**WARNING: I am not biased with this rating.** I would just like to clear that up before I start on what may seem like a judgemental rant. I usally rate anime strictly, but I typically give them the benefit of the doubt most of the time. The only reason that I rated this a 2.5 out of 10 was because I had to be fair to this - as much as I hate this.
**If you doubt anything that I say about this, then I suggest you take a look at my anime ratings. This is the lowest rated anime (that I've rated) by far.
There are no spoilers in this review. Or shall I say: There isn't anything to be spoiled at all...
I am forgiving. Really, really forgiving. To the point of giving even bad anime decent ratings. But not this one. Before I go on a rant and tell you why I hate it, I'll just give you the short part first.
The reason why this is #1 worst anime of all time in my opinion is simply because of one reason: The anime had the best concept of all time - but fucked it up...
Really, really bad.
This anime is nothing but giant cliff hangers with zero content. It is all fluff. This must have been the best fluffed up anime that I've ever watched. You expect something awesome is going to happen, but it doesn't. Nothing happens. Actually, stuff does happen... but it is the most normal and predictable crap that I've ever seen...
Every. Single. Time!
I am a huge fan of Code Geass (as I'm sure a lot of people are). I really like to compare this anime to Code Geass. Why? Because this anime could have been as great as Code Geass. No wait... It could have been better. Seriously. Chas;Head could have been one of the greatest animes of all time.
Every time Chaos;Head would get to the point of doing something awesome, I would literally squeel with joy! I would get that really exciting feeling on the inside that something awesome was going to happen! But it doesn't come! It simply doesn't have anything to show for itself! There are no plot twists. None.
Anyway, down to the core reviews:
The only reason that I rated this a 1 was because it actually had a story. Literally. THIS WINS BY DEFAULT... Don't be fooled though! If you watch it, you'll probably see some form of a story. But in reality it's all just fluff. Nothing is really new or fresh. The presentation of this anime is outstanding... I mean, it even got me to watch the entire anime... But when the anime was comming to the end... I asked myself, "How are they going to finish this anime in just 2 more episodes!?" It literally half-asses the ending.
The ending is so predictable, it will make you as angry as I am... I thought that the ending was going to be the last salvation of this series. I thought it was going to rise up - do something amazing and be imprinted in my memory as something I can look back on... But I'm afraid that just wasn't the case...
I can't believe I actually rated something a 1. I literally never do that...
Ok, I'll be fair. The animation is sexy. Not legendary artwork or anything, but the graphics are excellent for the genre. Visually stunning. Has great camera angles, shots and views. I really enjoyed the artwork produced and any computer generated imagry. Flowed together really nicely. This is probably one of the reasons why I decided to watch this anime. I really regret it though. The animation cannot save such a terrible story I'm afraid.
Nothing that I really take paricular attention to. So I guess nothing really stood out as bad or good. I would say it was decent quality and had some good sound effects.
A few steriotypical characters, but a lot of new and fresh ones. I really liked the main character of this anime. Unfortunately, the characters don't grow. There is absolutely no change in character from beginning to the end. I actually sensed that there might have been a slight change - but they really don't go into detail. One moment the characters are put through a problem - but afterwards, they just look tired. No real change in emotion or action. This is rated a 5 because the flavor of some of the characters is different than most anime. But just like the story, the characters really don't have much content.
This anime is not worth your time.
If you're looking for a quick anime-fix and/or filler anime to watch - This isn't it. Even if you're really bored and this looks really interesting - just don't do it. It'll make you feel angry at this anime.
This anime will literally crush your dreams and kick you in the nuts. We all fantisize about what is going to happen next in a story, what kinds of twists and turns it'll take, who will end up dating who, and what the villians plan on doing next... But this anime... this anime takes those ideas and puts them to shame.
I can't defend this. I just can't... I'll leave this rant with a list of other things to compare this anime to.
THIS ANIME IS LIKE...
I dedicate my first anime review to this one. May this anime RIP.
