Imagine a world filled with endless conflict. A world where it was kill or be killed, where you fought to survive and merely survived just to fight another day. Now imagine if that conflict comes to an abrupt end. Suddenly, a world that’s known nothing but war is a peaceful land, and the times begin to cross you by. There are no longer wars to fight, no need for someone with your skill set, no longer a place where you belong, and you’re left without a purpose. What do you do?
The easiest response would be to just find another goal, to look for another purpose to fulfill. But as we know, life’s a fickle thing. It’s not something that gives you a path because you’re looking for one, and that’s Hitsugi no Chaika in a nut shell. In a way, it’s a story of displaced people trying to find a place to belong, of heroes meeting lonely ends, of specialized soldiers (saboteurs, magicians, cavalier and the like) left to fend for themselves. At the same time, it’s an adventure shaped by chance meetings, led by a girl with a coffin, and dependent on acquiring the remains of the recently defeated Emperor. More than that, it’s an amalgamation of mysteries set in a world where magic is fueled by anything and everything, even human memories.
To say the least, Hitsugi no Chaika’s ended up being an interesting series to talk about. It takes a few episodes to develop and to get used to the world they’ve set here, and it’s not exactly the best of shows in terms of overall execution, but there’s a lot to like here. It just depends where you’re looking, because Chaika’s surface and its interior are drastically different things, and it’s quite easy to dismiss this as just another average adventure story at first, second, or even third glance. Granted, I won’t blame you if you did—it’s easy to be deluded by someone who (minor spoilers of scenes from mid-series, no plot spoilers) does cute things like this—but if you’re someone that gave up on the series early on, this is where I’ll tell you to give it another try.
I won’t say too much for the sake of keeping this post generally spoiler free, but I will say this: some stories are worth waiting for the development and I feel like this is one that’ll leave you wanting to see what happens next. There’s the individual stories of the heroes our main cast meets on their en-route to attempting their corpse reclamation project, the stories of the individual cast members themselves, great (and at times hilarious) interactions between the cast , a solidly developed world with broad applications of magic that stretch the imagination, some decent twists/turns to look forward to, and it broaches plenty of questions both regarding the plot and other more philosophical aspects as well.
Why does Chaika want to gather the remains? What could the remains be used for? Who exactly was Emperor Gaz? What do you do when times change too fast for you to adapt? What would you be willing to do to regain a sense of purpose? These are just some of the many questions that come up as the series progresses, and it’s like a smoke/mirrors show that hides some pieces while occasionally revealing others—coming together to ultimately form an adventure that’s fun to watch, filled with more depth than some would give it credit for, and has someone who’s arguably done one of the best voice acting for any character this year in up in the up and coming Anzai Chika, who voices our coffin princess.
When it’s all said and done, just as not everyone’s lives are the same, not all coffin (princesses) are either. Then again, one does wonder when it’s ever normal to have a young girl who speaks with broken sentences and walks around with a giant coffin containing remains of their father and a giant Gun(do)…