I went into viewing ChäoS;HEAd without a great deal of expectations. Having read through many of the reviews and hearing some firsthand accounts on it I got the impression that it was going to be an average at best experience. However this was a show that I had been very interested in seeing since it started airing. For me it’s a great example of not believing everything you hear.
The story starts out as a pretty interesting mystery involving a number of grisly murders and a high school boy who believes he has witnessed one of them and is being fed information about future killings before they happen. The boy is Takumi, a severely disturbed and socially awkward individual who is terrorized by delusions and paranoia. The plot feels genuinely creepy at times but doesn’t manage to sustain this over the course of the entire series. Because of Takumi's delusions the viewer is not always sure what is real or what isn’t. It does take some significant detours and while it’s not the smartest thing I have ever seen, in my opinion it managed to be interesting through the end. However one might feel about how the story changed focus over the course of the show, I did feel that it ended very nicely with most of the loose ends tied off.
Takumi's character for me was extremely interesting. Sure he is a stereotype of a socially awkward otaku, but what makes him a great character is his personality. He is an extremely disturbed person. His inability at times to know what is real or what isn’t made him fascinating. I enjoyed how he coped with his fear of others by imagining his favorite anime character as a companion. I felt the story did a great job in developing him and having him overcome his fears and questions about his own existence.
Sadly as good as I felt Takumi was as a character, the rest of the cast is quite uninspired. The girls all fall into the usual patterns that we see in every anime, from the moe sugar sweet best girlfriend to the brainy and to the cold hearted swordsman. Still despite this I still enjoyed most of them, particularly Yua and even though they weren’t that groundbreaking. The villains are equally stale from an originality standpoint. Their motivations are 2-dimensional and boring and really were a poor foil overall for the heroes to overcome.
The artwork is good for the most part but a little inconsistent at times. I felt the colors were kind of flat and the styles seemed awfully dated looking. In addition the character models felt.. familiar. It didn’t seem like there was any originality in designing them and some of them actually looked like they were ripped directly out of other anime. I did like the music, the opening was good and I felt set the tone, but the ending while a good song felt out of place considering the subject matter of many of the episodes.
Despite a number of faults I just can’t say that I didn’t like this show. It’s not great at anything it does. The thriller elements of the plot fall a bit flat and the action scenes really aren’t that interesting either. My interest in the main character and a decent storyline made this an enjoyable experience for me. I would recommend it, however if you looking for a superb suspense thriller or a great action you’re probably going to be disappointed.