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Chaika: The Coffin Princess Vol. #03 Manga Review

4 min read

Chaika Volume 3 CoverThis is worldbuilding in real time.

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Ichirou Sakaki (original story)/ Shinta Sakayama (manga)
Translation/Adaptation: Athena and Alethea Nibley

What They Say
Chaika’s true mission–as well as her true identity–is revealed at long last. Toru must make the tough decision to remain by the side of his traveling companion or risk the possibility of plunging the world into darkness again! But what good is a saboteur in a world without conflict? And just who is the mysterious figure helping Chaika from the shadows…?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
For those just starting the series, our antihero is Toru, who along with Akari, are saboteurs. Trained to be warriors from birth, now in a time of peace, they do freelance work for their guild. Currently they work for the mysterious Chaika, a wizard who carries a coffin on her back. Chaika is being hunted by a knight, Gillet, and his team comprised of an assassin and a mercenary.

This volume opens where the last closed. Toru threatens to kill the incapacitated mercenary if Gillet does not give him the container with the magic hand. In an effort to reason with Toru, Gillet tells him Chaika’s identity. We learn she was the daughter of the Emperor Arthur Gaz, the enemy the warring nations rallied against and defeated. Gillet believes that informing Toru that Chaika represents a threat to the peace will make him reconsider working for her, but the news that he could spark another war propels him to action. He attacks Gillet’s party and recovers the hand of her father.

The middle section of the volume offers more worldbuilding through detailed art and the dialog between Toru and Akari. They begin to question why the warring states would stop fighting amongst themselves to unify against Gaz. Akari speculates that the accomplishments of Gaz made all other states greedy with a desire for magical technology and information that would help them expand. During this time, Chaika’s party does not have a destination, and Toru becomes anxious not knowing where to go while they are hunted by Chaika’s enemies. In this section, we learn that there is a technology powered by magic and this has played a role in the war and the resulting peace. We also have a bathing scene where Chaika and Akari bathe in a stream while teasing Toru. The nudity is doll nudity with no details, and with the vulgar teasing in earlier volumes, I expected more direct fanservice. Overall, this volume seems to have more detailed panels of landscape and architecture than the previous version, and that extra detail becomes part of Toru and Akira making sense of their world.

In the final third, we meet two new characters. The first calls himself “Guy.” Guy seems to be a phantom or illusion as a direct attack from Toru did no harm. He convinced Toru that he would find transportation hidden away where vehicles were left at the end of a battle 30 years before. He also tells Toru the next hero of the battle of Gaz Capital, someone with a part of Gaz’s body, is named Dominica Skoda. Guy gives directions to find her. Dominica’s backstory begins with the death of her younger sister, so Chaika’s group will be fighting an emotional opponent for the next piece of her father.

The physical book has a few issues. The panels disappear in the gutters, and the book has to be stretched open to read all of the dialog. Pulling that tightly to read can become uncomfortable for someone trying not to crease the covers and spine. That said, the print quality is good and details are crisp.

In Summary
This story has slowed down, but this may not be a problem for a reader who likes to linger over images. One of my favorite things about fantasy when I was younger—whether videos, RPGs, or comics—was the ability to imagine the place. When creators go to this much trouble to build a world I remember how that can be so engrossing for a reader who can use his or her imagination to give the world life. This is a great world, but so far the story and characters are thin, so I can only give it an average rating. This might be the perfect series for those who like reading fantasy to give their imaginations a place to play.

Content Grade: C
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: C+
Text/Translation Grade: A-

Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: December 15th, 2015
MSRP: $13.00

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