“Nuns! Nuns! Reverse! Reverse! Reverse! Reverse!” – Father Jack Hackett
Chrono Crusade is home to, among other things, anime’s biggest spelling mistake. In the original Japanese they wrongly wrote “Chrno” instead and the series just stuck with it, in both anime and manga forms. It wasn’t until it came to the West that it was corrected.
Aside from that, Chrono Crusade features that rhyming TV trope favourite: nuns with guns. The nun in question is Sister Rosette Christopher, a member of the Magdalene Order, living in the USA in the 1920s. Her job involves hunting down devils and exterminating them, which she does with the help of her partner Chrono.
There are however some problems. First, she and Chrono cause a lot of accidental damage, to the frustration of their superior Sister Kate; and second, Chrono is himself a devil, albeit in weakened form. Four years ago Rosette and her sickly brother Joshua met Chrono and became friends. However, an old enemy of Chrono’s another devil called Aion, took advantage of Joshua and took him away. In order to help fight back, Rosette does a deal with Chrono that allows him to regain his full demonic form, at the cost of Rosette’s lifespan – the longer he stays in his full form, the shorter Rosette will live. In the present day, Rosette knows she won’t pass the age of 30.
Since then, Rosette and Chrono have worked for the Magdalene Order, alongside Sister Kate, the angelic Minister Remington and the pervy Elder who designs Rosette’s weapons. Later on, Rosette and Chrono encounter Azmaria Hendric, an “Apostle” whose singing can cure the sick and who joins the order after the duo help save her life. They also often end up “working” with Satella Harvenheit, a bounty hunter who uses magical jewels to kill demons, and has a hatred of them (including Chrono) after demons killed her family. The story follows Rosette and Chrono’s efforts to rescue Joshua, and Aion’s scheme to alter the balance between Earth, Heaven and Hell.
Chrono Crusade does feel a bit middle-of-the-road in several senses. Nothing is really bad about it, but nothing is truly memorable. Rosette is an interesting character: sometimes funny, often tragic, full of action. She’s good, but she isn’t that memorable when compared to many other anime heroines. Chrono is probably the more interesting of the duo, given that he is a devil on the side of good, and his relationship with Rosette gives the story added depth too. However, nothing really stands out in terms of performance by the voice actors or the animation. (There are some typos in the on-screen subtitles, by which I don’t mean the ones you read with the normal Japanese dub, but the ones actually written into the anime e.g there are scenes which are set in “South Brooklym”.)
The plot can be a bit complicated to follow at times. Luckily, this is where the DVD extras come in handy, as one of the main ones is “Az’s Extra Classes”, where Azmaria explains certain parts of the story in more detail. Other extras include alternative opening sequences, some that were unused, and textless opening and closing, although sticking with the middle-of-the-road theme, neither of the pieces of music used for these sequences made much of an impression on me.
There is also one big way that Chrono Crusade feels middle-of-the-road, in that it ends in the middle of the story. The anime was reworked to have a separate, clearly defined ending with no room for any more adaptations, but the contents of the original manga (by Daisuke Moriyama) are double that of the anime. Thus, you need to read the manga to get the whole story, but this is made even more difficult by the fact that the manga was published by ADV, and while all eight volumes are available in English, it has been out-of-print for years.
Thus, I would say if you can find the manga, go with that version, but the anime version is still good in its own way. Just don’t expect anything that’s absolutely amazing.