A group of dour kids will solve the big mystery.
What They Say:
Takuru Miyashiro and his newspaper club investigate a string of bizarre deaths that form a hauntingly familiar pattern. Before long, they land squarely in the killer’s crosshairs—but is the person they’re tracking a total psycho or a psychic? Innocent lives are taken as Takuru and his crew uncover secrets about the world and themselves.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English language track gets a 5.1 bump, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is one that has a few moments of punctuated action that stands out but is otherwise all about the dialogue or creating the tense mood and atmosphere. That means a lot of quieter areas throughout the show and some standard dialogue with it dipping lower rather than higher more often than not. It’s a solid mix with placement in key areas where it needs to be but it is largely a dialogue-driven show that’s accented by music as needed to give it a bit of a swell. The result is a mix that’s clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. With a zero episode included along with an OVA, this is basically a fourteen episode series that’s spread across two discs in an eight/six format. Animated by Silver Link, the show has a pretty good style about it as it plays with darker colors for the most part with an almost kind of hazy aspect that clicks well. It feels more like illustrations come to life at times but that’s part of the charm with the hair color palette, the uniforms, and the backgrounds. The designs are all pretty solid throughout that give it a good flow and the mild animation work is smooth and problem free. I like the look of the show and it’s one that feels like it’s best watched late at night in the dark to get drawn into its style.
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly oversized Blu-ray case that has an o-card where it differs from the case with the artwork. The o-card features the male lead from the series while the case uses one of the female leads, both of which utilizes the Japanese artwork to good effect with the backgrounds. The logo is just as problematic as I’ve found it before with the angle and how busy and rough it all is combined with all the English text that’s just about nonsense anyway. The back cover carries over the same background and provides a nice group shot zoom in of the key visual from the series as well as a few murky shots from the show. The summary of the premise is kept simple and a little hard to read with a worn typewriter kind of feeling to it and we get a good breakdown of the episodes and extras as well. The technical portion along the bottom breaks out both formats in clean and easy to read format that’s accurate. While there are no inserts with the release we do get artwork on the reverse side of more character pairings from the Japanese releases.
The menu design for this show goes for a simple approach where we get the static background for both discs with the shadowed form of the cast mixed in with the murky background of newspaper and concrete. It has a distinctive look but the logo feels like it stands out and is out of place here. The navigation along the bottom is straightforward and easy to navigate as both the main menu and pop-up menu with selections easy to make and language setup a breeze.
The only extras included here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the previous property in this franchise with Chaos;Head that came out last decade, a sequel game landed with Chaos;Child which inevitably got an anime adaptation. I have a hazy recollection of that first series and don’t remember finding it bad or anything, perhaps with an interesting idea or two, but it wasn’t something that was memorable. With this series, airing in the winter 2017 season, it got a good run with a recap episode of the previous series that ran for an hour and it got a follow-up episode that aired in theaters that ran for the length of two episodes. That means there’s a good bit of content to this show but it almost feels like that’s a detriment to the production. This was one of those infrequent series where I felt lost from the start and only more so as the series went on.
The general premise is that this takes place six years after the disaster that hit where Shibuya was rocked and a lot of people died. Shibuya has naturally been rebuilt and people go about their lives easily and quickly enough, which is a pretty solid coping mechanism we see in reality quite often as a whole. The main focus is on that of Takuru, a high school student who’s part of the school newspaper club that’s doing hard-hitting investigative work on a series of deaths that’s been happening. While I don’t doubt that this happens in some clubs and that this isn’t an unfamiliar plot point in a number of anime series, it’s given such a weighty impact here with all the seriousness that Takuru brings to it that it leans just a little too much into the realm of absurd. When his sister goes on about how worried she is about him getting so deep into all of this it’s like the warning sign that something is wrong with him and an intervention is necessary.
A commonality is discovered in the sumo face stickers that are found in several of the scenes and connections start to appear and that gives us a fairly standard kind of slow burn in discovering clues and raising the tension and atmosphere of events as it progresses. Takuru and the others in the club have varying levels of interest in these cases, though they all take it seriously, but the main thrust that comes of it is that this is similar to what happened in 2009 with the New Generation Murders stuff. It’s a new variant on it and people are starting to fall into that kind of fear and wariness that drags down the vibe and collective consciousness of the city. The show draws back on the past enough since they were all alive and young when the first event hit and there’s a special bond for Takuru with his own parents having died during the Shibuya quake, which to him still feels like an unanswered question with the things that are slowly learned here.
The problem is that as the show teases out ideas it feels like a lot of things are feints more than tangible clues and that’s combined with a cast of characters that’s simply uninteresting. While I may have scoffed at a younger age at murder mysteries and how weirdly convoluted they can become, especially episodic properties like Case Closed, the last few years has me watching a lot of long-form ones from around the world and really digging the kinds of dead ends and character explorations that happen. But it becomes very hard to connect with this series from almost out of the gate because of the recap that never felt like it hit what it needed to well and then launched into the main run with a seriousness and ongoing events that I never felt a part of. The result is a show that just drags out more and more as it progresses and delves deep into the weird with the powers that are a result of past events. And that’s without going into the extended final episode that does almost everything as from Serika’s point of view from a different point and place within the scheme of things, which left me even more weary from what the show was trying to do.
Chaos;Child is the kind of series that just felt like it was something that you’ll enjoy and get a lot out of if you’re either invested in the first show to a larger degree or the games themselves. I’m not and that created this kind of weird space between me and the show that I couldn’t get past as it felt like it was playing for a very different audience and I wasn’t going to be a part of it. The characters are just too grim throughout, there’s a layer of oppressiveness in it all that was off-putting, and its overly serious attitude kept it from drawing me in because I simply felt like I was already several steps behind. Funimation treats the release well with a good looking encode, a solid dub, and a package that will please fans and give them a solidly complementing work to the previous piece in the franchise. It didn’t work for me but I’m glad it’s gotten a solid presentation for the fans that want to own it.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Opening & Closing Songs
Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: March 20th, 2018
Running Time: 375 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
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.