Chain Chronicle – The Light of Haecceitas Series Review

Overview:

The Black King has stolen half of the chain chronicle (which apparently documents everything that happens in the world) and now he’s using it to engulf the world in darkness. The heroes have already tried to defeat him and failed, but have they given up hope? I reviewed Chain Chronicle week to week so if you want thoughts on the individual episodes click here.

Review:

Before getting into this there’s a couple of things I’m going to make clear. I am a major old-school fantasy fan. I have read pretty much every sword and sorcery style fantasy book I could get my hands on growing up and read out entire fantasy sections of school and public libraries. My appetite for these kinds of stories is voracious and I’m not too picky about quality as long as it isn’t boring. Therefore, when I say that this story is lacking in originality but still really fun, you should probably understand that it really only applies if you are equally fixated on good vs evil, hack and slash with swords, with some magical explosions and the occasional dragon thrown in.

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When this came out in Winter I was really happy because it has been a long time since we’ve gotten an anime that is so unapologetically classic fantasy. It wasn’t trying to give us a subversive hero, add in unnecessary self-aware comedy, give the villains complex backgrounds and having people make morally grey decisions. There is nothing wrong with any of those things, but they aren’t classic fantasy and while they can make for stories that feel a bit different, I still just like my fantasy pretty straight forward. There’s something comforting about the familiarity of light vs darkness and the good guys will be down but not out for three quarters of the story before they rally for the final conflict. So I’m not going to spend much time discussing the plot but rather the characters and the execution.

The issues that emerge from these sorts of stories though usually concern lazy writing. Because the story is so familiar and the characters are such well-worn archetypes, writers end up taking short cuts and you kind of feel like you are reading a plot synopsis or a description of a movie rather than being immersed in a story. The other issue that comes along is that the writers themselves are aware that everything they are writing is derivative and so they don’t give anything the extra attention or oomph it needs to make it stand out.

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So does Chain Chronicle have these issues?

Yes and no.

The villains do suffer incredibly from poor writing and limited screen time. They are either mindless summoned puppets who can get cut down in droves and just respawn (so zero care factor from the audience) or they are so beyond cliché in their dialogue it is impossible to take them even vaguely seriously as a threat. Plus, there’s the lingering question of even if they succeed in dying the world black, what then? Is there some sort of grand plan beyond make everything black?

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Realistically this is my biggest complaint of this series as a whole is the lack of real motive or care put into these villains (that and what is with that female villain’s armour). Also, we see not one but two of the ‘heroes’ of the story get turned into demons through their own inner doubts and losing to their inner darkness.

Yuri, as the main hero, has a whole group of friends continuously rallying behind him and trying to bring him back. His character and back story get quite a lot of exploration to understand why he gave in to the darkness and to really hammer the point that anyone can fall. Also giving the whole love, bonds, and friendship theme a boost in the final episode.

Burkhardt on the other hand turns evil and mostly people spend the rest of the series shouting at him and then the Princess cuts him down declaring that she would take on responsibility for him. Um, Princess, wouldn’t it be better to believe in him and try to get him back like Yuri’s group are doing for him? Aren’t you kind of writing off your own subordinate fairly cheaply? And why is Yuri so much better? Then again, Burkhardt’s character is portrayed as a proud narcissist before he turns, we get no back story, and no development. And it turns out he has no friends so clearly he doesn’t fit with the theme of bonds and friendship and so must get unceremoniously crushed.

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It’s fairly contradictory the way these two characters are treated and while I get that we probably don’t have time to explore the back story of every character, why introduce Burkhardt at all and why have him go evil if you aren’t doing anything with that. Or even if they tried to turn him back and his inner self resisted and continued to give in to darkness forcing them to kill him it would have made more sense because it would have shown the moral choice of being evil despite having someone reach out for you.

So yeah, the villains were not great.

