Resides in Austin, TX (USA). Long time connoisseur of anime and manga - I'm an art director, media critic and eccentric. I love to write, draw and travel.
It ‘Taku’s’ Two to Tango
Chaos;Child is an anime adaptation of the 5pb visual novel. It’s a direct sequel to Chaos;Head which was released in 2008. There may be some confusion if you’re coming here from the 2008 Madhouse adaptation of Chaos;Head, so let me break it down a bit beforehand:
Chaos;Child is an adaptation of the visual novel. Episode 0, which this review tackles, is a short adaptation of the Chaos;Head visual novel. It is not related to the Chaos;Head anime series in anything other than name.
I hope that clears things up! Let’s jump in.
Japanese Original Episode Title: CHAOS;HEAD 「その目！ 誰の目！」
Episode 0 of Chaos;Child follows our ‘hero’ Takakumi Nishijou. He’s an odd character who lives inside a shipping container in Shibuya, Tokyo. A haunting mantra is chanted throughout the episode: ‘Those Eyes…Whose Eyes.’ As the viewers, we’re left to wonder what the quote means.
The episode follows ‘Taku’ and his conversations on an Occult text board (akin to 2chan). The board discusses a strange series of murders which they’ve coined the New Generation or NewGen. Taku’s relay chat channel begins a conversation about these murders and sends him down a frightening rabbit hole. One of his friends named Shogun shares an image link, depicting a death.
As the plot progresses, Takakumi meets several characters who seem to know him, but that he has no recollection of. It turns out that an equation he wrote as a child, is the first key to the puzzle. Will he survive to solve it?
I’m a fairly avid internet user. I spend a lot of time on message boards and chat channels and even without the murder mystery, I would have been drawn in immediately. The strong emphasis on communication via the web, made this adaptation particularly intriguing to me. Part of the fun for me is seeing how similar internet communication is across cultures. English and Japanese may be very different languages, but it seems that online… there’s a universal language (At least on the niche areas of the web Takakumi explores).
Let this be a lesson to any of you. Don’t spend too much time on futaba channels or in IRC, or you may end discovering a horrible and deadly secret.
If you’ve ever wondered how much gore a 24-minute episode can fit into it, Chaos;Child is a good place to start your research. There’s some pretty graphic depictions in this episode. It’s not a typical highlight (some of it is quite unsettling) but the creativity and resulting tonality it brings to the episode makes for some good TV.
Chaos;Child uses some pretty heavy horror anime tropes. Intense graphic gore, mass suicides, the fear of the mind and technology. The show shares some heavy thematic elements from Serial Experiments Lain. An internet loner becomes the focus of all of society, people are disappearing, and mysteries seem to be centered around what the main character is thinking. The plot pulls you into the series quickly by borrowing these elements, but the success of the series will depend heavily on execution in later episodes.
Visual Novel adaptations are also tough sometimes. Planetarian did a great job bringing the story to life – and since Chaos;Child is heavily plot driven, I suspect it will be different from your average adaptations. They will have to be careful though. The original adaptation to Chaos;Head was met with VERY mixed reviews. I believe that Episode 0 of Chaos;Child was produced so that viewers would not watch the original VN adaptation of Chaos;Head. We’ll see if Child ends up being more coherent!
Episode 0 sets the tone for the rest of the series, but should not be viewed without knowing its purpose. While the tension and mystery is high, the pacing is too fast and the animation is limited. Episode 0 should be taken as an episode setting the tone, but not necessarily setting the future pacing of the series. Let’s not forget that it was released the same day as Episode 1, so that people can jump into that and immediately forget everything but the important plot points for how Taku got to the beginning of Episode 1.
Thankfully, there’s not a lot of time to wait. I’ll be throwing the first 3 episode reviews to you back to back. Episode 0 is meant to serve as a plot device – let’s see how Episode 1 goes. I bet we’re in for something…very different.
NEXT TIME: Digital Native (情報強者は事件を追う)