Hitsugi no Chaika (The Coffin Princess) 5-6
Well, this is getting rather interesting. Not only is there another Chaika running around looking for Emperor Gaz’s remains, there could be up to five Chaika doing the same quest. This revelation comes as White Chaika group, while on the run from Gillette, is ambushed by a hooded figure who turns out to be another Chaika dressed in red. The insuring fight results in Toru and Akari taking Red Chaika hostage and White Chaika being held by the attackers. What follows is a rather assuming torture scene where Red Chaika is repeatedly called Sticky until she gives up her real name. It is also revealed that she doesn’t process any memories and shares the same scar around her neck as White Chaika. In parallel, Red Chaika followers are charmed by White Chaika gentle mannerism and adorable expressions. They remark that they would rather much have her than the red ball of hate that is Red Chaika. Episode five concludes with both Chaikas staring down each other at the hostage exchange location at a waterfall.
In episode six, the hostage exchange is about to commence when suddenly, they are interrupted by a mob of flying magical vultures firing spells at them. It turns out that Gillette’s men inverted the sensations of all the surrounding creatures to whip them up into a frenzy in order to capture both Chaikas. Both parties manage to wipe out the attacking creatures and regroup to make other arrangements. At the same time, the governing body directing the Gillette corporation from the background is holding a meeting to discuss issues. After the collapse of Gaz’s empire, six nations emerge out of the conflict forming a council of some sort with a old and very bored king overseeing the proceedings. Domestic issues rule the day such as uprisings, poverty and food shortages with key members dismissing Chaika’s quest as nothing more than folklore. Because of the council’s other priorities, Gillette’s group is ordered stop the pursuit of the Chaikas and go somewhere else to suppress farming communities from revolting. The next attempt hostage exchange goes although a sniper had to taken out during the transfer. Later on, Red Chaika once again holds up Toru and asks him to join her party at the cost of White Chaika. He refuses by fighting off them off and Red Chaika is left vowing to someday finish her business with all the other Chaikas.
Over the last two episodes, the fights have been coming fast and hard. An attempted robbery against White Chaika in an alleyway ends up with Frederica demolishing thugs underneath her dragoon form. The next fight, which is the highlight of episode five, composes of White Chaika’s car being held up by a hooded figure. Toru quickly confronts this person with knives out, ready for a engagement. He also asserts the situation to be an ambush and yells for Akari to move out of the kill zone. The mysterious figure is revealed to be wielding a snake sword which functions as both a blade and a whip, depending on the range of the opponent. After ensnaring the whip, Toru quickly closes the gap and engages at the melee range where his dual daggers would be more effective than a single sword. A swipe unveils the attacker to be a very pissed off Red Chaika.
Red Chaika’s team composition consisting of two melees and a ranged sniper is a mirror of White Chaika’s own party minus the overpowered dragoon. However, there are important differences such what melee weapon each individual wields. Akari’s spiked hammer is massive blunt weapon but lacks the ability to perform quick attack while Red Chaika’s men carries a spear which having more piercing power and reach. Toru’s line knives is reserved for rapid close range strikes while the snake sword is for dispatching large groups at distance. It does seem though, that whatever their opponents use, the saboteur pair is more than capable of handling Red Chaika’s team, given the iron-blood transformation greatly outclasses the combat skills of any normal human being.
The next big fight involves fending off ugly magical vultures and both parties are forced to fight for their survival. Red Chaika’s men does a decent enough job of holding off the flock of rampaging birds while their support gunner uses the water as a source of a smokescreen. Toru’s party has no such luxury (because Frederica is curiously missing in action) and all three of them are forced to resort to brute force to wipe out the birds and survive. However, upon seeing the steam smokescreen, Toru detonates the sack attached to Red Chaika, which is a bluff disguised as a bomb, creating his own smokescreen. In that particular scene, it was nice to see Red Chaika immediately team up with the saboteur pair and goes on to kick ass. Her snake sword is quite good at taking out multiple targets at ranges that Toru’s line knives would have trouble reaching. The birds are no match for our combat harden trio and are destroyed in quick order.
