Chaika - The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle
by Paul Jensen,
What Chaika The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle needed this week was a reset of sorts. The series was starting to drag after several consecutive episodes of laborious setup and exposition. Thankfully, this episode clears the slate by dropping a few bombshells and cranking the pace up a notch. Nothing cleanses the palate quite like a deluge of action scenes.
After a short dash through an obstacle course worthy of a cable TV game show, Chaika and company finally get down to business this week. Akari and Fredrica go hunting for the elusive remains, Vivi reunites with Gillette, more of Hartgen's backstory is revealed, and the red and white Chaikas square off in an underground arena. That's an awful lot of content to get through, and this episode moves at a breakneck pace compared to previous installments.
How much you enjoy this episode will depend on which of the show's many storylines appeals to you the most. In the mad rush to start tying things up, not every event gets as much screen time as it should. Hartgen's past proves to be more interesting than expected, and some new revelations help distinguish him from previous antagonists. The black Chaikas remain something of an unknown quantity, but the delight they take in manipulating the heroes makes it easy to root for their downfall.
The encounter between Vivi and Gillette is certainly intense, and the scene does a good job of remaining unpredictable from moment to moment. There's a genuine feeling of danger throughout the fight, and Vivi's method of bringing Gillette to his senses carries plenty of dramatic impact. In all the mayhem, however, we end up missing some of the more nuanced emotions that should be at play here. With their limited screen time, the characters are too busy hacking off limbs to display much inner turmoil. Given another minute or two, this exchange could have really plucked at the audience's heartstrings.
The Chaika vs. Chaika showdown is also a blast to watch, but it feels like the duel is wrapped up a bit too handily. Red Chaika and David are essentially taken out by two non-lethal spells and a nasty scratch, which is tough to believe in light of their past exploits. Considering the sort of fighting prowess they've displayed in previous story arcs, you'd think they might pose more of a challenge. It's not impossible to believe, but it's certainly a letdown for anyone expecting a battle between equals.
Shin's appearance at the end of the episode may not wrap up any loose ends, but it opens the door for more exciting clashes in the near future. This marks the second time he's beaten the stuffing out of Toru without breaking a sweat, and that's a good thing. Chaika and friends have had some underwhelming opponents this season, and a powerful enemy is just what they need. Bring on the rematch.
The level of authority that Hartgen's minions hold over the main characters has been a minor issue throughout this story arc. After spending two and a half episodes dispatching countless tournament participants, it seems odd that Chaika and Toru can be bossed around by a few nameless guards. Why would they choose to march down a dark hallway when they could blast open the gate and plow through the bad guys without a second thought? It doesn't make sense that they would give up the initiative so easily. I realize that the show needs to isolate the different teams so they can encounter one another in the right order, but there must be a more believable way of doing so.
Aside from a few gaps in logic, this marks a welcome return to form for the series. It's not as clever or deep as it could be, but it's at least fun to watch. The story is once again moving forward, and the previous episode's habit of restating old information is mercifully absent. Perhaps Chaika finally added “The Editor” to her repertoire of spells.
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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