In terms of all of the other characters, the biggest issue is the sheer number of them. This story wants to be an epic. It really does with the scale of the threat and the number of alliances and people caught up in the battle. But with 12 episodes instead of grandiose and epic what we end up with is a shallow view of a much deeper world and we don’t really have time to deal with the ins and outs of most the characters.

That said, some of them were really fun. By the half-way point I kind of loved Aram. He was such a cliché character getting picked up by the heroes in a random village and then apparently being excellent at fighting before he learns about hope and bonds and ends up all but being the main hero of the story. Plus, he picked up Furball who was adorable, and then transformed into a dragon (needed a new name, seriously who calls a dragon Furball). Aram was awesome and yes he gave in to the shout your ideals loudly at anyone who disagrees philosophy that so many young, male anime protagonists fall into but due to the sheer number of other characters the effect of this was somewhat diluted making that aspect of his personality tolerable.

The other character I really enjoyed and wished we’d learnt more about was Shuza. He was such an antagonistic character throughout most of the series and I really wish the show had spent a bit more time on him so that we could really appreciate the moral ambiguity he really represented. Everything else in the story was incredibly divided into darkness and light but he managed to be technically on the side of light but had some pretty dark views and really the ending gives us no clue about what now. In my own head I’m seeing him take his army and sweeping across the continent taking advantage of the fact that all the other armies have been significantly weakened. But we don’t actually know what he is doing other than still leading the army because pretty much no time is devoted to him after the battle.

There were other characters that I either liked or didn’t but essentially if you can think of a character who usually appears in these kinds of stories, they are likely to show up somewhere along the way, even if only for a little bit and even if their actions seem pretty inconsequential.

There also some really cool settings and locations, though at times you’ll get sick of them being on yet another road. Also, don’t pay too much attention to travel time. Apparently armies can fast travel (not really but realistically they must have for all of those armies from all of those different locations to be able to arrive in that location at that time). Time and distance mean very little in this story and you kind of just have to go with it.

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All and all, as I said at the start I had a lot of fun watching this. There’s definitely issues and at times common sense has to be dismissed just to get through a certain plot point, and I really wish that they’d either trimmed down the scale of the conflict or given this another 12 episodes to actually flesh out the world in a way that made it feel a bit more real, but entertaining nonetheless. I’d really only recommend this to major fantasy fans who are wanting something just to casually watch where they don’t have to think too much and they aren’t wanting anything unexpected. Otherwise, there’s probably better stories out there to spend your time on.

Still, fun.


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Chain Chronicle – The Light of Haecceitas Episode 12

Review:

Hey, after 12 episodes I finally spelt the name right on the first go instead of the fifth. There’s an achievement. Anyway, this ends pretty much exactly the way you would expect given the story so far. It’s never done more than be a standard sword and sorcery fantasy and the ending, in all its light show, sword clashing, dragon fighting glory is as standard as it comes, including the final boss having three forms to fight through before he was finally defeated. But hey, nobody really cared about the black king because we had to save Yuri.

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So yes, we even get a fight of good Yuri vs evil Yuri inside his head again, just in case we hadn’t already hammered that cliché into the ground. And while this show has always had a heavy light vs dark theme this episode really just hammered it.

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But the strength of bonds and friendship wins, because this is standard fantasy and don’t worry too much about anyone because you know we wouldn’t want the good guys to not feel like they had an outright victory.

Despite what might seem like a harsh episode review, I had a lot of fun watching this and I’m looking forward to writing a review of the whole series.

Chain Chronicle is available on Crunchyroll.


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Chain Chronicle – The Light of Haecceitas Episode 11

Review:

This is all pretty stock standard final battle material now. Characters who have been at odds or set up as opposites face each other and there are a lot of extras getting knocked off (not that it matters given the black king seems to be able to auto generate soldiers at will). It isn’t exactly exciting but it isn’t entirely dull either. Juliana actually stole the best part of this episode with her duel with Burkhardt (and thank goodness someone finally dealt with him – he has felt like an unnecessary character ever since Yuri turned to the dark side). Of course the episode ends with Yuri and Aram facing off. Pretty much, if you’ve watched until now this is a necessary episode to continue things along to fighting the king, but the episode itself wasn’t anything special.

