Light Novel: Coffin Princess Chaika

When I saw her, I thought I saw the chance to end this listless, peacetime life...

It's been five years since the defeat of Arthur Gaz, ruler of the Gaz empire, when a group of heroes finally confronted the evil monarch in his own throne room and slew him. The world has since then experienced a relative period of peace, but for those whose lives revolved around conflict, the transition to peacetime was anything but easy.

Toru Acura was one of these unfortunates. A former Saboteur, the years since the fall of the Gaz Empire have not been kind to him, and for the most part, he'd spent most of it moping in the home he shared with his adopted sister Akari. For all her disturbing devotion to her older brother however, even Akari's patience had its limits, and when it finally came to the point where Akari started to seriously consider having him taken to a taxidermist and stuffed, Toru decided then and there that it was about time to go out again into the world that had since rejected him.

And then, as he was foraging for edible plants in the mountains around his hometown, he encounters a strange girl with long white hair, who spoke in halting Common, and who carried a coffin on her back... And in the process it seems that he's gotten another chance to experience the life of battle he never though he'd experience again.

Coffin Princess Chaika (棺姫のチャイカ Hitsugi no Chaika) is a light novel series written by Sakaki Ichirou (who also wrote Scrapped Princess, Magician's Academy, and Outbreak Company) and published by Fujimi Shobo under its Fujimi Fantasia Bunko imprint. It currently has nine volumes out, as well as a manga adaptation by Sakayama Shinta. An anime adaptation aired as part of the Spring 2014 Anime season, beginning on April 10, 2014, with a continuation called Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle aired in the Fall 2014 Anime season. It's available on Crunchyroll.


Tropes. Below.

