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Review of Chaos;Head Noah

SubjectChaos;Head Noah
ByVote: 10spiderfreak1011 on 2020-09-10 last updated on 2020-12-03
ReviewSo it's been over half a year since I've read this VN, but given how near and dear to my heart it is, and since this review system is pretty new to VNDB, I wanted to write up my thoughts on NoAH for anyone here that might be considering playing it. Spoilers will be properly tagged.

I'll cover both PC C;H's content (Aka Common Route and Route B) along with NoAH's, because as of writing this NoAH is still not in english though CoZ is now doing progress updates and is hard at work, but due to Robotics;Notes looming release date, I imagine this'll help people who are on the fence about waiting for NoAH before it releases to decide if they should read PC Chaos;Head or wait for the definitive version.

So, considering the divisiveness surrounding this story, I went into Chaos;Head expecting to hate it compared to Steins;Gate and Chaos;Child. But what I found was a thrilling, unpredictable, insane, personal, and risky story about an Otaku caught up in a conspiracy beyond his wildest dreams that touched me deeply, and became one of my favorite stories of all time. Though that being said, I understand why it’s so divisive and definitely get why it’s not for everyone.

One of the things I really love about the story is how very non standard and unique it is. Chaos;Head is very very good at putting you inside Takumi’s head, he’s very paranoid, closed off, a shut in, and an Otaku that shamelessly delves into his lewd fantasies and gaming world without any regard for how other people see him. You rarely get to see otaku’s as protagonists in stories like this, due to their inherent nature and general shut in tendencies which I found pretty original. A good portion of the story is spent with Takumi inside his Container base he has for a home, as he gets constantly more and more paranoid and terrified when the murders start to center more and more around him and he believes he’ll be killed next.

While C;H has an amazing soundtrack that perfectly captures the sadness and terror of the plot, it uses it very sparingly to set the atmosphere well, more often than not you’ll just be hearing the sound effects of Takumi’s PC whirring and him typing on it, looking up articles or talking with Grimm via chat. The dedication the story goes to try putting you in his shoes is amazing, down to Takumi’s base being an actual 3D environment that he looks around smoothly as well as the amazing sound effects and camera movement.

The horror and gore in the story is mostly described rather than shown in nasty disgusting CGs on screen, which was probably to help alleviate a bit of the rating in Japan, but the descriptions are so well detailed it still gets the point across too well. The visceralness of Chaos;Head’s dark tone and events lives and breathes Nitroplus horror on this narrative and it shows, I loved every second of it. Kudos to Naotaka Hayashi (the main scenario writer for C;H, along with S;G and R;N) for managing to match Urobuchi levels of horror here.

Something interesting to note is that there’s almost no slice of life at all in the story due to Takumi constantly trying to isolate himself, aswell as the goal of the antagonist’s being to slowly shock and scare him into awakening as a gigalomaniac. As a result of this, nearly every scene in the plot is focused only on progressing the story, even including the delusions as they either have really juicy foreshadowing or characterize Takumi further which helps the plot in turn as the story is mostly about him. Because of this focus, the pacing is very brisk and to the point, which I really like, it makes the most of its time effectively. Interestingly too, the main 6 heroines of the story actually never come together with Takumi to fight off the villains of the plot either unlike the other SciAdv entries, it feels more like Takumi’s drifting in and out of their own ongoing personal stories while dealing with his own problems, which I found very cool.

Speaking of the delusions, they’re also *very well* integrated into the plot and Takumi’s character, ranging from displaying both his paranoia and libido in full force to the extreme, while also being very sneaky in adding foreshadowing to later events in a lot of them, such as Ayase’s jump from the Suimei school building. The way they change how Takumi enters following scenes or how the further you get into the game, the harder it becomes to discern reality from delusion due to their transition is super well handled and adds even more to the atmosphere and mind screw of the story as well. It’s superbly crafted.