Chain Chronicle is available on Crunchyroll.


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Chain Chronicle – The Light of Haecceitas Episode 10

Review:

Right, I had a lot of fun with this episode, so my criticisms are not enough to detract from the overall enjoyment of the free-for-all being set up but at the same time I am concerned that there were so many issues in this episode.

The main one being time. Somehow we’ve all regrouped with the various factions and the army is all ready just to march straight back into the black king’s space as soon as they bring down the shield. Great. Only didn’t it take them weeks to retreat from there and when did they leave the desert? I get that Aram and friends flew back to the Mage towers so I won’t even question that they seem to have instantly arrived (because flight is akin to instant-travel apparently) but Julianna and the others need a couple of weeks at the smallest estimate to be in any kind of position to fight. Nope, they are ready and raring to go.

Then again, apparently this show has no end of ‘magical’ solutions to issues.

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Seriously? Anywhere? Instantly? I know you just built this thing but surely it should be a little bit harder to get inside the black bubble to bring the shield down.

And apparently now the Black King is sitting around watching Aram and friends on his equivalent to a big screen TV. Why? And if he could do that why hasn’t he just sent someone to kill them while they’re sleeping given his minions have been teleporting anywhere they like for the entire length of the show? Is there any reason for kidnapping Phoena at this point? She doesn’t seem like as much of a threat as the guy who is suddenly purifying everything.

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Anyway, cool battle sequence and set up for great fight to come. Just check logic at the door first but that’s much the same as the whole series so far. Plus, dragon involved in fight (not dragon being fought). I really wish someone had changed it’s name. Furball the dragon doesn’t really inspire.

Chain Chronicle is available on Crunchyroll.


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Winter 2017 Week 9

Week 9 has come and gone and we see the shows that are finishing up launch their final few episodes. This should be a realy exciting time and a couple of shows seem to acknowledge that, but there’s a lot that are just going through the motions and may or may not deliver a satisfying conclusion. There’s a lot of shows I’ve dropped from Usually Entertaining to Okay, I Guess for the simple reason that ignoring the entertainment value of season 1, seeing how these shows have played out and what they are tipping for a conclusion, they just aren’t that entertaining. They aren’t bad enough to drop given attachment to the story and characters formed in season 1, but they aren’t good enough that I would tell someone with excitement that they exist.

If you missed my tweet, my apologies for being a little bit disappeared this week. I was crazy busy with work the first half and then got taken out by a fever for the second half of the week (which hasn’t helped the crazy busy work given I’ve had to take sick leave). I’m finally starting to recover though I’m still getting hit off and on with fever so I’m thinking I’ll be a little hit and miss for a few more days before I make a full recovery. Hopefully I’ll catch up with everyone else’s blogs then.

Over on patreon, patrons will find my highlight of the week and my lesser top 5 list for the week. Last weeks, I posted my responses to my genre challenge so if you missed it patrons, all of those posts should now be available. For everyone else you can find my screen cap of the week and my reviews of season 2 Super Lovers over on patreon.

As always, I would love to know your thoughts on the shows this season so please leave a comment below.

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Must Watch

  • ACCA (Episode 9)
  • March Comes in Like a Lion (Episode 20)

These two shows are going out of their way to make it impossible to choose which is the better of them this season. I like them both, for different reasons, and both are unmissable for me at the moment.

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Usually Entertaining

  • Chain Chronicle (Episode 9)
  • Spiritpact (Episode 9)

Chain Chronicle continues to throw every fantasy stereotype at us but its doing it in an entertaining manner and wow its been awhile since I’ve seen a story so generically fantasy like that wasn’t a parody or sarcastically self-aware. Really enjoying this show.

Okay, I have no idea what Spiritpact is setting up at thisp oint, I just know that I want the next episode and I want it right now. So I’m guessing I’m enjoying it or at the very least I’m caught up in the story at this point.

