Hitsugi No Chaika

January 4, 2015

Mmm… Cute girl. Cute girl in gothic dress. Cute girl in gothic dress carrying a huge coffin around. I guess that is enough to turn off anyone trying to approach her. Harbinger of death maybe. I suppose when your guns are too big to fit into your standard size suitcases, the coffin is the best mode to transport them around. Hah. And so Hitsugi No Chaika isn’t about a goth loli as an assassin going around killing people, she’s trying to find the scattered remains of her late father who was an emperor of a fallen kingdom. Yeah. That still sounds gruesome enough. Travelling with a pair of assassin siblings she hired, join them in their adventure as they go from one town trying to fulfil this personal mission of hers. And carrying that damn big coffin around…

Episode 1
A being is telling Chaika Trabant about the taboo emperor, Arthur Gaz. His daughter is the successor to his empire and subsequently the one who will decide its fate. Chaika is a mere tool whose sole purpose is to set that fate in motion. Jobless Tooru Acura is searching for edibles in the jungle when he stumbles upon lost Chaika. Suddenly a unicorn is in sight and they make a run for it. They jump off a cliff into a river but this only provides little relief as Tooru knows the unicorn will catch up in no time. When Tooru mentions he is a useless person, Chaika believes they are the same. She opens her coffin that contains lots of Gundo and he thinks she is a wizard. She can kill the unicorn if he provides her enough time. He enters into his Iron Blood transformation to fight the unicorn. Chaika want to hurry with that preparation because the fight is going underwater now. Once the unicorn emerges, Chaika fires her gun and the unicorn splits into half! Chaika is amazed at Tooru for being strong. He admits he is because he was a saboteur. In town as Chaika buys him lots of food as part of the deal, suddenly Tooru’s sister, Akari comes in and tries to kill him with the hammer! She is complaining about his uselessness! Well, Chaika had to pay for the food and the damages and the store owner even chiding Tooru for being the most useless sh*t ever because he was supposed to come back with food while Akari was waiting. And how dare he come back eating by himself. Chaika wants to hire the siblings for a job.

Alberic Gillette sees Robert Abarth in his mansion and hopes to give him the article he acquired during the battle for the Imperial Capital of Gaz Empire. Because he cannot answer more due to its confidential nature, Abarth has them leave empty handed even though Gillette argued that this is for the peace for the entire continent of Verbist. Speaking of hand, there is that hand article sitting nicely in his vault… Gillette returns to his team and reports something odd about the mansion. There were lack of guards and since he was one of the 8 heroes and coming from a military background, he didn’t seem proficient in martial arts at all. They also discuss that Chaika may be in town and targeting Abarth. Worse, she has a partner now. The job Chaika wants to siblings to do is attack Abarth’s mansion because there is something she wants to seize. Akari wonders if they can trust her wizard skills. I don’t know what Chaika was doing or testing with her gun but she blew up the bread and the entire room is filled with flour and yeast. That night they infiltrate the mansion and I guess it’s going to be tough trying to get her coffin in. I don’t know. Is it easier to bring her inside with Chaika hiding INSIDE the coffin? Heavy… She uses her gun to detect the item she is looking for. Tooru heads into the room but Abarth is waiting for him. He knows he would come and believes he is upset about his dismissal earlier on and works for the Kliemann Organization. Tooru is surprised Abarth is a wizard as he uses his telekinesis power to throw all the swords at him. When Chaika enters the building, he is stunned in shock because she is supposed to be dead.

Episode 2
Abarth was sure he killed her then. So is she a ghost? No matter, he won’t hand anybody his treasure. Tooru takes the ladies to run and hide. The plan is for the ladies to find Abarth’s Gundo and destroy it while Tooru fights and distracts him. Chaika detects the Gundo in the mansion’s centre. Nothing like Akari smashing things around just to find it. And there it is, behind the mirror. It is protected with some magic barrier. Nothing like Chaika’s magic gun can fix it. But wait. Don’t smash that hand in the jar. It’s the all important thing Chaika is looking for. Tooru escapes from Abarth’s fixation of throwing things at him. Abarth mocks his saboteur skill as being useless in this world and is now just a petty thief. Abarth suddenly loses his magic source. That is when Tooru traps him and hangs him up on the ceiling. The ladies return to Tooru and they escape. Abarth desperately wants that jar so he tries to buy it back. Name your price. Tooru won’t have Chaika listen further and leave. Once they are at a safe distance, the siblings want an explanation but Chaika pays them for a job well done. Severing ties? Suddenly Gillette and his company confront them. He tells them not to further involve themselves with Chaika if they are just merely hired. They will not press charges or pursue them so just leave quietly now. After that long stare, Akari releases her smoke bomb for their escape. Tooru has a plan. He wants them to split up and Chaika to hand him the jar. He promises he will not hand it over because the job is not over. Tooru is chased by Gillette’s men through the small nooks and alleys. He faces off with Nikolai Avtotor but eventually Tooru’s combat skills are superior. Nothing like a little help from the jar to knock him out. Thank goodness it is hard enough.

Tooru is surrounded by Gillette’s men. Again Gillette tries to tell him to give up and that they are pursuing Chaika with requests from many countries and in the name of justice. You think Tooru cares for that crap? That still doesn’t give him the right to judge her. Gillette explains very classified information. That hand he is holding belongs to Emperor Arthur Gaz of the Gaz Empire. During his 500 year reign, he exposed Verbist to many dangers. He was defeated in a war 5 years ago but his daughter escaped. Chaika is his daughter. They don’t know what Chaika is doing and there are many Gaz supporters trying to use her to rebuild the empire. Although Gaz has died, his remains still possess magic that could even be used as an enormous weapon of unfathomable power. He is after all the strongest wizard ever. They believe Chaika is going to bring calamity to this peaceful world again. War will erupt once more once she obtains all the emperor’s remains. Tooru is okay with war. I mean, a peaceful world means a saboteur is out of a job. So yeah. Why not let her bring back the war? Akari jumps in to distract them as Chaika shoots a blinding light for them to escape. The trio prepare to leave town as they have been seen by all parties. Chaika mentions her intention is to gather all remains so as to give her father a decent burial. That is all to it. Tooru agrees to help her achieve that since it will give him something better to do in this boring life. First, they start by crossing the mountains.

