Le Chevalier D’Eon is a series from 2006. It’s another one of those series that not nearly enough people watch, and almost nobody talks about. So I’m going to talk about it. I’m such a rebel.
Except I’m not really being particularly rebellious because that’s stupid and I cannot lie about my feelings for this anime, which are shared by most (all?) people who did watch it: it is awesome.
Le Chevalier D’Eon has good music, composed by Michiru Oshima. There aren’t too many epic, loud tracks that will sweep you off your feet during cool fight scenes or anything like that, but there are a lot more quieter pieces to bring out more emotion in the less action-packed scenes (of which Le Chevalier D’Eon has a lot).
It does have one or two pieces with more grandeur to them, though, and when those tracks do play it gives the whole scene a really theatrical type of feeling. I mean the good type of “theatrical.” As in, you are sitting in a movie theater watching the intro to the Best Movie Ever. That type of feel.
The production values in general are extremely good in this, and while I wouldn’t want to say the animation is always consistent (they often have animation directors and key animators who veer slightly more on the artsy side of things) it’s definitely outright bad far less often than most anime tend to be.
What I am saying is this: The animation is great, the character designs are great (and I have to give the artists and designers special props for this — the proportions of characters, especially facial features, are actually relatively realistic), the colouring and backgrounds and everything are all great. Le Chevalier D’Eon just plain looks great.
It’s also historical fiction, and from my miniscule knowledge of the time period this takes place in I can only assume all the designs and locations and everything are totally accurate. The story and characters are also 100% acc–okay I can’t keep a straight face while saying this. It craps on history a little bit. Maybe a lot, but I can only confirm a little bit with my previously noted limited knowledge. These things happen, and it’s okay. The fun in historical fiction isn’t rewriting events already passed with precision accuracy; it’s playing with those events and concepts, twisting things around, and taking new and exciting looks at things.
So, how was Le Chevalier D’Eon’s story? Are the characters any good? Did you really just put two apostrophes into one word? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding “Yes.” Especially the first question.
The first half of the series is, admittedly, rather slow with the plot. Plenty of interesting things do happen, of course, but it’s possible that you would get impatient. Oh, sorry, I forgot that we’re talking about Le Chevalier D’Eon. You won’t get bored even when nothing’s happening. And there are three reasons for that.
1. The fighting scenes are great. They may not be good enough for a person to watch the show solely on that merit, but that’s okay because unlike certain other shows, Le Chevalier D’Eon has way more going for it than just its fight scenes. The point is that you will greatly enjoy them when they happen. 2. The characters are great.
You heard me.
3. The script is great. I don’t usually talk about things like script or writing or art criticism or film studies because I don’t know anything about any of these things. But one day, you will watch an anime and be in awe at its ability to make its characters come alive. That anime is Le Chevalier D’Eon.
You will be shocked when Queen Elizabeth of Russia, who had previously been portrayed in a rather negative light in the one or two scenes you had seen her in, suddenly becomes an incredibly sympathetic and likeable character without seeming as though she’s undergone some frightening off-screen transformation. Everything seems really natural, and it’s easy to get caught up in the story because of this. I imagine the great script is also responsible for much of my praise towards the characters in Le Chevalier D’Eon.
Possibly its biggest (only?) flaw is the unbalanced pacing. As I said before, the first half moves along very slowly with regard to plot. And then suddenly the second half comes along and is speedy as a racehorse. It’s still okay, but then suddenly in the last episode it’s as fast as a bullet train.
It’s overwhelming, it feels a little rushed, and it’s easy to miss something amidst all the twists and revelations. Luckily it’s only that bad in the last episode, and it’s very possible that there was no better way to handle it… I don’t think things would have had as much of an effect had the revelations not come one after the other in the way that they did.
tl;dr Recommended viewing material for everyone except for individuals whose primary reason for hating on Mari Okada (who was not involved in this anime, before you get confused) is the fact that she makes male characters crossdress sometimes.