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Okay, I Guess

  • Tales of Zestiria the X Season 2 (Episode 9)
  • Iron Blooded Orphans (Episode 45)
  • Blue Exorcist (Episode 35)
  • elDLIVE (Episode 9)
  • Super Lovers (Episode 9)
  • Interviews with Monster Girls (Episode 9)

Honestly, I’ve given Tales of Zestiria more than enough time to sort itself out this season and now I just have to acknowledge, it’s not that good. It’s finally heading somewhere, but this show is kind of just watchable at best at this point. There’s no depth and no real tension. You just kind of watch the pretty lights play out, smile at one or two bits of dialogue, and then the episode ends and you move on.

Iron Blooded Orphans is in exactly the same position as Zestiria. First season was pretty good (actually I really enjoyed it) but I’ve given season 2 more than enough time to figure itself out and really it hasn’t taken us anywhere of interest. Now its just watching the final bullets fly and I’ll guess we’ll see who is still breathing when we get to the end.

And Blue Exorcist finally remembered it can occasionally be cool, even if the bad guys are now mocking the exorcists for having committee meetings mid-fight. Alas, the start of what might be a decent fight sequence isn’t really enough to make up for 9 and a half episodes of mostly tedium so this series really isn’t moving on the list.

elDLIVE continues to be kind of okay with a few moments of great in amongst a lot of ordinary. Again, perfectly watchable but nothing really to get excited over.

Super Lovers is being reviewed on my Patreon site (available to everyone).

Interviews with Monster Girls remains much the same as always. Actually, the first half of this week’s episode was pretty good, then we returned to business as usual.

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They Made This

  • Hand Shakers (Episode 9)

I wish they would stop trying to make me feel sympathetic for those that lose in this show. Given they go all out to defeat their enemy, once they are beaten they try to make us feel for their loss but it is all back to front. If I didn’t care about them before they lost I’m not going to care after they lose.

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Tried and Dropped

  • Akiba’s Trip (Episode 6)
  • Fuuka (Episode 5)
  • Trickster (Episode 13)
  • Gabriel DropOut (Episode 1)
  • Masamune-Kun’s Revenge (Episode 1)
  • Schoolgirl Strikers (Episode 1)
  • Seiren (Episode 1)
  • Saga of Tanya the Evil (Episode 1)
  • Chaos;Child (Episode 1 – five minutes in)

Week 9 over. Truthfully, which anime is likely to be your worst of the season that you didn’t drop?


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Chain Chronicle – The Light of Haecceitas Episode 9

Review:

This episode feels like it is Aram’s graduation ceremony. From boy picked up by former hero, to ambitious idol of Yuri, to reluctantly taking on the role of the hero, to actually being a hero, Aram’s journey throughout Chain Chronicle has been interesting. It really feels like this is where he was always heading and now that Furball has transformed into a Guardian Dragon (let’s hope it gets a new name) and Aram has used a cool new flaming sword as well as reversed the blackening on the chronicle that Shuza had stolen, you just have to wonder what is next for this character.

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What works particularly well is that his basic personality has not changed. He is still that socially awkward kid that Yuri was inspired by back in the village way back when. What has changed is that he now has a focus, he has allies, and he believes that he is taking the right course of action. If Aram suddenly launches into eloquent monologues it would defy any belief, but Aram being his usual brash self but now backed up by a fairly decent skill set works perfectly (even if you have to wonder how fast one can level up in this world just by sheer determination).

Before ending I just want to touch on Juliana and Shuza who both get the award for biggest act of stupidity so far in this series. Arriving at an impasse in negotiations right before the black army shows up and then Juliana takes a cheap shot at Shuza on the battlefield resulting in the two leaders essentially duelling to the death only both were being contaminated by the darkness and neither one even noticed. Any argument about which one of these characters should be leading anything in this show essentially got thrown out the window at that point given Shuza is certainly the more capable military leader but has absolutely zero compassion and Juliana is outright to emotional and immature to really be particularly effective. Of course, handing the reigns over to Aram seems equally dumb because while he’s become a far more impressive force in this fight, he’s still a socially awkward loner.

