Five years have past since the fall of the Gaz Empire and with it came the first peace the world has known in generations, but peace means unemployment for the many warriors trained for nothing else. Toru and his sister Akari are two such individuals, who having been trained from birth to fight, never had the chance as the war ended before their training was complete. Listless and disenchanted with life in general, Toru’s fortune has begun to change after meeting the mysterious wizard Chaika.
Chaika has hired the two saboteurs, Toru and Akari, to infiltrate the Abarth mansion and pilfer a certain item held there, but she is unable and unwilling to explain just what she is seeking and why it is so important. Both saboteurs are wary of what this means for them, but a job is a job and for them it is worth the risk. As their plans are put into motion, yet other are watching the mansion with plans of their own. How will our trio fare as the truths about Chaika’s past begin to come to light?
The artwork is Chaika is splendid, keeping up the quality present in the first volume. Shinta Sakayama does a great job translating the world that Ichirou Sakaki created, adding plenty of depth and detail into the environment. All of the characters retaining a number of distinctions that help to keep them identifiable during the lengthy and frequent combat sequences, so that I was never left in doubt as to who was doing what and how the battles were progressing. It is also nice to see that the artist did not rely on the standard shortcuts for facial expressions often used in manga, but instead employed adequate nuance to convey the character’s feelings.
While the first volume was mostly used to introduce the three central protagonists of our story and the world they live in, the second is able to spend some time delving into Toru’s history and motivations, before the heist that occupies the remainder of the manga gets started. As Toru explains an episode from his past, we are met with a rather touching scene between him and Chaika that doesn’t feel out of place in the otherwise action heavy narrative. As we get a peek at the reason for Toru’s disenchantment and relative disinterest in the world, his character expands beyond the mostly roguish nature presented in the first volume and provides the reader with plenty of information that explains his impetus or lack thereof. And while the story is tragic, it does not feel exploitive or overbearing in the message it conveys or the impact it had on Toru’s life.
If I were to have any complaints about this series of events it would be in how the author choose to end it, by using Akari’s hit or miss willful assumptions to break up what had been a great moment. Akari’s verging on psychopathic tendencies toward Toru and ability to jump to some rather obscene conclusions, taking perfectly innocent interactions between Chaika and her brother to some illogical extremes, provides some decent and needed humor to the story, but it does not always work as it should and the timing isn’t always there. Especially as the conclusion to the discussion I mentioned above, which just left me wondering how anyone could think it was a good idea at that particular moment. Don’t get me wrong, I like Akari’s character, though she lacks depth being only two volumes in, and her antics are much improved by the fact that Toru does not just take the physical punishment as many male manga protagonists do, but instead often gives as good as he gets, keeping the relationship reasonably equal in this regard.
To round out the trio, we have the mystery and enigma that is Chaika. For a character that appears as if she were created with the word moe at the top of the list of descriptives, what with the innocent looks, petite frame, lolita fashion, broken speech, ernest nature and general clumsiness, she is still able to strike a good balance between the myth that is moe and being seen as an actual character with her motives and intentions intact. By the end of the volume much of her history may still be hidden, but the narrative has done a great job of parsing out the truth and kept me thoroughly engaged while reading, even though I already know where this is all ultimately headed.
Gillet and company don’t show up again until near the end of the volume, but with the two parties finally meeting the sparks quickly fly and some nice banter is thrown in for good measure. Toru is a good fighter, but his real strength comes from his ability to adapt and work with both his sister and Chaika to out wit their opponent. Whether it be against Abarth or Gillet’s three man team, Toru employs the type of stratagem you could actually expect someone to be able to come up with on the fly, often relying on simple but effective diversions to keep ahead in combat. It is nice to see no one in the series have the near omniscient ability to predict what everyone else will do ahead of time. This made for an enjoyable read and set up a great show down to start volume 3.
While Chaika: The Coffin Princess Volume 2 may be the same length as the first volume, it is a quicker read, as a greater portion is given to action rather than dialogue. But this is in no way a bad thing. The story is just getting started and I am excited to see where it goes next. If you like fantasy, it would be hard to go wrong with this one.
Chaika: The Coffin Princess Vol. 2 was published by Yen Press on September 22nd, 2015. Original Story by Ichirou Sakaki and art by Shinta Sakayama the series was published in Japan by Kadokawa Corporation. Chaika: The Coffin Princess Vol. 3 is scheduled for release in English on December 15th, 2015.
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