Hitsugi no Chaika seems a fitting symbol of this season overflowing with middling shows, given that it remained squarely on the blogging fence for as long as any show ever has. I managed to get through an entire cour without committing myself, which seems rather silly in hindsight and left me resolved that while I have real affection for the series, it would need to do more early on for me to stick with the second season.
Alas, this premiere gives me little to push me in either direction – which I suppose is a push itself, if I stick to that standard. It was pretty solid, but nothing great – giving the impression of another random mini-arc mixed in with nuggets of information vital to the final resolution. The guest star is Claudia Dodge (Katsuki Masako) a hero from the war against Emperor Gaz and possessor of what looks to be his heart. She knows who Chaika is and keeps giving her chances to defeat her in battle and win the remains, but refuses to fight to the death. She’s managed to make her peacetime fortune in running a winery, and even offers Chaika some advice on how to improve her battle skills (shorter incantations and better defense).
All this is fine – the characters are likeable and the story is competently told – but so far it’s not the level-up I needed to keep me on-board. But it’s a premiere, and there’s enough interesting stuff going on with Team Gillette (pretty much no way he’s really dead) and the truth about Gaz‘ plans to suggest such a level-up is at least possible. You know the drill both with Hitsugi no Chaika and this season – incomplete information to make a call, so stay tuned.
Garo: Honoo no Kokuin – 01
I was always planning to give this one a watch, though I’m by no means a fan of the Garo franchise or those of its close relatives. But it’s at the urging of my kouhai at RC, Samu, that I’m doing a First Impressions post because he’s been relentlessly positive about it.
My take? I don’t quite get what the fuss is about, though I think this first animated take on Garo is rather good for what it is. There’s a bit too much CGI and musical puffery for my taste, but anime that are as unabashedly grandiose as this one is aren’t that common these days, so I’m glad to see Garo out there. Witches being burned at the stake, warlocks torn in half by wagons, succubi, evil counselors poisoning the ear of the King – you name it, Garo: Seal of Flames has got it.
It’s interesting to see MAPPA doing two shows in one season, and both (Garo and Shingeki no Bahamut) have a lot of the sword-and-sorcery, lusty medieval fantasy/horror thing going on. As much as I love Namikawa Daisuke I’m not sold on him as the 17 year-old hero Leon Lewis, but Horiuchi Kenyuu is spot-on as his adoptive father German. Hashi Takaya is likewise perfect as Mendoza, the obviously evil Councillor who’s goading the King into siding against the obviously good witches and warlocks whose real role seems to be sealing “horrors” away. The King’s son Alfonso (Nomura Katsuhito) who has a strong karmic link to Leon’s turbulent birth seems destined to play a major role too.
I’ll keep an eye on Garo, though for now it’s just another on the massive pile of shows I can say that about.