Rarely has an anime managed to be so perfectly balanced for so long between gaining and losing my commitment as Hitsugi no Chaika. I’ve managed to get through an entire season without making up my mind, which is pretty incredible when you think about it. We’ll see what happens when fall rolls around – blogging it will depend on what else is on the schedule (right now it looks grisly apart from sequels, but it’s very early), but the finale did nothing to close the sale either way.
On the whole the finale was fine. It was mostly action-driven, had some interesting developments (even romantic ones) and a good number of seeds planted for possible second-cour storylines. The Ricardo-Layla-Lancia arc wrapped up thoroughly, if somewhat anti-climatically. For me it wasn’t as interesting as the last two episodes, but it was still pretty decent on the whole. The problem is that’s the zone the show has been in for most of its run as far as I’m concerned.
The headlines are pretty apparent – Frederica not being dead for starters. I can’t imagine that surprising anyone (we had another death later which will surely also turn out to be a fake), nor the method – she “molted”. Apparently she had an even more tiny (and annoying) loli stashed inside the old one Matryoshka doll style, though thankfully by the episode she seems to have reverted to her full-size loli form. As for the battle between the two Laputas, Lancia has given Soara a leg up by using the Emperor’s remains, which leads to the government fortress being seriously damaged and starting to sink. The commander (who’s just refused Gillette’s demand to parlay after taking his Cavalier hostage) decides on a suicide mission and rams the Soara with his own doomed fortress.
Inside Vivi and Zita have managed to free Akari from Lancia’s mind control, and Tooru has gone into saboteur mode searching for Chaika. This leads to a quick knife battle with Ricardo which ends with Ricardo being fatally stabbed, though Layla goes Tyrion Lannister on him and he plunges into the waterlogged lower decks of the fortress. After Chaika defeats her with an assist from Guy, she dives after him and rescues him with a magic-CPR kiss, and it seems as if it’s about to be followed up by a real one when Akari spots them and puts a stop to that for now.
Probably the most interesting developments in the episode are with Team Gillette. When thew Soara’s wayward gun blasts the ground where Gillette and Leonardo are butting heads with the vanguard force, Gillette is seemingly vaporized – except he’s got two Guys (capital “G”) standing behind him at the time, so it’s safe to assume he’s fine. But when Vivi finds out about it, she flips out and seems to turn into another Chaika – although maybe her hair just turned white. I honestly have no idea what’s up with that one – if indeed she has turned into a Chaika I don’t recall anything we’ve seen that would seem to have foreshadowed it.
So that’s where it stands as the cour ends – Ricardo dies in Layla’s arms as the water pours in, Chaika declares she’s going to keep looking for body parts even though she knows the truth, and all hell breaks loose in Team Gillette. There’s also the little matter of Frederica suggesting to Tooru that he sign a contract with her and become a Dragoon Cavalier, which has a ring of Chekov’s Gun to it. It’s a modestly interesting setup for the second season, and I’ll certainly be watching to see where Hitsugi no Chaika goes from here. In the final analysis I suspect I’m going to need something more – a continuation of the level of episodes 10 and 11 at the very least – if I’m to blog it, but there’s no point in making a final decision on that now.