Reviews: Chrono Crusade

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A Surprisingly Atypical Shonen Manga
Ever since I started reading manga in middle school, I have always been drawn to the shonen genre, due to my love of angst, action, badness villains and Buckets of Blood. Unfortunately, this has meant I have also been forced to endure tired old plot lines, obnoxious heroes and hopelessly stupid female leads. I am sad to say that the anime adaptation fits this description more than a little, but thankfully the manga is a completely different experience.

I have never quite gotten over my pleasant surprise to find that a man had created a manga that exposed so much raw human emotion. I watched the characters I cared about fall into despair time and again and rise up out of the ashes. I felt myself empathizing, dare I say bonding, with the villains just as Azmaria did, realizing that that people, even demons, can not be categorized as merely good or evil. And of course, I cried over the ending, if only because it portrayed to me the harsh reality that most lives are not faerie tales, and there will not always be happily ever afters. Silly as it may sound, the impact of some of these realizations are still with me today.

Years later I have sold off most of my manga- the cheap thrill swordsman genre and the few corny shojo comedies have found homes on somebody else's shelves. But Chrono Crusade remains, and it isn't going anywhere soon.

For anybody looking for a gem in the middle of a whole lot of cardboard for something that makes them think and feel, I would recommend this series without hesitation.
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Chrono Crusade: Manga review (aka Why I Keep Pimping This Series)
Chrono Crusade is my favorite manga, and an excellent read for anyone that enjoys action manga — particularly if you’re tired of typical shounen tropes like Loads And Loads Of Characters or series that drag on for dozens of volumes.

The characters are its greatest strength — every one of them has their own motivations, both hero and villains, and the story focuses on character development and relationships as much as it focuses on action. Chrono and Rosette’s relationship is the centerpiece, and it’s carefully built up to its final, bittersweet conclusion. But a major theme of the manga is also about dealing with family members that have made bad choices in life, meaning that this is not just a romance, but a story about family and friends.

CC’s greatest weakness is exposition. Moriyama purposefully holds back on revealing the backstory for the first four or five volumes, which is a lot in a series with only eight volumes total. He manages to take all the time he needs on Chrono's past, but when it's time for us to learn Aion's motivations, he has to rush to get through it. Moriyama’s built up a very detailed world, but you might have to reread the series to fully understand Aion’s plans, the true nature of the demons, or some of the character’s backstories. Once you figure out what’s really going on, it makes sense and is rewarding — but this is not the manga for people that want everything clearly laid out for them in the beginning.

It also should be noted that the manga is different than the anime. If you’ve seen the anime first, don’t go into it expecting the same experience. The anime focuses more on the occult/supernatural, while the manga mashes together steampunk and sci-fi. The two versions aren't mutually exclusive to the point where you can't enjoy both, but they're hard to compare because of how different the story is in the end.

Overall, if you enjoy shounen with strong characters, clean art (after the artist hits his stride around the third volume) and a unique setting, this is highly recommended. If you prefer series that are a little longer or faster paced, it might not fit your tastes as much. This series has more in common with Fullmetal Alchemist than it does with Bleach. It's up to you to decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
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