Hitsugi no Chaika – 03

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Nope, still not sure one way or the other.

I want to like Hitsugi no Chaika and I sort of do, but there just isn’t quite enough here to close the sale yet.  To be honest I found this episode to be a bit on the boring side, though there were some nice moments (especially comedically).  And I like the general old-school, RPG-fantasy vibe the series creates.  I’ll take this sort of straightforward material any day over self-satisfied and pretentious shows that simply don’t have the ammunition to justify any of that, but at some point a show has to win you over on simple entertainment value and I’m not there yet.  There’s nothing else on Wednesdays (as usual the dead zone for an anime schedule) but I really want a better reason to blog a series than that.

Individually, the components are pretty strong.  I like Tooru as a main character – smart, competent, borderline a grown-up and dealing with realistic ex-soldier problems.  Miraculously, Chaika’s act is still wearing well for me (mostly – there are a few moments…).  Akari is pretty much a cipher but at least she’s not especially annoying in any way.  And I find Gilette’s crew borderline hilarious for some reason – they’re such a motley crew seemingly for no good reason but comic effect.  Catboy?  Check.  Owl messengers?  Check, Gryffindor.  Megane-girl in microshorts?  Check.  Goth girl?  Check.

The premise is fine, too.  It’s following a very textbook epic fantasy track so far, with the heroes leaving town on their strange quest with the bad guys who may not be bad in pursuit.  We get the requisite visit to the small village, gossip about powerful and mysterious leaders with “dragoons” (apparently, magical creatures in this mythos are called “Fayla” – obviously inspired be Fae – and all chant to themselves as the unicorn did), the search for transport…  This is fairly amusing too, as we get to see the trio try and be inconspicuous when one of their number is carrying a coffin on her back – and Tooru’s wry response to the effort.

Adding a little more mystery to the mix is Guy, who turns out to be Chaika’s “informant” and is seemingly a magical creature of some sort.  In truth I have zero idea if Guy is supposed to be a boy, a very flat girl or neither – but Guy does provide the heroes with some useful information on the identity of the Dragoon ruler who supposedly has some of Gaz’ remains, and where to find a vehicle (which in this world are powered not by fossil fuels, but magic).  Chaika gasses it up with mojo, and off we go through the woods – until a pack of Fayla dogs called Orthos attack, and Tooru stays behind to fight them off.  That doesn’t go so well but the aforementioned ruler shows up in the nick of time – Dominica Skoda.

There are several other hints dropped in this episode that all is not as it seems – perhaps most significantly that there may be a mess of “fake” Chaikas running around out there (several of whom have killed themselves rather than answer questions).  Add that to the fact that Chaika has no memories before the last year, and it’s hard not to assume she’s not what she seems.  It’s not a bad setup by any means, and the players are better than average on the whole.  Right now though, the whole is not quite equal to the sum of the parts for me yet.  I’m still squarely on the fence with Hitsugi no Chaika for at least one more week.

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18 comments

  1. r

    I think, at least for me, Chaika is the fantasy version of moeblob shows like Gochiusa and Kiniro Mosaic: a comfortable, pleasant experience where you pretty much know what you're getting. As you said, it's straightforward and pretty honest with a lot a great component parts.

    So, while they could probably dive into some deeper material, I don't think that's what were ever going to get because that's not what the show and the story is about. It's just the chance to watch some amusing characters wander about in a cool world and do some cool things.

    For my part, I'm totally okay with that.

  2. m

    I also found this episode to be pretty boring, but I'm hoping that that's bc it's the combination of building up this "2nd great hero" mini arc (or whatever you want to call it), and still needing to slowly build up the whole backround involving the MC and their pursuers. If it's that, and not bc it's just going to be a boring at worst, entertaining but nothing special at best show I'll be pretty disappointed.

    I only have found one character that's really annoyed me so far. Surprisingly the brocon doesn't bc she speaks so rarely and at least has this originality of hating her brother when he is lazy. I think ep 1 she said something along the lines of "I'll kill anyone who badmouths my brother, including my brother". I hate brocons/siscons as a concept, but this hasn't bothered me yet. Chaika's weird speech pattern also hasn't bugged me. I feel like her voice would annoy me more if she spoke more words per sentence. I agree that the pursuing group is pretty funny, though I already hate every second of that one goth girl talking. That "how dare he defy the most glorious venerable leader of mine that I'm in love with! I'll kill him!" attitude is so aggravating. Nevermind the fact that he never met the guy before then, that he doesn't know the situation, that he was kind enough when you guys attacked him and left your friend alive, or on the other end of the spectrum that he stabbed your friend; it's really the defiance that's so deserving of such hatred. Luckily she doesn't get to speak much either. The show does a good job of limiting annoying tropes that likely had to be in there bc of the source material.

    The MC is great so far, and if they get more in depth into his character I think it could turn out to be a really good show. He's not a teenager which is a nice change of pace, he's got an interesting past, he's seemingly a good person, but that is also balanced nicely with the idea that he only fits in in warlike situations. So hopefully he keeps the lions share of screen time and lines.

  3. w

    Strangely enough Chaika's way of speaking actually grew on me a little bit this episode, although I would still like for her to learn their language fluently. I'm really enjoying this and I'm glad you've at least blogged it up until now, but I've been bought in since the first episode and so hope you come to enjoy it more as well.

