Sunday, 12 October 2008

Chäos;HEAd - Episode 1

The word "mindfuck" gets thrown around way too easily with some anime series these days, and thus I'm going to avoid making use of it here, but even I have to admit that the opening episode of Chäos;HEAd is not far off fitting that description pretty well.

The protagonist of the series is Takumi Nishijou, a guy who could easily have fitted the lead role in Welcome to the NHK. In short, this high school student is a bona fide hikikomori, living in a messy crate with nothing but a load of anime figurines and an imaginary friend for company, gaming all night long and doing his best to have nothing to do with "those 3D girls" out in the real world.

This social angst actually ties in very well to the darker side of this first episode, where some strange things are going on - Mutiple suicides, murders where people are nailed to walls and so on. Takumi finds himself getting dragged into these events despite his reclusive status, which only serves to increase his paranoia and delusions, to the point where he finds himself unable to trust even an innocent, anime-loving girl who has had an eye on him.

In a way, this first instalment of Chäos;HEAd feels like two series rolled into one. On the one hand there are some definite shades of Welcome to the NHK in there, but at the other extreme the series is also building up into some kind of psychological thriller - A combination that could make for an almightily interesting series. With that in mind, I was really rather impressed with this opening episode of the show - While its duality is a little confusing (and that opening scene before the credits was certainly pretty apocalyptic in its visuals), Takumi's state of my mind really does add something to the whole murder back story and who is responsible, particularly given his delusions and 'hallucinations' which aren't marked out as such for the viewer, so assuming we're seeing everything through his eyes we can't really be sure what we're seeing is real at all.

All in all, this could well be the most impressive and promising episode of this new Autumn anime season so far, and given its twelve episode length it should try to overstretch itself hopefully. I'm now very much on tenterhooks for episode two, which I hope can continue this good start to the series.

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