Chaika - The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle
by Paul Jensen,
With its episode count starting to dwindle, Chaika The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle needed to get its last act going in a hurry this week. This episode manages to do just that by finally placing all of the show's cards on the table. Plenty of lingering questions are answered, and the gauntlet is officially thrown down for the final climactic battle.
Hartgen, Guy, and the black Chaika finally get their hands on all of the Emperor's remains this week, though things don't exactly go as Hartgen planned. After a resurrection process that looks like something out of Parasyte, Emperor Gaz comes back to life. He's got freaky monster limbs, he's packing high-caliber magic, and he has his own plan for plunging the world back into a state of war. This series may have suffered from some underpowered villains in the past, but that certainly won't be a problem here.
Killing off Hartgen and bringing in Gaz was a smart move, and not just because the latter poses a bigger threat to the main characters. With her “father” back in the land of the living, Chaika will finally have to come up with a goal that wasn't brainwashed into her head. There's no longer any doubt that she was a pawn in an evil scheme, and the way Chaika deals with that knowledge should make some for some compelling viewing. Expect plenty of tears, plenty of shouting, and plenty of shocking truths.
Gaz is also a better villain because his plan makes some vague amount of sense. Where Hartgen seemed intent on starting a war simply because he was bored, Gaz has some actual goals in mind. It's probably best not to ask how he launched a castle into orbit in his past life, but everything else holds together, more or less. The show has already established that strong emotions and memories make for good magical fuel, so the Emperor's plan to generate plenty of both by starting a war doesn't feel like it came out of nowhere. His reasons for allowing himself to be killed are also easy to follow, and the plan as a whole is certainly evil enough to be worth two seasons of buildup.
Faced with an enemy who can casually blast floating fortresses out of the sky, the show's various factions seem to be moving towards the same kind of uneasy alliance we saw at the end of the first season. After a close shave in Hartgen's castle, the Gillette squad appears to be back in the game. The red Chaika team looks pretty worn out in this episode, but it's likely they'll also play a part in the battle. The only real question mark at the moment is Shin. With so many other characters on the verge of teaming up, it might be better for the series if he were to side with Gaz. It would set Shin up as a foil for Toru and create an opportunity for the two of them to have one final showdown. It feels a bit odd to hope that a character will make the wrong decision, but having Shin turn to the dark side would be the better choice from a dramatic standpoint.
This episode coughs up a lot of exciting revelations, but it also suffers from having to adhere to tired old action movie rules. While Gaz is coming back to life and gloating about his nefarious plans, the heroes don't do much except stand around with horrified expressions on their faces. This is fine for Chaika, who's just had a ton of emotional baggage dumped on her. Out of Akari, Toru, Gillette, and Vivi, however, you'd think at least one person would take a shot at stabbing Gaz before he can get his bearings. But no, they just stand around and ask the questions most likely to be on the viewer's mind. It feels like these four characters were replaced with cardboard cutouts for this scene, which isn't the best way to use the show's core cast.
With all the necessary pieces in play, this season is finally ready to go out with a bang. The only remaining concern is whether or not there's enough time left to tie up every loose end. As long as the writing and animation hold up, the finale should be worth the wait.
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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