Chaika: The Coffin Princess is an anime series based on the light novels penned by Ichirō Sakaki (whose previous works include Outbreak Company and Scrapped Princess.) Much like the aforementioned books, this series takes place in a fantasy realm populated with charming characters. Although not devoid of humour, when compared to the rib tickling Outbreak Company, Chaika’s script focuses more on action adventure rather than comedy. Both properties do however feature characters that dress in French maid attire. I’m not sure that anyone would hire the titular Chaika to dust their abode though, given how she creepily lugs a large casket on her back.
The dozen episodes contained in this season one set have Chaika roaming the land in search of her father’s remains. Chaika Trabant is the daughter of the kingdom’s former emperor – a tyrannical sorcerer named Arthur Gaz. When the Gaz Empire was toppled Emperor Gaz was slain and hacked up into eight pieces, with each body part being entrusted to one of the heroes who helped vanquish him. Yuck, that’s gruesome stuff – although not unusual for a medieval punishment (I understand that Scottish legend William Wallace suffered a similar fate.) Dismemberment is not a pleasant thing… perhaps I should have warned you readers not to snack whilst perusing this review. Sorry!
When viewers first meet Chaika it soon becomes apparent that the albino princess has not made much progress in her macabre scavenger hunt. Chaika has ventured into some woods and, much like a chap who refuses to ask for directions, she is completely lost. She ambles about; going round and round in circles, until she eventually bumps into the angriest My Little Pony I have ever seen. Thankfully for the pale protagonist a wandering saboteur named Toru Acura rescues Chaika from falling victim to unicorn assault. After escaping from the forest unscathed Chaika hires the services of Toru and his sister Akari Acura. Despite lacking a sense of direction the petit royal does at least have an abundant supply of silver to recruit mercenary assistance.
After a while the abovementioned trio become a quartet, thanks to the addition of Fredrika – a sassy lass who has the ability to polymorph into different forms. Together they travel across the Six Nations seeking the eight fabled heroes who protect the decomposing prizes that Chaika desires. It’s a race against time as Chaika has “siblings” of sorts who also share the same goal. Who knew that rotting limbs were so in demand? They are almost as sought after as limited edition Amiibos! Heroes and Chaika’s relatives aren’t the only obstacle Toru’s band has to contend with however. The authorities have dispatched the Gillett Corps to foil Chaika’s aspirations. Said team includes a dashing cavalier, an animal tamer and a feline demi-human (sadly he’s a cat boy rather than a cat girl.)
My rating for Chaika: The Coffin Princess is four stars. Watching this series took me back to the days when I enjoyed lighthearted fantasy romps such as Slayers and Rune Soldier Louie. Part of the appeal is the amiable cast of characters who I can’t help but root for, even if their motivations are somewhat questionable. Reuniting the pieces of an evil wizard sounds like bad news to me – not to mention that Toru favours war over peace, as conflict improves his employment prospects. I can’t dislike Chaika however, as she is so gosh darn cute. Her manner of speech is adorable and (despite being the offspring of a tyrant) she is always willing to aid the needy. Cheering on the fugitives is also easy given that the government the Gillett Corps serve are anything but noble.
Overall the series provides the right blend of action and gags. There’s plenty of acrobatic sword fighting, courtesy of Toru’s Iron-Blood techniques, and Akari’s deadpan jibes never failed to amuse me. Chaika also contributes during combat via her enchanted sharpshooting. Much like in Outlaw Star, the firearms in this show are used for spell casting. Chaika saving the day via the use of magic is perhaps overplayed, but her power is limited due to the fact that firing a weapon without mana cartridges can rob a caster of their memories. Besides, how is Chaika winning through magic any worse than Voltron always triumphing over adversity thanks to his gigantic blade?
I can’t wait for season two based on this strong showing. Worryingly however I have been unable to locate any concrete news detailing when the next instalment will be localized. Guess I shall have to be patient. Translating the next season of “Coffin” Princess is after all a massive “undertaking.”