  • A God Am I: Arthur Gaz, especially after his resurrection.
  • An Arm and a Leg: When Viivi and Nikolai are fighting a Brainwashed and Crazy Gillette, Viivi is forced to sever his hand to stop him from killing Nikolai.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Chaika's spells are extremely powerful, but have long cast times and cannot be toned down.
    • Light Novel notes that that's a common problem for all wizards — their spells are slow and not very flexible, and thus are used more akin to the artillery on the battlefield.
    • The gandr that wizards used are supposedly this, if you go by how the average one is described in the Light Novel, as large, unwieldly, and generally not man-portable. It's why Chaika's rifle gandr was described as "unusual"... Then the anime goes on to show that the sniper rifle-type gandr was the gandr of choice for most of the wizards shown in the series. Unique it was not.
    • On the other hand, Claudia Dodge's gundr falls right into Simple Yet Awesome territory: instead of a complex and heavy sniper rifle as most other gundr shown resemble, hers is a cross between a shotgun and a lever-action rifle, and her Simplified Spellcasting means she shoots magic a lot faster than other gundr users.
  • Ax-Crazy: Fredrica. A Running Gag following her introduction was for Toru and/or Akari to get into some sort of altercation, at which point she would appear, drawn by the violence and keen to start killing people.
  • Badass: The Acura siblings are expert warriors and practitioners of the "Iron Blood" skill.
  • BFG: Chaika's weapon which looks like a bolt action Sniper Rifle.
  • Big Eater: The Acura siblings.
    • Chaika herself isn't shy about enjoying food.
  • Blood Knight: Toru feels quite useless in the times of peace, and Fredrika is longing for battle so much that she runs even into a common street brawl in her true form.
  • Boom Stick: While in appearance it looks a lot closer to a modern sniper rifle, Chaika's gundr functions much more like this trope.
  • Brick Joke: In Episode 5, when the captured Chaika Bohdan refuses to tell Tohru and Akari her name, they tease her by relentlessly calling her "Sticky" until she caves in and tells them. In Episode 5 of Avenging Battle, while they fend off waves of Orthros, Akari teasingly calls her "Sticky" once more, prompting the same response.
  • Brother-Sister Team: Tohru and Akari.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When questioned about the identity of the "original" Chaika, Arthur Gaz reveals that no such person ever existed. "Chaika" is the name of the spell he created to resurrect himself and the appearance and memories of the Chaikas were based on a concubine he no longer remembers. While this is understandably crushing for Chaika, Gaz barely bats an eye.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: Toru and Akari have one to activate their Iron Blood skill. It also doubles as a Badass Boast:
    I am steel. Steel knows no doubt. Steel knows no fear. When faced with my enemy, I hesitate not. I am a weapon to destroy these. Iron-Blood Transformation!
  • Chest Burster: Possibly the first time this trope has been combined with Only Mostly Dead. Fredrica "dies," but some time later a Fun Size version explodes out of her abdomen.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: The Unicorn in the first episode didn't so much explode as get cut in half with such violence that it's blood formed a red mist as it's bisected corpse fell to the ground.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Akari towards Toru, somewhat complicated by the fact that he's her brother, even though adopted.
  • Cloning Blues: Played with. The identical individuals deal with depression, loss of identity and other issues that come with the trope, but they're not clones in the traditional sense. They're normal people that were unwillingly brainwashed and altered to look identical and have some of the memories of another person whose name has long been forgotten.
  • Collapsing Lair: Ricardo Gavarni's Soara Fortress becomes this in the final episode after the Punitive Force ram their own damaged flying fortress into it as a last resort.
  • Cool Car: Gillette Corps' April, being the newest and the most advanced type that's also big enough to serve as a team's Base on Wheels. Heroes' Svetlana, on the other hand, is a pre-war rustbucket, assembled from the remains of several broken troop transports.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Toru may look lazy but he is in fact a former Saboteur and practitioner of the "Iron Blood" skill. And while Akari might be dumb, she's still deadly.
  • Cute Witch: Chaika.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Chaika is actually a Princess and daughter of Emperor Arthur Gaz of the Gaz Empire. She is also the only surviving member of the royal family after all of them were killed during the civil war.
    • Toru witnessed the death of his older sister figure Jasmine after she was attacked by bandits. Also, Jasmine was trying to protect her newborn baby.....which she failed.
  • Decapitated Army: Used quite frequently.
    • In the Soara arc, Grad Lancia's army of brainwashed soldiers and spidery monsters drop dead when Akari caves his skull in.
    • In the Emperor's Fortune arc, Chaika destroying the control tower releases all the artificial Fayla and demi-humans. Without orders, they become completely docile and don't even know how to feed themselves.
