Review

by Nick Creamer,

Chaika - The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle Episodes 1-10 Streaming

Synopsis:
Chaika - The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle Episodes 1-10 Streaming
In the aftermath of the battle with Chaika's blue color-coded doppelganger, Chaika and her companions continue to gather the remains of her father as Gillette's squad attempts to pick up the pieces. With most of Gaz's body recovered and the shape of his true plans looming, Chaika's questions regarding her real identity will soon be answered in dramatic fashion, and the full scale of the Taboo Emperor's legacy will be made clear. It's looking like Chaika's desire to put her father to rest may run into a few snags before her world can finally put its age of war behind it.
Review:

Chaika's first season was a fun, unassuming adventure with a set of simple but endearing characters, and Avenging Battle does very little to mess with that formula. The system is well established at this point - Chaika and her companions roam around gathering remains, Red Chaika and her friends occasionally cross paths and swords with Chaika's team, and Gillette's squad trails eternally behind, doing their best to make sense of Gaz's true goals. The first two-thirds of Avenging Battle sticks very closely to this system, relying on the strengths Chaika has always possessed and never over-reaching.

The simplicity of Chaika works largely because it's strong in action-adventure fundamentals, and the first of those tentpole strengths is the show's characters. Its main cast isn't terribly complex, but they bounce off each other well, and Chaika herself is an extremely endearing lead. It's a bit unnecessary to add this caveat in the review of a second season, but your reaction to Chaika herself will in large part dictate your reaction to Chaika's show - if you find her mannerisms (stilted language, abundant curiosity) endearing, the slower segments will go down easier, while if you find her aggravating you probably won't have that much fun. Avenging Battle actually does some excellent work in developing Chaika's character, and by the end of this second season she really comes into her own as both a confident semi-leader and capable warrior.

The characters surrounding Chaika are definitely less engaging or well-defined, but they have their moments. Toru in particular continues to develop in this second season, as his quest for post-war identity becomes more and more tied to his feelings towards Chaika. Fredrika and Akari remain largely gag characters, but as far as gag characters go, they work hard not to wear out their welcomes - in fact, Fredrika's ridiculous cat-dragon antics (eating shellfish shell-first, whining about not getting to kill people) are actually one of the highlights of the show. The rest of the cast is given just enough shading to all be likable in their own ways, making for engaging exchanges whenever any of the core groups bounce into each other.

That “bouncing into each other” actually reflects on one of Avenging Battle's bigger problems. With the first two-thirds of Avenging Battle's runtime largely dedicated to Chaika and her friends rambling around and searching for either remains or Gaz's treasure, the show can sometimes fall victim to “wandering in the woods” syndrome. Chaika's cast features three major parties plus whatever villain is currently relevant, and when they're all off searching for or escaping from things, it can sometimes feel like the show is just checking in on characters as they occasionally bump into each other in the forest. Avenging Battle's middle third is hit particularly hard by this issue, and the show overall suffers from slightly less focus than the first season. Fortunately, the show pulls itself together for the final, action-packed arc, with a battle royale offering a great opportunity for all the characters to show off their stuff.

Chaika's action scenes have always been a highlight of the show, and that remains the case in Avenging Battle. Though the show isn't particularly notable in either its art design or music, it has a very good eye for blocking action scenes - they generally feature solid choreography and well-chosen animation. Exchanges of blows feel kinetic, like there's an actual weight to the characters' bodies, and the stakes and relevant variables are always clear enough for the audience to be able to tell who's “winning,” or what a character must do to defeat another. Avenging Battle doesn't feature quite as many fight highlights as the first season (which is partially a consequence of this season's upped dramatic scale meaning more fights are resolved with boring laser beams than engaging physical fights), but there's still plenty of action to enjoy.

On the thematic front, Avenging Battle is something of a letdown after the promise of the first season. In that season, the overarching question of life after war, and how those who were given purpose through battle can move on, was left ambiguous, with the various characters all slowly approaching their own answers. In Avenging Battle, most of those questions are either resolved in a very simplistic way or simply left unanswered. War becomes less a reality of life and more a villain to be stymied, and Toru's journey to happiness with himself seems to be missing a few key steps.

This lack of thematic satisfaction is reflective of the overall show's rushed conclusion, where what feels like four to five episodes' worth of material is wedged carelessly into a two episode frame. Elements like Gillette's turn or the appearance of Toru's old master aren't given enough time to be more than random events that happen, robbing the final act of needed emotional power. The worst element of this might be Niva's overall character, which gets the absolute, absolute minimum of bare-bones development so it can later be used as an unlikely deus ex machina. The show's conclusion offers a great deal of exciting fights, but its breakneck speed and lack of needed emotional beats means the show never quite reaches the sense of weight and drama it deserves.

In spite of those issues, Avenging Battle is still definitely a worthwhile, enjoyable ride. It's funny and endearing, its characters are nice people to spend time with, and its action scenes are dynamic, well-choreographed affairs. It's less than it could have been, but it's a fine show nonetheless.

Grade:
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B-
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B

+ Endearing cast keeps energy high even when the plot rambles; stellar action scenes offer ample reward for investment.
Pacing alternates between somewhat aimless in the early episodes and very rushed near the end; truncated conclusion lacks satisfying resolution for characters and themes.

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Production Info:
Director: Sōichi Masui
Series Composition: Touko Machida
Script:
Touko Machida
Michihiro Tsuchiya
Storyboard:
Masahiro Ando
Takahiro Ikezoe
Hiroko Kazui
Sōichi Masui
Shuuji Miyahara
Toshiharu Murata
Kenji Nagasaki
Hitoshi Nanba
Taizo Yoshida
Episode Director:
Naoki Hishikawa
Takahiro Ikezoe
Shintaro Itoga
Sōichi Masui
Shuuji Miyahara
Noriyuki Nomata
Ikurō Satō
Takurō Tsukada
Daigo Yamagishi
Music: Seikou Nagaoka
Original creator: Ichiro Sakaki
Original Character Design: Namaniku ATK
Character Design:
Nobuhiro Arai
Takuhito Kusanagi
Art Director: Kouji Okamoto
Chief Animation Director:
Nobuhiro Arai
Masahiro Suwa
Animation Director:
Satoshi Abe
Nobuhiro Arai
Yukiko Ibe
Satoshi Ishino
Hiroki Kanno
Takahiro Komori
Hideaki Matsuoka
Tomokatsu Nagasaku
Masaru Oshiro
Nobuyoshi Souzaki
Masahiro Suwa
Akira Takeuchi
Kōhei Tokuoka
Mechanical design: Fumihiro Katagai
Sound Director: Masafumi Mima
Director of Photography: Hikaru Fukuda
Executive producer: Takeshi Yasuda
Producer: Jun'ichirō Tamura

Full encyclopedia details about
Hitsugi no Chaika (TV 2)

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