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Chaos Dragon Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

Chaos Dragon CoverA chaotic mess of superficiality.

What They Say:
The island of Nil Kamui is caught between the war of Kouran and D’natia, two powerful warring countries. When Kouran makes moves to claim the island, there is nothing the people of Nil Kamui can do to stop them. The guardian dragon of the country, Red Dragon, has gone insane and provides them no help, and even a treaty with D’natia provides them with little aid. The small island loses all its independence and becomes divided.

Amidst the war, royal descendant Ibuki loses his entire family to an attack by Kouran soldiers. Haunted by the tragedy, he denies the throne, thinking that Nil Kamui will be better off without a king. However, when tensions rise and the rebel army of Nil Kamui attacks Kouran soldiers, Ibuki finds himself bound to the Red Dragon as a child of contract. With this contract, he will have the powers of Red Dragon when he calls upon him. But there’s a catch. To use this immense power, he must offer an equivalent exchange the life of someone precious to him. Can Ibuki handle the weight of sacrificing a life in exchange for power? Or is the only way to obtain peace to destroy the Red Dragon?

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo with a new English language dub done in 5.1, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is one that works a decent blend of action and dialogue throughout it so that the various channels get well utilized for the most part. The stereo mix works the forward soundstage well for both dialogue and action effects with how everything moves back and forth at times while there are some good bits of placement and depth as well during the action. The 5.1 mix bumps everything up a bit and it feels like it has a touch more impact overall but also just a bit more clarity in the mix from the English side of it. Both tracks represent the show well and everything comes across clean and problem free.

Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/three format with all the extras on the second disc. Animated by Silver Link and Connect, the series is one that has a lot of really nices designs to it and some well detailed backgrounds in addition to the character models and it certainly has some good color design going for it. The encoding brings it to life well in both the quieter scenes and the high motion pieces with the more fluid animation and the end result is a show that looks great and captures the original material well. It’s colorful, richly so in some areas considering the palette used, and the details hold up well throughout.

The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case with an o-card that replicates the case artwork itself. The front cover uses the familiar image of the main cast together amid the flames, though the way it hazes in the red smokiness around it just feels forced and diminishes the actual character artwork. Plus for all it’s color there’s not much in the way of actual pop there and that’s not good. The back cover has a small bit of dragon material along the top that’s not terribly distinct and the rest of the cover goes for darker bland colors that doesn’t do much to engage. The premise is well handled as are the extras and we get a decent selection of shots from the show on the right that have more pop to them than the front cover. The rest is given over to the usual technical grid that’s clean and easy to read, as well as being accurate. While there are no show related inserts included we do get a reversible cover that has the flame motif in the background while placing Ibuki and Inori on opposite sides. We also get the episodes broken out by number and title.

The menu design keeps things simple and essentially reuses the packaging design but gives it the kind of color pop and vibrancy it needs. It’s a fifty/fifty split as we get the cover artwork along the right side where it’s bright and definitely engaging compared to the cover while the left side just has flames as a static piece with the logo across it, which is not one of the better ones. The navigation strip along the bottom is a simple black oversized bar with the selections in white text, making it easy to get around in but not exactly something that connects to the show. Everything is smooth and functional which is what you hope for in general.

The extras for this release are decent as we get a few things that aren’t the norm – though we don’t get any commentary tracks, which is certainly not the norm for most shows that get dubbed. With a fun little music video included, we get the next episode previews as one collected block with chapters and we get a series of location-specific promo videos from within the show that are a couple of minutes each and serves to try and draw people into the work more prior to its broadcast. There are no clean versions of the opening and closing sequences included either, which is a shame and very rare.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As part of a media franchise that’s connected to a game, Chaos Dragon is a twelve episode anime series that aired in the summer of 2015. The project was animated at Silver Link and Connect and it saw Hideki Tachibana as the chief director and scripts from Ukyo Kodachi and Sho Aikawa, which certainly had people hopeful for something interesting in a kind of fantasy design. The attempt at it being a sprawling multimedia project never connected though as it stopped at just the show and the game on Android and iOS platforms as we never got anything else, such as a manga spinoff or a novel retelling. Which is unfortunate because those incarnations could have gone a long way toward explaining what this show is about.

And it’s a highly frustrating show because even after watching twelve episodes I’m still not quite sure. The general premise is that we have a large island continent where it’s split into two countries with Nil Kamui and D’Natia, who are relatively peaceful with each other. When the invading country of Kouran came ashore on Nil Kamui, they rolled over most everything while the D’Natia kingdom essentially sealed their borders and didn’t help. The ended up capturing some territory themselves after that and you have a kind of new truce of sorts between the invaders and D’Natia. In the middle of that there’s a resistance/revolutionary army that’s now starting to come together, which has a pretty hard road ahead of it for what’s dubbed the seven year war to reclaim Nil Kamui.

What makes things more difficult for the citizens of Nil Kamui is that their patron god of sorts, the Red Dragon, either went crazy during all of this and disappeared or was just indifferent depending on which opening sequence dialogue you want to believe. So with that out of the picture everything falls to the character of Ibuki, a descendant of the royal family that takes on the power of the Red Dragon which in turn transforms him – and requires some killing along the way in order to boost up in a sense. From there, he goes on a journey with a host of other characters of all different types and backgrounds that are never fleshed out, nor most of their motivations, set in a confusing world where the concept of worldbuilding is considered the wrong thing to do. It’s an ensemble show for the most part but everyone and everything is so superficial that it’s just a mess.

I didn’t catch this show during its broadcast/simulcast run and from what’s out there about it this is essentially an attempt to create a new Record of Lodoss War as it’s based on a gaming project created by .Gen Urobuchi, Kinoko Nasu, Izuki Kogyoku, Ryōgo Narita, and Simadoriru. It’s a nice idea and you can see how well it worked way back in the day but this incarnation of it is just an absolute mess. There’s so little context given, so little character material, that it really must frustrate diehard gaming fans (of which I was in my younger days) who know that you can really make a fascinating project of this nature. The ball is dropped almost right from the start and then kicked so far out of bounds so as to never be seen again, resulting in the disaster that follows. Inquiring with a few other reviewers on the site it seems like most gave up after the first episode while a few made it a bit further before realizing that even as nice as the animation is, it can’t survive without a story worth following.

In Summary:
Chaos Dragon was an absolute chore of a show where you could get as much out of it as I did simply by watching just the prologue pieces in each episode and not really miss a bit. The opening episode is very hard to connect with and it’s all downhill from there. There are some really nice action sequences and some decent set pieces with the designs, but it lacks a sense of scale and worldbuilding to really pull it together in the way it needs to – never mind a lack of characters that feel like they’re anymore more than the lead miniatures I used to do my role-playing gaming with. This is one of those properties that you’re surprised that they followed through on bringing it out in full and producing a dub for.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, ISOtone Promo Music Video, Extended Next-Episode Previews, Location-Specific Promo Videos, U.S. Trailer, Trailers

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

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 15th, 2016
MSRP: $64.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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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