    • During the final battle, Red Chaika taking down Black Chaika also stops Arina, Irina, and the other "doll" Chaikas.
  • Deus Exit Machina: The plot contrives situations where Fredrica is either not present, or is incapable of contributing to a melee fight, because as a dragoon she'd just destroy any opposition put against Toru's group.
  • Dying Curse: It's rumored that Arthur Gaz put one on the eight heroes that slew him. And it may well be true: in the first season, out of the 4 heroes we meet, only one of them is living comfortably in the post-war era. As for the other three, Dominica Skoda passed away from disease (the light novels reveal she lapsed into this after she discovered her sister had been murdered by bandits while she was off fighting the war against Gaz), Simon Scania was betrayed by his wife and best friend and driven to poverty and madness (and that's in the anime, in the Light Novels he died shortly after defeating the Emperor), and Duke Gillard Gavarni and his family were savagely murdered and dismembered by his insane son Ricardo who then assumed his identity and attempted to ignite a world war using his father's flying castle "Soara".
    • Of the four heroes seen in the second season, Glen Donkervoort may not be destitute, but seems to live a humble life of a forester. Claudia Dodge struck it big, but her success as a major winemaker wasn't connected to her being one of the heroes anyway ( which is why she wasn't against giving up her part of the remains). Clay Morgan is a somewhat successful shipping magnate, but was seriously traumatized by the battle against Gaz and one look at Chaika sends him into a blind panic. As for Stephan Hartgen, the man who slew Gaz, not only did he grow so bored of peacetime that he became obsessed with sparking a new war, he also ended up being manipulated by the Black Chaikas into setting the stage for Gaz' resurrection.
  • Eloquent In My Native Tongue: Chaika speaks only broken and disjointed common language, but is absolutely at home with her native Laake. Surprisingly, she still insists on speaking common, while Toru is perfectly fluent in Laake.
  • Enemy Mine: In episode 5 of Avenging Battle the White and red Chaikas are forced to work together to escape their imprisonment.
  • Evolving Credits: The Avenging Battle ending has an out-of-focus shot of two people standing by a cherry blossom tree. The final episode reveals them to be Toru and an amnesiac, slowly-recovering Chaika.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The focus of the story is Chaika, a princess who carries around a coffin.
  • Fantastic Racism: Demi-humans are treated as second-class citizens at best, and disposable cannon fodder at worst.
  • Forbidden Chekhov's Gun: Toru is adamant that no matter what, Chaika must not use her memories as magic fuel. In the finale, she's forced to after she runs out of magic fuel, and manages to wipe Gaz off the face of the earth at the cost of her own memories.
  • Foreshadowing: The very first scene in the anime is Blue Chaika/Layla learning the truth about the Chaikas and visibly crossing the Despair Event Horizon, foreshadowing not only her existence, and the nature of it, but also the White and Red Chaikas finding out the same way during Avenging Battle.. When she later appears during the Soara Fortress arc, she drops some pretty big hints to Chaika about why she exists and tells her that when she finds out, she too will cross the Despair Event Horizon.
    • The Avenging Battle opening has brief Eyedscreen shots of Shin Acura and Gillette, foreshadowing their appearances as Stephan Hartgen's bodyguards and also that the latter is Not Quite Dead.
    • The Avenging Battle ending also foreshadows Toru abandoning his signature blades and giving up being a saboteur, along with other elements of the ending.
  • Hell Hound: Orthros are canine Fayla with two heads. One head is more like a pseudo-head that lets it cast magic.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Chaika uses the last of her magic fuel to save Toru and Fredrica when Gaz blasts them out of his flying fortress, and in order to deal the final blow to Gaz, she has to use her own memories as magic fuel. Subverted as while it looks at first like she died in the process, the epilogue reveals she's alive, albeit still recovering from the loss of her memories.
  • High School A.U.: An official one in Gakuen Chaika!.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the end, Arthur Gaz is permanently slain by the world's most powerful gandr he had commissioned (which was supposed to be loyal only to him) and a girl he discarded simply as a tool for his resurrection.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Arthur Gaz is definitely not human any more.
  • Human Resources: The body parts of Arthur Gaz can be used in magitek devices such as gandrs to enhance a Wizard's power.
    • The women taken aboard the flying fortress Soara are used this way.
  • I Am Not a Gun: Inverted. Toru feels listless now that his saboteur talents are not needed, and would very much like to become a living weapon again. Although it's not that he enjoys the violence, he enjoys having a purpose.
    • Also inverted with Stephen Hartgen, as well as many of the participants in his tournament.
