Hitsugi no Chaika – Avenging Battle Ep. 1: More of the same

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I keep thinking, “Yo, where’s the Bones anime this season?” Then I realize Hitsugi no Chaika – Avenging Battle is that Bones anime this season. Welp. I mean, it’s an okay story, but that’s the thing. It’s nothing more than an okay story. We’ve seen Bones do great things, but their recent efforts have been, well, rather disappointing. Anyway, since it is just an okay story, I’ll simply blog this show with bullet points from here on out.

— We get a flashback that shows not only what the late Gaz had looked and sounded like in his final days, but we see him get the ball rolling on creating the various Chaikas. As if there was any doubt, the multiple Chaikas are creations intended for some purpose. Gaz even admits his methods seem counter-intuitive, whatever that means. Unfortunately, a lot about the story is still shrouded in mystery. Everything we learn here is stuff that, well, we could’ve surmised on our own. As for Chaika’s true purpose, that’s still a mystery. On the plus side, at least this will be answered by the end of this season (I hope). But we still don’t know why Gaz had to be killed. It always bothered me how people feared Gaz in the first series, but nobody ever really explained why he was so bad. His own people didn’t seem to mind him too much. Hell, they wanted to revive the Gaz Empire. The late emperor must have done something horrible to justify other nations waging a 300-year war against him, and it bugs me that we don’t know what that something was.

— According to a bunch of important people, the fortress incident at the end of the first season has somehow “placed [everyone] in a war outbreak scenario.” Really now? I remember this being bad guy’s ultimate goal, but I’m still not quite sure how the actions of some duke’s crazy, renegade son are enough to ignite the flames of war.

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— Elsewhere, our heroes run into a bunch of former soldiers “in the sticks.” Chaika herself is locked in a battle against a former hero who can cast spells much faster than she can. In any case, she has one of Gaz’s remains, so there’s no avoiding this fight. Although Chaika loses, the lady allows our heroine to have a rematch. How nice of her. For the first time, we see a former hero who isn’t either greedy, dead, or in total ruins. Rather, this lady seems to be living a nice, decent life for herself managing a winery. Maybe because of this, she’s also super bored, and Chaika’s arrival allows her to have some fun. So many people in this universe seem thirsty for war.

— Some of Lady Claudia’s soldiers are loyal enough to stick with her long after the war even if this means becoming a butler or whatever. On the one hand, we’ve seen in the previous series how soldiers can’t seem to find work in this post-war reality. Hell, this includes Toru. On the other hand, going from former soldier to a servant who serves food to your lady’s guests is quite a few steps down in terms of prestige. Oh well, what can you do? A job’s a job.

— A lot of this first episode is just a recap of the first season. Chaikas are hoping to gather Gaz’s remains. People fear this because they think the Chaikas want revenge against the Alliance of the Six Nations. Our Chaika just wants to hold a funeral for her father, she thinks she’s the real daughter, blah blah blah. Again, it’s stuff we already know. It’s quite unfortunate that Chaika ended up being somewhat of a split-cour series. Had it stayed glued together as one long two-cour anime, maybe we could’ve avoided the need to re-educate the viewers on what the series is even about.

— Any attempts to learn anything new is instantly rebuffed. Chaika asks Claudia what her father was like in his final moments, but Claudia wasn’t even there.

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— And now she’s giving Chaika a lesson on how to fight.

— Haha, more incest jokes, you guys.

— One reason the show doesn’t captivate me is because most of the time you can only take it at face-value. The characters sit around and discuss how they might defeat Claudia, and, well, that’s it. Chaika even explains what the words in her incantations mean, and, again, that’s it. There are no themes or subtext to consider here. What you see is what you get, and what you get are three friends (four if you include the cat dragon) spending time with each other. The characters never undergo any profound change, too. The narrative is thus carried by whether or not the existing chemistry between them works for you. This is why I think Hitsugi no Chaika is just an average show at best. It doesn’t dream very big. Not every show needs to be deep, but even when there’s action, Chaika never feels truly epic.

— Can’t I say the same for Garo and Shingeki no Bahamut? After all, they don’t seem like they’ll have particularly deep stories either. Well, it still remains to be seen how those two series will unfold seeing as how we’ve only seen a single episode from either of them. But if their first episodes are anything to go by, they have superior execution to anything we’ve gotten from Hitsugi no Chaika thus far. Chaika feels bogged down by those anime-isms I had talked about in a previous post. The incest jokes from Akari. The existence of some cat-slash-dragon-slash-loli. Chaika’s entire personality. So far, the other two shows maintain a strong atmosphere, which goes a long way in establishing a compelling narrative. You truly feel as if you’re in a different world and/or a different time. Chaika takes place in some vaguely European setting, but it still feels very much like I’m watching a bog standard anime with a magical girl. Chaika’s need to have overly cute characters is distracting and even eye-rolling at times. Garo and Shingeki no Bahamut may very well falter in the weeks to come, and if they do, I’ll call them out. But for now, again, I just think they have better execution than Chaika.

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— More recap as the story reminds us of Alveric and his supposed death. Without a body, you can’t really verify anything… On that note, however, I never felt as though his character added much to the story, so I can’t say I’d be too worked up if he stayed dead for the remainder of the story.