Episode 3
Entering the next town, it seems Chaika’s coffin is getting some unwanted stares… Wrap it up! Then Chaika gets infatuated in checking out the town. As they are eating in a restaurant, seems Chaika has no idea or clue about their next search. So they ask the restaurant waitress. She explains nobody knows where this town’s ruler lives or even her face. The only thing they know is that she is a female cavalier who signed a contract with a dragoon. I suppose Chaika’s coffin even though under wraps, innkeepers won’t allow them to stay even for a night. Gillette’s men are in town. Vivi Holopainen and Zita Brusasco just missed Chaika and co. It should be easy to find them. Big coffin sticking out like a thumb. Unless a few people are carrying something that big too… Tooru spots Gillette’s vehicle and curses this guy is in town. While hiding in an alley, a kid appears before them. Tooru attacks him without warning but his knife doesn’t connect. He is Guy and Chaika’s informant. He denies he is a devotee to Gaz and is merely helping Chaika retrieve the parts. All he does is provide her information. He tells them where to get abandoned vehicles to escape this town and also Dominica Scoda, one of the 8 heroes who have one of the parts. She is the ruler of this town and lives in the forest half a day’s drive from here. They make way to the river bank and restore the abandoned vehicle. I don’t know how driving into the river is considered a perfect test drive for Chaika. That night as they camp out, I don’t even know why Chaika is using her gun to cook the chicken when they can just use the pot and fire. Yeah. It exploded. Akari seems to be sarcastic when Tooru comes up with a plan to try and negotiate with Dominica because her dragoons are the problematic ones. It is rumoured those dragoons sleep at night, which means the best time to talk to her is right now. Better get a move on.

Gillette’s men report that there have been no leads on Chaika despite sightings of them in town. Gillette also laments the lack of info on Chaika considering the documents HQ sent them. They discuss all the Chaikas they have captured lacked credibility with some committing suicide to avoid questioning. And those they have captured were all fakes. Zita feels they have been mistaken about Chaika. Though they have been trying to capture her under the agency’s orders, it feels ridiculous that a disaster will happen if the emperor’s remains are gathered. What kind of organization can actually use that kind of power? But something more fundamental bothers them. Does the emperor have a daughter in the first place? Tooru and co make their move as he talks to Chaika. He is amazed that she is able to survive this long. How did she escape from Gaz Empire? Actually she doesn’t remember. More like a memory gap. She only remembers before the war and after it has ended. Only clear memories up to a year ago. When she realized it, the war was over, her father dead and she was alone. They are suddenly chased by a pack of double headed monster dogs that emit electricity. I don’t know what Tooru is thinking as he jumps down to face them all just to let the ladies go on. See? He gets electric shock and is about to be dog meat if not for this armoured babe appearing and ordering those dogs to get lost.

Episode 4
The dogs really scram when Dominica orders them to. She invites them to her mansion and Tooru thinks it is troublesome since she has seen their faces, a sneak attack is impossible. Chaika’s concern? It’s good to have a place to stay for the night! Yeah… Like as though she forgot about her mission to gather her father’s parts. But Akari is the one that came up with the biggest lying story. She tells Dominica that they are siblings in a forbidden love and ran away as their family won’t approve it. Chaika really believes that story so Tooru had to correct her they are not even blood related and just grew up together. The trio notice the mansion is filled with paintings and statues about herself. Is she a narcissist? Yeah, even a magic projector of her in the yard. Chaika finds a cat and doesn’t feel scared in this creepy place. Tooru discusses how to deal with Dominica. He’ll ask nicely or else they’ll resort to force. Chaika feels bad if they fight her because she is a good person. Tooru reminds her that Dominica is the enemy and that his objective is to fulfil her wish. How good she is and the circumstances don’t matter. As their employer it is her job to decide. She is still in a dilemma so Akari further talks to her that Tooru wasn’t making things difficult for her but only thinking of fulfilling her objective as their master. Next morning during breakfast, after Tooru confirms straight that she is one of the 8 heroes and has a part from Gaz, she will not hand it over to him and if he really wants them, then fight her. She has been itching to fight someone. I don’t know why Akari is planking and lamenting about Tooru’s decision. Because what he said about having someone precious gave her the wrong idea he likes flat chest! Worse, Chaika misinterprets it’s some sort of love confession. These girls need to listen…

That night before the fight starts, Dominica informs them the parts are in the magic projector. She is confident she will not be defeated and even tells them her weakness is in the forehead and strike deep so she cannot regenerate. While the fight rages on, a short flashback as Tooru telling the girls that this Dominica is fake. Because she is not surprised that Chaika is still alive just like how Abarth was in shock. When Tooru starts destroying the statues and everything that looks like Dominica, she starts panicking and wants him to stop. He starts mocking her as a creature who can’t forget her master after the war and is living surrounded by her images. After Chaika shoots her with her magic, she turns into her true dragoon form. The effect from Akari’s poison takes effect as Tooru strikes her forehead. She turns back into Dominica’s shape. She reveals Dominica died after the war due to an illness. Since the war ended, the dragoon sought by everyone is no longer needed. She was left alone. Not wanting to forget her master, she put images of her everywhere. Because she too loved to fight till the end, she wanted to fulfil that wish of hers. Tooru won’t kill her as it wasn’t part of the deal and takes the parts of the eyes. Creepy? Dominica then transforms into another loli form. She now calls herself Fredrica and her new goal for living is to kill him. This means she will be travelling with them from now on. Oh, she can also transform into a cat, which means she heard their plan from A to Z all along. Tooru, better watch your ass now. But Chaika is happy. The more the merrier!

