Well, that covers a season of shows that I plucked out to examine. Now to jump back to older ones, while I wait for some to finish. Starting with one that I breezed through in a weekend, and came out relatively blue balled, which has been the case for most of the shows I’ve seen this year. So let’s start with a show that I don’t think most people cared about, Chäos;HEAd… Wow, that title looks dumb!
Studio: Madhouse, Funimation, Nitroplus, and 5pb.
Length: 12 episodes
Availability: Both subbed and dubbed on Hulu and Funimation for free
Chaos;Head is the story of a hermit, shut-in, anime nerd, otaku, 2D girl loving, psychotic teenager with imaginary anime girl friends, named Takumi Nishijo. Who is far enough removed from reality to live in a storage crate on some random building, but not enough to be devoid of friends. As he goes through a relatively stable starting point of a psychological murder mystery. To something that practically screams that it had to cut a lot of crap out from the original visual novel.
Yes, it is another show that breaks apart near the end, which I am getting extremely annoyed of needing to spout. However, after taking about ten pages of written notes on the show, I find it very hard to be that dismissive. Without giving much away in terms of biorhythms and GE-rates, the show deals with a few too many high concept ideas, making it unsurprising when fall apart like a poorly made toy.
To put it as simply as I can apply it, the show feels a decent amount like a Zero Escape game mixed with a gritty World God Only Knows, when fed the psychological doodles of Donnie Darko. A claim that sounds solid enough to make the very cliche ending to feel more like a dream than anything. And looks really, really, really dumb when you set forth with a 12 episode limit.
Over the course of 40 hours, Virtue’s Last Reward delivered nearly the same amount of keen pseudo-science as Chaos;Head wants to do in less than 5. With a scale roughly 5 times larger in terms of a greater purpose, and the medium difference to get in the way of how you can deliver exposition. Earlier on, it is fun to try and think if the main character is just crazy as if the anime girl living with him was not a dead giveaway. However, when you have six women working with him to stop a very poorly defined antagonist through very loosely defined means that are aiming higher than anyone would guess if you used the term, “Gigalomaniac”. It is hard to think it is all just a delusion. Even though I use the black fade as my excuse.
From very simple things like the unexplained recurring line, “Those eyes… whose are they?” To the sheer magnitude of contrivances that had to be made for everything in this Rube Goldberg machine of a plot. Makes me think the show was wrapped up when the creators just did not care anymore, and wanted to get to their next oddly named title. I don’t think the show needed another twelve episodes, as much as I think it needed to lose half of the plot. Namely when it gets silly with giant anime “Di-Swords”.
But then why, for the love of god’s sweet nectar, do I kind of like the show? Well, I was engaged enough to plow through the show to the very end. It does manage to capture the same page turning nature of the Zero Escape titles, even though I needed to rewatch a few bits, and was still confused by the last scene. In fact, a poor man’s Zero Escape is a decent descriptor for the show.
It more or less tries to take the intensity one would expect up to 11, while the errors in the main characters are all the more prevalent. But is not unlike Deadly Premonition, another train wreck, but with some level of beauty in its destruction. With the prospect of putting the pieces back together and figuring out just what the creator’s wanted to do, being something I personally enjoy. But I’d still prefer to do it through the original visual novel, assuming the translators could’ve weasel around the more gruesome stuff, and not get the project canned. Seriously, how expensive is translating text compared to an anime?
However, unlike the similarly ambitious Project K, I can’t say as many good things about the animation. With simplistic characters in school uniforms only modified slightly, and the presence of cliches being present with the very harem-like line-up. And while the animation was done by the very well respected Madhouse, the amount of funds that went into it are, let’s just say, limited. Leaving the backgrounds a a fake Shibuya as the visual highlight, along with the main character’s very well structured bedroom. Instead, the show clearly maintained its novel-esc roots in the transition, while it was unable to keep them in terms of pacing. Seriously, brains are complex things!
With the music being hit or miss, and often not intimidating on its own. Don’t play anything catchy during a remarkably serious moment. Rule number one guys. At least the voice cast does a good job, despite a few actors being given the direction to appear a bit too ditzy or annoying. And a handful of lines hinting that some scenes might be a delusions, when the entire thing maintains a clearly translated script. Most likely due to the amount of crap they needed to shove in for the show to be “completed”.
Though I hate to use this term, I can’t help but find a lot of Chaos;Head to be a guilty pleasure. It goes from a very solid starting point that I would be more than willing to depend, to something so bizarre, it’d be hard not to laugh at. The drop is disappointing, and it might not “objectively” be good. But reviews are merely opinions, and my opinion is that through all the times that I can complain about the show, it still does entertain, while stimulating the mind via new ideas, even if a lot of them just don’t work. But at the same time, I can certainly understand why people gave it fours. With the lack of a wiki for it being a far less acceptable reality.
Fans of the genre or premise might enjoy the product. There is a kernel of goodness, but it’s still surrounded by some non-goodness, making the final product a bit “bleh”.