    For my money the most interesting part of this episode was the conversation between Gillette and his crew. Came very close to feeling like exposition for a second, but it was a very revealing discussion and really adds fuel to the mystery surrounding Chaika herself.

  4. R

    Allow me to join you sitting on the fence for this one. Though i find the series interesting, it really needs something more for me to embrace it fully. But this one definitely passes the three-episode rule for me.

    One part that i definitely like on this ep is the fact that both Toru nad Gillette's group are actually asking questions. It adds more to the intrigue of the story The three leads are still okay with me. Chaika. Speech. Still Amusing.

  5. M

    The art quality this episode was rather disappointing, along with the directing which felt disjointed at the start. Maybe it was a new episode director this week.

  6. s

    Im curious, what was it about the art quality that disappointed you? (besides the few hiccups one would usually notice in an animated series if they looked closely)

  7. Yeah, whatever complaints I have I thought the visuals were fine.

  8. A

    I'm enjoying the series so far, it's not a standout show like Ping Pong or Haikyuu!! but it has a certain old school charm. The MC is not annoying or dumb like MCs in many of these shows tend to be, Chaika somehow manages to grow on me in spite of being a ball of moeblob clichés, The MC's sister hasn't shown us enough so far for me to make a real judgment of how much or little I like her but I still find her dry bluntness amusing.

    I think that this show succeeds in execution even if it fails somewhat on the innovation front, and I'll always take a well executed if clichéd story and characters over a innovative one with bad execution. For now it's solidly in my "worth watching" category.

  9. A

    Chaika. Language skills poor. Cooking explosive. Good at car maintenance.
    Seriously I did like that they showed us Chaika doing something constructive in cleaning up and fixing the magic carriage. It shows she's competent at some things.

    The knowledge of other Chaikas roaming around adds another bit of mystery. The show's impressed me a lot more than I expected with its characters and story.

  10. I don't deny any of the positves I see here – old-school charm, etc.. I just wish I was finding it more flat-out engaging. It's decent but it's still not really grabbing me.

  11. R

    I get you. Those positives are good, but they can't seem to gel together into a whole package to munch on. there is really that something that is lacking.

  12. G

    Well, I don't think any of us are expecting greatness here. For my part, I had extremely low expectation going on, so I'm quite pleased how well it has turned out. I'll slip over the fence and watch the rest of the way. It's only one cour after all.

  13. This was one of my sleeper picks, so it's fair to say my expectations were reasonably high. And they've been partially met – I'm just waiting for something to stand out and close the deal.

  14. R

    Enzou, could you scoot over a bit on the fence? Me and my backpack full of snacks for the next two weeks need room.

    I think I'm a bit more engaged that you are at this point, because I'm not at the point where I can see myself dropping it until at least a three more episodes past this (enough to hopefully get the rest of the pieces in gear). But at the same time I'm also not at the point where I'm engaged enough that I won't drop it somewhere later on. My standards are a lot lower though, so I don't think I will. It kinda reminds me of when I watched Hamatora (though this is the better offering as a whole so far) where as it was pretty fun, I watched it after I had watched everything else I wanted, sometimes several days late, and enjoyed it enough but didn't really remember each episodes much after it was over.

    Hamatora gets a break because it pulled two seriously left field twists (one predictable, the other one WTF during the series finale….which unfortunately did have the effect of actually making me want a sequel that probably won't happen) so I did remember it for a while later. Hopefully Chaika doesn't resort to that XD Effective, but low blow.

  15. E

    Urgh. You are on the fence with this.
    Is it because of the moeblob?
    Having played a lot of Final Fantasy and JRPG in the past, I really like this kind of setting.
    As you said, it has pretty good comedic moments when our party was treated weirdly because of the coffin. Also, another people misunderstanding our protagonist as a loser, who had a little girl pay for his meal.
    It's not cliche and flat out predictable too. Because there might not be a rebel faction to begin with. The officials who hired our pursuers might be evil themselves. And it's still hard to judge if Guy is a bad guy or good guy.

  16. s

    I am thoroughly enjoying Hitsugi no Chaika but i think the reason why some viewers are still on the fence about the future of this series (well, why im not fully engaged in this series yet) is because while the series has a lot of great ideas for a fantasy epic, the writing hasn't quite proven if it is of the caliber to really bring something riveting out of the series. It feels like its relying more on its interesting ideads to push forward the plot rather than compelling writing that enbues suspense and intrigue within the audience, if that makes any sense. A good epic fantasy is also a good drama, and the writing doesn't necessarily show that as of yet which is what makes it hard to become completely immersed within the show. Still, because there are some great ideas here, Im watching in the hopes that it will all come together and BAM..surprise us with a good series.

  17. H

    Have you checked out Sorcerous Stabber Orphen, Enzo?

    I'm sure you've definitely heard of it, but its everything you're looking for from Hitsugi (except the art style is quite different – kind of shojo but I dug it). The unessential sequel is bad though I've heard.

    Hope you get a chance to check it out. Eager to know your impressions after reading this.

  18. Actually, never seen it. Thanks for the recommendation, I'll research it a bit.

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