Episode 5
Chaika was really going to go with some shady guys whom she believes have information. If not for Tooru beating the crap out of them, she could have been sold off or something. Oh, Fredrica is itching to fight or kill somebody. In that dragoon form?! Akari returns with information that the nearby town of Perimeral has wanted posters of them. They look so ugly… Gillette’s team are stopping by in a forest. He is practising his sword swings to cast away his doubts while Vivi is still hesitating to confess to him even though her comrades root for her. Leonardo “Leo” Stora returns with information that their target has been sighted in the town of Perimeral but something about their characteristics are a little off. Tooru and co travel through the ruins and a hooded person stands before them. She demands they leave their belongings but Tooru is not in the mood to be robbed. Since she is not open to negotiations, I guess it’s time to fight. During the fight, when her hood comes off, Tooru is surprised to see her resembling Chaika. In fact, she looks exactly like her. Only dressed in red. She has her own comrades, David and Selma Kenworth ambushing them. Chaika is taken hostage and so is the red one. Since Gillette’s team is coming into the scene, they have to flee without any exchange. Gillette examines the battle aftermath and it is suggested that they split into teams. Leo and Matthaus Callaway will stay behind to look for their target as they believe they could still be nearby while the rest return to Perimeral to look for more information.

Tooru and Akari try to interrogate red Chaika (who has the same scar marks as our white Chaika) but since she is giving them the silent treatment and that calling her Chaika would be confusing, Akari suggests identifying her as Sticky. Since they are spamming this weird name, she can’t take it anymore and reveals she is Chaika Bohdan. But that’s all you’ll hear from her. What now? Torture time… But that means eating delicious meat right before her eyes. Yup. Torture alright for an empty stomach. Growling like crazy. Can’t resist the temptation? She also has the same intentions of collecting the emperor’s remains but she has a little more. She wants revenge. To kill all those who killed her father and those who didn’t protect him. Also, she has no memories for a certain period. She thinks the other Chaika is fake and herself the real deal but Tooru believes that is what all fakes say. Meanwhile David and Selma examine Chaika and since they don’t see any parts with her, they think she is of not much use. They not both Chaikas have very opposite personalities despite looking the same. They know at least 3 other Chaikas and all are looking for the emperor’s remains. David goes out to check on the battlefield and sees a note to meet by the waterfall by dawn. Leo and Matthaus are spying on him. Akari returns to Tooru and relays the note has been taken. Since Chaika’s butterfly accessory was left there, it is a sign that they agree to meet.

Episode 6
The exchange takes place but before that, Tooru warns if David tries to pull any funny stuff, Bohdan has a bomb attached to her in which he will not hesitate to pull and blow everything up. Selma who is in sniping position must now be very cautious. Halfway through, they are attacked by monster birds. They know someone is controlling them (Matthaus) since they don’t usually come in flocks. Tooru pulls the ‘bomb’ which is actually smoke screen to cover for their escape. The exchange is off for now. Tooru returns to the ruins. There is Fredrica bumming around bored. Where the hell was she? She just missed the killings. And to think she thought Chaika got a new hairstyle. Fredrica offers to use her magic to remove rubbles pinning down their vehicle provided if Tooru fights her later. But isn’t turning into her dragoon form and pushing away the rubbles just brute force? Leo and Matthaus realize they have failed since they couldn’t trace the properly covered tracks. Leo theorizes that all Chaikas may be real as the emperor may have several wives and named all daughters the same to ensure an heir. This only proves how little they know about Chaikas. Meanwhile in some conference between nations arguing about farmer’s quarrel and bandits, Konrad Steinmetz the head of Kliemann Organization tries to bring up the Chaika issue but was shot down of chasing something mythical and might as well put his power to solve these petty issues. Because of that, he informs Gillette and his team to set out immediately on their new mission. Frustrating, isn’t it?

Bohdan learns that Tooru is a saboteur and tries to hire him by paying more. However he says his pride as a saboteur means he won’t betray the employer who hired him. Bohdan can give him the battlefield he longs for but he’ll think about it. Fredrica comes teasing him to which Chaika he is going to choose. Akari returns and says she has met David in town and they have set another exchange meeting. Before Bohdan is handed back, she wants Tooru to switch masters. He’s not changing his mind. Does he not like her or something? He puts it this way. She is strong physically and mentally unlike Chaika who is too trusting and defenceless. He can’t leave her alone and wants to work for one who needs him more. Doesn’t Bohdan need him too? Both Chaikas return to their original masters. Selma is ready to snipe but notices something odd about Akari. She has cat ears and tail? Fredrica in disguise definitely. The real Akari attacks her but she manages to escape in time. As they leave, Bohdan and David stand in their way again. Does Bohdan take a liking for Tooru? They offer to join them to search for remains. But what will happen to Chaika? Bohdan’s reply is that there is no need for multiple Chaikas. I guess that’s it. Tooru will be their enemy. The fight begins as Chaika uses her magic light to blind them. But they got away eventually. Continuing their journey, Tooru believes they need to address this issue quick. Not only they have got people on their tail to prevent them from gathering the parts, there are others who are trying to steal the parts from them.

