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Chaos; Head Complete Series Blu-ray/DVD Anime Review

8 min read

Life isn’t easy when you’re entire existence makes you feel like you’re crazy.

What They Say:
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?

This limited edition includes an artbox.

Contains episodes 1-12.

The Review:
Please Note: This review is of the Blu-ray portion of the release when it comes to the techncial specs.

Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is pretty standard for FUNimation in that we get a pair of lossless Dolby TrueHD tracks. The Japanese track is in stereo while the English track gets the upgrade to a 5.1 mix. The mix for the series is pretty strong overall as there are a lot of good little audio cues here and there that add to the overall ambiance of the series. There’s some solid dialogue as well that uses some good placement and depth at times when there are multiple characters on stage at the same time. The action sequences are definitely very good as well with some distinctness to it that lets it stand out really well. The fight sequences have the best moments overall but there’s a lot to be said for the opening and closing sequences as well for the overall warmth of it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in the fall of 2008, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The series is spread across two discs with eight on the first and four on the second. The Madhouse animated series really looks great here with some strong and vibrant colors that stand out very well with the way they use a very real world effect for backgrounds and interiors and then introduces the layer over it that is from the special abilities that various characters have. There’s a lot of great detail in these elements and they’re really good looking, adding a good feel to the show. The character designs look good here with a solid feel to it and the backgrounds are very well utilized with the detail to it and the color scheme used related to the skies and so forth. The transfer here does a great job of showing the quality of the series animation.

Packaging:
The limited edition release of this series comes with the heavy chipboard box that holds two full sized DVD cases, one that holds the DVDs and the other holding the Blu-ray discs. The box itself looks great with a black background to it that wraps around the whole thing and really works well because of the rough edges of the artwork itself. The front cover use a beautiful if subdued image of Rimi with her sword out against a darkened city background that sets the mood wonderfully. The back cover uses the same kind of framing as well but goes even darker with a shot of Ayase doing her rock star performance in a very detailed and appealing costume. The logo in orange may seem like an odd choice but it actually works very well against the black background and is the main standout color across the set.

The two clear keepcases inside uses a black lined background that’s a bit soft and not quite so dark which helps to highlight the bright and colorful character designs, whether they’re the cute type or the bloody and violent type. The back covers uses a different look with more black and white noise that has the logo big with more character artwork that’s small while breaking down the episode numbers and titles with what discs they’re on since it’s different for the two formats. Each case has a different piece of artwork on the reverse side as well which puts a combination of the girls on the street. It’s very detailed and are definitely good covers that are worthwhile in turning around and using as the main covers. No show related inserts are included with this release.

Menu:
The menu design for this release works the feel of the packaging pretty well by using the navigation strip along the bottom in the same style as the logo but in black and white while set against a black background. The majority of the menu is given over clips from the show that are of a darker variety that sets the mood very well. The layout is very simple since there’s not much here beyond the show itself but the menues have some good instrumental music to it that adds to it. Submenus load quickly and access times are fast as navigation is straightforward. Like other FUNimation releases, the discs didn’t read our players language presets and defaulted to English with sign/song subtitles.

Extras:
The only extras included on this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the visual novel by 5pb and Nitroplus, Chaos; Head is a twelve episode series from Madhouse that plays in familiar territory but manages to make it pretty damn engaging through the psychological aspect. With a lot of shows, you can tell pretty early on what you’re going to get in the first episode or two at the most and Chaos; Head initially seems that way. But as the first episode unfolds, it actually gives you a very different impression and manages to engage you very quickly. While I had some interest in this show because of its “spiritual” connection to Steins; Gate, it definitely doesn’t look to be the same kind of show when you go through all the visuals with the cute girls holding special swords.

Chaos; Head takes place in the present day in Shibuya with the famous landmarks all around. The focus is on high school student Takumi Nishijo, a young man who is pretty much a NEET in that he’s worked his school schedule in order to attend at little as possible while still getting through it. He’s lived his life in the last few years by being as invisible as possible, though he has a friend or two to talk to when he’s there. When he’s not there, he’s in… a storage container. Like, the big shipping storage containers and it’s placed on top of an apartment building. Inside it’s like a little otaku dream in that it’s got his computer setup, a couch and a bookcase filled with toys from his favorite shows and games. He spends most of his time playing online free games where he can be a god and do what he likes without worrying about anything. He’s kept himself separated from his family for some time and does what he can to avoid human interaction in general, though he’s at least not phobic about it.

Because of the nature of this show, I’m much more hesitant than usual to talk in detail about the story and what works because of its particular approach. With Takumi as the focus, he starts to learn about something going down in the city that’s being called New Generation murders because of the brutality of them and that they’re apparently being committed by young people. With the way information travels in the younger set, there’s a lot of it coming his way and he’s not seeking it out. But an online friend of his shares it with him and it freaks him out since it’s practically being forced on him. What this ends up doing to him though is that he eventually realizes that they were pictures from a day in the future and it causes him to be wrapped up in the events that start to spiral larger and out of control.

With the murders as the backdrop, the series starts to take a really intense turn as Takumi’s life is one that is filled with uncertainty. And not just classic uncertainty, but the type where it feels like he’s starting to spiral into the realm of crazy because of what he sees and feels. Watching this spiral as he has an array of women come in (and out) of his life that adds to the insanity of it all is fun. It becomes harder to tell what’s real as it goes on but there are consistent elements to it all. And that becomes a big part of the enjoyment you get from the show because each of the girls that end up in his life add something new to it. And because of the roles they play, I really find myself hesitant to say much about who any of them are as there are some key things to each of them, their introductions and connections to Takumi that unfolds in different ways. But what I find is that as the series progresses and things go even more out in left field and throws a few more curveballs, it’s a very engaging and enjoyable series with some solid payoff. The mystery and uncertainty really works beautifully here when you view it as a whole but also during the breakdowns along the way.

In Summary:
I didn’t go into this series with no expectations but I was cautiously optimistic because of its relationship with Steins; Gate. Watching this over the course of a single day drove home just how good of a show it is because of how tightly connected everything is. The characters may not have a huge amount of depth as there isn’t a lot done with their pasts, the focus more on the present and their connection to the murders that is slowly revealed, but what it works in the present is thoroughly engaging and fascinating to watch as it all unfold. There are predictable moments here and there but if you just let yourself get absorbed by it, it can shift and change directions in a heartbeat leaving you surprised and very, very entertained. It’s not a show for everyone to be sure, but it’s one that won me over handily as a whole work.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B-

Readers Rating: [ratings]

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: November 29th, 2011
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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