I do wonder though, what happened to Yuri this week?

This is a fun fantasy story and if you like chaotic battles, good and evil, magic powers and mythical creatures, you will probably really enjoy the story.

Chain Chronicle is available on Crunchyroll.


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Chain Chronicle – The Light of Haecceitas Episode 8

Review:

There was a moment early in this episode where I realised they’d just thrown us into the middle of a battle and we didn’t know who was fighting or which side they were on. And then I realised that of course we knew who the bad guys are, they are all in black. This story is basic fantasy and they throw a million characters at us but other than our core group none of the others really serve any purpose other than momentary assistance, advice, death count, or needing to be rescued. As a result you can just kind of let the names roll past you and ignore them. It makes for light and amusing viewing but at the same time feels like a bit of a waste that this world isn’t fleshed out any more than it has been.

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Of course we spend quite a bit of time on Yuri this episode. He’s gone to the dark side fairly literally but Aram isn’t really in the mood to take that lying down. Enter a magic book and let’s finally see how Yuri got to where he is.

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Mostly I just felt sorry for this poor tree but that isn’t here or there. While it would be easy to say the world building and character development of this show is sloppy, this core group have really become interesting in the last few episodes and the story continues with enough momentum to entertain. The show has never tried to be anything particularly profound. It really is by the numbers fantasy but it does it reasonably well.

Chain Chronicle is available on Crunchyroll.


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Winter 2017 Week 7

From following Twitter, it definitely seems there’s a lot of mid-season dropping going on with people getting half-way through a show that kind of looked like it had potential but then failing to deliver. Even people who don’t normally drop mid-season are finding themselves making the choice to let something go. That said, there’s a lot of praise out there for some shows and most people have found something to celebrate from the Winter Anime season. For me, that’s ACCA and March Comes in Like a Lion. While these shows may not be my favourites ever with neither falling into a genre that I would normally claim to love, they are most definitely holding my interest and delivering some fairly solid storytelling.

Over on patreon, patrons will find my highlight of the week and my lesser top 5 list for the week. Everyone else can access reviews of the Scum’s Wish manga and Super Lovers season 2 episode reviews so be sure to check them out.

As always, I would love to know your thoughts on the shows this season so please leave a comment below.

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Must Watch

  • March Comes in Like a Lion (Episode 18)
  • ACCA (Episode 7)

Episode 18 of March Comes in Like a Lion wasn’t that great for me with some of its visuals, but the series as a whole remains pretty solid and, to be honest, I’m in love with the character journey at this point.

ACCA episode 7 continues to surprise, this time seemingly going for the straight forward approach. Refreshing after so much intrigue and while it feels like things have come together there’s still a lot of nagging questions.

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Usually Entertaining

  • Chain Chronicle (Episode 7)
  • Iron Blooded Orphans (Episode 43)
  • Blue Exorcist (Episode 33)
  • Tales of Zestiria the X Season 2 (Episode 7)
  • Spiritpact (Episode 7)

While I’m not going to call Chain Chronicle a must watch, it is definitely my favourite popcorn entertainment watch of the season. While ACCA and March make me think and listen to the dialogue a second time and flick through scenes looking for visual cues I may have missed, Chain Chronicle is just fun to sit back and watch unfold in all its typical fantasy tropes. No, I won’t make an argument that this is an amazing story, but it is exactly what I want most Sunday’s when I’m trying to switch off.

Any hope of Orphans reigniting some of season 1’s flair for a strong finish is pretty much killed at this point. Yes, we’ll probably get a great final battle but really, that was all that Fareed’s plan had to it? You would think after keeping us in the dark this long it would be a reveal of actual value.

