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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.