Episode 7
This has got to be a classic scene. Tooru putting Chaika to sleep when Akari puts her knife at his neck. She is spouting about his most active libido in the continent and won’t allow him to disregard his sister and violate Chaika because a defenceless sleeping girl is like a raw meat before a wild beast. I don’t even… Anyway Guy is here to tell them of another hero, Simon Scania. His existence was last verified 4 years ago in the town of Rademio. Tooru has this feeling they are being deceived but Guy welcomes that. So they prod around town and find out about this Valley of Death whereby those who enter never return. Meanwhile Steinmetz also relays the information of Simon to Gillette. They feel something odd about the heroes like although they obtained victory over Gaz but they have been cursed thereafter. It’s like they have lost their best judgment. While leaving town, Tooru and co come into contact with Gillette’s team. They are surprised to hear Chaika just wants to gather parts for the funeral. Since nothing is resolved, a fight is inevitable. In the midst of it, Fredrica pops up and wants to join. Because there will be some killing, right? Unfortunately Tooru wants her to help them escape since they are outnumbered. What about the killing? Well, she doesn’t want others to kill him, right? Right. This sucks. She takes them and flies away while Gillette and co are left dumbfounded that a dragoon is on their side. At the Valley of Death, Chaika detects lots of magic and can’t pinpoint the part’s location. Tooru needs Fredrica’s flight help to scan over the area but she sulks and won’t help since he didn’t keep his promise to fight. Till Chaika starts climbing down herself and fall off, did Fredrica change and dive down.

Then this mind boggling scene. Tooru and Chaika close to each other. They are acting like lovers?! What’s going on?! Actually Tooru got caught in the mist which is some sort of illusion. The real Chaika and other ladies are watching living out his pathetic desires in this safe magic barrier. Another classic scene. Tooru fights his enemies and notes the last part is with Gillette. Suddenly here he comes on his steed and Chaika goes to marry him! Because what better way than to get it, right? The wedding and funeral will be on the same day! Tooru is left heartbroken and chasing after them. He enters the magic barrier and snaps out. Cue for Akari to slap him. Cue for Fredrica to join in and punch him. Woke up from your dream? Once he learns what is happening, Chaika mentions they can still move through the fog provided she shoots clear a path. They keep running till they see a magic contraption. Chaika fires to destroy it an immediately the mist disappears. There is this vagabond complaining how useless this magic machine is. He denies he is Simon but Fredrica could identify it is him although he changed a lot. He starts ranting about how he was betrayed by his best friend Marco during the war because he sold them out to the enemy and that his wife ran away with him. Tooru deduces he abandoned the army and came to live in this valley alone and the magic was his way of showing people illusions of friends betraying them like how it happened to him. Chaika asks him for the parts and he doesn’t hesitate to give that most useless thing away. He doesn’t need it anyway. Well, well. The entire right leg. As they leave, Tooru has this uneasy feeling it was too easy. Besides, it just feels tragic. A hero of the war getting financially compensated and a part of Gaz but not a happy ending. Chaika likes the illusion of them together but Tooru brushes that off of ever happening and only happened in his fantasy because Akari and Fredrica were out of the question. What the heck does he mean by that? Akari not too pleased. Chaika becomes upset and that dude is slow on the uptake till she throws food at his face.

Episode 8
Since Gillette is so concerned about Chaika this, Chaika that, Steinmetz suggests he take a break from it and reminds him their priority is still the welfare of the people. Chaika and co reach a border patrol. They claim this land belongs to Neo Gaz Empire (in the midst of rebuilding anyway) and they need to pay toll. Why, that’s news. They are introduced to General Mart, Minister Lavr and Frol the head of the Imperial Guard. Heck, they even introduced Princess Chaika. Behold! Blonde Chaika AKA Julia. In addition to almost giving herself away, Chaika gladly pays the toll but I guess the guys got greedy when they see her silver coin. On grounds that their carriage is suspicious, they check it and Akari lies through her teeth that they are travelling performers. The guys are not convinced and will have them perform. So this is their castle? So rundown… The trio put up cheap performances (because nobody seems impressed) until the big one which has Fredrica turn from a cat into a dragoon! Impressive! That night as they celebrate, Tooru notices several men bringing in stolen gold and silverware as ‘military funds’. He realizes they are just a band of thieves and knows it’ll be trouble if they stay longer. Chaika talks to Julia and the latter seems like a nice lady. Julia promises to tell her some poem tomorrow since she has ‘business’ to attend to. I guess that business is to go rob somebody’s house. Julia confirms Chaika is really a genuine idiot but knows the saboteurs must be dealt with quickly. As Julia and Lavr break into a house, Julia realizes too late it is a trap and gets captured.

Meanwhile Tooru wants to leave this place right now and doesn’t want to get any more involved with these people. Chaika disagrees since she promises. Also, only Chaika can drive and since she won’t, they’ll be staying put. Mart and the rest surround them and offer them to join their ranks. Tooru refuses. They think they can beat the siblings? It only took a second for the duo to round the bandits up. Suddenly Frol remembers Chaika’s familiar face. She is the real Chaika from the wanted poster! Mart explains that their goal to restore Gaz Empire was true but it seemed so far out of reach and they became discouraged by the day. Although, they haven’t given up yet. Lavr returns with bad news. Chaika wants to rescue Julia but Tooru tries to be a pessimist. It’s like he doesn’t want to do it, no thanks, I’m leaving. Too bad Chaika is his employer so when she says she’s doing it, you’re doing it too! They easily break Julia out from prison and everyone is sincerely grateful. Before they leave the next morning, Julia keeps her promise to tell Chaika the poem. Mart returns the silver coin to them. Tooru asks about the emperor’s personality. Honestly they don’t know. They have never even seen his face. They also heard he did some shady human experiments to advance magic technology but even so, they only heard about this after the war. In the end, they knew nothing about him. As for what they are going to do now, it’s time to take long overdue action and do what they’ve been putting off so long. Lastly, the conference between the nations is in uproar. The emissary they sent to Duke Gavarni’s domain to request the return of the floating fortress Soara, was found murdered and his body returned in horrific condition.

