Le Chevalier D’Eon: livre III – Danse Macabre

Tow Ubukata’s original fantasy novel is (very) loosely based on the real 18th-century French diplomat/spy, Chevalier d’Eon, who would switch between presenting himself as a man and a woman. In novel, manga, and animated form, Le Chevalier D’Eon follows a supernatural murder/mystery surrounding the death of Lia de Beaumont and several other French women whose only connection to each other is the word PSALMS appearing with the bodies found. Now her younger brother D’Eon is on the hunt to uncover the truth behind his sister’s death. Animated by Production I.G. (IGPX, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) comes Le Chevalier D’Eon: livre III – Danse Macabre, the third of six volumes, from ADV Films.

DVD: Le Chevalier D’Eon: livre III – Danse Macabre
Release Date: 6/19/2007
Release Studio: ADV Films
ADR Production: ADV Studios

MSRP: $29.98
Audio: English 5.1 DD, Japanese 5.1 DD, English Commentary
Subtitles: English, Signs-Only
Episodes: 4
Runtime: 100mins
Extras: Clean Opening and Closing, Historical Notes, Booklet with Character info and more, ADV Previews

Notes: Review is based on a Screener copy of the final product.

Episode nine begins with the Empress Elizaveta of Russia giving safe passage to D’Eon and his fellow Musketeers so that they may seek out Alexander Vorontsov and investigate his suspected connection with the death of Lia de Beaumont. However, while Vorontsov may be easy to go after, his backer, Chancellor Bestuzhev, will be much harder to approach. Meawhile, Bestuzhev and Vorontsov plot out the assassination of Empress Elizaveta so that they may plant their puppet, Pyotr, in the thrown. A mysterious noble woman passes a message to the Musketeers, warning of them of the possible assassination plot, and only D’Eon knows whether or not to act on the unsubstantiated rumour.

The next pair of episodes follows the events unfolding with the first assassination attempt foiled thanks to D’Eon’s quick thinking. Elizaveta is about to install a new parliament based on the revolutionairy ideals given to her by Lia de Beaumont. D’Eon and his partners have become celebrities in Russia thanks to their investigation and the Empress grants them permission to search all materials which were confiscated from Bestuzhev’s properties in order to find Vorontsov. Meanwhile, Vorontsov has met with Count Cagliostro and Lorenza Feliciani for the next step in his plans. With the assassination having failed, Vorontsov challenges D’Eon to a dual at a location of his choosing. D’Eon’s three comrades join the outing, but Voronstov has a trick up his sleeve: an incantation using the Psalms to protect Voronstov during the fight. Elsewhere, Maximillien Robespierre is determined to see Pyotr take the Russian thrown and uses his supernatural connection with the King’s Book of Psalms to murder the Empress.

As Voronstov and D’Eon begin to battle from the outside into the heart of the building, D’Eon is taken over by his sister to exact her revenge on Voronstov. Voronstov calls on the power of the Psalms, but Lia’s own power is more than enough to break the incantation and shatter the building. Durand manages to find Lia/D’Eon before the building collapses as Vorontsov uses it as a chance to escape. The mysterious woman goes to see the four Musketeers as they start to head back to the palace. The news of the Empress’s murder had not reached them yet and Pyotr is being placed on the thrown as guards search for the Frenchman suspected of having killed Elizaveta. Along with this tragic news, the mystery woman reveals herself to be Pyotr’s wife, Ekaterina. Like Lia before her, Ekaterina served the Empress once to help build their new vision of Russia. Emperor Pyotr is only an evil man’s puppet; he must not be allowed control over Russia. The coup d’etat has begun to place Ekaterina on the thrown.

The final episode for this volume wraps up the first large story arc for the series. Durand confronts Robespierre inside the palace and learns who truly killed Lia. D’Eon chases down Vorontsov, but once again Lia takes over his body before D’Eon can ask many questions as to why Vorontsov had Lia killed. Ekaterina takes the royal thrown and gives the order to have her husband killed in a fitting punishment for how cruel he was to her over the years. And Madame Pompadour is gaining power within France as King Louis XV takes a backseat to the affairs of his country. The more people listen to Madame Pompadour, the harder it will be for King Louis XV to keep D’Eon and his friends safe while they follow Robespierre to England.

Le Chevalier D’Eon is an interesting take on historical events, but more often than not I just find myself bored with the simple plotlines boasting supernatural touches. Character designs are based on a similar, yet simpler, version of the style seen in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and it doesn’t help the series in the least. There are a couple of nicely-animated CG-backgrounds, but the simplistic style is the norm. The only true spark of interest in the show is when Lia de Beaumont takes over her younger brother’s body to duel with someone. The Japanese cast is decent, but you almost get the feeling that some of the seiyuu are phoning it in with so little to do in this fantasy period piece. The English production by ADV’s Houston studio gets credit for skipping on the idea of giving accents to the various nationalities in the series, but like the Japanese, it just sounds like the cast is simply reading lines. It’s an average production, but it comes off as dull as the show itself has been this volume.

Le Chevalier D’Eon: livre III – Danse Macabre closes the first major arc of the series and at this rate maybe Lia is better off being dead. Outside of the couple of transformation scenes when Lia takes over D’Eon’s body to fight, volume three is about as exciting and predicatable as watching paint dry. The video is clean and the subtitles present no errors. The DVD extras include four English production commentary tracks, credit-free opening and ending videos, and historical notes on some of the characters involved. Also included is an insert booklet with interviews, character designs, and a script for a better look into the Japanese production of the series. Le Chevalier D’Eon: livre III – Danse Macabre carries lots of political intrigue with the assassinations and coups of Russia, but the final execution of the events is rather tame.