You know what the worst thing you can do to a show with a psychological theme? Make it star a slightly older Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion. I can't for the life of me understand the thought process behind making someone so useless as the male lead. To build a harem around him is even dumber, unless you are doing a parody of anime cliches. But no, Chaos;HEAd takes itself entirely too seriously for something as self-aware as that.
It's a shame, because there is so much working for Chaos;HEAd. There is a lead character that doesn't know if he's hallucinating or not. There are plot threads everywhere that mold together into coherency (eventually) that make the cast have relevance. The artwork is Madhouse, meaning that the aesthetic standpoint is powerfully executed. There is mystery, there are moments of tension, plenty of ominous moments, and some clever combination of metaphor in writing matching up with artistic license from the visual aspect.
Chaos;HEAd is a show that you can't decide if you like or not and then it ends. It is as thought provoking as the amount of thought you are willing to put into it. The psychological aspect isn't particularly deep, but it is definitely well executed. It could have been magnificent had the lead character had half a modicum of charisma. Not since Shinji have I ever felt like beating someone up so much. He is characterised perfectly from his absolute cowardice to the cringe-inducing whiny voice acting. The one saving grace as that he mans up at the end rather than remaining a whimpering wanker.
So, did I enjoy it? Well, just like the other ; work, at the start it was more interesting than enjoyable, but has an engrossing feel to it. It grew on me though. It isn't particularly deep, and the twists become obvious. And yet, Chaos;HEAd becomes a satisfying experience. Even though each arc has an ultimately cheesy and obvious ending, it doesn't change the fact that the resolution feels right and helps clear up most of the series (though there are a couple of glaring holes left in the plot that you might forget by the end). What can I say, it's rather fun in the end.
Writing (Story and Characters):
Chaos;HEAd is ultimately the prototype to the wildly popular Steins;Gate in writing style. It is far less refined, but also uses characters who aren't particularly likable at the start, bouncing between reality and possible fantasies. There is a lot of "tech tech the tech"s to explain the important plot points (the famous Star Trek writers' phrase for insert "psuedoscientific BS here"), but it doesn't really matter as long as you don't think about it too hard. While there are technical issues in the way of holes in the plot, inconsistent characterizations, and a helluvalot of other flaws (which Steins;Gate dealt with far better), in the end the writing is engrossing.
It may seem complex, but Chaos;HEAd's story isn't, not really. The ending is cheesy to the extreme, and you can see it coming from a mile away. There are holes in the plot and forcibly "ooh that's dark and edgy" moments. There are issues with everything from an inconsistent tone, whether the show decides if it is dark at a given moment or not, missed opportunities for greatness, and so on. Yet there is no doubt that the story is not standard, and it pays off.
As to the characters, what can I say that isn't insulting. The main character for most of the series is Shinji 2.0, and then becomes "standard shounen hero" in the end. Some of the other side characters have stock personalities. The interactions are forced, and the harem(ish) touches are so artificial that it's painful. The backstories are overly angsty to the point it is nearly laughable. The character development and resolution are cheesy to the extreme. But despite all these huge technical flaws, the cast is balanced and it gives a general warm and fuzzy feeling (and has moments of greatness, like the detective girl when she's aggressive - not tsundere, but intimidating as hell).
While you might think of what I wrote about the technical flaws of each quite a bit, I did like the writing of Chaos;HEAd quite a bit. It isn't genius. Steins;Gate which was basically the same staff in their next showing was executed far better using similar literary style and themes. But, extra credit for attempting to go outside the box, and as opposed to most anime going for something that feels different (except for the shounen ending). Technical issues aside, the writing is enjoyable.
Art (Animation and Sound):
Really, it is not easy to analyze how good the art of Chaos;HEAd actually is. There are moments where it is downright brilliant, when the audio and video make a hole in the plot completely irrelevant by stealing the show. There are others where you just can't miss the corners cut for budgetary concerns. In the end, it is a mixed bag. Overall though, the quality is high, and the artwork memorable.