Episode 9
Since today is the festival to celebrate the end of the war, many shops are closed so Chaika and co can’t get replenishment of magic fuel for their vehicle. The shopkeeper was nice enough to recommend some shops but don’t keep your hopes up as they might be closed. Tooru learns that Chaika can use her memories as magic fuel substitution. I guess this explains a lot. And I suppose it’s a duh question to ask how many memories she used up or when was the last time she used it. Yeah. She can’t remember. Gillette and Vivi are also having a time out at the town together. They stop a thief stealing from a noble who in return wasn’t that grateful. The thief continues to scorn nobles for living such a lavish way and people like Gillette wouldn’t even understand. Justice won’t fill a man’s stomach. Know what he’s saying? The rest of Gillette’s team are talking about Gillette’s sincerity and how he saved them from certain predicaments, the reason why they follow him. They also notice Gillette note acting like himself lately ever since chasing Chaika. Steinmetz’s secretary, Karen Bombardier comes in seeking Gillette and everyone. There is an urgent order to return. Tooru asks several peddlers if they have any magic fuel. Sorry kid. You’re out of luck. This brings back memories of his younger days in his hidden Acura village where he and Akari undergo strict training by their brother mentor, Shin to become saboteurs.

Finally they hit an open store that sells magic fuel. This old guy doesn’t have good memories of this festival because the war killed his entire family. While he helps fill the containers with magic fuel, Tooru tells Chaika part of his past. There was a peddler named Hasumin Orlo who used to come to the village. It was like a reward to buy something after their hard training. You can say she is his first love (although he clearly denies it) because he always wanted to show off his newly mastered techniques. However Hasumin never praised him and only looked on with a sad expression. One day, bandits attacked her troupe and everyone got killed. Tooru remembers clearly seeing her last breathe. Although later the adults slaughtered the bandits, Tooru still couldn’t let it go. He always had this regret he failed to help her. He can never forget it. Chaika believes he is thinking the wrong way. Because he saved her from that unicorn. The memory might be painful but it is valuable. Because having memories is a happy thing. I guess she’s right. Considering Chaika’s case. As the old man finishes, Tooru asks if there is a place they can get large amounts of magic fuel. He thinks the neighbouring territory that belongs to Gavarni. It is also believed this domain has Gaz’s remains too. As there are lots of mines in the area, his friends might have bought the remains from some hero with the mining profit. Tooru asks Chaika if she can choose which memories to use for fuel. I suppose she could. He thinks it’s best to save the good memories. Gillette’s team prepares to sneak into the Soara when it anchors at its set interval.

Episode 10
As Tooru and Chaika enter the next town, they can’t help see everyone staring at them. Chaika’s coffin? Nope. Then he realized. There are no women in this town! Trying to get fossil fuel from a store, it seems they only can sell in very minimal amount despite this town has the largest fossil fuel mines as everything goes to the duke. The shopkeeper whispers to them that Gavarni has been abducting girls by force. They never came back. Although some has fled, they believed to have been hunt down and killed. So it is best for a girl like Chaika to leave this place at once. But why hasn’t anybody go to the duke’s mansion? Because it’s a flying fortress! Of course our gang needs to infiltrate it to uncover the mystery. Fredrica doesn’t want to fly them since Tooru has broken his promise so many times to fight her. However Akari gives Fredrica too much needed motivation. She can kill him but don’t leave too many large wounds because she wants him stuffed! After they survey Soara by night, the next day as the guards come down to take more girls, Akari purposely joins in. Vivi and Zita have also snuck on board to do their investigation. They send periodic reports of what they have observed. The duke has not shown himself in person and it seems this place is run by a wizard named Grad Lancia. There is a young boy with royalty looks with him. Other than that, there is no one else but guards patrolling and the girls are taken to waiting rooms before being split into smaller groups. Meanwhile the allied nations are demanding to send a punitive army to take down Gavarni. Steinmetz tries to reason with them to wait as his team is there to gather information but those bastards aren’t going to be patient and wants to launch a pre-emptive strike now! Worse, the king gives orders for it and to subjugate the duke. Steinmetz relays the bad news to Gillette and to tell his team to get out of there because the allied nations are going to use the floating fortress of Stratus. Attack will be by morning.

That night, Fredrica sneaks in the rest to meet up with Akari. They see a large giant pillar believed to be a giant Gundo because such enormous amount of power is needed to move this flying fortress. Suddenly guards attack them. Fredrica gets stabbed and thrown off the bridge! I know she won’t die from that but it was that easy to get her out of the picture? The siblings split up and go separate ways but Akari gets captured. She is brought to Grad and introduced to Ricardo Gavarni, the duke’s youngest son. He hints he is a psycho sadist as his hobby is cutting up people. Akari wants to see his father but that won’t be possible because Ricardo has cut up his entire family! Ricardo also hints that besides him and Grad, there is another third person sharing their common goals. Grad suggests putting Akari’s skills to good use by capturing her friends. Of course she refuses so Grad infuses some magic that will make her obedient but yet retain her personality. Tooru and Chaika stumble into this hooded girl, Layla who wants their help to get out of this place. Oh no. Chaika wants to help. She can’t be serious. Grad and Ricardo know the allied nations are moving and their dreams will soon become reality. Oh, you might have guessed it too. Layla is their third accomplice. When guards attack Tooru, he engages them while Layla tries to persuade Chaika to come with her so as not to bother him. Chaika has a bad feeling about leaving him so she forces her into the elevator. Goodbye. Realized too late it’s a trap. Worse for Tooru, he has to fight Akari.

