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Chaos;Head Complete Series (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 29, 2011 by  



Sometimes a series needs more than 12-episodes to effectively tell a complex story.  “Chaos;Head” based on the popular PC/XBOX 360 visual novel is one of those anime adaptations that could have benefited from more episodes.  Featuring beautiful animation and cool characters that can kick some major butt, “Chaos;Head” is a twisted, complex sci-fi, action anime series worth checking out.

Image courtesy of © 2011 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Chaos;Head Complete Series

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2008

DURATION: 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

Release Date: November 29, 2011

Directed by Takaaki Ishiyama

Series Composition by Toshiki Inoue

Screenplay by Toshiki Inoue

Music by tOkyO

Original Character Design by Mutsumi Sasaki

Character Design by Shuichi Shimamura

Anime Production by Madhouse Studios

Featuring the following voice talent:

Eri Kitamura/Carrie Savage as Rimi Sakihata

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Todd Haberkorn as Takumi Nishijō

Ayumi Tsuji/Kara Edwards as Kozue Orihara

Chiaki Takahashi/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Yua Kusunoki

Hitomi Nabatame/Clarine Harp as Sena Aoi

Kenta Miyake/Mark Stoddard as Gen’ichi Norose

Ui Miyazaki/Brittney Karbowski as Nanami Nishijō

Yui Sakakibara/Stepanie Sheh as Ayase Kishimoto

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?

In 2008, “Chaos;Head” was released as a Japanese visual novel by 5pb. and Nitroplus.  As with the other popular titles that come from 5pb. games and visual novels, a manga adaptation followed a month later, followed by two more manga adaptations that year.

With the popularity of the visual novels and manga adaptations, the 12-episode anime adaptation was created by Madhouse Studios and would air from October through December 2008.

To keep things in continuity with the visual novel, the same voice talent were used and the series would be directed by Takaaki Ishiyama (“Karura Mau”, “MapleStory”, “Sakura Wars” OAV), a screenplay by anime legendary writer  Toshiki Inoue (“Case Closed”, “Dragon Ball” series, “Fist of the Northstar” series, “Dirty Pair” series”, “Ranma 1/2” series) and character designs by Shuichi Shimamura (“Angel Sanctuary”, “Honey and Clover”, “Saber Marionette”).

“Chaos;Head” takes place in 2008 in Shibuya and focuses on anime otaku Takumi Nishijo.  Takumi has become more withdrawn with social life and stop going to Suimei Academy that he focuses on watching anime and playing eroge MMORPG’s.    He has become a hikikomori and his sister Nanami is very concerned about him but he pushes everyone out of his life.  Just barely attending school in order to fulfill the minimum he needs to graduate.

In his mind, he talks to his favorite anime character Seira and tries to repeat to himself that he has no interest in the 3D world (reality) and to stay bottled up in a storage room which he has made to a home.

Meanwhile, brutal murders have been taking place in Shibuya and it has been dubbed the “New Generation” murders.  While on the chat room, one day an online friend named Misumi tells him about the New Generation events and while online, an anonymous person tells him to click on a link.  At first Takumi doesn’t want to but by accident, he clicks on it and what he sees is a man pined up with stakes.

Bothered by what he had seen, Takumi fears that something bad is going on and decides to use the Internet cafe.  While walking home, he happens to walk into a dark alley and finds steel stakes.  As he picks one up, he walks by to see a man being pinned by stakes. What he saw on the link has now come true and to make things worse, some girl with pink hair stands next to the man, stained with blood.  She happens to be wearing a Suimei Academy uniform and says his name.

Afraid of what he has seen, he escapes and ends up runing into a blonde girl named Yua who tries to become close with him because they share the same otaku interests.  She tells him that she likes the same anime and wants him to accompany her to an anime store to purchase a Seira figurine.  Once again, Takumi thinks his mind is working against him and there is no way a beautiful blonde girl who is into anime can exist.  But as he keeps reminding himself to stop falling for 3D’s, he gives in and agrees to take her to an anime store.

Afraid of what he saw the day before, when Taku attends school, he starts spazzing out when he sees the pink hair girled named Yua sitting next to him.  Yua and Takumi’s friend Misumi tells them that they have been friends for a long time and went out together days earlier, but Taku is surprised because he never met this girl in his life.  Is he losing his memory?  What is happening to him?

The only conclusion that Takumi can think is that the girl is there to kill him.

Meanwhile the police have found footage of a student holding a stake running from the scene of the crime.  The image is of Takumi and now the police plan to investigate the students at Suei Academy.

As Takumi goes to take Yua out to the anime store, he starts to wonder if she likes him.  But as they talk, she accidentally drops a binder and inside are details of the New Generation murders.  Scared to see those clippings, Yua changes from the friendly person to a threatening person.  She wants to know why the stakes were in his room and she asks him if he has the power of precognition.  The reason being is that he has had images of deaths that did not happen in his computer before it they even happen.

