Chaos;Head is a prime example of an anime that collapsed under the weight of its own ambition. In trying so desperately to separate itself from a myriad of other suspenseful thrillers while catering to a pre-selected audience, Chaos;Head spreads itself all of the place, so much so that everything about it is thin, flimsy, and overall disappointing. The end result, however, is stuff of unintended comic gold.
Chaos;Head starts fantastic with a very adventurous first episode brimming with possibilities. The play on otaku falling victim to their own delusions, coupled with a series of bizarre homicides was intriguing enough to keep me watching it repeatedly, but then trouble began to surface. The series began to breach the mysteries it had established with theoretical existentialism, leading into discussions using made-up terminology that goes entirely unexplained and becomes even more convoluted as its short but utterly incomprehensible run comes closer to a finish.
Even more irritating, all of the mysteries and delusions established in the first episode are cast aside as convenient attention-getters. Nothing established in the first episode even matters to the big picture. Also, plot twists, while numerous, are established without any prior knowledge as to what they entail for the cast and revelations do not have any gravitas. The only reason I give the story any points is for the first few episodes alone, before it careened into self-destruction.
Characters are a little better, but only in certain instances. Main character Takumi is entrancing throughout the first half. His reactions to the mania around him are painfully crafted with a sense of realism so as to have Takumi's reaction become the mirror of the viewer, and it works very well. However, he betrays this reality of self when the series enters into its convoluted style of existentialism and he becomes a living deus ex machina.
The girls of the series are handled just as carelessly, often with vain attempts at giving them personality quirks but failing to capitalize on them. The only real exception to this is Kozue, but her traits are so forced and intruding, that by "cutesyfing" her the staff made her more off-putting than any other girl. Moreso, the series can only focus on one or two girls at a time, meaning that all the other girls suddenly disappear from the picture. This would be fine, except they often return with a wealth of new information we are forced to assume they learned off-scene.
Technical aspects are far better than anything the series offers otherwise, but not exceedingly so. The art is fairly average of the typical series these days. Madhouse obviously didn't break the bank, but the looks is acceptable. Takumi's character design, especially his face, is often hard to look at, but the girls all look acceptable. The animation flows well-enough but it's nothing to write home about. An all around average job.
The sound was good too, but only in some parts. Namely the theme songs; the first being a catchy Kanako Itou number with lyrics that make no sense but are befitting of the series' storyline, and the closer being an impossibly upbeat tune with lyrics that resemble bad stalker poetry. Sound effects and vocal performances also highlight various sequences. The prior are easily arguable, but the BGM is horribly composed. Not ear-bleedingly so, but still quite bad.
Yet for as sharp and horrible a nosedive as Chaos;Head took, I reveled in it. I wanted to see how bad the story got and how awful the characterization became. It may have been a poor series, but it reaches on "so bad its good" territory in the same way a handful of cult classics and B-movies do. It's not for everyone, but you can definitely have a lot of fun laughing at just how awful this series becomes.
Overall, I give Chaos;Head a 5 out of 10.