Episode 11
As the siblings fight, Tooru thinks Akari has defected to the duke’s side but is sad she betrayed Chaika. Vivi and Zita are thinking how to get off Soara when they hear some fighting nearby. Tooru could have fallen to his death if not for Zita saving him. Zita suggests they trade information. Although Vivi is much against it, their priority now is to return alive to their team. In exchange of telling Tooru about the punitive attack, they want him to tell them a way out. Hey, since he got in, he must have a way out, right? Well, he has. But everyone is separated and they’ll have to wait till everyone is united first. On their way up, they see a bloodied wall. Upon removing it, they see hideous corpses of women hanging upside down! Sick! One of them barely alive mentions Ricardo did this. It is believed for magic fuel but corpses are more than sufficient. As the magic source are accumulated memories of living beings, the denser the memories, the better its quality. Girls are taken because they are prone to intense pain, agony and fear. However, using this much corpses isn’t necessary to fly Soara. Tooru and the girls continue to run from Akari’s offensive. Zita thinks some sort of magic drug makes her hypnotized under someone’s will like those guards. There must be something more that these corpses are used to power. Layla brings Chaika into her room and learns her name and mission. Then she mocks there is all to it. Then she explains Soara is on its way to attack the capital Cadwell to start another war. This is what Ricardo and Grad want and she is supporting from the shadows. I guess they got bored of peace. I mean, Ricardo could cut up anybody he wants in a war, right? Chaika denies everything she said as lies but Layla know how she feels. Because when she takes off her hood, she looks like Chaika! Another Chaika! Except this is a blue one.

Chaika calls her a fake. Guess what? Every Chaika says she is the real deal. Layla explains she was once like her but one day awakened to discover the horrifying truth. That opening scene of being a tool and setting fate in motion. They are all tools to gather the emperor’s remains and everyone that travels with them are tools as well for this cause. She adds there are many types of Chaikas with different personalities and skills. Once she learnt about the truth, she stopped being a Chaika. Fredrica comes though the air ventilation and heard it all. She wants Layla to hand over the remains when suddenly a creepy spider monster kills her! NOT AGAIN!!! This time it might be serious because it got her brain, a dragoon’s real weakness. Layla continues that she will use the remains as magic fuel until it finishes. This is her revenge on the ones who orchestrated all this. Gillette and Leo meet the advancing punitive army. He speaks to the commander of this army, Theobald Setra to delay the attack. Setra doesn’t give a damn about the lives of a couple of spies and that this is an order from the king. Gillette has no say in it. Plus, they are just subjugating a duke and not a war between nations. Gillette is desperate to delay the attack by any means. He cannot believe these guys want to fight so badly rather than delaying for a few seconds. So he points his sword at Setra and won’t move an inch. Tooru and co get this brilliant idea to crawl through the air ventilation. Yeah. Why didn’t they think of that? Nobody guards these places, right? Well, we’ll soon find out. Because that creepy spider monster lurks! That’s why! RUN!!! Since the stairs are blocked with magic barriers, I guess the only way is to climb from outside. You crazy?! Don’t worry. Tooru has some training in climbing walls. So while the ladies handle Akari’s attack, Tooru becomes Spider-man! Watch him wing from ledge to ledge!

Episode 12
The commander of Stratus, Bernard Chizeta will not let any trivialities stop his attack. Today is the day he waited for. This means he is ignoring Gillette’s request and ransom. He commands Stratus to fire. Although it hits Soara, its magic barrier barely scratches it. In this distraction, Vivi and Zita subdue Akari and use magic to snap her out of her spell. Chaika won’t be a damsel in distress. She is going to get out. But seriously, she might have trouble getting into the air ventilation and if you think about it, how the heck is she going to get her coffin in there?! Tooru fights off the spider monster. How many stabs does it take for this thing to die? As Akari and the girls make their way to the top, they see Fredrica’s dead body. Suddenly something bursts out of her stomach! Holy sh*t! Mini Fredrica???!!! WTF?! Like Aliens?! I didn’t know this was some sort of horror cutie comedy?! I don’t know about her molting structure that gives her dual personality, but heck, she’s back and freaking kawaii in this chibi form!!! Bernard is starting to panic when Soara fires back and Stratus takes massive damage. The next magic beam from Soara goes off tangent and destroys the land army. Holy cow! The entire army wiped out! Gillette got caught in the line?! Say it isn’t so!!!! With Soara taking some hit, it seems they can’t use magic attacks when they reach Cadwell. Layla has an idea. Why not use Soara as a projectile and ram into the capital like suicide bombing? Ricardo loves that idea and approves of it. Bernard won’t go down alone and will bring Soara down with him and orders his men to ram Stratus into Soara. Chaika escapes and should have done this a long time ago. She blasts the doors open with her Gundo and then stumble into an engine room and see an entire left leg as the magic source powering Soara. Chaika’s presence is given away when Stratus rams into Soara. Ricardo introduces himself and is excited to cut up Chaika. Fredrica brings the ladies to the room where Chaika was held but only find themselves facing those spider monsters. This time Fredrica transforms into a dragoon to initiate some payback. Now she can really go for the kill.

Tooru arrives in the nick of time before Chaika is operated open on her own coffin. He fights Ricardo who is surprisingly as agile and swift. Ricardo thinks he has defeated Tooru when he stabs his arm when Tooru turns around and stabs his guts! So easy?! So is Ricardo impressed with the colour of his own guts? Looks like it. All you have to do was just die, right? Akari knocks out Grad and sends every mind controlled person in this fortress to go unconscious. The fortresses crash into the sea. After Tooru retrieves the left leg, Layla shoots her crossbow into him as he falls into the rising water. She is about to kill Chaika too but she gets stunned when she sees Guy behind. This allows Chaika to chant her magic and fire back. Then she dives down into the water to kiss Tooru. I want to believe it is to give him some air but at the same I think she really wants to do that too because she could have just summoned that magic bubble of hers and surround them with air. Besides if you think about it, how can one short kiss revive him? He didn’t like her saving him because it’s like the roles of the tool is reversed. Chaika disagrees he is not a tool. They could have a second round of kissing but the other girls meet up and they escape Soara who has now sunk to the bottom. Ricardo and Layla are somewhat tired-cum-satisfied and remain together till they meet their watery grave. When Vivi and Zita return to the rest, they are extremely shocked to hear about Gillette. No way!!! Don’t tell me he is freaking dead?! Don’t you dare! The shock was too much for Vivi that she starts screaming and transforms into Chaika?! WTF?! Vivi is another Chaika?! Chaika reveals about what Layla said about being tools and programmed to retrieve parts. She wants to resume her mission to collect her father’s remains and Tooru as well as Akari will follow her and don’t care if she’s fake or not, manipulated or not. They have chosen her as their master. Fredrica wants Tooru to form a contract to be a dragoon cavalier. Since he is going to be reckless, he won’t be treating every wound if they have a contract. She’s serious but he’ll think about it. They make haste and continue their journey thinking Gillette’s team will be hot on their heels.

