ANIME & MANGA - Article
08:15 - 1st August 2014, by NEO Staff

Chaika – The Coffin Princess

A dead heroine wielding devastating magic, a morally questionable warrior and his money-obsessed sister – and these are the good guys! The fate of nations lies in the hands of unlikely heroes in Chaika – The Coffin Princess!

Five years have passed since the defeat of the evil Gaz Empire, leading to a hard-earned peace that took an alliance of dozens of nations to achieve. As a result, Toru Acura is bored senseless. Having made his living as a saboteur in the war years, the sedate new world has left him penniless and disenfranchised. Driven to foraging in the forest just to survive, he meets Chaika Trabant, a girl lugging a huge coffin around with her.

Although Chaika immediately assumes Toru to be a bandit, the misunderstanding is interrupted by the arrival of a bloodthirsty unicorn, of all things. During the fierce battle that follows, the pair reveal their unique powers – Chaika, despite her diminutive size and inability to even speak in complete sentences, is a wizard, while Toru can affect the ‘Iron Blood Transformation’, powering up his physical abilities to a frightening degree. Convinced that Toru can be trusted, the shy Chaika hires him – and his sister Akari – to help her acquire the powerful artefacts she searches for.

While many series would be happy with that as a scenario – heroes align, go on quest – Coffin Princess fiendishly twists the familiar formula. Chaika’s targets are revealed to be the severed body parts of the defeated Gaz Emperor, swiftly followed by the revelation that she is the dark lord’s daughter. Equally, Toru and Akari are positioned as charming, slightly comedic protagonists, yet are also shown to have a seeming disdain for peacetime. When the ruling forces of the land send a group of elite operatives known as the Gillette Corps to put a stop to Chaika’s journey, the audience is faced with a tough question: are we supposed to be rooting for the ‘villains’? It’s a brilliant ambiguity that helps make this series one of the most intriguing of the new season.

With nine Chaika volumes published since 2010, Sakaki’s world has proved incredibly popular in its native Japan. How popular? It’s big enough to have spawned no less than three manga spin offs already! The first is a straight up, accurate adaptation of Sakaki’s novels, with art by Shinta Sakayama. Sakayama is best known for the comedy series Cherry Blossom, following a group of slightly rambunctious girls in a high school gardening club, and brings his slightly ecchi (sexy) art to the Chaika manga. There is also a four-panel (yonkoma) comedy Hitsugi no Chaikakka strip, which plays on the Japanese name for the main series, Hitsugi no Chaika. Written and drawn by the pseudonymous artist ‘Kanikama’, it proves yonkoma manga is seemingly a requirement for any moderately successful series nowadays! There’s also the soon-to-launch Gakuen Chaika Gaiden, tapping into another popular theme – putting the entire cast into a high school setting!

Chaika – The Coffin Princess can be seen now, on Crunchyroll.com.

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