wanted to see it through this director's eyes.
What... The... Fuck?.... No, I just... No. I don't watch animated shows to LEARN shit. I watch them for the violence, the excitement, and the hardcore tentacle sex. This show did have the first two requirements down pat, but unfortunately none of the last, and WAY too much of the "learning" thing.
Yes, true, I don't think that the real George III ever abdicated his thrown before the American Revolution, or that poets of the day could use words from the Bible as weapons of grotesque destruction, but watching this thing made me look up information on the real people and events of the 1700s in order to see what the fuck was real and what was bullshit.... FUCK! It made me LEARN shit! That was cheap, you Japanese cel-painting assholes!
So this is supposed to be a history lesson for the Rossman? Guys who change into women, monks who read the Bible and turn the spoken word into evil spells, and zombies filled with mercury -- who when sliced open, with mercury pouring out everywhere, don't harm anybody in the room??? Isn't mercury toxic to inhale, let alone BATHE in?
Ugh, so all this random historical shit happens, people travel around the globe looking for clues into it all, and then, of course, it all ends up back where it began, and therefore 9/10ths of the story didn't even need to be told. If they had just cut to the chase in the beginning all this crap could have been avoided, and I wouldn't have had to work off my blackmail sentence by watching this thing with the Rossman and Chi-Chi while being Chi-Chi's designated "snuggle buddy" that day. I took three showers and one fire-burning to get rid of his scent (that would be IceHouse and unfiltered cigs).