It’s surely a coincidence, but the first episode of Hitsugi no Chaika following the announcement of a second season was one that very much behaved as if it wasn’t in any particular hurry to get anywhere. Indeed, this very much had the feeling of a side story, though the events were obviously relevant to the overall plot and we had one major confrontation happen for the first time. The main focus was on atmospherics and comedy, and on that score this series tends to fare pretty well.
The pretext for events here is the next opportunity to gather remains, once again facilitated by the ironically-named Guy. He sends the heroic trio off in pursuit of another of the heroes of the war, one Simon Scania (Kinoshita Hiroyuki), who the androgynous pixie informant informs Tooru is living in a valley perpetually shrouded by fog, one that no one has returned from in four years. Crucially Mattheus uses his ability to track the trio, allowing Team Gillette to intercept them on the way.
If there’s an event here that feels weighty in the overall plot, the first real meeting between Tooru and Gillette is certainly it. I continue to suspect that these two will join forces sooner or later, but for now it’s conflict that ensues, in spite of the fact that Gillette seems genuinely surprised that Chaika admits to no sinister plans for her father’s remains. Gillette introduces himself as a “Cavalier” (the old-school RPG vibe just gets stronger and stronger) I believe for the first time, and the sense here is that at least with these numbers in support, Gillette is more than a match for Tooru. It’s not until Frederica (miffed at being left out of a chance for some bloodshed) decides to show up that Tooru, Akari and Chaika have a chance at escape (interestingly, Tooru chooses this route rather than have Frederica eliminate the enemy right there) though Chaika is forced to leave her mahou nenryou behind.
If that was the watershed moment of the episode, the main point of it seems to be the fantasy sequence that Tooru endures after being trapped inside the magic fog that shrouds the valley, as the girls are protected by Chaika’s magic barrier. It’s played for laughs and it is pretty funny (as is Akari’s response) but it’s interesting that Tooru’s fantasy seems to be to live out his days acting out anime tropes with a conversationally powered-up Chaika (and the real one sure doesn’t seem to mind). Age difference be damned, I guess – I’m not sure why he considers Akari to be “out of the question” (Frederica I get) if they’re not really siblings, but I certainly don’t buy it as a dismissal of the significance of his visions. To thine own lolicon be true.
The backstory behind Simon Scania (who of course is the man behind the fog) seems rather perfunctory and oddly incomplete – I’m not sure if there’s more to it in the LN, but here it feels like a small slice of what was once a much bigger subplot. In any event he’s just a sad mope who was betrayed by his wife and best friend and chooses to live as a hermit, showing trespassers visions of their true love betraying them (does the fact that Tooru’s fantasy Chaika ended up with Gillette mean that Tooru fantasizes him as a best friend?) until they starve to death. He gives up the remains without a fight and is left as quickly as we found him, insane and depressed – it’s all very oddly written, to be honest. But it does seem to suggest there’s some sort of curse attached to Gaz’ remains, because the ones who’ve ended up with them haven’t been blessed with a whole lot of good fortune so far.