Welcome to the NHK! meets Higurashi meets Perfect Blue–does it work?
I think I’ll have to say yes, for now. What we have so far is a little bit like Satoshi Kon territory: a story about the blurring between reality and fantasy (delusional fantasy, in this case), and like in Higurashi the most innocent looking things can hide something sinister. The protagonist, Takumi, is right to be suspicious of the fawning, fangirl Yua who follows him home. She is definitely no Nogizaka Haruka; in shows of this sort ulterior motives are to be taken for granted. Having watched a bunch of old X-Files episodes lately, its old mantra “trust no one” came to my mind: whether it’s Takumi’s own fantasies of his Seira figurines coming to life or even his memory of someone being killed in an alleyway–by a girl who ends up sitting next to him in class. Heck, for a while I was even doubting that his little sister was real, because she too seemed very much like the “anime imouto” for a while. It’s as if he were stuck inside a cliche dating sim the whole time, aside from the murders of course. And, knowing a little about its source material, this is undoubtedly a prelude toward something more disturbing.
It’s like Welcome to the NHK in that the protagonist is also a bit of a shut-in, and it seems that it will begin to take a darker look at the otaku life–and, of course, the all round mood of paranoia that characterized the earlier episodes. Takumi has a lot of time compared to Satou, of course; he still goes to school and appears to have one friend there. But the size and nature of his collection is very adult otaku rather than teenage, it seems to me, and one could easily see him as a hikikomori in due time. His fractured emotional state leads me to think that we are going to be presented with an unreliable narrator, and that the tension and appeal of the show will be in part due to the uncertainty of what is “real” and what is not when it comes to the murders.
In light of that, I’m wondering how the “otaku” stuff will come into play in the plot. Higurashi had its moe girls, but it never actually referenced anime or the otaku culture at all. When I first heard the premise, my assumption was that it would be, Perfect Blue style, where Seira or some other figurine’s imagined presence would lead him to do horrible things. That could yet happen, where we are treated to the spectre of Seira-chan’s cute voice telling him to “kill ’em all!” (If the show were still around, that would have made an interesting X-Files episode. Especially if the protagonist was one of the Lone Gunmen. I could totally see them being otaku.)
Chaos; Head strikes me as being one of the season’s more unique offerings. I hope it takes us in unexpected directions. I may even add it to my regular blogging schedules–I realize now that I’ve been blogging sequels up to this point and I guess it’s time for something new. We’ll see.
Tomorrow: big roundup of everything else I’ve seen this season.