Reviewed by: Priss
Released by: Manga Entertainment UK
Age Rating: 15
Region: 2 - UK
Length: 300 minutes
Audio: Japanese 5.1 Surround
From the mind that brought you Death Note comes a schizophrenic anime experience that will make you doubt everything you think you're seeing.
Takumi is an anime-obsessed recluse with a fetish for two-dimensional girls. His dirty little cyber secrets land him in real-life trouble after a chat room encounter with the mysterious General leads him to the scene of a gruesome murder. In the blink of an eye, Takumi goes from a caffeine-addicted gamer to a paranoid murder suspect caught up in something called the New Generation madness. Between the police and a gang of girls with giant holographic swords, someone is watching his every move. As the world constructed around him begins to unravel, Takumi will discover that nothing – not even his own life – is what it appears to be. Welcome to Chaos Head. Can you survive reality?
The plot for Chaos Head comes from the visual novel ChäoS;HEAd by 5pb and Nitroplus. The visual novel is a format that works well with mystery, misdirection and is a powerful platform for engaging the viewer. The narrative will often play from a single perspective via internal monologue. As the world unfolds through the eyes of single character, their choices and emotions can extend beyond the boundaries of the story as they player comes to identify their play as a cerebral and emotional experience.
With all this potential it is a disappointing drama that Mad House have produced in their adaptation of Chaos Head. Following the incredible and stirring VN anime adaptation of the psychological drama School Days, Chaos Head starts with a bang, an otaku boy, paralysed by his paranoia who finds his grisly premonitions are starting to materialise beyond the internet chat rooms he frequents.
His penchant for online gaming and anime makes his world a waking dream, where reality is fractured. His love for the anime character Sera and envelops him in a protective bubble of fantasy as he pictures her by his side when he stays shut in his room. He is desperate to escape from the "real" girls in his life, who all just happen to cookie cutter anime archetypes similar to his fantasy girl.
The series starts well enough as you try to fathom if Takumi is delusional, psychotic or if his world is being manipulated, however, the as the various plot threads unravel they never really connect together. The result is a big tangled mess.
The designs and animation are lacklustre and as Takumi struggles to believe in anything he does or anyone he meets, it feels as though the production team were struck by the same lack of conviction in this project. It is a sorry excuse for a psychological thriller and any potential for subtle self-reflexive cultural commentary is lost in muddle of meaningless dialogue and dead end elements. Chaos it is... and not in the good way.