One of the anime from this year that turned out to be better than I would have expected was Hitsugi no Chaika, whose second and final season (following the first season in the spring) concluded fairly recently. What I liked a lot about the show were the fight scenes. The main character, Toru, is a saboteur who actually used traps and tactics. I was concerned that the fights would lose some tension when they had a character who could literally stomp people into the ground join the party. Thankfully, the writers realized this, and I was amused by the ways that they would work around this in the anime.
For those who haven’t seen the show, the character in question is named Fredrica. Her human appearance is that of a young girl with drill hair, but her true form is a giant dragon (or dragoon, as they say in the show). She also has a cat form also for some reason. Anyway, she joins the party because she wants to have a purpose and decides that it should be to fight Toru to the death.
After becoming a main character, she has a tendency to disappear while fights occur, though she might beat up on some grunts every so often or help out when it becomes necessary for the party to fly somewhere.
In the final arc of the first season, she is able to sneak aboard the enemy’s airship and find Chaika but is then stabbed in the head and seemingly eaten by a spider. This scene was legitimately shocking to me because they had established that the only way to kill a dragoon is by destroying the brain. However, the following episode showed that she managed to survive because she had a chibi form that emerged from her body a la the chestburster scene in Alien.
Fredrica’s minimal level of usefulness was repeated in much the same manner for most of the second season, and there were some moments where her abilities would be useful but she wasn’t around for no clear reason. Even when she did do stuff, it was again only against low-level grunts or roles that almost anyone else could have done. In fact, the person that they first fight in the second season specifically said that she couldn’t actively participate, and the only thing that she did then was walk around in her cat form to serve as a distraction (it did lead to a win though).
In the final arc for the anime as a whole, Toru finally agreed to make a contract with Fredrica to become a dragoon cavalier, a change in class that also grants you a badass suit of armor. When they reach the final boss of the show, it looked like that Fredrica would finally use her true strength… but she gets sliced to pieces almost right away. (She got better.)
To be fair, that occurred against the final boss and he is immensely powerful. In closing, I want to reiterate that I didn’t find the under-utilization of Fredrica annoying but humorous, as the show is better off because of it in that the action scenes are more thought out. I now leave you with a bonus gif, where the context is that Fredrica has been poisoned and has to molt her skin before resting.