Chaos Dragon: Sekiryuu Seneki – 01 (First Impressions)

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What is it: Based on the fantasy role-playing fiction collaboration of five notable character designers, Chaos Dragon follows Ibuki, the crown prince and now un-risen king of the conquered island country of Nil Kamui, which has seen its guardian Red Dragon go mad while stuck in the middle of a bloody battle between two greater powers.

Ibuki is initially resigned to his fate and that of his country, but when he and his freind Mashiro are caught in the middle of a battle between Nil Kamui rebels and Kouran military convoy that bears the “Dragon Eye”, with which they intend to control the Red Dragon. A Kouran general gravely wounds Mashiro.

Taking refuge in a chapel, Ibuki agrees to be the “Child of Contract” for the Red Dragon that has possessed him, but in order for that privilege, he must take Mashiro’s life. Mashiro willingly gives it up, and Ibuki becomes strong enough to fight against the general who initially cut her.

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Why I’m giving it the lowest rating I’ve given so far this Summer: Believe me, with its creative pedigree, I wanted this to be good. Heck, it still could be good…down the road. But I won’t mince words: This first episode was disappointing. Chaos Dragon indicated in its first outing that it may not quite add up to the sum of its parts, and that even a collaboration of character design elites can lay an egg. Nothing is certain in the world of anime.

Perhaps most egregious about Chaos is that the character design wasn’t actually anything special, and at this point in the season, if a show isn’t special in some way beyond who made it, I can’t squander my precious viewing hours. Perhaps CD is a bit unlucky that I’m watching it so late, but nothing about it felt as compelling as the shows I’ve already watched, and most of it was all too familiar.

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Let’s start with the very first shot: a pretty neat looking little 3D CGI scene. Yet, all the camera did was fly past a few stationary characters. Worse, by the episode’s end, nothing more interesting-looking ever popped up.

In fact, the first half was a bit of a snooze, packed with characters spouting unnatural exposition about where they are and what’s going on. I was reminded more than once of Shingeki no Bahamut, if only because I was remembering how much better in every way its first episode was.

The portrayal of the eeeeeevil Kourans didn’t do the show any favors; of course we’re going to side with the meek pint-sized white-haired kid over such buffoons. And yet, when the big battle in the city streets breaks out, the show seems intent on cutting away just when it seems like something interesting is going to happen.

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All the awkward pacing, cutting, and clunky action and dialogue made the wounding, then eventually finishing off of Mashiro, a lot less impactful and surprising than it could have been, sad and unfortunate as it was.

The Red Dragon within Ibuki robotically belts out his lines with distortion that sounds like he’s standing in front of a fan, and even once he’s lent his strength to Ibuki, a fight against the big stupid-looking general starts, but we don’t get to see how it goes; the episode wanders off again.

This episode ends by crossing the image of Machiro off a group shot that’s mostly still in shadow, suggesting more sacrifices are in store for Ibuki. Meanwhile, I was mentally crossing this show off my list. This season is already too strong and its execution was too weak to justify sticking with it.

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