As for the cast themselves, Takumi is definitely the stand out character as the entire story is focused specifically around him and his experiences and he gets the most depth as a result, but his personality and flaws can turn a lot of people away unfortunately. While I love unique flawed protags. like him, he’s not for everyone. I think he has an amazingly handled character arc however. I don’t particularly understand the numerous critiques people have about his gradual build up into being more decisive and courageous in the final chapter. A lot of people say that his development feels rushed towards the end and doesn't make sense. But, it's made clear throughout the story he’s gradually pushed out of his comfort zone, and slowly he tries to be better as time goes on but keeps relapsing. For example, around the 1/3rd mark of the story when he starts thinking he’ll be seriously targeted, he starts making efforts to investigate more of the murders like going out to Ayase's concert, and he looks to find ways to protect himself like trying to obtain a DI-sword through any means possible rather than shutting himself up in his base all of the time waiting to die. He gets positively influenced by Rimi to trust in others more instead of avoiding anyone and sticking to only fictional worlds to keep him company. When his sister gets kidnapped, despite how terrified he is he braves his way to the O-Front building to rescue her, and while he fails (only because he hadn’t been traumatized enough to awaken his powers, and if he had, he would’ve been kidnapped and potentially killed), he still went above and beyond what anyone would’ve expected of him. By the end, after all of his struggle and strife, he finally finds something worth fighting for, someone he cares about deeply, and will go to the end of hell and back for, and that coupled with his numerous attempts to break out of his bad habits, allow him to finally man up and fight for his future after so much hardship. It felt very well paced, emotional and realistic of a development to me. Plus the pay off of how many times he fails before finally succeeding makes him finally manning up feel so damn satisfying.

As for the rest of the cast, I think the main heroines are good characters, but the only stand outs are really Rimi and Sena in PC Chaos;Head, as they get the most focus and fleshing out of their particular stories, flaws, personal issues and characterization. The other 4 SEVERELY needed the NoAH routes to properly flesh out their problems and characters, without them they are definitely lacking, but with them, they become pretty great characters. (NoAH spoilers) Ayase is stuck in her own personal hell of a world she struggles with every day that no one else can see, Yua is suffering from DID and the trauma of both her neglectful parents and her sister’s unjust murder, Kozue’s innocence and prior truama coupled with her present struggles make her about to lose her mind at any moment, Nanami… sadly doesn’t get any fleshing out because her route is focused on a delusion of her instead.

As for the antagonists, Norose I think is solid, his motives make sense on combating the Committee of 300 and ending pain and strife in the world forever, he’s very much a “The means justify the ends” guy, and how far he goes to extremes to achieve his goal makes sense considering his success means everlasting peace in the world forever. Suwa and Hazuki were indoctrinated into a cult from birth, so they were pretty screwed from the beginning.

The character routes of NoAH, while also very good at fleshing out the protagonists as well as revealing some massively insane information about the SciADV world and lore as a whole, also ties beautifully into the true ending in a way the original version of the game never could. Learning more about what made each of the main heroines broken the way they are, and how Takumi helps them work through their problems and the feelings he imparted onto them, makes NoAH’s true ending pay off that in an immense way. (NoAH spoilers) The true ending choice where Takumi comes to terms with his own self identity of being his own person while also being part of Shogun, and each girl acknowledging him as someone important to them coupled with CGs of emotional moments from their routes, as well as their prayers wishing for his safety all reaching him in their DI-swords arriving and fusing with his own to give him the power to smite Noah II and save the world, felt so earned and fantastic, a perfect way to symbolically tie together all of the character routes with the main story and make the climax satisfying. It also fixed my one problem I had in the story of Ayase hyping up how the 7 of them had to come together to stop Noah II, but in the original story they never did, yet here in the true version of the game they actually did all play an important part in saving the world after all.

The other thing I love about the True Ending after this scene, is one trope I’m especially fond of because of how poetic and good of an opener to a story it is (as long as it’s done well). That trope is the Book End trope, or rather “The End is the Beginning” to be more precise. The story opening with Shibuya in shambles and Takumi on death’s doorstep served as a very great hook into the story, and a very beautiful way to cap it off in the ending as Takumi ended up imagining a delusion where Rimi did kill him, when in reality she never real-booted her sword as she couldn’t bring herself to do it, and together they profess their love and resolve to move forward together through this cruel harsh world, supporting each other through their trauma. I found it very moving and beautiful, and it capped off this fantastic story perfectly for me.