Blue Exorcist now has us all in the middle of a fight and yet we still are having to endure lengthy conversations and dialogue that goes around in circles. Admittedly, there was definitely a sense of urgency this week which has been lacking so far, but this still feels like they are stretching a little material a very long way.

Tales of Zestiria is being put on notice that if it doesn’t start bringing something more to the table then I am going to drop this down to just okay. Season 2 has continually not been as entertaining as season 1, and this is definitely starting to kill a lot of my desire to continue with this story (and seriously, it’s a fantasy with dragons, I should love this and yet it just hasn’t been delivering anything this season of note).

Spiritpact thickens the plot and maybe Keika won’t be so useless after this episode (though I won’t hold my breath on that). This one is the surprisingly improved show of the season given the incredibly rough start it had.

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Okay, I Guess

  • elDLIVE (Episode 7)
  • Super Lovers (Episode 7)
  • Interviews with Monster Girls (Episode 7)

elDLIVE gives us some great lines this week and a few really good moments. Then it kind of dissolves into a friends forever and hope wins kind of thing. That said, this show does keep building on what it has so if it gets enough episodes could definitely end up being something.

Super Lovers is being reviewed on my Patreon site (available to everyone).

Interviews with Monster Girls remains watchable and that is the highest level of recommendation this show can get off of me at this point. Even if it has a brilliant finish it is just too flat, too lame, or too dull too often that the few sparks of creative or interesting cannot compensate for it.

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They Made This

  • Hand Shakers (Episode 7)

Hand Shakers is really wanting to cement its position as worst anime of the year early on and its succeeding admirably. While a lot of people took one look at the visuals of this show and declared it dead in the water, those of us who have continued have found a whole slew of things completely dreadful about this show. Every single thing that could have been interesting or helped lift this show has been squandered and all we have at this point a selection of screenshots showing the many and creative ways we can jam the word mesh into a sentence. Still not dropping it but only sticking to it because I am stubborn.

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Tried and Dropped

  • Akiba’s Trip (Episode 6)
  • Fuuka (Episode 5)
  • Trickster (Episode 13)
  • Gabriel DropOut (Episode 1)
  • Masamune-Kun’s Revenge (Episode 1)
  • Schoolgirl Strikers (Episode 1)
  • Seiren (Episode 1)
  • Saga of Tanya the Evil (Episode 1)
  • Chaos;Child (Episode 1 – five minutes in)

Week 7 over. So far, what has surprised you this season?


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Chain Chronicle: The Light of Haecceitas

Review:

It really feels like other than Shuza, nobody in this world had ever considered any other way of fighting the black king other than Yuri. With Yuri getting taken over the sorcerers, the holy queen, and even Yuri’s friends are all kind of at odds and not really knowing what to do. Shuza on the other hand just seems to want to take over the world and to be honest I’m not sure how he’s any better than the black king (you know, other than having a personality and a bit of flair on screen).

However, this does clear the stage for Aram to step up and he does in the best way you could expect given how new he is to this whole idea of working with others. Not a lot else happens this episode but it was a solid follow up to last week.

Chain Chronicle is available on Crunchyroll.


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Chain Chronicles: The Light of Haecceitas Episode 6

Review:

One of my pet hates when watching anime is how easily characters are brainwashed or manipulated, particularly during critical moments. With that said, as Chain Chronicles completes it’s ‘come to the dark-side’ moment I’m actually impressed that for once the villains (and various hallucinations) gave a fairly concrete argument as to why the hero was wasting his time. It was easy to chip away at his resolve because he has already raised an army and tried to defeat the black king and he has failed completely.

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Unlike so many other anime would be heroes, he genuinely has reason to doubt that he can ever succeed and not just because he doesn’t trust himself, but because he’s already given his all once and crashed and burned hard.

Yeah, other stuff happens this episode. Princess pink hair gives a rousing speech and decides to become a Queen, but the majority of this episode is around Yuri falling into darkness.

Chain Chronicles is available on Crunchyroll.


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