Chaika - The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle
by Paul Jensen,
Well, that was fast. Just as soon as the final story arc got under way, we've already reached the last episode of Chaika The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle. Despite having a lot of loose ends to tie up, this final installment does a respectable job of bringing the series to a close.
It's all hands on deck for the finale as nearly every recurring character from this season plays a part in the final battle. Gaz activates his global satellite network and proceeds to blow up everything in sight. Chaika and Toru are both forced to make some tough choices in order to defeat him while the rest of the gang takes on an army of expendable Chaikas. It's a pretty spectacular affair, even if there are a few issues worth complaining about.
While nearly every character gets some screen time in this episode, only a few get a chance to really stand out from the crowd. Red Chaika steals the show on several occasions, as does Toru. Others seem to get lost in the background, especially the members of the Gillette Squad. It's also disappointing that Fredrica's uniquely entertaining personality doesn't come into play, especially considering her role in Toru's portion of the battle. There's a lot of fun to be had here, but your mileage will vary depending on who your favorite characters are.
The episode's breakneck pace is necessary to wrap things up on time, but it lessens the impact of some more emotional moments. Toru's decision to make a contract with Fredrica is a major plot point, as is Chaika's use of her own memories as a source of energy. Unfortunately, neither of these moments receive the attention they need. The contract comes as a matter of necessity for Toru, but I expected it to affect Akari more than it apparently does. Seeing Toru turn his back on their saboteur lifestyle should hit her hard, especially considering how he abandons their status as siblings in the process. It's equally tough to see Chaika sacrifice some of her memories, but we never learn any specifics about what she gave up or how it affected her. Better pacing earlier in the season would have left more time for both events to really play out. As it stands, they're not quite as meaningful as they might have been.
Niva's decision to betray Gaz at the last moment also feels unearned. She didn't show any remorse about the death and destruction she caused up to that point, nor did she appear conflicted about leaving Chaika and the others in the first place. With very little done to show her developing an emotional attachment to Chaika, the defection comes across as something that simply needed to happen for the story's sake. Niva's monotone assertion that she has a personality rings pretty hollow here. These faults are forgivable though, considering how rare satisfying conclusions are in this genre. The show avoids falling into the trap of leaving the door open for a sequel that will never be made. Instead, it lets things come to a natural and believable end. As much as I'd like to see more of Chaika and company, I'm glad to see the series wrap up on a high note.
For whatever missteps the story makes, the visuals are beyond reproach. The show's spell effects are as impressive as always, and each fight scene plays out in a satisfying manner. This episode looks and feels like a properly epic finale, and it certainly outshines the rest of this season's battle scenes. Simply put, things blow up real good.
For all the ups and downs it had, this season never failed to entertain. It didn't break any molds or reinvent any wheels, but it didn't need to. This has been a consistently fun and occasionally clever series, and is an easy recommendation for fans of the genre. Its accessible nature also makes it a good bet for fans who are relatively new to anime. With a good English dub and a release on physical media, it could make for a fine introductory series. Next season's action shows will have a big void to fill.
Chaika - The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Paul Jensen also covers anime and manga at SharkPuppet.com.
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