Of course, I haven’t even talked about the twists of Chaos;Head, but honestly, I think they’re better to experience for yourself if you haven’t already. All I’ll say is, with the delusion science concerning Gigalomaniacs, the plot is a massive mindfuck of a work that keeps you guessing all the way through and is very creative and original, and the science has a ton of potential to be expanded upon and tell more stories with, which the series does make full use of in later entries (specifically the R;N's and other Chaos; entries). The other entries combined with NoAH make the world building and magic system feel totally and fully realized.

There's only two real caveats for C;H that could hurt your enjoyment of the plot potentailly:

1. Not having NoAH translated is one, as NoAH gives a lot of extra context to behind the scenes events such as Hazuki and Suwa’s relationship, Rimi and Shogun’s actions behind the scenes as they struggle against each other for Takumi’s fate and state of mind, and generally making all of the cast a lot better utilized and explored as characters. It mitigates and fixes a lot of the problems the original story had and failed to address. I can forgive it though as the reason NoAH was made is because of a lack of budget than the writer's faults. All of the NoAH content felt fully planned out and foreshadowed/hinted at in PC C;H, and Hiroyuki Yoshino confirmed in Delusional Radio Talk (a C;H interview type of thing) that they the staff scrambled together whatever assets they had ready at the time and barely made the deadline for the original game with the limited budget they had.

2. The story lives and dies generally by your enjoyment of Takumi. If you get invested in Takumi and his struggle, you’re very likely to enjoy the plot immensely. But if you don’t, because of how much focus he specifically gets and how heavily the story revolves around him, you’re probably not going to enjoy this VN. NoAH does not alter anything with him, nor lessen his focus, you might enjoy the other characters’ getting their time to shine, but the majority of the plot is still his journey at the end of the day. The reason this is worth noting is because Chaos;Head (especially the NoAH version) is the foundation of the entire SciADV series overarching plot and Science, and is basically required to read if you want to understand the overarching plot and enjoy it fully for later entries, so such a divisive entry can be hit or miss to people who want to enjoy everything this series has to offer.

Chaos;Head is absolutely a very extreme, dark, and emotional roller coaster of a work. The writers did not give a damn about mainstream appeal and put all their passion into making a twisted, yet beautiful story for a very niche audience that has so much heart, love, and care put into it. The writers made a very ambitious, crazy story for their very first work to show their potential for the series as a whole and how much love they have for it, and I applaud them for that.

With NoAH, I would say they fully accomplished what they set out to do and executed it near perfectly, and it's a story that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

(Also by the way, if you do want to read Robotics;Notes in the fall, you can get away with reading PC C;H alone for it if you want to understand the plot in full, though I don't recommend it as it really does feel like a gutted version of NoAH and you'll appreciate it a lot less with a weaker cast/some unexplained plot points. DaSH generally feels much better with NoAH, so I'd say wait for it before reading that one. You need the rest of SciADV, aka S;G/R;N/C;C/S;G0, to understand DaSH's plot anyways so, no reason not to read those while waiting for NoAH before reading DaSH.)


#1 by istreakilaz
2021-04-07 at 09:39
< report >I'm surprised that you didn't bring up the infamous Common Route Bad End, or End B in C;H PC...
Getting to experience that end, is nerve-shatteringly shocking... especially with the stellar voice acting...

C;C is a beast of it's own, and well surpassed all of it's Siblings... But there is nothing quite like C;H in the Franchise... it's so good at getting under the skin...
#2 by spiderfreak1011
2021-04-07 at 21:06
< report >Chaos;Head is very much it's own beast, yes. Personally I like C;C alot, though I prefer how NoAH handles a lot of things and I generally feel it's a more tightly written story.

And yeah, Route B is very nerve shatteringly gruesome. Personally it's my least favorite route for that because I think some of C;H's strengths are when it doesn't overly focus on the gore and saves it for being used here and there to have full emotional impact, and Route B was majorly overkill. It's still pretty wild though, haha.