Translation: (The Knight D'Eon: Book I Psalm of Vengeance)
This Review: episodes 1-4
You may consider some of the items I speak towards in this review as SPOILERS so please read at your own risk. I will try to mark them.
The great LenMiyata on the boards here introduced me to this series by via a thread about its US release. I should go ahead and inform you that I love the Swash buckling genre (my favorite author is Alexandre Dumas who wrote titles such as:
Récrit I: D’Eon Lia
This series starts off strong, as this is one of the most intriguing starting episodes I have ever seen in a series. They waste no time in setting the stage and do it in the typical grace and elegance accustom to the time and setting of this series. The series is set in Versailles & Paris, France during King Louis (Louie) XV’s reign as King in 1742. The plot initially centers on a young knight named D'Eon and his quest for vindication of the murder of his sister Lia de Beaumont while trying his best to serve his King. However in the pursuit of his duties there have been women kidnapped and found dead with strange markings on their heads or in a coffin simply marked "Psalms" (a reference to a book of songs in the Bible).
*** POSSIBLE SPOILERS ***
The fact is this episode seems to enthrall the series deep into symbolism, mysticism and religious undertones. With several references to the Bible and several key aspects of the series which may require a normal person to do some research to discover their meaning. I happen to be knowledgeable of almost all of the reference given my background studies in Mythology, Theology and Eastern Cultural beliefs. I will explain some of the concepts.
For instance, the symbol or 3 dots in a triangle signify affiliation with anarchist beliefs / ideals and is used not only in the episode title (suggesting D'Eon is being pulled into the beliefs of his sister in an anarchistic nature) but also in the phrase Hommes / Optare which is a combination of the French word for "men / man" and the Latin word for "wish" this is used in conjunction with the word "metamorphose". This is symbolic to show that in order for a man to achieve his wish he must denounce his beliefs (who he is) and make a lasting change (the metamorphose) into what he wants to become. In most cases this is to become "god" and hence why anarchist ideals are necessary.
In the series the phrase is used with gargoyles (which is a synonym for metamorphose) and is interesting given gargoyles are normally considered a half-human half-demon creature. In the first episode this becomes very apparent as it ends with a battle against a human "gargoyle" that is filled with the legendary substance "mercury". Mercury is of importance as in the ancient Chinese culture it was considered a substance, which granted eternal life. It is heavily associated with alchemy as it was required for transmutation (metamorphose) in most myths.
The series also has the phrase "In the beginning was the word" several times (it even opens with it) and this is a reference to 1 John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." KJV. The importance of this is seen when considering this is a verse that projects the deity of Jesus Christ who is reference numerous times in the Bible as "The Word". Jesus was the picture of true metamorphose as seen in his transmutation from his man or flesh form into his deity form on the mount of transfiguration in Matthew 17:2 "And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light." KJV
The series seems to show in this first episode that there is a strong pursuance of man to replicate this act and in the process their failures (gargoyles) are made. Also I find that the writer of this series was very knowledgeable in these areas and does a very fine job incorporating them as elements of the story.
*** END POSSIBLE SPOILERS ***
I found this first episode very worthwhile and think of it as an immediate recovery of the money I spent for the entire disc.
Récrit II: Les Quatre Mousquetaires (The Four Musketeers)
This episode continues where the last one left off and furthers the story howbeit only a little while introducing what seems to be the lot of the rest of the "good" guys. This episode does the introduction in a likeable manner as the introductions focus less on who these people are and more on the story at hand. Leaving whom these people are and why they are here to help for further the plot in later episodes. Overall a well-rounded episode leaving only the fact it is a little less on the meatier side of the story, as its only downfall.
Récrit III: L’épée de la rage (Sword of Indignation)
The series seems to like to show a small amount of footage (1:30 seconds) from the prior episode before the opening. I like this in a series as it brings the current events back to mind without having to re-watch the prior disc. Especially useful when there is a month or so gap between the release of a disc and the next one. For the first time the episode is not lead off by narrator comments from an older D’Eon, which is about the only downside IMO. This episode continues to progress the depth of the story by providing some confusion and also nonchalantly introducing more elements to what is going on.
Récrit IV: Adepte de la révolution (Follower of the revolution)
The last episode of the disc proves to be much of the same as the last few, the story progresses and D’Eon struggles to accept it all. There is also the first bit of actual vocal music in the series outside of the opening and ending theme songs. Unfortunately the last episode does not end on a "cliff-hanger" which leaves you wanting to see what happens next. However the strength of the story thus far is more than enough to do that.
Besides the opening and ending themes there is little in this disc that stands out to me however most of the pieces / melodies used fit very well with the on-goings of the story.
The graphic presentation in this disc are very well done and everything flows smoothly, however it is not on the same level as other series in the genre such as Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo which had visuals leaving you drooling, none-the-less still well done.
Extras on the disc consisted on typical clean openings and endings as well as some commentary. The historical notes were nice as well the historical commentary of episode 2. The disc came with a booklet that helped with the people of the France chapter as well as explained some of the main characters and the concepts of things like Hommes / Optare. There was also an interview with Chief Writer Yasuyuki Muto and a brief prologue of 2 special scenes in the disc - a big bonus was a side story, which was included as well. I hope that it builds with further discs and becomes more relevant as the regular story progresses.
Overall, very good and well worth the money!