Will The Real Chaika Please Stand Up?
Seriously. It can’t end like that! Even Chaika agrees! Yup. And so at the end of the episode, we get an announcement from her (she even sounds this excited like I am) that there is going to be a second season and thus ‘saving’ this season from my scathing criticism if they were just going to end it here without anything more. Ah yes. You could tell that I am quite fascinated and interested in this series and will be looking forward to the next season. At first I didn’t put too much hope on this series and thought this was going to be a mere run of the mill fantasy setting. But surprisingly every turn of events from the pacing of the story and the action bits kept me interested. It is very rare for such animes to actually keep me glued to the screen that I lost track of time. True. Before I knew it, the series was over and I was like, it is over so fast? Seriously. And I thought Shingeki No Kyojin, the last anime that made me felt so, it would be another long time before another series would have this effect on me (Kill La Kill was great too but I wasn’t this crazy and wanting so much and more).

With different types of Chaikas running around, each with different personalities but their goal somewhat remains the same. It is intriguing to see how many more there are and their true purpose. I have a feeling that gathering Gaz’s remains could just be a façade for something more sinister. After all like it is hinted, how much do we know about Chaika? This thought screws with our minds and makes us think twice about Chaika’s goal and question what we have seen, their actions are they seemingly genuine or not. For all you know the memories implanted with them are also manipulated. And every Chaika claims they are the real one. Yeah. Like who would admit they are fake? So will the real Chaika please stand up? For all you know, all could be real. All could be fake. Or even half truths and half lies. Now with Vivi revealing to be a Chaika, things are not going to be as straight forward as before. It will only get more complicated, I figure. With different Chaikas given different colour codes, I am hoping there would be the ultimate colour Chaika: A rainbow Chaika! That would be classic. Also just a little thought, with Gaz’s remains scattered throughout, it makes me wonder what the remaining parts are. Because I have this cheeky thought of wondering who is having his balls. HAHAHA!!!

Chaika is an amusing girl. It makes her funny. Firstly, her thick eyebrows make remind me of Groucho Marx. Just that she doesn’t smoke a cigar :). Sometimes those eyebrows too make her seem like she came out from a Sesame Street production… The second obvious thing you’ll notice is the way she speaks. Somewhat broken. I know it is good to keep your sentences short but most of the time it is like there is a full stop after 2 or 3 words. In some ways, it makes her sounds like a retard (in a funny sense). But that’s what also makes her cute. If her words were translated into English, I guess her speech could be equivalent to Master Yoda. Her naïve and gullible but kind personality is also amusing to watch. I mean, using her Gundo to light up a little fire? Well, she’s in for a blast. Literally. As such, it makes her cute. It makes her funny. It makes her amusing. Oh. Did I repeat myself? Speaking of phrases, I think her favourite word is “Hitei!” (something that denotes disagreement or no). At least in the last arc because she seems to be spamming this a lot especially with Layla revealing the big revelation and Chaika was like hitei this hitei that. Another thing that bugs me is the amount of money she carries. I wonder where she got that amount because it seems she can pay for just about anything. From the royal treasury? Maybe before daddy died, he gave each Chaika some allowances to go about. Uh huh. Coffin coffers, if I should put-cum-pun it. Such a rich girl I don’t mind her paying for meals, expenses and the likes ;p. And her coffin, something tells me there is some sort of space dimension rift inside because she can keep a lot of things inside! It’s like Doraemon’s magic pocket. No doubt the coffin is much bigger than her, I wonder how she will fit all the parts in addition to the Gundo equipment that she stores inside.

Akari is also another amusing character especially there are lots of hints that indicate she is somewhat obsessed about Tooru (their verbal spats and her exaggerated accusations are the biggest clues). She loves accusing him of being a predator on girls, doesn’t she? She has a potential to turn yandere if I should say. Dead or alive, she really ‘wants’ him. So if she is not putting her saboteur skills to good use, she is more likely to be seen in this ‘lively interaction’ with Tooru. Tooru himself in a way is also cool. Cool with his skills as a sharp saboteur and cool and ‘indifferent’ in deflecting Akari’s serious fake accusations about him. It’s like he has heard it so many times that it doesn’t surprise him. The only thing that I can think off why he decided to stick with Chaika through thick and thin isn’t just about his code as a saboteur to be loyal to his master, but also he likes her. Uh huh. Didn’t think so, did you? That kiss just seals it. Because we know from Chaika’s easy-to-read body language that she likes him but what about him? I’m sure he does. Because even if he claims this peaceful world is so boring, literally he could have just found anything else to do other than being Chaika’s employee. So how is the adventure currently? Well, he didn’t say he was loving it but at least it keeps him from bumming around and letting girls pay for him. That I thought was going to be the running joke of the series but eventually after the initial episodes, it died out.

