5/25/2009

Chaos Head


I watched this over the weekend, but I want to talk about a couple of other things before I get started.

I finally watched Batman: The Dark Knight. It was better than Batman Begins (but that's not saying much). In fact, everyone in it is great. Heath Ledger is great, Morgan Freeman is great, Gary Oldman is great, Michael Cain is great, Aaron Eckhart is great. Christian Bale is HORRID. He drags the entire movie down, keeping it an "OK" film instead of a "great" film. Well, OK...let's give the writers some credit for keeping it down, too. The editors deserve some of it too. Great actors cannot carry a film when they're given horrible dialog (see: Star Wars: Phantom Menace). And I don't care how good Ledger was (and I was impressed), a film will not be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar with such shoddy editing. Otherwise (well, not otherwise; the bat tank is still stupid), it was fine. Moving along.

E3 is in a week. Last year I paid pretty close attention, and even "live blogged" the big 3. I don't know that I will do that this year; I just can't seem to get excited. Last year was a huge disappointment, and I feel like this year they've already announced everything there is to announce. What surprises could there possibly be? And I'm in no mood for another year of casual nonsense.

There was something else I wanted to mention, and it wasn't just my increasing loathing of 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. So we'll move right along to a review of Chaos Head.

Review begins here

Chaos Head (written Chaos;Head) is based on a visual novel (no surprise there) by 5 pb. and Nitroplus. It's a bloody, sexual, psychological thriller. Well, that's it's genre...it's not like it's scary or particularly "thrilling." It's kind of average really. Actually, the basic story line is pretty intriguing. The idea that the body is made up of electrical impulses, and that certain people can project their own delusions into the minds of other people, or create physical manifestations of their own delusions. That a blind person could hook up a sort of video camera into a part of their brain, and be able to "see" again. It's fascinating. But the show is full of so much otaku pandering that it kind of gets lost. Think Clannad meets Evangelion meets Haruhi meets Serial Experiments Lain.

It's also sort of drowned out by a terrible male lead. He has what is most easily referred to as the Shinji Complex (meaning Shinji Ikari from Evangelion). I don't know about you, but I don't like leaving the fate of the entire world in the hands of the world's biggest loser. What makes the most whiny, cowardly, sniveling guy on the planet the most powerful guy in the world? And why does he get six hot girls following him around all over the place? They save his weak ass quite a bit too; is this some kind of male fantasy? Hot chicks wielding swords coming to your rescue?

I managed to watch most of this 12 episode show ignoring all this, and just enjoying what was going on. Until I got to the end and suddenly this lame ass is the most powerful guy around and he's suddenly able to defeat the bad guy. I just couldn't buy it; but I promise I tried! He just crawls around, whining and pleading for someone to come and save him for most of the show. It's hard to feel any sympathy for the guy.

The show gets a little confusing from time to time. The main character, Takumi, is a hard core hikikomori. He lives in some sort of metal shed on the roof of a building, and leaves only when necessary. He even has a schedule for school that he follows to ensure he only intends the minimal amount of attendance time required. He's obsessed with an anime called Blood Tunes the Animation, and creates this illusion of the main character in his home that he talks to and interacts with and pretends he's married to. He imagines the girls he meets in real life (and he states several times he has no interest in 3D girls) as part of the eroge games he plays. The guy is totally delusional. Which is where things get a little confusing, because sometimes it's hard to tell what things in the show are real and which are the delusions of either Takumi or other characters (sometimes it's way obvious though, once you realize that's what he's doing).

The girls that gather around him (and he himself) are called Gigalomaniacs, people who have experienced intense psychological trauma and can now turn their thoughts into reality. They each wield a Di-Sword, which is typically invisible to everyone (except other Gigalomaniacs) unless it has been real-booted (made into physical, solid reality). They all have their own goals, but ultimately they're fighting against the corporation NOZOMI, which is attempting to use a machine to create delusions of a perfect world for humanity. Or...something.