Madhouse have done better than their work on Chaos;HEAd. Sure, the character designs are distinct. Yes, there is some beautiful use of style to make the relevant parts of a scene pop. There are moments where it may very well wow the viewer. Still, the palette choice for the series is a bit on the dull side, and while the backgrounds are diverse and detailed, they aren't really memorable. There are too many moments where you can see that a part of the scene lacks motion which is one of the more obvious ways to lower budgets, and it can get annoying at times. Still, it is a strong showing overall, as even on their off days the Madhouse crew does a good job.
There are less issues with the audio other than the glaring one: the main character has an annoying voice. He is supposed to have that kind of voice because he is an annoying character and it fits well, but it still annoys the hell out of me. There aren't any moments where the audio will wow you, but there aren't any moments where it doesn't fit. It is solid, and the soundtrack is surprisingly good. Still, I can't really say more than "it is somewhat above average" due to my one subjective issue with the annoying voice of the main character. I don't care that it is right, when what is right annoys me.
Chaos;HEAd has solid artwork. This is a great contrast to the writing, which is everything but. It is a balancing act of trying to tie down the plot into a more grounded world, and it is effective in doing so. There are few technical issues, but they are there. As much as I dislike the main character's voice, it is the correct choice for the series and how it plays out... so while I dislike it, I cannot rate it lowly from an (attempted) objective standpoint. Ugh, it is not easy to judge. Above average, obviously. Good, and at times great. But not magnificent.
Chaos;HEAd is more interesting than enjoyable. And that's fine. You can see how it is the first attempt of the crew behind Steins;Gate, but is far less refined and powerful a work. But what can be said is that the show is quite good overall, if you can ignore the slew of technical issues that plague everything.
While Chaos;Head is my favourite anime so far like with Lain I can see why it isn't everyone's cup of tea. It's dark and confusing* and the main character has drawn huge amounts of flak simply for not being like the majority of people. At least with Takumi Nishijo you know that if he's going to get up to something it will be in his own home and he won't be drunk.
The animation is excellent, even better than Gundam 00 and better than any anime I've seen in this new decade the 2010's, further demonstrating that older is not necessarily inferior as does Legend Of The Galactic Heroes. The voice acting is superb, especially considering that I've only seen it in Japanese so far. I prefer dubs but really a house is a house regardless of what colour you paint it. The opening theme song is performed brilliantly by Kanako Ito just like she did in the videogame. The only gripe I have with this show is the ending theme; the lyrics are sweet, sung pretty well and a nice tension break but are riddled with errors. If you don't like horror or being confused while watching something then give Chaos;Head a miss but if you don't mind either then go right ahead.
* No matter how many times I watch the show I still can't figure out the whole Yui and her sister thing. Most other things can be explained by the fact that Takumi can make his delusions reality but because he has schizophrenia he can have trouble telling what's real and what isn't meaning he can cause trouble for himself unintentionally.
PLAY THE VISUAL NOVEL OF CHAOS;HEAD INSTEAD
This is by far, the most terrible way to experience Chaos;Head.
The intro alone spoils and foreshadows 80% of the story. Squishing an entire Visual Novel into twelve, twenty minute episodes is a Red Flag.
If you're fortunate enough to get to this review before looking up an episode, I implore you, as one Anime Fan to another, play the VN first.
corny: hurt feelings and illusions of the past, anything that could possibly be used as a tearjerker WAS used as a tearjerker. Every character suddenly became a useless wuss when they were shown their "weakness" feely crap
pointless: you run into a fact in the middle of the anime, suddenly NOTHING MATTERS ANYMORE the whole point of the anime goes right out the window around episode 7.
stupid: the voice acting, the script, the way the plot acted like a kid with ADHD. the frickin lame pointless . . . . . .
AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH I CANT STAND THIS. Strait up, this anime was bad. I could go on and on and on, but you dont even care about this crap. All you need to know is that it sucked.
there was very little that I liked. every character was corny as hell. Every situation was lame and predictable. Too many things didnt make sense. Screw this anime, there is a reason its over 2000