The journey comes to an end.
I was going to delay this a bit more compared to the other series because of the infamous BONES original ending thing going on and since the final episode’s air date was close to the release date of Volume 11, I wanted to wait out for spoilers before I tackled the anime series in general. Someone was kind enough to link me to a summary of events in Volume 11 so I think I’m ready to talk about Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle, as well as the series in general.
Massive spoilers ahead but you probably want to know what actually happens.
To simply describe the final episode it boiled down to this: Toru finally makes the contract with Frederika and gets inside Gaz’s moving castle. He beats his mentor in less than 30 seconds and confronts Gaz only to get completely destroyed. Akari, Red Chaika, and Gilette Squad fight off the other Chaika’s and the Black Chaika Trio. Our Chaika on the other hand is trying to assist Toru against Gaz and Toru and Frederika are knocked off the castle balcony. Gaz decides to eliminate our Chaika but Niva just gets up and says “nah” and flies over to our Chaika to finally give daddy his funeral. Chaika however uses her own memories to overload the spell and Gaz quite literally stands there and takes the beam of energy, and just like that, it’s over. In the epilogue, Red Chaika seems to be on good terms with the rest of the crew while Akari has apparently become a writer. Toru and Chaika are seen together with Chaika actually speaking correctly.
So without a doubt, it was a rushed finale but I can’t really blame them, AB was given 10 episodes instead of the usual 12-13 so I expected this outcome when I heard the news. So where to begin talking about Chaika? Actually, the real question is HOW to begin talking about it.
First off, let’s see it as a “second season” before we talk about it being as an adaptation before we finally judge it as a series in itself. Although in hindsight, those two go hand in hand for this particular series. For a second season, Avenging Battle still kept with the plot of finding Gaz’s corpse. My first doubts arose when were immediately introduced to the anime-only scenes with the hero they fought for the first two episodes. The “adaptation” part has been more or less shaky since the very start of the series so to be completely honest, but the genre allows for some changes to be made, for better or for worse. To my knowledge, everything got back on track after the first two episodes when the two Chaika teams are directed toward the island and the Hartgen stuff after that is “mostly” in lieu of the light novels. So a simple act of forgiveness is called for if someone was disappointed since most of the things they saw. That doesn’t completely allow the series to do its own thing though because most of things starting from the tournament arc is where things started getting awry.
So in all honesty, everything comes down to the levels of deviation going way too far. In terms of being a second season, Avenging Battle continued what the first season left off from, incorporated the end game, but was severely limited by its shortened episode length. In terms of an adaptation, it begs the watcher to ask for more since the universe is Chaika is pretty interesting and to see all the characters involved in it just not get their proper conclusion is something I’m particularly not fond of. I like to believe the addition of 2-3 more episodes would have helped the series give a more satisfying conclusion than what we’ve got, considering the surprising fact that the light novels are “loosely” the same.
One of the biggest differences in the light novels and the anime is one large plot element that the anime just completely ignored. In the LN’s, Gaz is revived through the Black Chaika’s disturbing ritual but Guys are not shown merging with her. Instead, Guy is actually an agent of god. Yes, that God. Apparently Gaz’s plan was to break the natural “cycle’ that God imposes on all creation and in reviving himself through Black Chaika, he was able to do just that. Niva still remains his Gundo and he is able to destroy “God” thus deleting all Guys. So with Guy serving a completely different purpose in the light novels, that leads us to another character, Gilette. In both versions, Gilette is presumably “killed” by the laser during the Blue Chaika incident and both medias show him serving under Hartgen. In the anime, Gilette exclusively served Hartgen while in the light novels, Gilette served Guy and he was also accompanied by a retinue called the “apostles” (more God references).
The tournament arena in the Light novels was more akin to a legit tournament with set fights instead of the free for all format the anime presented. Instead of the two Chaika teams fighting and Gilette fighting Nikolai and Vivi, Gilette and one of his Apostle friends fought against Frederika and Toru. The light novel version of Gilette lost a hand during the Blue Chaika incident and when Toru clashes blades, his memories begin to leak out and eventually returns to his senses. Nonetheless, Toru and Frederika are defeated and only much later to they actually form a contract. Speaking of contracts, I LOATHED the anime design for it and the hilariously short fight Toru had with Shin.
Concluding the comparisons, with Gaz revived and God out of the way, Gaz offers Toru and the restored Gilette large portions of land for them to rule under him as he plans to usher in perpetual war. So the anime got that much right while not showing the more civil side of Gaz. Both Gilette and Toru are given time to think as the massive spell Gaz must use to fully usurp God’s place takes around a day to cast. The duo of course refuse the deal and prepare to fight. Instead of flying castles, Gaz begins to ascend an enormous tower to cast his global spell and Shin and his other hired hands prepare to fight against the unified team of Gillette, Red, and White Chaika’s. Instead of just saying, “I have a personality now”, Niva actually has some shred of reason as to why she joins the main team. Gaz as killed God and his massive spell doesn’t require her so he doesn’t need her now. With the four ascending the tower, the rest of the team with Akari are left with the powered up Shin and lackeys who they beat after a long fight. Up in the tower, the immense power of the spell affects everything around it by becoming translucent, with no one knowing what may happen under prolonged effects. Toru has Frederika with their dragoon magic to protect themselves while Chaika has Niva. Toru utilizes both Iron Blood and Dragoon Magic but Gaz of course is a tough son of a bitch. Eventually the 4 wear him down and Toru pins him down and has Chaika fire her spells at Gaz to finish him off. This actually works but the tower begins to crumble and the team had expended much of their magic. Everyone is forced to use their own memories to continue their descent and Toru asks Chaika to just destroy the tower itself which she does after much hesitance. The four that ascended the tower are unable to be found in the aftermath. The Gilette Team return home, David and Selma have a kid, and Akari and Red Chaika decide to travel to find where Toru, Chaika, Niva, and Frederika ended up. Thankfully, one more volume remains.
So considering that they somewhat had the tower climbing and the Chaika fights in one episode along with the epilogue, I honestly think 2-3 more episodes could have salvaged the series. With that said however, the series still somehow rings nicely in me.
It’s kind of amazing how much leeway you can have with a series that doesn’t really involve highschools. Like I mentioned in the S1 review, the anime left out some details but it still remained a fun adventure show. While the deviation levels are increased exponentially, the endings remain “similar” in a sense that Gaz does die in a way that also involves memory loss. Of course, it could have been improved if there was more time, but that usually applies to way too many adaptations. Thankfully, Chaika still remained an adventure series that I seriously needed and because of its fun characters, I enjoyed it immensely. Toru remains the same and other than the disappointing armor, I still liked him as a protagonist. Akari remains as deadpan as ever, Frederika keeps getting killed, and Chaika is still adorable while still being useful. The Gilette squad has some development through Vivi but she isn’t explored too much. But the characters that made Season 1 fun mostly stay the same.
While not a satisfying conclusion as I would have thought, it still comes down to eventual memory loss and peace. Because I expected this sort of outcome, I’m not too mad but anime-only watchers should be able to understand the rushed pacing. For alternatives or rather, for more content on the series, the manga unfortunately got canceled while the light novels still have one more volume to wrap things up. In the end, I enjoyed the ride but can’t help be disappointed how the anime was cut short.