Chaika - The Coffin Princess takes place five years after the tyrannical Gaz Empire, which lasted for two hundred years, finally falls. The story begins with following a Saboteur named Toru Acura as he forages for food in a forest, where he comes across a young teenage Wizard named Chaika Trabant who is carrying a massive coffin on her back like a backpack. Toru ends up saving Chaika from a man-eating unicorn and as a result of seeing his skills, Chaika hires Toru and his sister Akari to help her gather the remains of the slain emperor from the eight heroes who killed him. With the venerable studio Bones behind this series, is Chaika - The Coffin Princess a magical experience, or is it all parlor tricks?
Chaika is one of the most enjoyable lead characters in recent memory. Her way of speaking in a broken language is endearing. Her absolute forgetfulness and naivete is extremely charming. She can hold her own surprisingly well in combat. And to top it all off, she is just extremely adorable. I mean just look at those eyebrows! Look at them! They're like a pair of fuzzy caterpillars.
There haven't been many monsters seen in Chaika yet, but what few they have shown have been great, such as the show's extremely dark twist on unicorns. But probably the most interesting variation of a mythical creature so far is the dragons in this show. They are called Dragoons, they are massive dragons covered from head to toe in metallic, armor-like plates. They are also rather intelligent and they can even shapeshift into any form they desire.
The way magic works in Chaika is rather cool and unique. In Chaika to do anything magical requires the use of dead things. Anything that is dead can be used, from fossils to corpses. Speaking of, that is why people highly prize the emperor's remains. They are massive sources of magic fuel. The interesting thing is, it isn't really the dead material being used as the fuel for the magic, but rather the memories stored within the remains. If they are in a pinch, Wizards could use their own memories as fuel, in exchange for losing random memories.
Another intriguing thing is that in Chaika, the objects that use magic aren't magical, what is really magical are the Wizards themselves. All of the magic items have to actually be plugged into the Wizard. Not only that, but all the spells in Chaika have an incantation that must be spoken either out loud or in the Wizard's head. Lastly the Wizards aren't the only ones that get to use magic. As Saboteurs, Toru and Akari can use a form of magic called the Iron-Blood Transformation that turns their hair red, gives them red markings and cloaks them in a red aura while also granting them increased physical abilities. All in all this creates one of the more awesome magic systems I've seen.
One of the more interesting aspects to Chaika is seeing how the world is adjusting to a time of peace. This is most evident with Toru, who prior to joining with Chaika felt that his life was without purpose now that the war was over. As a Saboteur he trained his whole life in the art of killing. His desire to find a purpose again is so strong that he doesn't even care if helping Chaika would plunge the world back into war. In fact he greets that possibility with open arms.
(Warning, the next two talking points in this section contain minor spoilers, if you don't want any spoilers at all, please continue to the Not Bad section.)
In an interesting twist, it turns out that the Chaika traveling with Toru and Akari is not the only one. There are untold amounts of Chaikas running around the land, with each of them having the same basic goal of gathering the emperor's remains. Their reasons for acquiring the remains are different, though. As are the appearances and personalities of each Chaika. They also each have their own name where the only part of their name in common is Chaika. But the best part is they are each color coded....yes, just like a super sentai team. Because of this, we lazy folk have taken to just calling them by their color and Chaika. As a result, no two Chaika are alike. For example, Red Chaika up there is a rather headstrong and abrasive person who has a fuller figure and looks considerably older than the almost childlike White Chaika that the series focuses on.
At the core of Chaika - The Coffin Princess, there is a massive mystery as to exactly who, or even what, Chaika is. This is made even more intriguing by the multiple Chaikas that look to be of various ages. How are all these Chaikas being made? Why are they being made? And considering they all want to gather the emperor's remains, what will happen when they are all in one place? Unfortunately since this season is just the first half of the show, none of it has been answered yet, but it is still a gripping mystery.
Despite one of the first things we are introduced to is a horrifying man-eating unicorn, Chaika - The Coffin Princess starts off looking like a fun magical action-adventure series. But as the core mystery to the series begins being delved into and the way the magic works is further explained, things take on a rather dark nature. There are still some lighthearted moments to take the edge off of things, though, but anyone expecting to laugh their way through the entire show will be in for a surprise.
This is by no means a bad, thing, though. In fact considering the entire premise of the show is gathering freaking body parts, the writing was on the wall that the show isn't purely happy-go-lucky. I'm just saying to expect some grim visuals and subjects as the show goes on and if you went in not expecting that to happen, it can be jarring at first.
All in all, Bones has done it again. Chaika - The Coffin Princess is easily not only one of the standouts of the season, but one of its biggest surprises. It is just a purely entertaining show and is personally my fourth favorite show of the Spring 2014 season. I can't wait to see the second half of the show in the Fall. Chaika - The Coffin Princess. Check out. You must.