Under Your Radar: Chaika -The Coffin Princess-

Radar Logo 2

DARAKENA by Iori Nomizu

We don’t want a freedom with restrictions,
Covered in patchwork.

I can go on living because of days like these;
That’s how I feel…

I can get through it because someone like you is with me;
That’s how I feel…

I’m a love fool, my vision clouded,
But what can I do on a night like this?
Reaching a dead end, we make a promise,
Reflected in our mirrored surfaces.

We don’t want a freedom with restrictions,
Covered in patchwork.
We have no interest in an answer that can only be found through parting,
So we’ll search until we can meet again.

Chaika Blu-Ray CoverIt’s time for Under Your Radar! This time, we’ll be covering Chaika -The Coffin Princess- (Hitsugi no Chaika), a light novel by Ichirō Sakaki and published by a child company of Kadokawa. Other child companies of Kadokawa have handled the manga and anime (animated by Bones), including the manga being licensed for English release to Yen Press. Sentai licensed the anime for the West. There are also two spin-off manga. The anime will be my focus here, having had two seasons (the second being one subtitled “Avenging Battle“) and having completed the story in its run of 22 episodes (and a bonus episode that takes place at an unspecified earlier point).

Chaika Screenshot 3

The plot of Chaika starts off with a very basic setup. Our male lead, a saboteur, meets an important female character, the eponymous Chaika (who speaks in broken sentences), and journeys with her along with his sister to achiever her goal. Her goal is the strange part here. The series is set in a somewhat medieval setting, and Chaika intends to find the pieces of his father’s body in order to give him a proper funeral. Her father being the former emperor, Arthur Gaz, who was killed by a group of heroes who then each took a part of his remains, as not only could he respawn if his body were put back together, but his body parts make an excellent magical power source.

Chaika Screenshot 5

Needless to say, it turns out there are others after them, as well as people trying to stop our protagonists for what are hopefully self-evident reasons. Logically speaking, despite noble intentions, our protagonists can’t be described as anything less than a pawn of evil for most of the plot. Indeed, it becomes apparent after a while that there are many Chaikas, each of which claim to be the son of the emperor, each of which has a cover story for searching for the remains that they actually believe to be true. Thankfully, each one has a different surname, specialty, and preferred colour for differentiation. (The protagonist one is Trabant, specializes in magic via her sniper rifle, and prefers white.) In reality, it turns out that various random women across the world seem to turn into Chaika after going through suffering, with implanted memories of a girl the emperor took in before his death, although one such transformation is stopped part-way via friendship, leaving no trace of the transformation aside from the visual one.

Chaika Screenshot 4

Eventually, after obtaining the many parts of the emperor, meeting the often-now-corrupt heroes, having a shape-shifting dragon join their party, and the befriending and/or death of various Chaikas, the emperor is resurrected. He goes straight to attempting to take over the world once again, but is eventually defeated by Chaika Trabant using all of her memories as emergency ammo to fire a massive laser, burning her “father” up and giving him the “funeral” he deserves. The series ends with our protagonist, his sister, the aforementioned dragon, and another Chaika they befriended, taking care of the one who lost her memories.

Chaika Screenshot 1

I think this plot, as a whole, wrapped up nicely, but there are various issues I can’t help but spot. One involves the shapeshifting dragon who joins the group, Fredrika. While she’s useful to fly to otherwise impossible to reach locations, the second a fight starts, she loses immediately. She’s supposed to be this badass dragon who once supported a hero, and definitely looks imposing, and insists on the protagonist making a contract with her to become a dragoon cavalier, but she makes a poor pitch when she can’t last a minute in actual combat conditions. I don’t think she won even a single fight in the entire show. In fact, even when the protagonist does enter the contract for the climax of the show, the emperor has no trouble just obliterating him, which is why it all ends up on Chaika’s shoulders.

Chaika Screenshot 2

Next is the protagonist’s sister. She’s quite an impediment to the romance between Chaika and the protagonist, and eventual harem that forms around the protagonist. And not for any good reason, solely because she wants a piece of him as well. The obligatory incest character is getting quite a bit tired by now, even with the obligatory adoption excuse. She adds nothing to the plot.

Finally, I omitted that the gun Chaika fires in the final battle is actually a character. Shortly beforehand, they meet a character named Niva, a shapeshifting sentient gun that used to belong to the emperor, and formed a friendship with Chaika. When the emperor revives, Niva goes back to the emperor, only to side with Chaika once he aims the gun at her. But, in the end, the last we see of Niva is her in her gun form, all chained up by the “good guys”. That seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it? She betrayed her master to help the protagonists, only for the world’s government to keep her imprisoned in inanimate form. In hindsight, she probably should have just stuck with the emperor.

Chaika -The Coffin Princess- is available on Crunchyroll.

Verdict

There are certainly several things it could have done better, but one thing it did well is leave a sense of tension as the protagonists had to find some way to overcome everything in their way. At no point in the series did the protagonists seem to definitely have the upper hand. I attribute this to the protagonist and his sister being saboteurs and Chaika Trabant using a sniper rifle. Not exactly the sort of skills you’d fight in the front lines with, but they had to make do with a team of only these.

I quite enjoyed watching Chaika.

Unjust


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3 thoughts on “Under Your Radar: Chaika -The Coffin Princess-

  1. I really loved the first season of Chaika but found the whole second season rushed and the confrontation with the Emperor really unsatisfying. Plus, I really wanted the other characters to be more invovled. Particularly Akari. She really doesn’t get much of a role in this and she could have been quite an interesting character.

  2. from above “The obligatory incest character is getting quite a bit tired by now, and she doesn’t even have a adoption excuse or anything.”

    Actually, they are not genetically related at all. They were raised together in the same village but are not biological siblings. So, yes, does actually exactly have the “adoption excuse”.

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