「一殺多生」 (Issatsutashō)
“Kill One, Save Many”

So the Funimation simulcast seems to be having trouble with the simul- again, but let’s make do with what we have. Chaos Dragon: Sekiryuu Sen’eku seems to be the traditional epic-fantasy of the season, but the question still is whether it’s going to be than what’s written on the tin (that is, chaos, dragon, we’re done). As I noted in the preview, there’s actually a surprising amount of star power involved with this franchise, but those names need to be converted into something interesting in anime form.

Writing good fantasy is hard

One of the advantages of fantasy is that, if sufficiently removed from the real world, one doesn’t need to do as much research. You can just make stuff up instead of visiting locations and interviewing people (or, these days, surfing Wikipedia). But making stuff up and making it consistent is also hard work, and requires the writer to explain all the made up stuff to the audience. And thus the unfortunate amount of forced exposition one often finds in fantasy. Some shows manage to weave exposition naturally into scenes and dialogue more skillfully, but Chaos Dragon seems very eagre to tell us a lot of things about its unique, Eurasian setting and in its excitement has resorted to narrated infodumps and walls of text. The text is especially egregious, since making people read in your audiovisual medium seems to be missing the point of it all. And the essay seems to be part of an eyecatch, meaning nobody should be expected to read it all anyway. So… do I need to know this information, or do I not? Eh, you’re not going to miss anything if you skimp on some details.

As much as Chaos Dragon enjoys setting up its fantasy setting, there were plenty that remained unexplained. We know little still of the warring nations, except that they are, and that one of them is hamfistedly evil. We know little of what these dragons, these guardian deities are supposed to do, except one of them is, er, red. And of course, there’s the smaller but equally important questions, like why King Ibuki (Inoue Marina) can’t afford trousers like his retainers, why cat ears (on Sawashiro Miyuki), and what this Big Daddy is supposed to be. On one hand, it’s good that they’re not showing all their cards all at once—world building is most interesting one brick at a time, because we’re all suckers for mystery—but at the same time I hope they’re not going to have to spend even more episodes on blatant exposition. One episode with infodumps I can understand, but any more after that is going to mess with the flow of the story more than necessary.

Make a contract with me and become a magical girl, Ibuki

The story of Chaos Dragon is something you would have seen before, even if your only point of reference for fantasy anime is classic fare like Arslan Senki. If you’ve played many RPGs (noting that Chaos Dragon is supposed to be based on an RPG setting), then you know the script, and not just because one of the characters seem to be an ex-SOLDIER from FF7. If one ignores all the fantasy-babble and unexplained cameos, this pilot is a simple call to adventure. Ibuki initially refuses the call to adventure, so his loved ones are killed to motivate him. Luke Skywalker is content as a moisture farmer, until his family dies which gives him the resolve to become a Jedi/dragon contractor/whatever. It’s the tried and true monomyth, but the initial predictability may turn some off. Take that Mashiro girl (that was her name, right?). She’s the Unfortunate Childhood Friend, a blossoming love interest, and runs an orphanage. That’s a 110% chance of death, being too good for this sinful earth. It’s almost as unsurprising as Ibuki consenting to the contract, even though it’s a bit unfair that nobody ever told him what it was all about, even though one should never make a deal with Sauron, faithless and accursed, and even though Ibuki now has to live with a silly dragon-emoji in his eye. These kinds of developments seem almost obligatory, as much as a part of the genre as swords and sorcery.

There are still genuinely interesting elements to Chaos Dragon, though. Ibuki still needs to gather his party, use dragon powers, and take back his kingdom, so of course there’s all that plot stuff that have yet to unfold. I’m looking more to thematic elements, though. I’m interested in the shamanic Shinto religion, yet the use of Christian symbolism (a deliberate choice, or design dissonance?). I’m interested in the theme of sacrifice, and wonder how many of Ibuki’s kith and kin the Red Dragon will demand of him before we’re done (my initial guess: all of them). And, of course, I’m interested in the soundtrack from master composer Sakimoto Hitoshi, because I love that guy. Sure, the animation was not stellar (sometimes they didn’t even move at all, but at least the fight scene was okay) and the initial setup somewhat derivative but there’s still potential here, and with a dearth of epic fantasy this season it may be worth watching for genre alone. I’m going to give Chaos Dragon an episode or two more before deciding whether to cover it weekly (I know that technically three episodes have already been streamed online, but I don’t have them), but I’ll definitely be following it, if only to see how it turns out. It could be a mess, it could be good. I am, of course, hoping for the latter.

