The first thing I thought when I finished this anime was, "What the hell did I just watch?!" There is no other way to describe Le Chevalier D'Eon
than a paradox; a big, complicated, over the top, logic defying paradox. I'm not certain yet how I feel about the series. Part of me wants to praise it to the high heavens and rescue it from obscurity. The other part of me wants to sharply criticize it for being a complete failure and shove it out of my memory. My reaction is a paradox much like the series.
The story of Le Chevalier D'Eon
is loosely based off the historical figure D'Eon de Beaumont--a French knight and spy who lived the first half of his life as a man and the second as a woman. In the anime, D'Eon has a sister named Lia. Lia is a spy for Louis XV and is murdered. D'Eon has made it his mission to find out the mystery behind his sister’s murder and take revenge on her killer. Lia’s soul is cursed and consumed with rage, and as a result she frequently takes over D’Eon’s body to fight. Joining D’Eon are three companions: Teillagory, Durand, and Robin. The four chase after the revolutionary Robespierre all over Europe in order to not only find out what happened to Lia, but to prevent him from destroying France using the mysterious book of the Royal Psalms.
The artwork is amazing. The character designs originally looked little odd to me. I think it was just strange seeing anime characters
look so European, which is a good provided all the characters are European. The backgrounds are beautiful; the architecture and elegance of Versailles is perfectly captured. The sword fights were animated with finesse.
The opening and ending songs are phenomenal. The opening, “Born”, is sung by Miwako Okuda and captures the spirit and excitement of the show. The ending “Over Night” is performed by Aya. It sounds calm and sophisticated with an air of mystery. The rest of the music is orchestral and serves to highlight all the different moods of the show.
The first two episodes hooked me with mystery and action. Three words: AWESOME SWORD FIGHTS! My fav orite anime trope ap pea red: “cross dressing girls who fight with swords!” Then the series started to drag. There was much talking, intrigue building and problem creating, but not enough action. Furthermore there were many supernatural and religious elements tied in which were never fully explained. The concept of the psalms was something that never fully made sense to me. Nevertheless, these sneaky plot twists with monsters and secret black magic
cults and conspiracies to overthrow the monarchy had a way of sucki ng me so I couldn’t get out. I had to know how the series ended, and plowed through the entire twenty-four episodes in about three days.
Looking at other reviews, I tried to figure out why it was rated so highly and well received. The crux issue lay with the characters. There’s disagreement about the development of the characters, however most reviewers have said the characters are likable, sympathetic and well developed. I would say yes to one and two, no to three; I felt there was something missing from the characters. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly; their stories seemed rushed and sometimes generic. The character who received the most development was Robin who changed from an innocent loyal to the monarchy to a jaded rebel. D’Eon seemed a stock character believing in the good of the monarchy and righteousness. Lia’s story should’ve been expanded further along with Robespierre and King Louis XV. They were closely interconnected with one another, but their stories were left in a tangled mess. In spite of their flaws, I still found myself emotionally attached to the characters. Le Chevalier D’Eon
set up an epic story and fulfilled it. There was an intricate plot which is unpredictable. People changed
allegiances left and right. The strength of series laid within its questioning of loyalty and patriotism and morality. To what extent do your loyalties reflect and affect your patriotism and morals? At what cost are you willing to maintain your loyalty? Why do you maintain loyalty to someone who betrays the interests of your country and is obviously immoral? Then there is the theme of power: power of religion, power of change, power of the monarchy, power of the people. The pain of change is seen throughout the series. There are no real “heroes” or “villians”--everyone believes their actions are supported by God and to the benefit of France and Her people.
I’ve concluded everything in Le Chevalier D’Eon
is about failure! Failure to save France from revolution; failure to adhere to loyalty; failure of the king; failure of the knights; failure of the Old World; failure of tradition; failure of love; failure to set Lia’s soul to rest; failure to make sense of the world. These failures are what made the anime series fascinating. While the ending fit, I don’t believe it provided any clarity or closure to the story. Perhaps, I rushed to reach the end and find the answer to the mystery too quickly. I may have missed the more subtle plot elements. I think it merits a second viewing. Overall, I believe Le Chevalier D’Eon
is a triumphant failure--a giant paradox--and one not easily forgotten.