Monday, August 11, 2014

Anime Review: Chaika the Coffin Princess

And I'm back! It feels a bit weird after that mini hiatus but also because wow we're almost halfway through the summer season of anime and I'm still playing catchup with all of the spring shows. Although this show would have felt odd to review no matter what the time, as people probably remember I was only lukewarm at best about it during the round-UP and only ended up continuing because I needed something to watch during my lunch breaks. I was seeing a lot of praise for it, hence why I choose that show over some other shows to be my catch-up show, but this is one of those cases were I never quite got the hype.

Chaika the Coffin Princess

Toru is a saboteur and ever since the war ended five years ago has felt adrift, unable to use his skills the way they were meant and unable to find anything else in life that interests him. When presented with the chance to be the bodyguard for a strange pale-haired girl who speaks with an odd accent he accepts, willing to take any job he and his sister can get, and it seems like Chaika might be able to provide the two of them exactly what they need in their lives.

As I mentioned in my intro, this show never quite managed to grow on me and I didn't see the appeal. "It feels like old school JRPGs!" Ah so it's nostalgia for something I actually never experienced, well, what else is there to the series other than a fairly by-the-numbers adventures of a  bunch of characters on a quest? Like any other story it has the potential to be more than the sum of it's parts and certainly sets up some interesting thematic questions but hasn't yet resolved them or made much progress. However, the story did start exploring those questions towards the end of this first half, the second cour drops in the fall, so I am confident that those ideas were placed completely on purpose and will be resolved sooner or later, I'm just not sure how interesting they will be. Because as it stands so far the story spent a lot of time waffling around early on where the characters continued on with their quest but they didn't truly advance the larger plot, other than setting up a few Chekov's guns. I thought the story got noticeably better in the last few episodes where it seemed like suddenly everything because much clearer and that all the nudges the characters had received turned into action on Chaika and Toru's parts, I can only hope the second half will be more of that and do that for the rest of the cast.

To continue talking about cast in another way, the show seriously looks like it has three different character designers. Gillette's group has all of these intricate details which makes them look like they stepped out of the Atelier video game series, Toru and Akari have this odd clunkyness to their outfits which left me feeling confused (if Gillette's group is semi-military then it makes sense for them to have military-esque uniforms, it doesn't make sense for our characters who are basically hired thugs+ninja's to have bright outfits), and Chaika's outfit looks like an odd combination of the two, as if it should be more detailed than it actually is and instead comes off as clunky. It also seemed like they forgot to shade half of episode nine which would have been a very weird mistake on Bones' part admittedly. They are stretched right now since they were working on three shows at once at the time (this, Captain Earth, and presumably the second season of Space Dandy) and this is by far their least important of those three projects but other than that the production values still seemed to be pretty good. If I'm remembering correctly, Bones doesn't yet have any other fall shows planned this year so again, hopefully when the second half starts they'll be able to make it better than the first in all ways!

Chaika is streaming on crunchyroll and has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks.