Things are looking pretty good for Fall as far as Hitsugi no Chaika is concerned. It’s frustrating that so much of the series’ first cour has been wasted on what feel like trivial or absurdly rushed side stories (in truth, I think there’s really only been 4-5 episodes worth of material so far that was truly essential) but at least the series is finishing on a strong note. I always felt like the show had this kind of quality in it, but there were times when I doubted we’d ever get to see it.
module arc has pretty much everything you’d want going for it. It has fun and fun-to-hate villains, it’s obviously essential to the underlying plot, it has good action and a real sense of consequence, and a coherent storyline. There are times when the main cast is a bit irritating with their behavior – too trusting (in the case of meeting Layla, for example) or not trusting enough (in Tooru’s jumping straight to the assumption that Akari betrayed him) but generally speaking, apart from Chaika and Vivi they’re basically a competent and reasonably thoughtful bunch.
As Tooru and Akari are doing battle (he stays his hand when he could have killed her, and nearly pays with his own life) Layla is giving Chaika a personal history lesson. I tend to believe Layla – who I suppose we should call something like Chaika Blue or Enjou Kosai-Chaika – is telling the truth when she says she and White Chaika (and all the Chaikas) were “created” (seemingly by Antonio Salieri, for some reason), artificial beings whose specific purpose is to gather Gaz’ remains for presumably nefarious purposes. Why? Well, I don’t see that she has a whole lot of reason to lie here for starters. As well, the story just makes sense – it’s pretty close to what many of us were thinking, I’m sure. I like the notion that the Chaikas (we can assume there are many, many more I think) are sent out with various skills in order to obtain remains via various means – sympathy, seduction, sheer force. Naturally Chaika White refuses to believe this unpleasant reality, but that’s to be expected.
Frederica shows up in the nick of time to rescue our Chaika, but just as she transforms into loli mode one of the flying fortress’ “guard dogs” shows up – some kind of skeevy spider-human hybrid that’s all legs and teeth which stabs Frederica in the head. Given that the brain is apparently the dragoon’s weak spot that looks bad, but it’s a bit early for her to be killed off so I suspect we’ll find out she has her brain in her left elbow in human form or something like that. Meanwhile Akari has sent Tooru plummeting to his death – only to see him saved by the very practical Zita. This gives us a watershed moment in Hitsugi no Chaika – the first official alliance between Team Gillette and Team Tooru, and I suspect it’s the start of something big. Vivi naturally objects, but if she serves any purpose in the series apart from trying to make up by herself for it’s otherwise lacking annoying characters, I’ve yet to see it.
This is pretty much typical of the episode, which is wall-to-wall content – mostly action – and quite dark. Tooru and his new allies stumble across a cache of Ricardo’s victims hidden inside the walls, and it’s not a pretty sight. As Akari attacks again Vivi and Zita try and hold her off while he does his best Errol Flynn impression. At ground level Gillette, with Leo in tow, has confronted the assault force trying to buy time for his people to escape – and seems willing to go down fighting when their commander refuses even to delay his attack. Gillette is a pretty courageous sort, but I’m not sure what a cavalier and a cat boy can do against an entire army with at least one cavalier of its own, not to mention a flying fortress of its own too.
While Layla clues us in as to what Ricardo and Lancia are after – if she’s telling the truth, they simply want to start another war under whose cover they can indulge their perversions with impunity (either Ricardo was quite a prodigy as psychopaths go or he’s a lot older than he looks) – what we don’t yet know is why Layla is helping them. I get that as an “awakened” Chaika she’s turned her back on her task, but is this really nothing more than the means of her revenge on those who created her (for whom it seems Guy is working, unsurprisingly)? I suppose that’s possible, and it’s simply a matter of her interests and those of Ricardo and Lancia overlapping here, but that seems a bit anti-climactic to me. I suppose we’ll know for sure one way or the other after the cour finale next week, which seems likely to conclude Layla, Ricardo and Lancia’s part in the story for now.