by Anne Lauenroth,
How would you rate episode 10 of
I could just as well copy and paste my review from last week and change the rating, since everything that didn't come together then has fallen apart completely now. Before we get to the really bad stuff, let's look at Taku's imaginary memories with Onoe, which weren't too shabby despite the almost comically severe neglect by his parents. Poor Taku ended up projecting his loneliness onto Onoe who had it even worse in his mind, with parents who called her "abnormal" reflecting his own fears about the reason why no one cared about him. Comforting her comforted him, so Onoe served the purpose of reassuring his existence – it was the two of them against the whole world. Their story could have been told better, but it's still legitimately sad.
Their idolization of Chaos;HEAd's Takumi also feels very plausible – like them, he's an outsider, but contrary to them, he managed to have the last laugh when the whole world was against him. Holding on to a feeling of superiority over those who don't accept him as a mechanism of self-defense, Takuru wants to be Takumi, and the newspaper club's obsession with the NewGen murders suddenly gains depth beyond its adolescent fascination with urban legends and creepy mysteries. All of this is much more interesting than anything that happens in the present, where we still don't leave Freesia's, and every plot point and emotion is narrated instead of actually happening once again. Even the flashback's few timid attempts at communicating anything visually (Onoe's unsettling close-up introduction, her lack of a reflection in the mirror) disappear to make room for more static monologuing.
Characters proclaiming their emotions and commenting upon plot points is almost always going to fall short of letting the viewer experience these things, but when the characters' lines become as cliché as they do here, listening to the non-stop dialogue gets cringe-worthy. Onoe's arrival marks the beginning of an impressive downward spiral from corny ("Brace yourself one more time. You're about to face a shock as bad, or worse, than any you've faced so far. I don't want to see your mind shatter.") to outright tragic ("I piled up a mountain of corpses for your organization. Don't underestimate me.").
It doesn't help that the promised shock comes nowhere close to Yui's murder, Nono's identity, or Onoe's true nature. Revealing Dr. Sakuma as the real mastermind provokes a reaction somewhere between mild surprise and a disenchanted whatever. The whole scene plays out like half-baked fan fiction, with Onoe holding up her phone in a competition of who gets the cheesiest lines, causing Taku to vomit and causing me to pine for the credits when the whole let's-meet-at-the-designated-place-at-that-oh-so-fateful time back-and-forth refuses to end. Let's get to that perfect place to die already. Anything would be better than listening to Dr. Evil for one more minute in that awful place.
It's such a pity. This isn't a bad story per se, it's simply told in the least engaging way possible. Where Steins;Gate's adaptation had the time and skill to make me care about its characters and deliver its twists in a way that made me gasp and sob, I find myself caring less about Taku and friends with every episode. It almost makes sense that we see more and more connections to the events and players in Chaos;HEAd, as Chaos;Child stumbles down a similar path of implosion the closer we get to its end.
CHAOS;CHILD is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Anne is a translator and fiction addict who writes about anime at Floating Words.
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