— Vivi supposedly turned into a Chaika. Makes you wonder if the other Chaikas were created in much the same way, i.e. coming face-to-face with some great trauma in your life. Makes you also wonder if this could happen to anyone. Probably not. Every Chaika seems to have the same face, and it’s not as though Vivi’s facial structure underwent any great change during her transformation. So on that same token, you can’t, for example, imagine Zita turning into a Chaika, because she looks so completely different from what a Chaika should look like. Combine this with Vivi’s uncertain origins, maybe she was always destined to become a Chaika. A Chaika sleeper cell, if you will.

— According to Guy, Vivi’s only a half-Chaika. Not only that, she can speak in complete sentences much like Blue Chaika. I wonder if that says anything about Blue Chaika’s status as a “true” Chaika. But she’s dead, so it probably doesn’t really matter anymore.

— Guy’s identity and purpose are still shrouded in mystery. I hope it turns out he’s just a male Chaika or something, and as a result, he’s rather neutered, i.e. he can’t do anything but be an informant. I’m just being facetious, of course… maybe.

— Anyway, our heroes face off against Claudia once more, but she still has the upper-hand. The episode thus ends with a cliffhanger. Oh well.

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— For better or worse, the same ol’ Chaika feeling is still there. This is a boon to some, but for me, Chaika is just a time-waster for that midweek lull.


5 Replies to “Hitsugi no Chaika – Avenging Battle Ep. 1: More of the same”

  1. Unless its a original production anime which I can only name a hand full of that came out since 2012 good anime requires good source material. Way I see it light novels are just horrible source material. Even the very few good light novels have 1 issue. They don’t give exposition and shroud everything in secrecy and take literally for ever to answer any question it brings up. Way I see it books are way better source material. Guin Saga is a perfect example that anime can be based off books . With books the writers usually can conclude a adventure and create a whole new adventure with completely different goals. I am pretty much just saying I would be pretty much happy if anime studios would start rejecting using light novels to make anime and stick to making completely original animes and using mangas. Also trying to use books.

    1. The one problem with adapting books is, well, probably the ENORMOUS licensing fees that would come of it. If book publishers actually see a demand for actual book adaptations, then what are the chances that they aren’t going to totally jack up the price? And I don’t think they’d be willing to settle for a reasonable exchange. And then we talk about getting GOOD books. Yeah, huh. So the dilemma is pay “meh” amount for “meh” stories or pay an arm and a leg for good stories.
      And to be real, if we’re talking about REAL Japanese authors here and not the LN writing riff-raff, I’m REALLY going to doubt that they want to cartoon up their work. There’s just MORE stuff for the author to do to dictate that anime writers and storyboarders aren’t going to totally animu the book up and ruin it. And let’s be honest: the studio’s most likely going to fuck it up. That’s just another reason for authors not to green-light adaptations; it could only damage their work.

      LN adaptations have been utter GARBAGE and their track record has shown it. Blame it both on the LN “writers” and/or studios unable to faithfully reproduce the source material for whatever reason. Well, most of the time the LN is just trash and SOMEHOW got published and popularized. Let’s face it, getting an LN animated is an easy way to get fame and money with not a whole lot of skill or craft needed.
      And I’m going to bet that licensing a LN is drastically cheaper than an actual book. So it’s almost a match made in hell for the penny-pinching anime industry.

      I agree with you, the overall craft of the industry would be significantly higher if we had actual Japanese literature to go off of instead of that teen wet dream-tier drivel we’ve been flooded with. But it’s so cost-prohibitive that I doubt we see much of it or at all, unless some billionaire anime loving investor somehow convinces everyone otherwise.

      1. Yeah, LN adaptations tend to bad. Occasionally, one that’s actually got some substance gets picked-up by the right people, but the chances of that happening are so, so slim.

        [quote]But it’s so cost-prohibitive that I doubt we see much of it or at all, unless some billionaire anime loving investor somehow convinces everyone otherwise.[/quote]
        It’s not necessarily more cost-prohibitive to go with all new material, though. It’s just risky. It’s the same thing that happens with other forms of mainstream media.

        I get the impression that a lot of people working in the industry are quite unhappy with the creative shackles imposed upon them by the business. They ARE artists. They would probably much rather get paid to do something with more artistic merit than most of the stuff coming out now. A lot of the people working on shitty LN adaptations and pandering shows with tropes written into them wherever possible probably have the ability to do much better than that.

        You can see the slivers of potential picking away at the crust of the industry, just trying to reach the light of day.The people who pay them just don’t see the potential return, in it. Whereas, if they put their money into a popular light novel, they know it’ll sell if they apply the right formula to it.

        But who knows? It may turn out that with enough exposure, people will actually fund the shows they want to see with their own money. Rather then depend on predictions of how much we will pay in merchandise and viewership, pitch it to us directly and we can decide if we want to see it. Look at Under The Dog. I don’t know if the show will actually be good, but it could be the future for accomplished animators with vision. And hey, if crowd funding becomes seen as a viable way to produce an anime, then maybe the big-wigs will take a listen to what the people with all of their combined money are saying. It’ll be interesting to see how the reception for UTTD will be…

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