Toru’s foresight continues into the next hostage attempt, where he uses Ferdica as an Akari decoy while the real Akari hunts down the opposing sniper. Not much fighting happens as Akari is momentarily blind as her target is forced to use a flash spell in order to get away. However, very shortly afterwards, Red Chaika yet again attempts to lure Toru onto her team. Toru doesn’t take any shit from her and processes to transform into his iron-blood mode. Like clockwork, Akari performs a flanking maneuver on the supporting gunner and is able to once again take the heat off of her teammates. This time, she carries explosive throwing knives as a sort of payback against her pesky nemesis. Toru’s opening charge is backed up by White Chaika flash spell forces another retreat through a smokescreen.
I enjoy the little touches within these fights such as White Chaika being unceremoniously kicked off the automobile by Akari during the first ambush and the way Toru holds his blade, preparing to ram it right through Red Chaika’s throat without any hesitation. These details assure me that the saboteur pair remain competent at what they do best which is blowing shit up and winning. The fight scene remains one of the strongest points of Hitsugi no Chaika as they are well choreographed, fast paced and lack the dumb yelling of what the name of their next attack is going to be.
Red Chaika stands in stark contrast to White Charka with her hyper-aggressiveness and furious nature. Where White Charka only wants to give her father a proper burial, Red Chaika wishes to bring vengeance on those who wronged her family. Toru’s notes that is the natural reaction to such an event, more so than the emotional closeness that White Chaika seeks. Her combat style is a reflection of her seething demeanor, preferring close combat rather than playing the support role from a range. As well, she views the other Chaikas as fakes and only she is the sole heir in uniting all the emperor’s remains. Seeing that Toru is a capable fighter and would be a valued asset in her party along with having some emotional attachment during her captivity, she is driven to add Toru to her numbers. By promising him more fights and a grand stage for his skills to be displayed.
Toru’s refusal to defect to Red Chaika’s side, even though she promises total war, is a reflection of his journey into coming to terms about the purpose of his life. He see White Chaika as a someone who is capable of great power and yet at the time, is vulnerable and all too trusting. Fights are wonderful and provide an outlet for his combat skills but they are only temporary and often unsustainable in the long run. In the end, he desires someone who needs him and Red Chaika is too independent and strong to fill that role.
Building on the wincest vibes from episode four, Akari continues to be rather protective of her sibling relationship, using dead lizards and spiked hammer to come between Toru and other potential love interests. At the very least, she does not fawn over Toru like some of the other characters this spring season (Miyuki from Mahouka), who shower their Onee-chan with praise. Instead, she does it in such a deadpan manner and that moments are short enough makes its tolerable and sometimes is even a little funny. Frederica is more a wild card than a reliable companion, showing up whenever she feels like it. Her absence is much more noticeable in the fights as her dragoon form would allow her to simply obliterate any opponent quickly. However, her motive for joining White Chaika is so that she can fight Toru later on and probably prefers to watch from the sidelines in keeping with her catty nature. Most likely, she gets more entrainment from watching her companions duke it out in a extended fight than prematurely squashing every combatant. I do suspect that when our cast of merry heroes is facing a numerically superior and stronger force, she will play a large role in equalizing the balance of power for that fight and I look forward to her leveling the entire battlefield.
During the writing of this piece, I was delighted to find out that Hitsugi no Chaika will be a split-cour, having another 12 episodes in the coming fall season. Seeing that there was no way to wrap up the story in any meaningful way given the pace at which the show is adapting the light novel material in just 12 episodes, the extra running time will give the creative team much needed breathing room to bring Chaika into its proper conclusion. My hope is that Studio Bones will either step up their game for Captain Earth (where are my goddamn robots?) or allocate more budget for Coffin Princess Chaika because at this point, it is really their best show of the season.