Full-length images: 12.




  1. Guaranteed this will fall apart before the midway point, the characters and story are so cliche it almost hurts. Although it may only be the first episode, the massive info dumps and rushed nature do not lend well to forging a coherent and appealing story IMO, especially when the majority of the world building was tied up in a pre-commercial break paragraph. Too many shows have tried the same format and failed to give Chaos Dragon here the benefit of the doubt.

    I’ll give the show three episodes, but so far it feels a lot like the failed Blade and Soul adaptation a few seasons back. Looks good on paper, but translates horribly in practice.

      1. While I share those sentiments, I don’t personally expect any potential wreck to approach the standards Sunrise has been gracing us with these past few years 😛

    1. Hahaha, Pancakes speaks the painful truth.

      As much as I am a fan of the Type-Moon series, the idea that Nasu has some hand in this anime makes me lower my expectations beyond the norm.

      Nasu is not only the king of cliches but also the emperor of info dumps. The guy knows how to WRITE a complicated and engaging piece of art…. but that doesnt normally translate well when it goes to the big screen.

      The fact that Chaos Dragon is composed of not only Nasu but also Urobutcher along with many others is a sure fire way to make a story too complicated for anime.

      Ill still give it a shot simply because Nasu and Urobutcher had a hand in this, but my expectations are relatively low

    2. It doesn’t inspire any confidence in me. Kids in a RPG fantasy? Been there, watched that.

      If anyone from a decent studio is reading this, there are more Moribito books that have yet to be animated.

  2. Wimpy MC become badass gritty character after his potential love interest killed? I smell recipe for another Ouma Shu… And I bet it will be “comrade’s death per week” format, with single ally killed every single episode.

  3. So there were 3 first episodes leaked for like 2 weeks before show started. And all of them look so meh. Hoped it would look better in hires, but no effect.

    As original reader all I wanted is more Swallow because Nasu. But goddamit they managed to ruin everything about only character that was described up to every detail imaginable (because Kinoko Nasu is a nerd). Low budget I guess.
    Overall: meh. I’m not even angry.
    Don’t have any expectation for this. Although it would be pretty neat if they’d included easter eggs from original game session. But seeing how everything is changed compared to original, all hopes are lost.

  4. Not that i disagree with you on this part “One episode with infodumps I can understand, but any more after that is going to mess with the flow of the story more than necessary” but isn’t that more dependent on HOW they handle the infodumps in combination with the flow?
    Kyoukai senjou no horizon for example managed to make multiple episodes in infodumps without messing up the flow of the story.

    1. Kyoukaisen being an excellent example of personal tolerance in these things. After all, many people think it managed to not interrupt the flow with its exposition because it never HAD a flow, and the first four episodes were an utter and bewildering mess. And they’re not entirely wrong, though those of us who jived with it and got past that were rewarded.

      Doing exposition in fantasy is hard. Trust me on this. It’s blasted difficult. This felt hamfisted though, even if I have Kyoukaisen-levels of world-building tolerance.

  5. Very few thoughts about this one ! Yea both CR and Funi totally stink with a lot of show pages not updated etc AX should be called LAX ! Personally get over your hangovers and it’s mostly wasted breath!

    Animes like Arslan and yes Akame Ga Kill do a much better job!

    The CG animation reeks of poor qualitly usually Silver Link is good !

    I am leery of another RPG adaption and it shows ! Rewrite the script !

    Kai should just die / yes Mashiro was probally going to die but it could nave been more noble ( not her fault ) Kai is just a brat! Oh those XXX at the end ! They should do it at the begining and just kill the show!

    I am glad Humpty Dumpty tough guy bought it! BTW why waste 12 episodes just wipe out both other nation because this killing me ( Lots of sarcasm )

  6. It seems I’m the only one who honestly enjoyed this
    Oh well. I also enjoyed Gunslinger Stratos,and am enjoying Ninja Slayer.
    So, I guess I have bad taste?

  7. I was laughing so hard during the fight scene between the white-haired MC and the fatass villain. I mean, how come you can go from simple swordfighting into sudden outburst of power that decimates everything around you?

