Mobile game adaptations are few and far in between, and they all fall into one of two categories. Either they’re of average quality yet manage to garner a huge amount of popularity due to its characters (Kancolle/Love Live), or no one gives two shits about them because they’re so bad no one cares (Girlfriend Kari). So, how does Chain Chronicle, the lovechild between Alim and Sega that no longer has any global servers on the west coast because fuck you westerners, fare in all of this?
Alright, because the anime doesn’t give any context, and various synopsis’ beyond “This is an adaptation of a game” definitely don’t help, here’s the story of Chain Chronicle in a nutshell. The world has the looming threat of blackness threatening to cover the world in its evil. The Black King of all of this is the source, and it’s up to Yuuri (aka the player character given a face) to stop him. Along the way, you meet an amnesiac girl named Phoena who carries a book known as the ‘Chain Chronicle’, a sprite named Pirika, as well as various other characters that you’ll meet through the use of gacha roll. So now that you’ve gotten your merry band of RNG rolled units, fight through hordes of nameless enemies and fight the Black King. Have fun.
That was a quick rundown of the start of Chain Chronicle. The start of the anime is a bit more complicated. The anime starts at the end of the story that I explained above and eventually leads into the second half of the story where the situation of the world is dire, and Yuuri must find his bearings and return to fight the Black King again. The initial problem here is the assumption that the viewer knows what the hell is going on at the start. The show thrusts you into the action without any word of warning, before continuing on with a journey that was started without the audience even knowing. I’m not sure what went through the creators’ heads when they started to make this, because everything from the world to what’s happening is made to feel already established some time previous when it’s barely even past episode two.
Another issue is the pacing. The beginning is very sluggish, as the show slowly inches its way to make any form of progress before speeding up through the plot using deus ex machina in order to make any form of progression happen with the end ending up being very fast paced as it tries to rush itself to the end. This is due to the fact that the series has its characters in the majority of its episodes just travel from one place to another with the occasional conflict in between to make it feel like there’s something actually happening, before creating a large total conflict to make it seem like everything is on the line. This, combined with the generic plotline of a hero and his band of friends fighting the evil king at the end of the journey, makes the whole viewing experience feel bland and boring to watch.
Overall, Chain Chronicle: Light of Haecceitas is a mishmash of fantasy tropes traveling long hours in a fantasy setting with fantasy characters fighting the big evil fantasy guy at the end who wants to destroy everything because people suck and he doesn’t like it. Its message is typical shonen friend crap, its plot is predictable, no one that matters dies (surprise surprise), and it’s just…not at all a fun watch cause there’s nothing interesting about it.
– Generic fantasy adventure
– Terrible start because they throw the audience into the fire
– Uneven pacing
– Way too much deus ex machina
Fantasy characters with shonen tropes! Yeah, that about sums them up.
Yuuri is…one of our main characters. As the player character tasked with being the player’s in-game representation and by ‘recruiting’ people through the use of in-game microtransactions that may or may not give you the character that you want (oh how I feel that pain), Yuuri is…not interesting at all. He fights for his friends, on the side of good, and halfway through the series, doubts himself and manages to pull off an extremely ‘meh’ character change that doesn’t amount to anything in the end.
Aram is the other main character in this series. Despite having a character design that I’m actually quite fond of, Aram’s character leaves a lot to be desired. He’s basically a brasher version of Yuuri, as he holds the same morals and ideals as his friend. Does this make him a better character in any way? No. Does this make him interesting? No. Will we be moving on to our last character? Yes.
Then there’s Phoena who’s literally just there. Phoena doesn’t really play much of a big part in this series and is more or less there because she’s the heroine and holds the Chain Chronicle, the brick of text this series is named after. She plays a bit like a damsel in distress as she cannot fight and is stuck to the role as that one girl who screams out the protagonist’s name whenever the situation for them looks dire, and only becomes relevant to the series when the book she clutches to her chest is involved.
Every other character is just one fantasy trope after another. The brave knight, the fallen knight, the holy queen, the evil bitch who’s basically naked, the healer, the archer, the big scary evil guy who turns into a dragon at the end (why is this a common trope), the good dragon, the songstress, old sages, pervy sage, various mages, weaponmasters, someone who actually is naked (they even point this out), the conquerer guy, etc, etc. The majority of these characters are either skin deep NPCs that do one thing for the plot before becoming irrelevant, or are members of the gacha that you could ‘potentially’ (cause let’s be real, you’re not gonna get them) roll and add to your squad.
+/- Fantasy tropes. Entertaining? Yes. Good characters? No.
Produced by Telecom Animation Film, Chain Chronicle actually doesn’t look all too bad. Granted it’s more or less standard fare for this age of animation, but the art and action are all fairly well done and consistent.
For one thing, the show manages to pull off CGI well enough to not create a clear contrast with the handdrawn scenes, and they show off the game’s mana system and chain battle system pretty well. (In a nutshell, you get orbs to do super attacks. Doing multiple super attacks in succession has better effects.) Not only that, but the sheer ridiculousness of the majority of the character designs are well done as well. Yes, while the fantasy outfits that these characters wear both look ridiculous and impractical for battle, they look pretty nice.
+ Consistent art
+ Detailed designs
+ CGI doesn’t clash
On the flipside, the OST isn’t great. Both the OP and ED are these rock songs that aren’t very enjoyable to listen to. They feel extremely average and there’s nothing lost in skipping them.
I played Chain Chronicle while they had servers over in the west. Alim closed the servers long ago, so playing the game in the west is now impossible. Though I didn’t play for long, the residual memory of my experience with it got me excited when I saw that there was going to be an adaptation. After seeing it? I’m thoroughly disappointed. This adaptation is strange because not only does it begin halfway through the main story, but they just compiled the Chain Chronicle movies into an anime adaptation. The strange circumstances combined with what part of the story they decided to adapt almost made me feel like they didn’t really care when they made this because everything felt thrown together. Safe to say, I was not impressed with this anime and it was not worth the time to watch.
Did I like this anime?
Well…I like some of the character designs? That’s something I guess.
What didn’t I like about this anime?
I hated how boring it felt. The entire show was just characters moving from one place to another before the big fight at the finale. This with the lack of world building due to the fact that the show feels like it expects you to know what’s going on and who is whom makes the hard for those unfamiliar with the series to watch. I believe an adaptation should be able to be viewed by all, and the fact that Chain Chronicle doesn’t do that makes it seem like they only did this for those who were fans of the series. Which makes sense, but you’d still want to try and get new people into it too, right?
Would I recommend this anime?
To both people who have or haven’t played the game, no. This show is not worth your time, as its bland character motivations and sluggish plot progression don’t do anything imaginative or interesting beyond ‘this is what’s going on.’ If you want something fantasy, I’d highly suggest watching something else because nothing about this is good. Now I understand why Alim isn’t able to fix Brave Frontier…