  • Idiot Hero: Akari herself cheerfully admits that she's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and she's fine with it.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Nikolai and Viivi have one against Gillette in Avenging Battle Episode 8. He doesn't recognize them until Viivi slices his hand off.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon:
    • Chaika's gundr takes on the appearance of a .50 caliber sniper rifle that fires magic spells. It's not unique for being a fantasy-style gun but because it's incredibly small for a gundr. Most others can't be carried by a single person because of their size and weight, though this is true only for the Light Novel originals. In the anime rifle-type gandr are a must for any traveling wizard.
    • The most widespread type of gandr in their world is a mechanical carriage. Yes, you can drive only if you're a wizard, because there the cars are magical wands.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: Toru and Akari own the battlefield.
  • Instant Runes: When most spells are cast.
    • The unicorn's magic such as making platforms for it to run on.
    • When Chaika cast spells it makes magic circles that form around the barrel of her gandr.
  • Ironic Echo: When Chaika is about to blast Gaz to kingdom come using Niva:
    Niva: Destroy target?
    Chaika: Yes. I give father funeral.
  • Irony: Layla attempted to engulf the world in a pointless war as a way of defying the mission programmed into her. This is exactly what Arthur Gaz would have wanted and what he himself does after being resurrected.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: It's all but impossible to go into the series without knowing there's more than one Chaika or that Fredrica is a Dragoon.
  • Living Weapon: Niva Lada.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Subverted. Simon Scania uses his remains to create a hallucinogenic fog. While the hallucination initially starts out blissful, the person ultimately ends up being betrayed by their loved ones and left alone, mirroring what happened to Simon himself. Toru falls into the fog and nearly crosses the Despair Event Horizon before Akari and Fredrica snap him out of it.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: The other Chaikas are this for Guy and the Black Chaikas.
  • Magic Focus Object: The gundr act as these for wizards.
  • Magitek: There are a couple of technologies that run off the magic of Wizards, such as certain vehicles.
  • Moment Killer: Whenever it looks like Chaika and Toru are about to experience one, Akari will butt in, typically by shoving a dead critter in front of Toru's face.
  • New Season, New Name: The second anime season adds Avenging Battle at the end.
  • Ninja: What Saboteurs essentially are.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Tooru and Akari.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: The "Soara" owned by Duke Gavarni and used in the war against Emperor Gaz, and the "Stratus", under the command of the Six Nations Council. Avenging Battle also reveals Gaz' "overnight castles", which would mysteriously appear and disappear overnight; turns out they were used to harvest human emotion as magic fuel.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. There are multiple girls named Chaika in the series.
  • Organic Technology: Niva Lada's cannon form gives this impression, particularly the targeting lens that looks like an insect wing. Chaika speculates that Fayla organs were used as parts in her construction.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: They look like traditional Western dragons, except they're covered head to tower in metal plating, are immortal and Nigh Invulnerable thanks to a super powered healing factor, they're sapient and just as intelligent as humans and can freely change their size, shape and form. They're also called Dragoons, not dragons.
  • Plot Device: The Emperor's remains.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Chaika and the other Chaikas.
  • Power Up Full Color Change: When using the "Iron Blood" technique, the user's eyes turn red, marks appear on their face and their hair turns red.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The anime compresses, rearrange and changes scenes and omits some details and background that are in the light novel source material.
    • Nowhere is this more in play in the final episode. For context, volume 11 only comes out in December 22, more than a week after the show's final episode. This means while the events shown follow the same general framework (same setup, same ending), there are also noticeable differences — compare Tooru's Dragoon Cavalier form in the anime to the design in the light novel for example.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Several, though they tend to be overlooked, ignored or pushed away by their more bloodthirsty peers and/or superiors.
    • On the lower level, Alberic and Nikolai as successive leaders of the Gillette Corps.
    • Steinmetz is a cautious and level-headed person, but being only an advisor to the Six Nation Council, he is precisely the one who gets pushed around and ignored.
    • General Fyodor, a replacement for the councilman Cizeta, a previous representative of his nation, has much, much more common sense than his predecessor, and always advocates a more cautious approach, often siding with Steinmetz.
  • The Reveal: Emperor Gaz never had a daughter. "Chaika" is an artificial identity implanted into hundreds of kidnapped girls who were modified to look identical and brainwashed into searching for his remains.
