What They Say:
The end of the war with the Gaz Empire only meant unemployment for former Saboteur Toru Acura. So when he collides with fate in the form of a young girl carrying a coffin through a forest, it doesn’t take much convincing for Toru and his similarly inclined step-sister Akari to join young wizard Chaika on her bizarre quest: to collect the scattered body parts of the former Emperor.
Unfortunately, the severed pieces were carried off by the Heroes who killed him, and some think that reassembling them could restart the war! On top of that, Chaika may not be who she claims to be, as there are others conducting similar missions all across the kingdoms. Is Chaika a dead man’s daughter, picking up the pieces for burial, or is there something far more sinister in the works? The winds of war are stirring and there are dragons waiting in the darkness ahead for Chaika The Coffin Princess!
The audio presentation for this series is straightforward as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language adaptation, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series has a solid mix of action and dialogue throughout so that it balances it quite well by the needs of the scene and gives each what it requires. The action component has some very solid moments to it and some nice bass during the bigger sequences to give it more impact across the forward soundstage. There’s not a lot of big directionality to it but place is solid in these sequences and it gives it what it needs. The dialogue side works similarly since it’s often small groups at play and spread about the stage so there’s some directionality and placement as needed but it’s not incredibly important. Both pieces play well together and there’s a very clean and warm feeling to the design overall. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/three format, giving it all plenty of space to work with. Animated by Bones, the show has a strong visual design overall with rich colors and a lot of layering while also bringing a good bit of detail to costume and character design overall. While it has the problem of the cast all wearing the same outfit constantly, it’s given enough to it that you can enjoy the effort and complexity involved from time to time. The look of the show is one that’s done in a lto of earth tones but with enough richness to stand out with some subtle pop to it. Having the white with Chaika helps to give it some regular vibrancy as well. The animation comes across very clean and clear here with little in the way of noise outside of some minor background moments in some deep color fields.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case with both discs held against the interior walls. The front cover goes for the appropriate kind of framing to give this an older/fantasy kind of feeling about it and the central piece uses the familiar and nicely done promotional artwork of the main trio together. Using the magic symbol as the background is nicely done as well, though it does make things a bit busier even as it adds some needed subdued coloring to give it a little more. There’s a lot going on here, on top of Akari’s awkward position at that, but it’s a busy level that’s not as bad as it could be. The back cover carries over the leatherbound brown aspect of it, which works well, and I like that the centerpiece to hold the premise summary is designed like a coffin. It needed to be and they don’t disappoint here. The few shots from the show are okay, but it almost feels like it wasn’t necessary here and kind of detracts from the whole. The episode and disc count is clearly listed as are the extras. The bottom brings out the usual production credits and a clean and accurate technical grid that lists how the show is put together. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
Sentai makes an interesting menu choice for the two discs here as they almost always use different pieces of artwork for different discs. This time they use the same design for both discs, which isn’t bad as the right half has a great walking side image of the main cast in an almost illustration kind of style to it. With the white background, this lets the character designs pop a bit more as well. Especially against the heavy colors from the navigation on the left which feels like old wood and leather with some fantasy-era style symbolism mixed in to give it a bit of additional weight. It uses the browns and soft yellows to bring it together with the episodes listed by number and title. The release has all the basics and the menus handle it well in both top-level form and as the pop-up menu.
The extras for this release are fairly simple as we get the clean opening and closing sequences as well as a small selection of the original Japanese promos.
Based on the light novel series Hitsugi no Chaika, Chaika the Coffin princess is a two-cour series that has its first twelve episode cour in this set. Originally airing in the spring 2014 season, it was produced by Bones and given a really strong production overall. Interestingly, the series came out as original author Ichiro Sakaki worked through the end of the light novels as that came to an end in March 2015 with twelve volumes. With this season, there’s plenty of material to work with to tell the tale and it certainly builds its world well, though it still plays within that kind of in-between area that frustrates me when it comes to magic based series as there’s always too much pseudo-technology in it.
The premise is flat out intriguing when you really get into it. It revolves around Chaika, a young and slightly befuddled woman whose memory is full of holes up until recently when she began to search for the scattered body part remains of her father. Said father was actually the emperor of the Gaz Empire, which he ruled over for something live five hundred years. His death five years earlier at the hands of a group of heroes had them taking various pieces of him to ensure he couldn’t use magic to properly reconstitute himself. So Chaika is looking to bring closure to her life by bringing her father back together to give him a proper memorial. The kicker? There are several people that are identical to Chaika, albeit with different personalities, that are doing the exact same thing.
Okay, I didn’t see that coming. It’s a neat little addition that hits about halfway through this set and expands from there, allowing us to see the different interpretations of the character while feeling our Chaika is the real one. But even that gets subverted along the way as we get a clue or two about how these clones were created and that has its own fascinating aspects. Chaika’s the empty shell character to be sure because of how she only has memories from after the war that killed her father, and the main Chaika is also one that has a kind of quirky speech pattern about her that makes her both child-like at times, Yoda-like at others, but one that’s also quite determined in her quest. And that’s hard to really make work with her speech pattern, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work. And expertly so.
Chaika’s journey is not one that’s done alone as the opening episode has her being saved a bit by Toru, a “saboteur” kind of jack of all trades fighter that hasn’t worked much of a while. He’s paired with his sister Akari and both are very competent at what they do and really take to Chaika in protecting her. There’s obviously relationship potential within all of that with Chaika and Toru, but he views her as his master for the job and goes the distance in defending and protecting her so she can finish her journey .THere’s more to it than that overall, but it’s set up with a simple angle and reinforced regularly so that we know how the dynamic works. It’s like he reaffirms his service to her in order to reassure her that she won’t have to go this alone, especially as the dangers increase and they come across more of those that look nearly identical to her physically. Toru and Akari provide for some solid action sequences within it as they’re your basic rough and tumble types with swords and the like, and it complements the magic that Chaika uses through her extended anti-tank rifle that she keeps in her coffin. The rifle is actually her main magical component and is a key piece to how she performs, something that we see with it and with other magic driven characters who often have even weirder looking devices called gandr as theirs.
This season of the show is all about setting up these foundations and working through the trio coming across a few of the pieces of her father that are in the hands of others, including some of the heroes from before – who aren’t quite who they were either. We do get some time understanding how the world has coped since the death of the Emperor and the changes to how the kingdoms and militaries are reacting to it and you get a good sense that things are very much on edge and that the quest Chaika and the others are on are being used in different ways by them. There’s one group in particular that’s chasing Chaika and we even get one of the heroes in the form of a dragoon that joins up with Chaika as well, providing some additional support. The series really does flesh itself out well as it goes on even while keeping to its core focus, providing for a far better balance than a lot of these shows do.
Chaika the Coffin Princess is a show that does a whole lot that I like it does it well. While it’s not the same, I kept getting a Scrapped Princess vibe from it at times and that just warmed my cockles. This show stands very well on its own and I found it to be very accessible and fun, one that I instantly wanted to share with others while hoping that the second cour is just as strong. The foundations set up here are solid, the characters are enjoyable and interesting with so much room to grow with, and the central plot and storyline is one that appeals to me a whole lot. This is a solidly put together release with a strong set of performances from both casts from what I sampled and a great looking show all around. Very recommended.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Promos, Clean Opening and Closing
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: December 15th, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.