Anime Review: ChaoS;Child

(Note: This is a Spoiler-free Review. Please enjoy!)

ChaoS;Child is part of what fans call “the semicolon universe,” which means shows like Steins;Gate, Robotics;Notes, and Occultic;Nine. These all happen in the same universe, or so I’ve been told; however, they follow completely different characters and stories. Another one is ChaoS;HEAd, the prequel story to the anime I’m reviewing, which is ChaoS;Child. Produced by Silver Link, ChaoS;Child aired in Winter 2017. It’s a sci-fi / mystery thriller. The story follows Takuru Miyashiro as he and his friends try to solve the cases of bizarre and grotesque deaths, now being called the New Generation murders.

Story: 7/10

This is tough. I relished the story of Chaos;Child, and I found it remarkable. I want to give it an 8/10. But that score is colored by personal enjoyment more than fair analysis of narrative quality. On the first watch, the plot is hard to understand; some assumptions must be made and some piecing together of concepts and clues must be done. It’s not so messy as to be called “convoluted,” but just a bit complex. It has a unique and thought-provoking story to tell, in my opinion. However, there are major downsides and areas where the storytelling was just plain poor.

There is a rich world lore in ChaoS;Child, but it’s not satisfactorily explored or explained. Things are hinted at, and you have to work hard to put in the missing pieces and discover how the world and the psychics work. Another piece of that problem is that the only way to understand everything well is to know all the material from ChaoS;HEAd. Maybe that’s not really poor storytelling because, after all, Child is the sequel to HEAd, but it seemed bad to me because ChaoS;Child was presented to me as an anime that can stand alone from its prequel. I believe the show fails at that.

There’s one other problem, but only if you consider it a problem. ChaoS;Child is what people used to call “edgy.” Shows that are edgy use shock-value violence, nudity, or sex beyond what the story calls for, in order to attract more of an audience and keep that audience hooked. In ChaoS;Child, the issue is violence. It’s noticeably over-the-top with grotesque visuals.

However, I’m one of the people who doesn’t think it’s much of a problem. Virtually all anime is made and tailored for an audience; some take it farther than others, but so what? These are storytellers and creators who want their creations to gain attention. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s why I didn’t mind the “edginess” in Mirai Nikki, either. (Oh, but fear not– the shock-value violence and death in this show doesn’t ever reach Mirai Nikki‘s level.) Anyway, I suppose, all things considered, the story is still above average, but not exactly “good.”

Art and Animation: 7/10

The visuals in ChaoS;Child look pleasing and polished, plus appropriately colorful and detailed. It keeps some of the particular stylization, like the way faces are drawn, from Chaos;Head. There aren’t many scenes with a lot of movement, and action scenes focus too much on slow-motion cuts, and shots that don’t require much dynamic animation. They are too brief and unoriginally choreographed. Most of the art emphasis is on making characters look good and polished, and showing them and their expressions from different angles. The di-Swords look cool, both transparent and in full form.

The backgrounds are detailed, though there isn’t a lot of variety in setting (clubroom, dormroom, house kitchen, street outside, etc). If you compare it to another winter 2017 anime, like Blue Exorcist 2nd season, the smoothness of the animation and the variety of shots and settings is clearly better in Blue Exorcist. The character designs are a more creative, there, too. So I’d say the art in ChaoS;Child is good, but not great. It seems more like a light novel illustration style than a moving anime.

Audio: 7/10

I loved the opening and ending songs of ChaoS;Child. The OP, “Uncontrollable,” was done by Kanako Itou, who also performed the OP songs for Steins;Gate and a few other series in the semicolon universe. Sound-wise, I like the OP for ChaoS;Child just as much as the OP for Steins;Gate, and both are in my top 100 anime openings. However, the instrumental music in this anime didn’t stick out at me in any way at all. It was so forgettable that I can’t even think of an example of one tune or music style.

The voice-acting was alright as far as I could tell, but the seiyuu in the cast are not ones I’m particularly fond of, or familiar with. The only two I recognized were Matsuoka Yoshitsugu (voice of Kirito in SAO) as Taku, and Minase Inori (voice of Rem in Re:Zero) as Uki. They do great jobs, and are memorable, talented seiyuu, but still aren’t among my top favorites. So anyway, like the art, the audio components are very enjoyable, but not excellent.

Characters: 5/10

This is where ChaoS;Child really fails. There is absolutely nothing special or memorable about the characters. It’s like the complete opposite of a show such as Steins;Gate. The main cast has very little personality. The personality they do have is rigid. Despite that, at times, they act out of “character” (and not when being mind-controlled). The designs are pretty boring, too. Also, the way some of the characters handle death and trauma and end up just fine isn’t believable.

Enjoyment and Overall Score (6.4/10)

I enjoyed watching this show, for whatever reason. It’s probably because I found the story so thrilling and interesting… confused memories, hidden powers, mind control, crime, drama, and some very cute girl characters. I like all those things; plus, I do enjoy seeing edgy anime violence sometimes. I never got tired of listening to the OP. I didn’t skip it even once. That being said, it’s not like I loved the show. My personal enjoyment comes in at about 6/10. That brings the overall score for the series to 6.4/10, which qualifies as “Fine” or “Fair.”

I only recommend the show if you have seen or will first see Chaos;HEAd. Fans of the “semicolon universe” will probably enjoy both series. Some say that ChaoS;Child is the better of the two because of the stronger male lead and the crisp artwork, but from my standpoint, ChaoS;HEAd is worlds better. It’s less edgy and more truly psychological. If you’re looking for some shock-value violence and some characters losing their minds only to be perfectly fine a few minutes later, then yeah, check out Chaos;Child. Admittedly, it’s a pretty entertaining thriller. Thank you so much for reading! This is Anime Rants! Ja ne!

(Note: I do not own the images and gifs in this post.)

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