Fredrica feels like a fickle member of the group. I guess that is why she is aptly taking a form of a cat if she is not in her goth loli appearance or her true dragoon form. Because for other times when she isn’t really needed, she is not around and wandering somewhere. Not to say that the saboteurs need her assistance as they are self-sufficient for most of time except when it comes to flight. But she appears as and when she pleases and feels like she is just tagging and bumming around, bidding her time so she can get that chance to fight Tooru. Did they ever say the fight must be to the death? Can they just spar? Or can they ‘fight’ using other methods? Say, rock-scissors-paper best out of 5 rounds?

As this is not the end yet, there are lots more characters that aren’t properly fleshed out yet and we have not seen the last of them. For one, it is not really sure if Gillette has perished or not despite Leo was the only survivor of the stray blast and collecting his sword back. I mean, there was no body, right? And if you tell me it disintegrated, how come the other dead soldiers’ body didn’t? So I am sure (keeping fingers crossed) that such a handsome and sincere guy like him would be still alive and somewhere (otherwise Vivi would be a sad girl and could turn her into a bad girl). Then there is Guy who feels like his cameo appearances in popping up here and there watching over Chaika feels like he is just trolling. We don’t know what he is but he gives just enough information to push Chaika forward. For all you know he may be Gaz himself! Gasp! Of course there is Bohdan’s group and from the last battle, my guess they will definitely cross paths again along with the other Chaika groups. There are some unfinished businesses to settle.

The action part is also quite good. At least it keeps me well entertained especially with Tooru and Akari as skilled saboteurs, they employ their learned skills and resources to the max resulting in them pulling off fast reflexes and certain acrobatic stunts that have been perfected throughout their years of harsh training. Be warned, sometimes the scenes may get a little bloody and gory. I wouldn’t say Chaika is a dead weight. There are times when she fights too but it is only when she uses her Gundo and it takes some time to setup her gun and chant her magic spells. Speaking of those magic lines, sometimes it feels like gibberish. As though they just pull it out from thin air or say the first nonsense word that comes to mind.

The artwork and drawing feels decent. Since this is a fantasy setting, I suppose the designs of the character dresses like Chaika’s gothic outfit (personally I like hers the best), the automobiles and the different dangerous beasts are rather okay. Talking about the beasts, that creepy monster spider just reminded me of something. I thought that kind of design reminded me of those frightening BETA monsters from Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. Creepy indeed. And thus some scenes can get gory and graphic like that Alien reference or that hidden wall of bloodied female corpses. Prepare your heart for such scenes. Personally I also feel that all the towns somewhat have this same look and feel to it. I’m sure it is because the towns are still recuperating from the aftermath of the biggest baddest war so it is no surprise that many parts have this gloomy and poverty-like ambience while there is a vast piece of wilderness and undeveloped lands. The buildings also have this old European feel to it. They have no distinctive feature that tells them apart. Therefore I can’ tell if they venture into another town if they do not mention it or logically if I am not paying attention and following the story.

Hearing Chaika’s voice for the first time, I thought it was Kana Hanazawa behind her since she sound awfully close in that retard mode. But something feels off. Sounds like Kana Hanazawa but not. Could it be Aki Toyosaki? Nah. Turns out to be Chaika Chika Anzai whose only voice acting role that I heard was Suzu Shutou from Akuma No Riddle. Originally I didn’t recognize Chiwa Saito’s voice. She wasn’t her usual when she was as Dominica. Then when she turned into Fredrica, it all becomes too familiar. Especially when that dragoon is craving to go berserk and do some killing. Reminds me of that crazy psycho teacher, Becky in Nourin. Other casts include Junji Majima as Tooru (Ryuuji in Toradora), Yuko Hara as Akari (Hitomi in Happiness Charge PreCure), Yoshimasa Hosoya as Gillette (Shichika in Katanagatari), Iori Nomizu as Vivi (Nymph in Sora No Otoshimono), Yui Makino as Layla (Sakura in Tsubasa Chronicle), Megumi Ogata as Ricardo (Shinji in Neon Genesis Evangelion) and Saeko Zougou as Bohdan (Chacha in Maken-Ki!).

Hearing the very rock-like opening theme, Darkena for the first time somewhat brings back familiar memories. No, I have not heard this song anywhere before but rather the singing style somewhat feels familiar. Then it hit me. Realizing it was Iori Nomizu’s voice behind the vocals, this brings back memories of how she sang the opening for Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka. I don’t really want to say bad about her singing but personally I thought her voice wasn’t the suitable type to sing. It’s a bit out of tune. Maybe that is her singing trademark. At least better than mine. Kairaku Genri is the ending theme sung by Coffin Princess (which is basically the voice of the 3 main Chaikas in this series). Despite it is more of a rock outfit, I can’t help feel there an ominous feel and sometimes it sounds like a hymn.

So peace is not a good thing to some? I can see why because it puts a lot of people out of a job. It doesn’t keep the economy running. It makes a lot of bored people with nothing else better to do. What else can people like Tooru and Akari do? What other industry can they go to? Even the case of Fredrica whose original dragoon form is much sought after has diminished in its value. Some things are only worth it and valuable when they fight. So yeah. War is good. Hah. With it comes pain, misery and all the suffering. I guess some people like that. Being sadists on a worldwide scale. It’s their only way to show their superiority and assert their authority over others, I figure.

Overall, this anime has a good mix of comedy, action, great prospects for character development and storytelling. People who are not into this fantasy setting or this kind of genre should also give this anime a try. Like every other anime out there, it is not perfect and not with its short comings but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying this anime. At least this series made me less fearful when I see coffins. Especially if a goth loli girl carries it. Hmm… Could be the next trendy fashion to replace bulky suitcases. Coffins and coffin carriers aren’t necessarily the harbinger of something ominous. For they might be loaded with cash and if you are lucky to be employed for your services, you’ll be set for life. Unless the job never ends…

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