棺姫のチャイカ AVENGING BATTLE 第1話 「遺体あつめる皇女」
Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle #01. 「The Princess Who Gathers Remains」
Source Material: Light novel series by Sakaki Ichirou (榊 一郎)
Director(s): Masui Soichi (増井 壮一)
Writer(s): Machida Touko (待田 堂子)
Music: Nagaoka Seikou (長岡 成貢)
Hitsugi no Chaika is a 2010 light novel series written by Sakaki Ichirou and illustrated by Namaniku ATK. As of January 2014, eight volumes have been published by Fujimi Shobo under its Fujimi Fantasia Bunko imprint. It has also been adapted into two separate manga series, one written by Shinta Sakayama and published in Kadokawa Shoten’s Shōnen Ace and the other written by Kanikama and published in Kadokawa Shoten’s 4-Koma Nano Ace. The anime’s first season aired from April 2014 to June 2014.
Chaika and crew have encountered yet another of the Eight Heroes of history who banded together to assassinate Chaika’s father, Emperor Arthur Gaz, and end the long-lasting war. Chaika faces off in a one-on-one rifle-slinging duel against Claudia Dodge, the hero wizard who specializes in the same magical craft as Chaika, while Toru and Akari battle against Claudia’s underlings, who are veteran soldiers of the war. It is revealed however that the showdown is not one to the death; and since Toru and Akari successfully defeat Claudia’s men while she herself defeated Chaika, Claudia offers them a tie-breaker match the next day. The group take rest on Claudia’s estate, which is also a vineyard and winery she has successfully established since the war ended. During the team’s strategy meeting, Frederica offers to take part in the battle the next day to increase their odds of winning and even Toru and Akari propose simply stealing the heart of Gaz if they cannot defeat Claudia in a fair match, but Chaika insists on having a fair bout and practices throughout the night to make her magic more effective by shortening her incantations. Meanwhile, higher authorities are becoming increasingly vigilante against the however many Chaikas in search of Gaz’s remains. The Gillette Corps report to their superior officer without Gillette and Vivi, and Nikolai is promoted to the group’s captain due to Gilette’s supposed death. The division collectively decides to keep the names of Gillette Corps, however. In the courtyard rests Vivi, whose hair and eye color went through a dramatic transformation into that of Chaika’s when she discovered the shocking news of Gillette’s death and was rendered into a traumatic state. The mysterious young man who referred to himself as Guy and who visited Chaika once before to divulge information about Gaz’s remains now appears before Vivi, insisting she pursue her fated path of collecting Gaz’s remains as her tr uedaughter. In the following morning, Chaika, Toru, and Akari meet Claudia at the designated time and place to have their final battle despite Chaika not being able to perfect her magic. Immediately, Claudia proves to have the upper hand, being able to fend off against both Toru and Akari, disable Chaika’s attacks, and go on the offensive
Slow and steady wins the race, but will it win the race to collect all of King Arthur Gaz’s body parts? Now that’s the question to be asked, and honestly, if it did, that would be quite the shocking じじつ. Hitsugi no Chaika‘s last season did plenty well in assembling our cast of varied fantasy-type characters, setting the fine intersection among their respective motives that would lead them on a journey together, and having their quest encounter the climates of diplomatic aggression in a post-war period that the series has established as its narrative basis upon. With all that said and animated however, there did feet like there was still a lot of be desired from the series’s plot-line, and no, I don’t mean another Chaika, but rather, a hearty story-arc with a convincing and coercive conflict. For its archetypal “Eight Heroes” trope, Hitsugi no Chaika does a narrative rarity in subverting the convention away from the typical “strongest potential opponents in the canonical universe” and towards the thematic portrayal of what these heroes turned out to be once the war was over and they went back to their “normal” lives. And indeed, it’s equally commendable just how diverse their stories are written out to be; with some becoming rich and wealthy, as we see in this episode with Claudia, and some, or rather, a lot, experiencing anguish that seems to completely overshadow their presumed hardships during the war, i.e. the loss of loved one(s), the betrayal from loved one(s), and even a turn towards villainy (The anime actually revises a number of their fates, e.g. Dominica dying from illness rather than losing the will to live and straight-up dying and Simon being insane instead of, again, straight-up dead.). It’s in that respect that Hitsugi no Chaika offers some subtly stirring and thought-provoking morsels in its story-telling. But throughout the entire first season’s run, there was a necessity of a grander scheme of story-telling; and that’s perhaps what the conflict with Soara, the Floating Fortress tried to be. You might have guessed from my tone so far, but for me, it just wasn’t climactic enough. The first season cliff-hangs on the put-down of some legitimately sinister antagonists, an identity crisis for our eponymous character, and the death of a rather key figure. In structuring those events to occur in a season finale, the impact is elevated a ways; but in its presentation, what sounds quite captivating in pen and on paper unfortunately isn’t as intriguing on the screen. And again, the premiere of Avenging Battle makes pretty clever use of the hiatus, having our trio of grave-diggers starting in media res in an exciting battle against another of the Eight Heroes, until it is revealed that they’re not really fighting so seriously at all. And it’s from there that we pretty much ease back into the show’s usual pace of story-telling. Oddly enough, with all its flaws, Hitsugi no Chaika was one of the easiest shows to watch on a weekly basis during its first season’s air. The show rests itself on the midpoint of a spectrum that spans from “no anticipation whatsoever” to “so good that I have to administer the right atmosphere before even pressing play.” But with the series fresh into its second (and what ends up being for most series the final) season, I can’t help but address the coffin (that’s as inordinate as an elephant, right?) in the room. Just as Chaika worries over the vital time lost during her prolonged incantations, I can’t help but be concerned too with just how much longer Studio BONES can keep this production up. With the light novel series still ongoing in full-gear and BONES being the infamous anime-original ending studio that it is, is there no seasonable end in sight for Hitsugi no Chaika? Well, I guess we can only tune-in to find out, because I guess just like I said, it is quite facile to do so.
*It’s shameful just how much Frederica has been cast-aside as a plot device of transportation and last-minute saves. Even when one of the Eight Heroes that she fought alongside with appears, she can’t be bothered to become even a bit relevant to the plot.