I can’t shake the feeling that I’m in the middle of a D & D module when I’m watching an episode of Hitsugi no Chaika – one of the good eps, anyway. To call that nostalgic would be an understatement, but that’s by no means a bad thing – I rather like that vibe, and the vibe watching this episode is that we’ve finally plowed through the Kobolds and Goblins and gotten to the monsters that really matter at last. A floating fortress with an evil wizard and a sadistic killer shota who’s flayed and dismembered his family? Sign me up.
Once again there’s nothing especially groundbreaking or brilliant about this episode, but it’s quite fun and it does seem to be raising the stakes for the story quite a bit. It’s obvious that this Duke Gavarni is a much bigger threat than the small fry we’ve seen thus far when Tooru and Chaika arrive in a village with no young women and a towering sky fortress (think Laputa) menacing everyone who lives there. Turns out the Duke is stealing all the girls and taking them away to the sky, never to be seen again. Whether Tooru would have been able to talk Chaika into just walking away under other circumstances is debatable, but given that Gavarni has the remains the heroes are looking for it’s not an option.
Once a test flight on Frederica offers no way inside the fortress (Soara) the plan is simple enough – have Akari get herself kidnapped and find a way to get the others in. Conveniently, this is also the plan that Gillette has employed in his mission to research the fortress, using Vivi (honestly, they can keep her if you ask me) and Zita as the bait. Now more than ever Gillette’s interests and Tooru’s are converging, especially when the council (the King finally speaks) decides Gavarni has become too much of a threat and decides to send their own flying fortress to attack Soara, notwithstanding that two of Konrad’s people are on-board (could that guy be a bigger sad sack?). Gillette sends a message to them via owl – let me just say, I love that the owl is named “Fu-chan” – and they try and work out a method of escape as Akari gets captured and turned into a puppet by the enemy.
The powers that be on Soara are Ricardo Gavarni (none other than Shinji Ikari herself, Ogata Megumi), the aforementioned killer shota who’s now the titular noble in charge, along with the wizard Lancia (Touchi Hiroki) and a girl named Layla (Makino Yui) who looks to be another Chaika. Ricardo speaks of the “dream” they’re all pursuing – just what that is isn’t yet clear, but it does seem likely that this is something highly relevant to the larger plot and not simply another side story (I hope so – these villains are easily the most fun so far).
Layla has posed as an abducted girl and managed to separate Chaika from Tooru, Akari is being mind-controlled by Lancia (may I just point out that’s at least the sixth car model – Chaika, Acura, Scania, Abarth and Skoda as well, and I’m pretty sure I’ve missed some – that’s popped up as a character name) and is attacking Tooru, Frederica has been stabbed through the chest and plunged hundreds of feet (bet she’s pissed) and if all that weren’t enough another flying fortress is steaming towards Soara to blow it out of the sky. That’s a nice setup for what should be a very interesting episode next week – all kinds of fun possibilities there, including the Tooru and Gillette teams finally teaming up in order to survive. I certainly haven’t had this much anticipation for a Chaika episode since the first couple of weeks, and that’s undeniably a good sign.