CHAOS;CHILD – Mid Season Review
Original Air Dates: January 12th, 2017 – ???
Reviewed by: Tom
Synopsis: The year is 2015. Six years after a devastating earthquake that rocked Shibuya the city is still working to recover. Takuru Miyashiro, a student at the newly constructed private high school, Hekiho Academy, is investigating a new series of serial murders known as “The Return of the New Generation Madness” as part of his work for the school’s newspaper club. However, this investigation leads him into a dark mystery, one that could claim his very life….
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Six episodes in and already Chaos;Child feels to be holding up better than its predecessor. Chaos;Head, as many know, suffered from a number of issues, primarily centering on its dissemination of information. The series chose to keep too much in the back end episodes, leaving viewers confused when information dumps, executed poorly, changed the entire landscape of the series, leaving many disappointed.
Chaos;Child seems to be handling that better, already more forthcoming than Chaos;Head ever was. By episode six we already have a passable understanding of what’s going on. But there’s still plenty of mysteries to unravel, so it’s not as if Chaos;Child has chosen to unveil everything.
For one the series continues to underplay its connections to Chaos;Head. Up till episode six, Chaos;Child feels like such a lose sequel that you could almost wonder why a Chaos;Head information dump was included at the beginning. But certain elements begin to crop up, forcing a deeper connection between the two. It’s likely that as we near the back end of the series, the greater connections will become more apparent and potentially leave any new viewers increasingly confused.
While the show is indeed good at handling its dissemination of information, holding the audiences hand far more than other blank;blank adaptations (Occultic;Nine for example) there are places where the series stumbles.
For one, the series suffers from “Everyone seems to know each other” syndrome. Certain characters are apparently deeply tied to seemingly unconnected aspects of the mystery, giving the series a ‘constructed’ feel that undermines suspension of disbelief. It’s possible this’ll be addressed later on, but it’s an aspect of the show that seems to compound the further we get in.
Another troubling issue is the show’s inability to properly prepare for its tonal shifts. Based off a video game, Chaos;Child uses a mechanic where the main character can abruptly experience various delusions. In the show, however, these delusions can sometimes be quite abrupt, and feel almost random. The issue isn’t their existence, but the show’s failure to gradually shift the atmosphere, to allow for a smoother transition into these more sudden and unhinging moments. It’s not to say the show should give the game up, but there should be a gradual foreboding build of atmosphere in the scene, otherwise the switch feels more comical than unnerving. Pacing is another flaw. Chaos;Child frequently fails to effectively use the ramping up of its own tension, often deflating a growing sense of unease.
Refocusing on the characters, Chaos;Child generally does a good job of balancing its hefty cast. From Takuru himself, his classmates, to the detective trio working to uncover the truth. While you’ll get a decent sense of who each character is, the show does unfortunately fail to build a real connection between us, the audience, and many of these characters.
It could even be argued that a number exist as little more than vehicles to carry the plot forward. One example is Mio Kunosato, the young and brilliant scientist working to uncover the truth of the experiments performed on Takuru and the others. Outside of her prickly attitude, I don’t feel any connection to her, and many of her scenes offer little characterization and focus far more on pushing the plot forward. It’s the same with the other members of the detective group.
Takuru himself, one of three primary characters, is indeed likable and generally feels like a three dimensional individual, or perhaps its just because he doesn’t entirely fit the normal protagonist old. He’s a much more serious individual, focused on uncovering the truth. Even the series more comical, character building scenes, keep him feeling very straight man, but without forcing him into the more classic and flustered portrayal of a typical male lead.
Nono, Takuru’s ‘sister’ is harder to get a handle on, although that may be on purpose as the series carries potential hints that she knows more than she’s letting on. Finally, Hinae, a mysterious girl coerced into aiding in the investigation, brings the most life to the series of any of the female characters. She’s lively and bubbly, but frantic and easily disturbed when things get creepy. Besides Takuru she’s the only other character who feels most like a real individual.
Overall I’m still pretty happy with Chaos;Child, which continues to be a step up from its predecessor. It carries its mysteries well, and juggles its characters well enough that I don’t feel lost. But it’s ability to build a likable cast is disappointing, and continually undermines its own building tension. While I’m not often left wanting more, I do still look forward to the series each week and seek to understand exactly how this series connects to Chaos;Head.