It's animated well enough, I guess, but I'm not a fan of the art style or character designs. I did really enjoy the opening theme - F.D.D. by Kanako Ito - but the music is so much better than the animated sequence it accompanies that it's not really worth mentioning otherwise.

By the way, the story takes place in Shibuya. Is Shibuya the new Tokyo? There used to be a joke (maybe it still is a joke) regarding all of the world destructing, apocalyptic type shows that wreak havoc on a fictional Tokyo. Shibuya seems to be the new place where unexplained circumstances screw with your mind (see also: The World Ends With You). Poor Shibuya.

Image (left to right): Sena, Kozue, Nanami, Takumi, Rimi, Ayase, Yua

19 comments:

Stier said...

Hope you make some E3 reports. I loved them last year =)

Kris said...

Oh yeah? Well maybe I will try again this year if I have the time. Perfect initiation for my new glasses = staring at the computer screen all day watching E3 feeds, lol.

Stier said...

That would be awesome ^^

xJAYMANx said...

@Kris-chan: LOL, welcome to the dark side finally! Heath Ledger's "dark side" especially! Such maniacal madness! Yet heart-stoppingly believable! So does he deserve the Oscar after all?

As for Shibuya, that's the notoriously infamous "shopping district" in Tokyo. The highest mecca of popular fashion, magnetic trends and superficial decadence, lol. In that light, I suppose it could be compared to "Hollywood & Vine" in LA or "The Strip" in Vegas... Don't all apocalyptic nightmares occur in highly-populated intersections? LOL. ^_^

Kris said...

Well, to me, what makes a truly great actor, is when you don't recognize the actor. What I mean by that is, it's not "so-and-so playing character X." It's just the character, and you sort of lose site of the actor. But there are honestly so few that can really pull this off. Just a handful, really. I can only think of 3 others off the top of my head right now - Johnny Depp, Alan Rickman and Geoffrey Rush.

Ledger...as Joker, you couldn't tell it was him at all. And that's great. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that, as a person, he was ready for that. It takes a certain kind of experienced actor to be able to pull that off and not lose themselves mentally. To separate yourself from the character, but still immerse yourself in the character...it's a delicate balance not everyone is capable of.

Did he deserve the Oscar? I've only seen one other of the films that were nominated in the category, and that's Doubt with Phillip Seymour Hoffman (one of my favorite actors). Ledger was not one of my favorite actors. And while I haven't seen Tropic Thunder, I have been really impressed with Robert Downey Jr lately. So...I don't know. It's hard to separate the actor from the legend that was created because of his death. In no way do I mean to say "he was only nominated because he died," because I do feel he did an excellent job. So again...I can't really answer that confidently.

xJAYMANx said...

@Kris-chan: Hehe, confident or not, a doctoral thesis on acting isn't required here, but I think I get what u mean... I think "impressive" would suffice, lol. Then again, I'm not as picky as others! Of course, if this was animated (preferably under Satoshi Kon's psychological direction), we wouldn't be analyzing acting (or vocal) ability as much, would we? ^_^

Kris said...

Uh, I might; vocal acting at least. Remember, I am a theatre major. I'm more critical on acting than the average person because I know how it works/what it takes.

xJAYMANx said...

@Kris-chan: Haha, why am I not surprised? But why bother? Just because I'm a Technical Writer-Editor with a minor in Psychology, doesn't mean I'm gonna nit-pick anybody's writing habits or mental flaws *more* so than the average person. Haha, in fact, in my case, probably *less* so! I guess I'm just more easy-going nowadays.

Kris said...

Well, I've always been very critical and highly opinionated.
Well, maybe not always; my parents seem to think this is something new, lol. They listen to me talk nowadays and just go "I had no idea you were so opinionated." I likely have more independent thought than I did back then, but I am also much more vocal, so I guess it seems extreme?

That's just the way I am. Maybe it's because I have nothing more important to focus myself on?

I have a friend who likes to make fun of me because he says that I hate everything. I told him that just isn't true; he just never talks to me about the things I DO like. And, unfortunately, just about all the things he likes are things I don't like; and vise versa.

