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Chaika The Coffin Princess – Avenging Battle Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

Chaika Season 2 Blu-ray Front CoverThe truths revealed as everything is… pieced back together!

What They Say:
The battle on the floating fortress is over, but the quest to recover the scattered remains of Emperor Gaz is too important to delay. As Chaika and her companions seek out the hero Claudia in order to obtain the heart, they race against Red Chaika, who seeks the hero, Guy, who possesses one of the arms. Even as Chaika struggles to learn the new magical skills required to defeat Claudia, a startling new revelation comes to light which may change their mission entirely: not all of Gaz’s magic research was destroyed, and information regarding the creation of the Chaikas may have been taken to a mysterious island!

With the possibility of uncovering the secrets behind their mysterious origins dangled in front of them, the Chaikas must decide whether or not they want to find the hidden island and brave its unknown perils. Could the entire thing be a trap? It’s highly likely, but how can they resist the bait as the spellbinding adventure continues in CHAIKA THE COFFIN PRINCESS – AVENGING BATTLE!

The Review:
Audio:
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.

Video:
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 eleven episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/two 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.

Packaging:
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. With the artwork inside the framing being the really busy but well done key visual that we had for the second season, it works to tie the four main characters overall while Gaz lurks in the background in a most appropriate way. The use of color feels like too much almost but it just draws you to the various quadrants in an engaging way. The back cover carries over the leatherbound blue/green 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.

Menu:
Sentai makes an interesting menu choice for the two discs here as they almost always use different pieces of artwork for different discs. While the first season used the same artwork for both volumes, this one provides two different pieces. THe first has a really nice image of the core group together lined up so it has the illusion of height, while the second disc goes for our Black Chaika characters, giving them an imposing look. 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 blues and greens 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.

Extras:
The extras for this release are fairly simple as we get the clean opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having enjoyed the first season of the series, I was definitely curious to see how the back half of Chaika would play out. The series came out before the light novel series ended but we still ended up with essentially a pretty good complete show here that doesn’t feel like we really missed out on anything. This season is a little different as it went for just ten episodes when it aired and it’s pretty heavy on the action side, not that the first season wasn’t. We also got an OVA that came out with the end of the light novel run that largely just serves as an insert story along the way, earlier than this season I believe, which is cute but mostly harmless and forgettable. It almost feels like it would have been better placed at the start of this set rather than the end of it, particularly since the season itself ends with some good finality and closure. It just felt weird to go back to an earlier period.

Where the focus is for the most part with this season is getting the pieces into place for the strong action filled finale. That has the group going on their journey as we’ve seen as Chaika is looking for the parts that she’s compelled to find, often coming into contact and opposition to other Chaika’s out there. But she’s gaining friends and allies along the way and certainly growing her relationship with the core group of Toru, Akari, and Frederica. There’s a solid family bond that feels like it’s formed here in a good way but we do get the all too expected instance of strife that has Toru essentially quitting her service before coming to his senses. It’s a standard cliche to be sure and it’s just dull as dishwater, but it does let Chaika take full on lead on things again, even if it does just end her into more trouble. But these are the kinds of movements you expect in this kind of show and story.

Chaika’s dealing with Claudia work well to improve what Chaika is capable of and any growth in her magic abilities are definitely a positive, particularly since it doesn’t feel like she’s just getting it unlocked or anything. There’s only a couple of episodes of this at the start, which is unfortunate as I liked Clauda, but she provides a launching point for finding some of the other heroes from the past that should have parts or at least information that will aid Chaika. Amusingly, that first takes them to a man named Clay who has certainly hit the easy life since being a hero several years ago and is just lining up people to entertain him as life is so boring otherwise. There’s a lot of fun in the chase that goes on once he realizes what they’re really after but it’s all part of nudging the group in the right direction since he resides in a port city and there’s a mysterious island nearby.

It’s that diversion to the island that works better than it should since we have almost everyone split up since Chaika and Frederica heading there first, having separated from Toru, and then having a different split occur when Toru and Akari get there to try and find them. The place is rife with magic, hidden from site and dangerous enough that fishermen won’t come near, but when we see how the former man of magic for the emperor, Izhmash, has created demi-humans there and is working numerous other experiments, it’s a strange and bizarre army that he seems to be crafting. While our four characters would be fun enough to deal with this, we also get Red Chaika and her group coming into the mix, getting split and captured, and also making a mess of things. There are reveals here, notably with the addition of Niva to the group after Chaika rescues her from her bonds, but that part never feels properly fleshed out and is rather just a setup for the finale. I suspect it may have flowed better in the light novels that had a lot more room to explore things.

When the series shifts towards the end arc, bringing a lot of pieces together in the Principality of Hartgen where Hartgen is running a trial by combat competition to invigorate those that feel like their way has been lost since he beheaded the emperor, there are a lot of things in motion. You could guess most of them easily enough with what the Emperor’s big plan was with the body parts and the various Chaika’s that we have and while it does play out predictably it also does it well, giving Chaika herself enough to angst over in her own way. But like a lot of other things it feels like it’s just rushed enough to get it done without much in the way of loose ends up losing out on the impact of it all. This in particular is seen with what Toru and Federica go through so that he can stand toe to toe with the enemy. The other Chaika’s have their time to shine but even that feels like it’s undercut a bit by brevity. Everything may come to a close well enough that you feel satisfied by it but you’ll also think that the light novels likely make all of this just a bit more epic in scale.

In Summary:
While I may seem somewhat downbeat on the show in some ways, I really did quite enjoy this. It’s just that in watching it you can see how so much was skimmed to get to certain points and that as strong as the show ends it had a lot more it could have expanded on that was setup and ready to go to be presented in a more meaningful and impactful way. There’s a lot going on in this season and it moves at a pretty brisk pace, which is somewhat at the expense of good character development as it races from plot point to plot point. But that it does give us a real ending here and sense of closure is a big thing that earns the show a lot of extra points. It’s a great looking series with wonderful animation and designs that simply comes through really well here. And I’m still stoked it got a dub since it’s the kind of series that feels like it might be a borderline one at best for getting it. Definitely a lot of fun and one that i suspect will flow even better when there isn’t a big wait between seasons.

Features:
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: September 27th, 2015
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 275 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
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.

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