Chaika – The Coffin Princess
Toru is a 20 year old former soldier who is living off his adopted sister’s income. While traveling through the forest one day he meets a young girl named Chaika carrying a coffin on her back. Despite the girl’s odd choice of accessories and speech patterns, he and his sister join up with her on a quest to retrieve the severed parts of her father’s corpse in hopes of learning more about her and restoring her memory.
The Good and the Bad
Chaika presented me with a dilemma that I can’t remember ever having before. It made me wonder to myself if a series could be interesting without being compelling at the same time.
To be totally fair and honest, Chaika is an interesting series. The characters are fun to watch and the story is something that resembles engaging. However the problem that faced me when I watched it is that every time I finished an episode, I felt absolutely zero compulsion to keep going forward. As much as I was enjoying the story and characters, the drive to continue onward became harder and harder to find as the series progressed.
There were lots of things that I liked about this series. For starters, I really enjoyed how everything was laid out in the open very early on. Some series will try to hook the audience by having a strong first episode and then trickling the plot points out over a few more episodes so that by the time the story is totally fleshed out it’s too late to turn back. Chaika lays it pretty much all out within two episodes which was a very refreshing change of pace. I really enjoyed not having to wait until I was halfway through the series to understand the what or the why of what was happening.
The animation produced by Bones was also beautiful to see. Bones has some experience with adapting stories that take place in fantastical or mythical lands and they showed off that experience in this series by creating deadly creatures that felt genuinely scary to see and gorgeous landscapes that made you want to pack a rucksack and visit.
The dub cast produced by Sentai Filmworks is quite passable and garners no real complaints from me. When I first sampled this series in Japanese, Chaika’s broken speech patterns sounded very grating to me and made it very difficult to get through even a couple of episodes. In English however, Kira Vincent-Davis managed to make the speech patterns sound much less grating, at times they were even cute and charming as the Chaika grew as a character and we learned more about her.
As has become customary with Sentai releases, you can expect the occasional on screen liner note to appear which will explain some references sprinkled throughout the series. Early on I was very pleased to discover one liner note in particular which explained the villain’s actions by mentioning what had happened in the original source material. That was a very welcome addition to the release.
In the end though I have to go back to my original point and say that Chaika was just not compelling enough for me. As I watched the series, it was just way too easy to watch an episode and then stop and forget about it entirely.
Composed by Seikou Nagaoka, the music in this series was about as compelling and impressive as the series itself. It blended into the background so much that it barely even registered as being part of the scene and in the end was ultimately forgettable.
As has become standard with Sentai releases, the only extras you’re going to find are clean animations and Japanese promos.
Chaika tried its best to get people involved and engaged with the story early on but sadly couldn’t follow up on that early potential with good execution. While some people might get hooked early on, there just isn’t enough here for me to recommend this title to anyone. Even hardcore fantasy fans are going to find this series hard to get through at times. This is not one for your permenant collection.