Face Off 4: Ray and Mike Speculate on Chaos;Head

Mike: Is it just me, or is Taku’s viewpoint getting more and more closed by the minute? Basically, since we only see things from his viewpoint, it’s starting to feel increasingly unhinged and even claustrophobic and oppressive in a way—like you feel like you’re trapped in his warped state of mind.

Ray: Wow, you state it so elegantly. But that seems to be the case in a nutshell—we’re following someone who’s becoming increasingly insane, or at least, close to the breaking point.

Mike: For me the emblematic moment was when he sees the “Shogun” in the middle of the street, then he “wakes up” and sees Rimi again. When she asks him what’s wrong–he just babbles stuff about the sword, about her being a demon, etc. It’s one of the few moments where we really get a glimpse of just how unhinged he seems from the outside.

Ray: That is, if he’s not right about everything after all. But so far, that seems to not to be the case. Is he going insane with a good reason? Or is he just going insane?

Mike: It’s really hard to tell. Plus—is it just me, or is he getting more and more unlikable as a character?

Do the Shinji!
Do the Shinji!

Ray: It’s not just you. I got pissed at him for calling Rimi a demon woman, for like the gadzillionth time. But I also got annoyed that she didn’t just react like a normal girl and say something like, “Fine! But at least get out of the road or we’ll both get killed!”

If he’s not in his right mind without a good reason, then she being caring makes perfect sense. But I feel like we’re seeing another Shinji, this time trapped in episodes 25 and 26 of Eva TV.

Mike: There’s even the “you can’t run away!” part too! The thing is, Taku really doesn’t seem to have a lot of redeeming qualities; like I really dislike how he treats his sister. And still, all the girls in the show seem to have a superhuman level of patience with him.

Ray: Superhuman is right. If he had a normal sister, she’d just go away and be angry, and then later stay away and be sad. Here’s the thing though, which part of what he sees is unreal? Aoi Sena, who gave him a foot job in his fantasy, really seems to have a sword.

Is that a sword or are you just happy to see me?
Is that a sword or are you just happy to see me?

Mike: True. I suppose the old saying that “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you” probably applies. Actually when FES mentioned the sword, I assumed she was talking about the big invisible sword Nanase was carrying around.

Ray: Ah, but all the girls were seen with a sword in the OP.

Mike: Yes, and I also recall the very first scene, which has Rimi with the sword too.

Ray: Rimi has the same hair color as his fantasy girl.

Mike: I think she’s definitely real though; whether she murdered anyone is in question.

Ray: She’s real, but they having the same hair color strike me. I mean, yeah, this is anime and all, so would having the two having any relationships/connections be breaking the anime 4th wall?

Mike: Well, it could certainly account for the massively conflicted feelings Taku has about her–as well as he showing up just as he is starting to play with the Seira-chan PVC doll.

One of the more poignant aspects of Taku is that he really does want to believe that there is love, there is someone out there for him–but so far, at least with Yua, he has been badly disappointed. A lot of his internal conflict is whether to believe whether someone is as caring as they appear to be or not. Rimi seems genuinely concerned, as is his sister. Yua of course was putting on a show.

Ray: Yua seems have dropped out of the limelight for now. So far, the true intentions of the girls remain unclear. Something is the key to all this though, that legend about the awakening of the demon king.

Mike: Yeah. We are getting more and more of a complicated backstory here, and my hope is that it doesn’t become too complicated. That would serve as a distraction from what is both interesting and frustrating about this show–a depiction of actual seeming insanity.

Ray: Yeah, it’s rather strange with the demon legend. What I do know so far are these points:
1. Taku is the only one recorded running away from the murder scene.
2. Rimi, and the girls are real people.
3. Aoi Sena does hold a sword.  Everything else is a blur.
Oh and I guess his sister really is his sister.

Mike: I think the game roots of the show are beginning to peek out with the introduction of the new girl in the class in episode 4. Like it is now beginning to resemble something of a harem, though the rest of the show is bizarre enough to make it feel like one. Every new girl introduction now seems sinister!

Ray: Hahahah, yeah. The only thing that prevents it from becoming completely harem is that he realizes it’s not. But yes, the new girl Kozue also really whispered to him, because Rimi is interested in what she says.

