Hitsugi no Chaika – 09

Chaika - 09 -12 Chaika - 09 -17 Chaika - 09 -19

This decision isn’t getting any easier.

It’s fair to say that I was probably one more mediocre episode away from dropping Hitsugi no Chaika or at least putting it on hiatus.  It’s also fair to say that this episode wasn’t mediocre – it was a clear step up from the last couple.  But no less fair to say that for me at least, it wasn’t go strong that it unequivocally brought me on-board again.  It was just better enough to keep my ass squarely planted on this fence, and it’s not very comfortable.

So there you have it – the best I can give you (or myself) is a “we’ll see”.  I feel a peculiar sort of affection for Hitsugi no Chaika that I can’t fully explain, one that’s probably greater than my opinion of the narrative itself would justify.  Maybe it’s the old-school RPG feel of the thing, or the way it gamely refuses to be fully drawn into the world of LN cliches, or the growing sense that as much as anything it represents an anti-war fairy tale.  But it just can’t quite engage my fully in the story, either – the spark plugs aren’t firing.  It’s as classic a tweener series as I’ve seen in a while.

In any event, I did like this episode better than the last two by a fair margin, for several reasons.  It was rather dignified and focused in comparison, and lacked the sense of time-wasting detours and underdeveloped side plots.  I liked the way the show continued to slowly fill in the blanks with Gillette’s team, this time sharing the information that catboy Leo was a “demi-human” bred for the purposes of sparing humans the really difficult jobs in warfare.  The reasons for his loyalty to Gillette further cement the impression that it’s only a matter of time before the good people in the story team up to take on the greater evil that’s obviously out there.

I liked the focus on memories here too, especially the rather clever way it was presented.  Chaika revealed that she can use hers for fuel when the magical fuel runs out, and Tooru was appropriately disturbed and concerned by this.  This revelation spins into a nicely-spun flashback from Tooru and Akari’s childhood, where he grew in in a “village of saboteurs” being trained by a mentor named Shin (Sakurai Takahiro).  It’s no coincidence that Tooru’s background and Leo’s seem so similar, when they’re both discussed in the same episode, and the scenes between the child Tooru and Akari were appropriately cute.  Similarly dignified was the magic seller who presents a contrasting view on the war, whose end the rest of the village is celebrating – all he thinks of is the wife and sons it took from him.  The whole episode had that sort of feel to it, and it certainly marked a contrast to the rather disjointed and silly misfires of the last two weeks.  Here’s hoping it’s a sign of things to come.

Chaika - 09 -5 Chaika - 09 -6 Chaika - 09 -7
Chaika - 09 -8 Chaika - 09 -9 Chaika - 09 -10
Chaika - 09 -11 Chaika - 09 -13 Chaika - 09 -14
Chaika - 09 -15 Chaika - 09 -16 Chaika - 09 -18


  1. .

    To be fair, the Chaika anime is a split season series (confirmed by Chaika's LN author, Sakaki Ichiro). Season 2 begins this Fall, so I'm assuming the anime writers are keping the big stuff for then.

    Rumour is the LN will officially end in conjunction with Season 2.

  2. Yeah, I've covered that in detail in past posts. All I can do is call it as I see it and judge it as it comes.

  3. w

    Akari gets some of the best lines in this show. I can see how it'd be difficult to blog though. Even when you enjoy it it never really leaves you with much to to say.

    More than anything, Chaika reminds me of anime I would have watched growing up. You know, back when at least two-cour was the norm. I think it'd fit right in if it aired in the late nineties. You don't see this kind of episodic fantasy adventure anymore. It's not a particularly outstanding example of it's type, but it's hard not to have a nostalgic sort of fondness for it that keeps bringing you back.

  4. A

    I think this and the previous episode have been more taking a breather and filling in background, then lining us up for the season finale in that both Team Chaika and Team Gillette both have the same destination.
    So there's maybe the idea that the late Emperor was not as bad as he's been painted, things are not what they seem, and maybe Gillette's sense of justice will lead him to switch sides.

    Using memories for fuel did remind me of Valvrave, though.

  5. R

    I am quite amused with the old lady selling the cookies' line to Gillette "Feel free to choose your own [fortune[". Pretty much foreshadows his eventual switching of sides to Torru and his gang's.

    And can anyone clarify this to me: Is Jin (the mentor) an anime original character meant to replace Jasmine's role in the LN or is the Jasmine (Hasumin in the subs for some strange reason) shown here the same one as in the novels?

  6. m

    I completely agree with you, Enzo. Today's episode was very quiet and character-driven; I'll admit with the string of buildup episodes, I've been feeling a bit more impatient than usual.

    And yet, if I have to say one thing about Hitsugi no Chaika, it's that it's genuine. Instead of being calculatedly commercial like the other LN adaptations, it's earnest in its old-fashioned fondness for RPG fantasy settings. That in itself is such a breath of fresh air. I find it ironic that it appears on the same day as No Game No Life, and while I'm impressed by some of the mind games in NGNL, I'm left quite cold by it.

  7. m

    I agree with you that, even though I like the show, it never gives you this sense of "oh this is amazing". It's always like you're waiting for all the build up to start paying off, only to get more build up or at worst some random episode that has nothing to do with anything. At least Frederica hasn't spoken or been on screen in human form much. Same with Vivi. She found a way to annoy me in her short time on screen again. Of course she would beat a guy she already captured because she didn't like his point of view, which btw was valid enough to get under her love's skin. Also that whole "why are we talking about deep stuff? Huh I don't know that's weird?" was kind of stupid. Who doesn't know why they are talking about something, and more importantly, who even asks that? Aside from that, that scene was great, and it was nice to learn about their backgrounds a bit. I like the way Gilette seems to be appraising his loyalties and his value system. He's enough of an interesting character that I'll completely forget that he said "I'll live my life by this" about an abstract fortune cookie….Yeah, that's a great idea….but I like how they are delving into his reasons for fighting and which side he is on. I think we'll see more of this "life after the war isn't as good as the Gov is pretending" thing which has been one of the better aspects of this show. Also I don't think Gaz was nearly as bad as he was made out to be, it seems like it could be the new gov that's the self serving one.

  8. s

    I thought this was one of chaika's strongest eps; the writing seemed tighter this time around and the focus on character insight actually paid off unlike the last two eps. I agree that chaika isnt the show that gets your blood pumping with intrigue but what it does do right is demonstrating that it is still a fairly well-done series. It gives me hope that chaika can be a good series in both character exploration and action; hopefully the last three eps deliver a strong climax for this first cour.

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