Fittingly, this week’s episode of Hitsugi no Chaika was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, I would say that on the whole it was my favorite so far – certainly it was an improvement over last week’s. But I’m still aware of the gap that exists between how much I think I should be enjoying it, and how much I actually am. And by its very nature that’s an irritating scenario, because I really can’t point to why that gap exists. It closed a little this week – enough to buy me in for another round – but I’m not pot-committed.
One thing that had been nagging me for a while did resolve itself for me, at least. I’ve been trying to figure out what show this reminded me of, and it clicked into place at last – Dantalian no Shoka. It’s not a dead-ringer by any means, but there’s a certain something in the tone and rhythm of the dialogue, as well as the art style, that calls Dantalian to mind. That wasn’t a great show but I did like it a lot (it may be remembered as the last Gainax series that showed any real spark) and if Hitsugi no Chaika ends up being in the same class, I’d consider that a pleasant surprise.
So what did we have this week? Well, it was still pretty low-key and pretty dignified stuff, solidly grounded in RPG-type hard fantasy trappings. I rather enjoyed the way the Dominica Skoda (Saitou Chiwa) situation played out, with Tooru and Chaika feeling a measure of remorse over plotting to steal from the woman who’d rescued him and provided them hospitality (albeit creepy hospitality) in her odd home. Tooru again stands out as a pretty interesting main character (and later in the episode again as a very competent one) in his unsentimental determination to steal the remains from Dominica by force if she refuses to give them up, even as Chaika herself wavers.
There was another interesting tidbit, and that was Akari’s explanation of who everyone was – really, the first significantly interesting character moment she has. She spins a “made up” story about how she and Tooru ran away because of their forbidden sibling love, but before we can groan too loudly Tooru confides to Chaika that the two of them are unrelated by blood. I also rather enjoyed Akari’s reaction when Tooru referred to Chaika as “someone precious to me”. I don’t know of the potential for romance really exists here and if it’ll be interesting if it does, but I don’t dread the thought at least and that has to count for something…
As for the development of Dominica turning out not to be Dominica at all, but rather the Dragoon, it wasn’t much of a surprise. Once Tooru has sussed out the reality of the situation (I rather liked the idea that Dominica might be the world’s biggest narcissist, but oh, well) he makes pretty short work of her. I’m not sure how I feel about her turning into moeblob “Frederica” and deciding to tag along with the trio – that whole development has an ominous note for me, and Frederica is setting off every warning bell on the console. I hope she stays in her cat form as much as possible.