    • The second major reveal is that gathering the remains allowed Gaz to resurrect himself.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The first thing the 8 Heroes did after Emperor Gaz was slain was to secure his castle... by slaughtering everyone in the building, whether they were civilians or soldiers trying to surrender.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Of the Looks Human, Acts Robotic variety; Niva Lada is a living gundr that looks like a young girl.
  • Shrine to Self: Dominica Škoda's mansion is filled to the brim with portraits and statues of herself, so the protagonists naturally think she's rather full of herself. Turns out that it's instead Fredrica who keeps the mansion like that to remember her dead master.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Gandr, gundr, gunda, gundo... no one can seem to agree on how to spell the name of the magical focus objects in this world.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Scrapped Princess. A pair of powerful siblings escorting a somewhat hapless fugitive princess who may cause the end of the world, being chased by a group of professionals tasked to stop them, the latter of which made up of mostly decent folk just doing their jobs? They also get joined by an immensely powerful being called a dragoon that can take on the form of a cute girl. Sounds about right.
  • Spoiler Opening: The opening spoils, or at least heavily foreshadows, the existence of the Red and Blue Chaikas.
    • Chaika is even seen casting aside a blue veil in an identical manner to Layla/Blue Chaika during The Reveal). It also foreshadows an injured Toru falling into the water, and Chaika diving in to save him, during the final episode.
  • Super Soldier: Iron Blood users.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Averted during the battle against Claudia: as Claudia uses much shorter incantations than Chaika, whenever Chaika attempts to fire her gundr, Claudia manages to strike first and either interrupt or block the spell.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Gaz' death, and the scattering of his remains, was all one big Thanatos Gambit. The Chaikas' sole purpose was to gather the remains in one place so that he could be reborn; by fighting amongst each other they would create the conflict that Gaz feeds off. Even the manner of his death was part of the plan; it instilled a fear of death into him, making him even more determined to achieve immortality.
  • Underwater Kiss: Between Toru and Chaika at the end of the first season. Doubles as a Kiss of Life.
  • The Unfair Sex: Akari berates Toru for being a deadbeat and earns the sympathy of everyone in the tavern, women and men. This is despite the fact that she's attacking with a war hammer. note 
  • Unicorn: One appears in the first episode. It's apparently enough of a threat that Toru says it would be better just to lay down rather then try to fight it. Chaika blows it up with her gundon.
  • Vehicular Theme Naming: Everyone in the anime has a car-themed name, like a certain magical girl franchise. For example, Chaika is a Soviet-era car model, as is Gaz, Trabant, Acura, Abarth, etcetera.
    • Chaika drops another layer on the Theme Name trope, as "Gaz Chaika" is the full name of the Soviet luxury car, GAZ-13/14, but a Trabant (her alias) is about as low-rent economy as you can get.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Dragoons are capable of this; their true form is a giant metal dragon about thirty feet long but they can freely take on human form, the forms of animals, partially revert to their true form and even modify their very biology.
  • War for Fun and Profit: It's probably an act, but Toru does spin his attitude this way to Gillette. Dropping the whole continent into the chaos and war once again? At least his skills will be needed again. On the other hand, Layla's group plays this trope seriously, in particular Ricardo Gavarni wants a war to break out simply because he will have more opportunities to murder people and indulge in his violent desires.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 4 of the second season, which reveals the truth behind Chaika's origins.
    • Episode 9, in which Arthur Gaz is revived from the dead.
  • William Telling: In season 1 episode 8, Toru and Chaika do this performance.
  • Yandere: Akari, though mainly Played for Laughs.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The first thing that the newly resurrected Arthur Gaz does is test the power of his magic by killing Hartgen.
  • You No Take Candle: Chaika speaks the common language in broken words. She is however fluent in the language of Laake from the North that was spoken in the Gaz Empire.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace:
    • Five years after the end of the war with the Gaz Empire, there are many veterans who have failed to adjust to civilian life; some have turned to petty theft and banditry, while others are completely lost and without purpose.
    • The Six Nations spend much of their time bickering amongst themselves and are largely ineffectual when it comes to dealing with banditry and even outright rebellion in their own domains.
    • Out of the eight heroes who stormed the palace and slew the emperor, only two seemed to have moved on with their lives; the rest have turned into very troubled individuals, to say the least.

Alternative Title(s):

Hitsugi No Chaika, Hitsugime No Chaika