While the premise of a group of people adventuring in a medieval-esque world is admittedly a tad too common in TV media, the same can’t be said for anime. While some animes do have this as their base premise, they usually deviate from it well into their mid-point. Very few animes follow this premise as closely as Hitsugi no Chaika does, and that’s what makes it one of the better animes of last season.
Story: 16/20 and Characters: 14/20
The story follows Toru Acura, a saboteur – basically a hired gun - who’s out of jobs due to the war being over. While scavenging for food in the forest, he meets Chaika Trabant, a peculiar girl who carries with her everywhere a coffin (hence the title, “Chaika the coffin princess”). It turns out that Chaika is the daughter of the late Emperor Gaz, the person who plunged the world into war years prior. Things happened, and eventually they, along with Toru’s sister, decided to embark on an adventure to collect the late emperor’s remains in order for Chaika to give him a proper funeral.
The premise itself is already quite interesting. It grants infinite possibilities in where they would go next and what obstacles await them in their next destinantion. Usually this comes in the form of a former hero who is over-protective of the remains, but the show throws you a curveball every now and then. It keeps you hooked and wondering what happens next. Chaika is certainly one of the few animes this season that kept me counting the hours to the next episode.
That said, Chaika isn’t without its shortcomings. The pacing can sometimes feel rushed – this is mostly evident in season one’s ending – an additional episode would’ve done much better for the series. It also contains many harem-like elements, and I heard many people despise that. But the biggest shortcoming is surprisingly the titular heroine – Chaika herself. It’s not that she’s unlikable or anything, you’ll likely find yourself attached to her once you’re at the anime’s midpoint. The problem is that she has a very peculiar way of speaking. If you don’t have the patience, you’ll likely drop this anime just because you couldn’t stand her speech.
Other than that, the other characters are quite likable. While many of them can be shallow at times, and there’s little to no character development, you’ll likely find them hard to hate.
The animation of Chaika is very bones. It has thick outlines, it’s mostly hand-drawn, and anything that moves looks different to anything that doesn’t move. That said, the animation isn’t bad per se, it’s just quite average. You won’t find any eye-popping or ridiculously beautiful scenes that are better described as works of art, and neither will you find scenes which are dissapointing. Still, if you’re a fan of bones’ animation style, you may find the animation in Chaika to be very good.
Sound and Music: 15/20
First of all, the OP and ED were pretty catchy. It doesn’t particularly stand out, and most of you will probably find it average, but I found that it is quite suiting to the show’s tone. The background music, on the other hand, were pretty neat. They really fit with the show’s medieval-esque backdrop, and they often add emotional impact to the scenes in which they were played.
In the voice acting department, I don’t have anything to complain about. You may find Chaika’s (the character) voice acting to be very annoying at first, as I said above, but trust me, you’ll get used to it. The voice acting doesn’t particularly stand out like say, Ping Pong The Animation, but it does the job.
Most of Chaika’s pieces may be the very definition of average, but as they say, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The beauty of Chaika shows when it all comes together. No episode felt unnecessary, and you wouldn’t even notice bones slipped an anime original episode somewhere in there.
Unlike many animes of Spring 2014, Chaika is very consistent, and you’ll never felt you’ve wasted a week waiting in anticipation for a new episode. There’s always a new development around the corner. I’ll give the anime an additional 5 points for this.
Conclusion: Not particularly a stand out, but this is something I’d definitely recommend, given the proper context.