Mike: I see from the Wikipedia articlke that there are a whole bunch of characters who have yet to be introduce

Ray: If they come out at all. This is a 13 episode TV series.

Mike: And I see the game seiyuu are also the anime ones. Btw, is it just me, or is the ED theme song kind of out of place considering the type of show this is? Or is it meant to be ironic?

Ray: Hmm, maybe the show spooks people enough that they want to put in a sweet song to unspook people? In any case, now the net is tightening around him, and he has to do something more decisive soon. Swinging a toy sword and screaming like Shinji does not help at all.

Mike: He really does have that whiny voice too doesn’t he? And since half the time we see him, he’s cringing in fear, I suppose it does remind me of Shinji’s worst, like in the End of Eva movie.

Ray: And the scene in the middle of the street reminds me of Lain.

Mike: Yeah, I thought of that too. The show has a little bit of the paranoia that Lain had, though in a much more “otaku” context.

Ray: Well, Taku being almost a hikikomori doesn’t help his cause at all. Like I said in my review of episode 4, if what’s happening around him is real, then he’s in deep shit.

But on the other hand, if it’s not real at all, then why did he kill somebody? But wait, even if he’s only delusional, he doesn’t have to be the killer. There are multiple facets of plot threads running here.

Mike: Yeah. I don’t think it’s going to be quite so straightforward. Has it been solidly established that he has clairvoyant powers now? That he can in fact see into the future and possibly even control events in the future?

Ray: Not firmly established, no. Wait a sec, he gets a picture showing another murder, right? And later the murder happened. And if what Yua says is true, that he is Shogun, then perhaps it is established that he has that power. I mean, he doesn’t sleepwalk.

So at least for now, it doesn’t seem like he’s done the 2nd murder.

Mike: I was thinking specifically of that school bus incident that they talked about in episode 3.

Ray: Ah, the bus incident. It’s more like he placed a curse, and the accident happened. That’s not clairvoyant – that’s just manipulation. He wasn’t allowed to go on the trip, and he got angry and cursed the bus.

Mike: Hmm–well then, if he has that power, it hasn’t shown up since. I wonder whether the murders are him cursing someone. I also wonder whether repressed memories are a part of this. But anyways–I think I’m out of speculations now. 🙂 You?

Ray: Well, the speculation can go on forever, but there’s not much to talk about beyond that. Without seeing the determined ending for the show, we’ll just be going around in circles.

Mike: We can’t even figure out the meaning of the show–what it’s trying to say–until we get some actual answers.

Ray: It is ambitious, all right. I’d give it a go all the way through, just because it has me intrigued.

Mike: Same here. It definitely has a unique point of view. It lacks of the elegance and grace of Mouryou no Hako, but has a lot of raw appeal to it for those who like getting their head screwed.

Ray: How does it compare with Eva?

Mike: Hard to tell. The focus of the show is totally different. Eva didn’t get caught into this state of total subjectivity until the very end. All the way up until episode 25 it was still a relatively “normal” show. Here, the head trip starts from the beginning, and doesn’t let up.

Ray: And we really don’t know what’s its message. What about comparing with Lain?

Mike: Lain is far more self-consciously “intellectual.” Like it’s definitely playing with ideas about connectedness and such. Lain also doesn’t have the horror elements that Chaos;Head does. The closest show to this one is still Higurashi, but Higurashi is far more of a traditional gothic fable, and told stories in mini-arcs rather than in one long arc–so there was terror but also relief by the end of each.

Ray: Well then, in any case, perhaps you can write a comparison article by the end of this show. For now, though, I can’t help but get suspicious that it gives head trips for the sake of giving it. I mean, look at the facts: Taku is the only murder suspect.

Mike: I wouldn’t be surprised if we find dresses in his closet and that his multiple personalities are all girls 🙂 They did it!

Ray: Hahaha, yeah. There is more than one Tyler Durden.

Author: gendomike

Michael lives in the Los Angeles area, and has been into anime since he saw Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1999. Some of his favorite shows include Full Metal Alchemist, Honey and Clover, and Welcome to the NHK!. Since 2003 he has gone to at least one anime convention every year. A public radio junkie, which naturally led to podcasting, he now holds a seminary degree and is looking to become Dr. Rev. Otaku Bible Man any day now. Michael can be reached at mike.huang@animediet.net. You can also find his Twitter account at @gendomike.

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