Chaos;Head centres on 17 year-old Takeru, a massive anime otaku who lives in a storage container. So all-consuming is his obsession that he completely rejects “three-dimensional girls” and conjures up delusions of living with his favourite pink-haired anime gal. His comfortable existence is shattered when he stumbles upon the scene of a murder and gets swept up in a series of happenings known as the “New Gen Events”. Finding himself suspected of carrying out the killings, he is pursued by both the police and shadowy forces. With the appearance of a gaggle of girls with magical swords, Takeru’s very existence is brought into question.
I’m worried that I’m overselling this thing. Even as I was writing the above synopsis, I was thinking that this made it sound a hell of a lot more interesting than it actually is. While the concept might seem interesting on paper (uh… on screen?) it’s in the execution that it falls down.
That’s not to say Chaos;Head is a bad show, it’s just not a very good one. Takeru might as well be called “Generic McOtaku”, such a standard stock character is he. As a protagonist he’s not very easy to warm to, being a waste of space for most of the series, only to have a last-minute swerve into heroic territory. The cast of girls too are nothing more than a series of clichés; there’s the girl next door, little sister, glasses girl and so on. There’s even two girls with pink hair. Madness, I tell you!
A lack of originality is not the biggest crime a show can commit. Sometimes the best ones put a new twist on familiar tropes. Sometimes a show can succeed just by conforming to the clichés, but pulling it off with style. Sadly Chaos;Head’s execution is somewhat lacking. Everything from the plot, character designs, animation; even down to the music, feels average at best. I was surprised to see Madhouse’s name in the credits, as they are normally a top-notch studio, but this show is flat and uninspired on virtually every level. Coming originally from a visual novel, the original audience might have got a kick out of seeing the story and characters come to life, but for a UK audience this is not the case.
It’s not a terrible series, and it’s perfectly competently made. It’s just hard to shake the feeling that it’s a bit dull, and completely forgettable. The central mystery is only just enough to keep you watching, and things do improve a little towards the end (before an absolute clunker of an ending). While this isn’t a criticism by any means, it’s also a little strange that there’s very little fan service. Given the harem set up and the source material, you might be expecting more. It didn’t bother me in the least, but if you’re that kind of fan, it might leave you wanting.
Ultimately Chaos;Head is really hard to recommend to anyone. Maybe if the premise intrigues you, and you like the character designs, you might get something out of it. Maybe if you can rent it, or if it shows up streaming, you might give it a try. Even then though, there are dozens of other better anime out there to chose from. This feels like by-the-numbers, tick every box, anime by committee. This isn’t the kind of show that will leave you angry, feeling resentful over time you will never get back. However you can comfortably skip it without missing out.