Reviewby Theron Martin, Feb 14th 2017
Chain Chronicle: The Light of Haecceitas
movie 2 (TV episodes 5-8)
On their way through the Maze Pass to the mines where a great artifact has been discovered, Yuri and Aram get separated from the rest in the blizzard. Aram acquires a cute little mascot, while the black infection starts to ply Yuri's mind with doubts about his mission and purpose. Meanwhile Juliana has finally decided to take on the full position and responsibilities of succeeding her father to become the Holy Queen, and her entreaty to Shuza, leader of the ogres, to join in a new Black King Suppression Army has an unexpected effect. A planned trip to Spirit Island could provide a valuable clue for where to find Pirika, a journey which must be completed even after calamity strikes. As allies start to fall into despair, Aram begins to shine brighter as the young man who could potentially turn this hopeless situation around.
The second Chain Chronicle movie is now available on Crunchyroll in the same format that the first movie was presented: broken into roughly 20-minute segments with an opener only on the first and a closer only on the last. As with the first movie, these segments are slightly edited (a little recap is added at the beginning and a different opener and closer are tacked on) to serve as episodes 5-8 of a TV series.
The first movie established the unusual premise that the hero had his shot at the main bad guy but failed, so the heroes had to regroup. This regrouping process became the focus of that movie's second half, and it continues into this one as the heroes' quest to find a missing companion and a possible tool to use against the darkness emerges. Sure, the heroes lost one of their own to the corruption of the darkness, but he was one of the most uncooperative members anyway. No big loss, especially since he wasn't developed enough for the audience to actually care about him.
No fantasy story would be worth its weight without crises that push the heroes to the limit of their resolve, which in this case is simply having to figure out a new way to defeat an old opponent that they failed to defeat before. Two big ones crop up in this part, one which the audience knew was probably coming based on the first movie and one which is more of a surprise but not entirely unexpected. This time around the corruption of one of the heroes is handled with considerably more effort and build-up and thus is a bit more convincing (and after all, he suffered a far greater blow to his confidence than Burkhardt did), though I still think he succumbed a little too easily. Contrarily, the other big twist is wholly credible, as it seems entirely in line with the character of both the individual involved and the people he leads. Certainly the heroes will have no shortage of things to fight against in the final movie!
As the second movie progresses, Aram's role in this all becomes clearer. As the youngest and thus least world-weary of the heroes, he is ideally-suited to be fresh, untouched-by-corruption heart and soul that the heroes need to revitalize themselves. While his actions often stray into typical shonen action bullheadedness, that degree of stubborn, unthinking resolve may actually be exactly what they need at this point. Hence the person who would traditionally become the hero instead becomes the mentor in a possible “passing the torch” situation. Amongst other characters, Juliana is finally being given a chance to do something on her own but Phoena is still almost entirely worthless. Her only significant contributions to this movie are using the Chain Chronicle at one point to look up information on something and providing the movie's one fan service scene. She's not even a clear romantic interest, although Aram seems to have actually noticed that she's female. Many other named characters are shown being effective but suffer from little to no personality portrayal, much less development. Clearly the anime version of the franchise is trying to showcase various characters from the game, and doubtless the cameos will make game fans happy, but most of them aren't interesting on any basis other than appearance.
Technical merits for this movie remain about on par with those in the first one: the animation still shines in setting and elaborate character design (except for the very underwhelming designs of the two corrupted heroes) and the CG effects are still passable. For all of the reasonably well-animated action scenes that the movie has, though, few to none of them are all that visually dynamic or gripping; this is standard fantasy anime fare through and through. Heavy graphic content is limited to one scene and the only fan service beyond the aforementioned Phoena scene is the sexy costumes of some female characters. The musical score also remains suitably dramatic, although it never strays too far from what might be expected from a high-end fantasy RPG.
Though Crunchyroll is the primary streamer for the title, Funimation has started to stream the TV episodes in dubbed form. At the time of this writing they have yet to reach the episodes associated with this movie, but based on the first episode alone the dub should be a very good one. Not a single casting choice sounds off; in fact, nearly every named role voiced in that part is the ideal pick for that role, whether it be David Wald as the gravelly-voiced Black King, Ricco Fajardo as Yuri, or Cris George in what I suspect may be an electronically down-pitched performance as the ogre Shuza. The script seems less interpretive than Funimation's sometime are, too.
Overall, the second third of this movie trilogy (or TV series, take your pick) doesn't shake up the impression of this being a fairly generic fantasy RPG-styled story. Too much of it feels like it's only going through its paces rather than trying to be excitingly new.
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : C+
Animation : B+
Art : B+
Music : B
+ Quality backgrounds and character designs, strong English dub
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