Yet, the manga was not yet completely scanlated at the time, so I put it out of my mind. Except for the part that there were spaceships involved in the manga. That part stuck with me for a while. It IS very different from the anime in that regard.
I was at Junkudo a couple weeks ago when I saw the Chrno manga on a random shelf. Never mind that I have most likely walked down that same aisle numerous times before and never noticed it, but that time I did. I stopped and just started laughing. I'm sure the staff and any Japanese person around me stopped and edged away from the crazy foreigner laughing at the far end of the aisle. Needless to say, I went home and discovered that Chrno had finished being scanlated almost 5 years ago and that it was actually kinda short. I finished it in a day.
The forces of Good and Evil clashing together, innocent people used, and 2 people fighting to bring something back that was lost. Quite honestly, they are all common themes in every manga and story since the beginning of languages and storytelling. To fight, persevere, and reclaim what you've lost, these are all motivations for revolution and change. Ideologies are always in conflict until somebody is declared the "winner" or "right". The question is always; which side is actually the logical side.
1920's America, World War I and Prohibition has created the boom before the crash and, apparently churches moonlighting as government agents. At least thats the world that Moriyama creates in Chrno Crusade. We are introduced to Rossette and Chrno and their exorcising adventures that later lead up to the fight to save the world from an apocalyptic ending at the hands of Aion and his demon sinners. The Church basically turns into a government sidearm that sends out it's exorcists on missions along the lines of Navy SEALS.
The way that the church is represented in this manga was very interesting to me. Obviously the Japanese are not a Christian people and their understanding of the Christian religion and it's denominations is mostly based on Western popular culture and the missionaries that have been coming to the country since the 1800s. By making the protagonists exorcists and having them fight demons Moriyama likens them to the wondering Japanese priests that exorcised evil spirits from homes centuries ago. Thus making it a concept that Japanese audience could recognize and connect to without having to have a bit of knowledge on Christianity.
Rossette and Chrno's ending between anime and manga leave very different tones and messages to the future. In the anime, you learn that Remington is an angel that was sent to help guide the order and future of America. He is immortal and is seen during the last episode wondering the streets of Washington D.C. looking haggard and worn from the events of the anime. From the corner of his eye he spots Aion connected to a new human contractor and you are left with a bleek view of the future. All the sacrifices that Rossette, Chrno, Remington and the order made during the 20's are seen as almost futile and pointless. Aion continues in the world and pushes humans to corruption.
Yet the ending Moriyama creates in the manga is noticeably lighter in tone, but by no means a complete happily ever after ending. Remington is not an angel, but a regular man who has been using demon power to stay alive. He is actually well over 60 years old during the fighting, but remained a youthful looking man in his 20's. Aion and Chrno are labeled as "sinners" by their demon population and you learn that they are not actually "demons" in the Judeo-Christian sense, but actually aliens that landed on Earth thousands of years ago. They committed the horrible sin of killing Pandemonium, or their Mother to achieve freedom from their own social system. Aion puts a plan that is almost taken from Gundam to end civilization and free the people who an unfair system into action to have Chrno and the Order come to put a stop to it.
One thing that I did really like about the manga ending was that it did stay true to the tragic vein of Rossette's life. Because of her contract with Chrno, her soul is slowly eaten away when he uses his powers. The anime ended Rossette and Chrno's life on a bench as Rossette screams that she doesn't want to die, adding to the bleek ending I described earlier. All her hardships and shortened life did not help anything in the end. Yet the manga, while it gives her years back on her life, it does not ignore that she has a shortened lifespan. She dies young, but waiting for Chrno to come back to her. Rossette had spent her entire life running and chasing after others, that she could never just wait. Yet the end of her life was spent peacefully waiting for Chrno.
All in all, I found the manga to be slightly less tragic than the anime, but not as thought provoking or bleek. I encourage you all to read the manga and watch the anime to see what I am getting at.