Chaos Dragon Review

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A Japanese media franchise based off of Makoto Sanda’s Red Dragon, and combining the creative character designs by Gen Urobuchi, Kinoko Nasu, Izuki Kogyoku, Simadoriru, and Ryougo Narita; it’s hard to really get a grasp of something solid from such a diverse and unfocused concept. Is Chaos Dragon merely a cheap money-making franchise, or a solid tale?

e1chaosdragon10Synopsis
The island of Nil Kamui is the stage for a huge struggle of power between warring nations. The outside country of Kouran suddenly invades, plundering and taking over a third of the land from the people of Nil Kamui.  All while the eastern nation of D’natia took up defense and watched Nil Kamui fall.

To make matters worst, the guardian of Nil Kamui, the Red Dragon, didn’t protect its people but rather went mad and began killing people indiscriminately. This leads to an expedition of people from many countries coming together to stop the Red Dragon by any means necessary.

During this struggle of power and hunt of the Red Dragon, the next heir to Nil Kamui’s destroyed nation Ibuki is caught up in a rebellion of Kouran and granted a e1chaosdragon09unique power by the mad Red Dragon. The power to kill anyone at the cost of an equal sacrifice. A sacrifice of one precious to himself.

While not a power anyone would want to use, Ibuki is tragically thrown into the weight of war and struggle with the expedition for the Red Dragon. Constantly forcing his hand to save others.

Story
I’m of two minds when it comes to Chaos Dragon’s story. While it offers such a huge and massive world filled with unique and clever characters, it also finds itself far too large for the shoes it wants to wear. Often leaving itself lost in a mess of storytelling and confusing character motivations.

e1chaosdragon12From the beginning, there’s a heavily reliance on a tragic element to Ibuki’s gifted power from the Red Dragon. Sacrificing a loved one to kill a target. This is played off of several times early on and almost gave a dreaded vibe of another Akame Ga Kill. Using death as a gimmick to cloud lazy writing.

Thankfully, this element is nearly put on the back-burner as it establishes the main cast and moves forward on the journey to take down the rampaging Red Dragon. A cast that is huge, diverse, and easily the show’s strongest points.

Ibuki comes across as the broken royalty child that is forced into a bloody war. His subjects span across the faithful to the wicked, often making you question whose friend and who is foe. Although often it’s hard to really remember who’s who and what allegiances they have when they are painted plainly.

Even still, I especially liked Swallow and Meryl from D’natia. Their relationship was a huge breath of fresh air throughout the often dark and depressing story. Swallow’s power of pulling potential from tools while breaking them in the end was really fascinating and a neat tool for his combat ability.

Add to them the often mysterious and insane Lou who constantly has her own objectives amidst the expedition and the cute but very loyal Eiha who is fused with a beast and you have a solid main cast that helps the story along.

Though it doesn’t stop there as the cast continues to spread to over 10 main plot characters that it tries desperately to expand on. It’s at that point that it begins to become difficult to keep track of who is with what country, loyalty, goal, or purpose. e1chaosdragon08Of course it doesn’t help that there’s essentially over 4 factions that each of these characters can be a part of.

This compounds when it comes to the main focus of the show. As they work along their journey to stop the Red Dragon, it’s easy to lose track of just what purpose their current task is towards the main goal. Which makes the final two episodes being so rushed evident that even the writers lost site of their pacing.

That said, even with the issues of some character motivations being lost in the mix, it doesn’t stop the series from being interesting and able to provide some entertaining and unique elements to a fantasy adventure.

Animation
When it comes to visuals, Chaos Dragon strives in some areas, and falls short in e1chaosdragon11some. The first and easiest fault one can immediately find is a sub par use of CG when it comes to the dragons. They almost look like Saturday morning cartoon CG monsters thrown in an artful and dark world.

By artful, I point out the very unique and well designed character art. I love a lot of them, and find them very different but yet fitting of the world and their surrounding characters. Eiha is cute, Swallow is charming, Lou is mischievous and beautiful, Meryl is beautiful and assertive, and even Ibuki is traditional and interesting.

Verdict
Chaos Dragon is definitely a difficult show to pin a recommendation on. It offers a lot of interesting elements, cool designs, and interesting world, yet falls short in keeping it entirely cohesive, organized, and without pacing issues. In the end, it’s a solid fantasy show, but also very rough around the edges.

If the listed pros are something you’re looking for, it’s definitely worth giving a shot. Just be aware that its conclusion isn’t going to offer any grand revelations. It’s best cards are played in the characters and their journey than the overall plot and a grand finale.

Want to check it out? Funimation has licensed distribution and it is currently streaming on Funimation.com!

NOT BAD, BUT NOT GREAT..

NOT BAD, BUT NOT GREAT..

REVIEW VERDICT:
So-So

Goods:

  • Great character designs
  • Interesting plotlines and characters
  • Lots of weight to actions

Bads:

  • Rushed ending
  • Plotlines overstretch bounds
  • Focus gets lost often
  • Choices and motivations hazy
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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.