Takumi claims that he someone online told him about the death of the man through links but Yua tells him that with her investigation, it shows that only one person accessed the computer that night and it was him.  Yua believes that the person that Takumi is talking about is actually himself and he doesn’t know it.  She wants to help him seek professional help and not kill anyone again.

The day after, the talk about precognition brings Takumi a flashback.  When he was young, his parents forbid him to attending a school field trip and one day, he drew a picture of the school bus and ripped it in half.  Right after that happen, his mother received a call that something tragic happened to the school bus that Takumi was supposed to ride for the school trip.  The school bus was ripped in half and there were casualties.   That was the first day in which Takumi dreamed something would happen and it coming true.

As Takumi is back home, he receives an image of him running with a stake.  He now knows that the police are after him.  Later that night, Misumi wants to help Takumi liven up, so he takes him to a live concert of the rock band Phantasm and to see their beautiful vocalist FES.  But while watching, Takumi hallucinates and sees FES looking directly at him and coming towards him with a sword.

When he wakes up to the hallucination, FES looks at him and says, “Whose eyes are those eyes?”

Takumi thinks that hallucination was too real that he leaves the concert.  While leaving, he discovers another girl with a sword.  No one is able to see it but him? Is he seeing things right or is his mind playing tricks on him?

Who are all these mysterious youn ladies with swords and why can he see them and no one else can?  Also, who is committing these “New Generation” murders, can it be him or someone else?   What is real and what is not real…or is Takumi losing his mind?

VIDEO:

“Chaos;Head” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). There is a lot of detail featured in the art backgrounds, especially of Shibuya. A lot of detail is featured on the characters with very good detail and shadowing.  And one thing you notice about the series is how it uses a lot of close-up shots of the character.  Overall, animation and character design was pretty good for a TV series (as picture quality and detail are usually showcased moreso for the OVA’s or feature films) and I detected no  banding or artifacts but at times, I felt there was some edge enhancement that can be seen from time-to-time.

But scenery depicting city landscapes, crowds and action sequences were well-animated and well-painted, Madhouse Studios did a great job with this series and paying respect to the original visual novel.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Chaos;Head” is another series in which the Japanese soundtrack is given a 2.0 lossless track while the English version is given the better Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix.  I started out watching the series in Japanese but found myself switching to English because it uses the surround channels much more.  During the action sequences, there is a good amount of effects coming from the surround channels but it was obvious that the English dub track was going to be more immersive.  With that being said, as much as I try to watch anime via Japanese, with “Chaos;Head” I actually enjoyed the English dub for the overall series.

Where the emotional acting was well-done on the Japanese end, the English dub was well-cast and the acting was very good!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Chaos;Head” comes with only a textless opening and ending theme.

EXTRAS:

“Chaos;Head Complete Series” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD’s of the series.

Dark, twisted and featuring ladies that can kick ass!  “Chaos;Head Complete Series” may be about its otaku protagonist Takumi but  the characters that really keep this anime series exciting are its female characters. The female characters of “Chaos;Head” are bold, strong and definitely not ladies you want to mess with!

While I enjoyed “Chaos;Head” for its sci-fi twists and its characters and includes a touch of your usual harem-faire and yes, even a bit of sis-con situations, the only thing that I found quite irritating is the character of the main protagonist Takumi.  It’s one thing to have your usual anime otaku or hikikomori, but his constant whining is almost near the upper echelon level of Shinji (for “Neon Genesis Evangelion” fans).  He is often being saved by the female characters, he is often being defended or frightened by the female characters and I was slowly growing irritated that the character would not develop any guts (that is until you get to the last 2-3 episodes) and develop courage to save those he cares about.

And while the visual novels are beloved by fans of the “Chaos;Series” and the fact that you can have branching storylines depending on what the player is interested in, with only 12-episodes, you do get a conclusive storyline with so many plot twists that you find yourself having to rewatch certain episodes.

Also, FUNimation Entertainment tends to give you that little extra, especially when it comes to English dubbed commentary.  Tthe fact that they didn’t add any commentary to this series, was a bit surprising.  As if the series wasn’t worth the time to put in an audio commentary track.

While I am happy that “Chaos;Head” the anime series has finally been released in the United States, it’s still disappointing that the video games have not been released.  5pb.’s “Chaos;Head” and “Steins;Gate” are two titles that fans have been waiting for.

Overall, “Chaos;Head” is probably a series that needed more than 12-episodes to better explain the overall storyline.  With 12-episodes, things felt a bit rushed and certain characters are a bit underdeveloped and even the Japanese were a bit critical towards the animated series.   The good news is that the followup series “Steins;Gate” (which takes place a year after “Chaos;Head” and has been well-received in Japan) is 24-episodes long and has been licensed by FUNimation Entertainment.

Otherwise, an anime series still worth checking out.

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