by Anne Lauenroth,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Life hasn't been good to Taku lately. After his best friend was mind-controlled to kill his little sister in the most grotesque way imaginable, the person he knew as his big sister turns out to be an impersonation by the girl they suspected to be behind it all, the very one Itou allegedly killed Yui for in revenge. Good thing he's still got his good old childhood friend Onoe to rely on, who will surely help him through this horrible--aw, dang.
It's time for Taku to lose his mind big time, but he kinda doesn't, and that's this episode's biggest problem. What last week's bloodbath did right was the portrayal of Kurusu and Taku's reactions in the midst of all the horror. Seeing them completely overwhelmed was painful, gut-wrenching, and immediate. Both of them reacted in a relatable manner that helped deliver the brutality of it all.
Sadly, there's nothing in this episode that builds on that pain. Without any time to grieve over or process what happened, we rush directly to the next shocking twist, and because of how this is timed and handled, it fails to be the shocker this reveal should have been. Kurusu has been dead for the past 6 years, and the one we and Taku know as his sister has actually been Senri all along, who continued her life as Kurusu after the earthquake freed her from a sad, painful life while also killing her only friend. It's obvious how big of a shocking twist this was supposed to be, one that feels like it should have come much closer to the story's end or as part of a later route in the VN (which a quick look into the discussion forums confirms, thanks Selipse).
The timing isn't the only problem here. While the flashback itself offered some nice moments and a simple but effective transition linking Senri's loneliness in daycare to her persisting isolation in elementary school, Kurusu (or rather Senri) basically announcing a big reveal by begging Takuru to believe the story she's about to tell already alerts us to look out for any surprises or inconsistencies. Right from the get-go, Kurusu's extensive knowledge of Senri's childhood circumstances feels odd, which could have been avoided or at least softened by starting the flashback with her line of never having liked Senri, cutting her earlier plea to Takuru and making the realization of this voice actually belonging to Senri talking about herself all the more impactful.
Even more irritating is Taku's complete non-reaction. In and of itself, an initial refusal to cope could have reaped even greater drama later on, and we do see Taku show raw nerves toward his friends and family. Since these momentary outbursts are mostly related to Yui, any possible emotional impact and consequences of Kurusu/Senri's confession are strangely muted. As for Senri, she has my sympathy. It must have been extra painful for her to see Itou manipulated into taking "revenge" for her by killing her sister, but I guess Itou's miraculous survival shows that the characters in this show can take a lot of injury and trauma and still come back somehow.
Apparently, the NewGen victims are controlled and driven over the edge of madness and self-harm via sound. We certainly know a girl with sound-related abilities, the same girl who wished for a new jaw-dropping case and is now telling Taku that he might be overthinking things in a conversation where, in a nice case of subtle irony, we see a picture of her and Kurusu/Senri hanging out in the back of the club room, taken at a time when investigating cases was still less lethal. Kurusu/Senri has made the connection, and now so has Taku, as we cut to Onoe's Gero frog she loves to squeeze, creating the same sound we hear on the murder video. If I remember correctly, these frogs had been manufactured by a company related to the organization behind the events in Chaos;Head (the ones that dreamed of artificially recreating the real-booting powers of Gigalomaniacs).
With no one being exactly what they appear and almost everyone in the cast possessing Gigalomaniac powers, establishing a relationship with the main character should be of utmost importance as we rush through this story at breakneck speed. So far, Taku has been mostly going though the motions, having the plot happen to him instead of providing us with something to keep us from falling off into indifference.
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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