I'm also very observant. Like, the smallest typo in a novel will throw me out of the narrative completely. I will always catch it, and it will always bother me. When the purpose of something is to entertain, but it's faults result in expulsion from the immersion, then it's failed.

This does, unfortunately, make it very hard for me to just sit back and ENJOY something. But well...that's just how I am. :)

xJAYMANx said...

@Kris-chan: Well, I guess we'll just have to work on that! If I can outgrow my adolescent perfectionism and pre-divorce cynicism, anyone can, lol.

From all these likes-hates, I didn't see a whole lotta middle-ground, lol. Lots of black, white, but little gray. Sounds like this lack of flexibility or tolerance with external anomalies only means u aren't fully adjusted or comfortable with liking-hating your own internal quirks. But not to worry! Eventually, things will fall into place, and you'll like-forgive yourself as much as the universe, lol.

Of course, this psycho-analytical opinion is only worth two cents! Pre-tax. ^_^

Kris said...

I was actually going to mention that I don't have a lot of middle ground, lol. I was trying to explain it. Thinking that what is "middle ground" are really just things I'm trying to justify into being better or worse. Most things I either really love or really hate.

Sometimes something gets in there that's got just enough great things to drown out the awful, or enough awful to overshadow what little is good. So that's a gray area.

I'd say it's more a result of culture shock, launching my cynicism. I was always sarcastic, though. And I think that just comes from a feeling of intellectual superiority, lol. So does the cynicism, I imagine.

xJAYMANx said...

@Kris-chan: Ahh, the memories. In my experience, my defensive spasms of "intellectual superiority" were usually linked to my "social inferiority" or "physical insecurity". While I haven't completely escaped, I'm in a much more-comfortable position today, lol. Who'd've thunk? ^_^

aprilius20 said...

Ah, didn't realise that you posted a Chaos;Head review too. As I mentioned on my own review though, I was quite relieved that the show didn't make the mistake Sola did- where the main character was nothing more than a summoned creation, and could not exist on his own.

The fact that Takumi is independent of his creator stopped me from trashing the show, despite my liking it for it's theories.

Quote: "Well, to me, what makes a truly great actor, is when you don't recognize the actor." Did you watch "Eastern Promises"? Viggo Mortensen pulled this off here. Wouldn't even have known it was him without reading about the movie in the papers. I remember being really disappointed when he the best actor Oscar went to someone else.

Kris said...

@Jay:
Nah, I'm pretty much of the opinion that I'm smarter than everyone else. ^_^

@aprilius:
I forgot that about Sola. And you know, I think I've seen that in other shows too, though I can't recall off the top of my head.
But you're right, the fact that Taku becomes an individual separate from his creator is a saving point. My problem was that there wasn't really any basis for it; he's a WLB one second, and the next he's a bad ass. There's not much transition there.

I have not seen Eastern Promises, so I can't comment on that. Viggo is a good actor, though. I'm very impressed at how he immerses himself in his roles.

aprilius20 said...

Yep, the sudden transition was awkward. I'd understand if the trauma unlocked some hidden wisdom/power (ala Frank Herbert's Dune) for which the memories on how to use it are already present, but here Taku just seems to morph from WLB into some godlike character. Him being able to plan so well (feints within feints within and so on) was a surprise- I was under the impression that he was an average dimwit.

xJAYMANx said...

@Kris-chan: Hahaha, that's what I mean. I used to think that way too. Till I realized that attitude was my greatest weakness, hehe. ^_~

xJAYMANx said...

@Kris-chan: Hey, just posted my "Chaos Head" speed-review. Hence, I *finally* read your review. And surprisingly enough, I pretty much agree, lol. Who'd've thunk? ^_^

P.S. Okay, gotta read A20's review now...

Meganega-san said...

"Think Clannad meets Evangelion meets Haruhi meets Serial Experiments Lain."

But too bad the combination failed, then it became another harem anime -_-

Kris said...

Yeah, it was awfully disappointing. Though to be honest, I wasn't expecting much to begin with.