    1. The funny thing is that Ibuki (white haired kiddo) shouldn’t do shit with sword or any kind of weapon. Cause he should be badass wizard/mage. No flippin idea how they’ve come with the idea of giving him that stupid katana.
      I mean com’on! It should be obvious that they have an RPG-party: Swallow is a swordsman, Eiha is beasmaster, chick that is genderbent Urobuchi is assassin. Ibuki should just do magic!

  8. Meh, Rokka no Yuusha had a way better opening than this.

    Okay, backtracking the criticism for a second to talk some shop here. Chaos obviously has a lot of problems (an apparent lack of funding for decent fight sequences among the most concerning), but if there was one thing that really stuck in my craw from the very beginning, it was that this genuinely, honestly felt like a D&D game, or the relative equivalent, shoehorned into anime form.

    We all know the cringeworthy story of how, near every season, there’s at least one anime that tries to take a popular game and turn it into an anime, only to have it fall flat on its face (looking at you, BlazBlue) and is really only a cashcow.

    Chaos Dragon feels like that, only without the actual gaming franchise behind it.

    And yes, we’re only one episode in; a bit early to be digging this anime’s grave just yet, amirite? Fair point, but it’s gonna be really hard for Chaos to crawl its way back, with as ambitious a setting and story as we have here, considering how weak its showing was.

    Ryan Ashfyre
  9. The narration in the beginning and the explanation from the dragon at the end of this episode….it made it sound like Ibuki needs to kill one friend EVERY time he wants to invoke Dragon power. If so, THAT would be an interesting mechanic. Well….good thing he’s got an orphanage full of kids…. >_>

  10. Too much info too little time. Too many character too little time to introduce. I wish they at least use the 3 episode rule to flesh out the story to make it more easy to chew.

  11. This seems potentially fun, but the first episode was a bit off-putting.

    I’m not a fan of the fact that the main kid looks 8 and has no pants. That’s weird. I assumed from some of the information (and this is all on me) that he would literally transform into the dragon. And I was sort of okay with that because it explains away how an 8 year old could be an action lead. This makes it appear though that no, he’s going to be actually fighting with his own two hands, as an 8 year old.

    And that’s hard to stomach for me. Dragon-granted super strength and magic or not, that is just visually strange to me. Watching 8 year olds fight grown people with foot-long katanas is just strange.

    I’ll watch a bit more though cause I am a sucker for epic fantasy, and maybe Ibuki will still fight fairly rarely, with adults picking up the average fight and ibuki just periodically unleashing dragon nukes. That could be okay.

    He still needs pants though. In fact, all the costume designs are slightly wonky. What was the crazy chinese lady wearing on her legs?

    1. Grimm’s Fairy Tales used to be bloody as all hell. And that’s a Children’s Book.

      Truly, we need to bring the blood back to media meant for juvenile consumption. And all the other nasty things too.

  12. This seems like it’s going to be a trainwreck,I guess hope it becomes an entertaining one.

    Couldn’t help but laugh when Ibuki had to kill that one girl.

  13. Yes, there’s chaos and there’s a dragon, but there’s no Servant of the Dark Gods clad in invulnerable daemonic plate armour riding a dragon that has two or more heads that spits acid and corruption and stuff.

  14. Just got around to watching this and wow… kind of a mess. The story’s roots in terms of various “big names” in the industry role playing is easy to see, except I’m not sure they were all roll playing in the same room. So much stuff thrown in without any restraint, or a cohesive presentation. Agree with others – way too much info/stuff in too little time with countless tropes/recycled plots. For some reason I didn’t hate it so I guess on to Ep. 02. If this settles down A LOT, then it might be a good watch. If.

  15. i’m dropping this series…

    it was horrible!!!

    because you know.. you can be a prince and have fun with your friends when your country is at war…
    and stumble with people on the streets and ask for forgiveness !!!!!

    and there’s a great dragon power that all the kings in the country posses… but the previous king was defeated…. (well maybe he didn’t want to kill his friends).

    is just a mess, i can spit on the writer and not even that will make me feel better

  16. I couldn’t make it past the 6 minute mark, already felt bombarded with information that seemed pointless to me. The only thing I could make out was: everyone will fight the Red Dragon.

    Aquarian DragonSlayer

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