Back in October, we were treated to the first episode of Chain Chronicle: Haecceitas no Hikari (lit. The Light of Haecceitas) where we saw the heroes amassed for a climactic final battle against the evil magic emperor–only to lose horribly. Grand armies scattered, mascot character MIA, and main hero wounded, the remaining core group was left with one question: what’s next?

The Chain Chronicle Anime Begins with the Hero Losing to the Final Boss

Well, as the first four episodes of Chain Chronicle were released this past week as a feature film in Japan, we’re starting to get an answer to that question.

With the Black King’s victory, his forces spread across the land attacking everything from the tiny villages to the large Kingdoms that oppose him. His forces now come enveloped in a mist of corruption, preventing the use of major magic and fighting skills. Normal people seek to bring down their own kingdoms and gain the Black King’s favor, and thus survive the coming doom. A blight of corruption spreads in sudden waves across the land itself, killing both plant and animal life. But worst of all, humans are affected as well.

Including our heroes.

Yūri, the lowly soldier who rose to command the forces of light, is now forced to take all this information and find a way to turn this unmitigated defeat into a second chance at victory. Of course, this is easier said than done. Yūri himself is suffering from a crisis of self-confidence: he gathered all the heroes of the world, faced down the Black King in personal combat, and lost. Now it seems as if the world is doomed and it’s all his fault.

Worse still, he was wounded in his battle with the Black King. And while the physical damage can be healed, the corruption can not. It’s only a matter of time until he is killed–or worse yet, gives in to the darkness and becomes a pawn of the Black King himself.

Yet, there is hope for the world in the form of Aram. A young thief with an independent personality and a strong sense of justice. While a skilled fighter in his own right, what makes Aram stand apart from even the other heroes is his power to take the mana from others and redistribute it as he pleases. The problem is that while Aram plays the hero, he is a loner. Without bonds to other people, the ability to share out power is meaningless.

Thus Yūri, knowing he has little time left, takes the boy under his wing, hoping beyond hope that he can teach Aram to harness the true potential of his power and prepare him for the responsibility of saving the world. Of course, treating Aram as a favored son causes problems all its own–envy can corrupt just as easily as the Black King’s power, after all.

Based on a character-filled mobile game, there are naturally dozens upon dozens of potential characters to appear in the anime. What’s great is the way in which it includes them. There is a core group comprised of Yūri, Aram, and Phoena (with Cain, Mishidia, and Marina as background supporting roles). Other characters flow in and out of the story. Juliana, for example, starts with the group, but eventually splits off with her knights to look after her own kingdom and raise a new army. She and her knights are replaced by another two or three characters as Yūri’s group travels to a different city. Then those characters in turn go off to do their own thing while more new characters join Yūri on the next step of his journey.

Not only does this revolving door system give the opportunity for many different characters to shine, but it also expands the epic scope of the conflict. While Yūri is on a quest vital for the forces of light to gain a second chance against the Black King, he can’t hope to do all the work alone. Each character that encounters the core party goes off to do their own part in preparing for the next final battle. It’s not only Yūri who is vital to world’s survival, everyone has to pitch in or all is lost.

Four episodes in, Chain Chronicle reminds me most of classic anime franchise Lodoss War with its changing cast of characters and feeling that you’re seeing just one key part of a much bigger, more epic war story. There is a dark sense of dread that permeates the story, but underneath it all is that tiny light of hope that says “we’ll do better next time.” And now our heroes must do all they can to make sure the world gets that one final chance. If nothing else, the adventure is one hell of a ride.

Chain Chronicle: Haecceitas no Hikari Part 1 was released in Japanese theaters on December 3, 2016. The TV anime version will air in January 2017.

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