When someone's regrets over things that has happened to them reaches a certain point, they will unconsciously summon a Horologue who will eat their target's time. Said targets will then grow younger until all their time has been eaten and they vanish into thin air.
Said Horologues are hunted by Victor and Kiri Putin. Victor is Kiri's father, yet he still looks younger than his son on account of himself being a victim of a powerful Horologue, and the only thing that stops time from flowing out of him on an accelerated basis is the titular Chronos Ruler embedded in his chest.
You always hope that you've reached the bottom point any time you watch something so outrageously appalling that you question your involvement in any kind of artform. Such was the way back when we -- that is me and retired organ harvester Melkorka -- synchroed Fox Spirit Matchmaker. Or earlier than that, when we watched Bloodivores. Or Ange Vierge. Or when I synchroed Kono Aozora with Tim, which turned out to be a "good on paper" kind of a deal that turned sour when we realized that we hated everyone in the show. Or at least most of them, which turned out to be the feelings I shared with Melkorka in respect to Chronos Ruler, which has got to be the worst abuse of the word "respect" I've ever done.
It's doubly ironic that the big centerpiece of Chronos Ruler is about time, and the people who lose it through demonic means. It's also really frustrating that the first episode had its moments, despite some missteps that would later come to dominate the show all the way to the very end, by strength of actually playing out a pretty good story about loss and regrets. Stereotypical, yes, but as merits go, this is where Chronos Ruler plays its strongest card. It has a good hook, if nothing else, which makes the curse all the more potent once you're caught in its trap.
The opening episode centers around a young girl who lost her brother in a traffic accident, as he pushed her away from oncoming traffic, and we really should have seen this coming as she can clearly be seen looking at both sides of the long, straight road before crossing it. And yet, her deceased brother barely manages to push her out of the way of an approaching truck, because they happen to live in one of those cities that don't enforce speed limits at heavily populated areas, and where cargo transports don't brake for nobody, yo.
And really, that should have been our first clue that Chronos Ruler weren't going to be willing to adhere to any kind of logic despite being more than happy to explain everything it does. Just like Bloodivores, this anime is mostly a collection of "things that someone thought looked cool in other shows", right down to its tiresome attempts at appearing clever through throwing out plot twist after plot twist. Because see, you thought we were doing that, but we were in reality fooling you all along. For instance, early in the show, Victor and Kiri meet up with Mina, who immediately proclaims herself Victor's wife. But she's clearly lying, right? Well, maybe? Maybe not. And of course, our three heroes end up in the headquarters of Chronos Ruler, the organisation made to fight Horologues. But is it a trap all along? Yes, it is. But AHA! We fooled you again, because this was all a test and we really did the exact opposite of what we wanted you to think, Chronos Ruler says, as it unleashes yet another angle at us that makes absolutely no sense outside of "we want to see a cool fight... and then explain in detail what just happened so you'll see how intelligent this show is".
That this doesn't exactly work to the show's favor isn't even the worst of its problems. See, Chronos Ruler also wants to offset its most serious moments with some levity, and the results are pretty terrible. Most of that is centered around the personalities of Victor and Kiri; Victor is a bit of a playboy, and seemingly doesn't take anything too seriously, while Kiri is the put-upon son who has to deal with his father being less than cooperative at times, and often mocking him for that seriousness on top of it all. The "eat this pasta through your nose" joke was one thing, but despite the very decent first episode that had actual characters with some depth to them, most of the remaining side cast are lame arcetypes at best and comedy-deficient idiots at worst, like our good buddy Blaze, the self-proclaimed villain of the piece. See, the joke is that, thanks to an incident in his past, he wanted to become the greatest evil villain in the world, yet he's a big softie for emotional moments, many of which will reduce him to a blubbering mess.
His backstory is perhaps the greatest indication of the kind of hurt we'd be in for. In it, Blaze told a story about himself (boy A) living in a village alongside a second boy (boy B.) Boy A was the kindest boy ever, always helping the elderly and generally doing nothing but good deeds, while boy B was the kind who did nothing but play pranks on others while relishing in the misery he inflicted. And after this introduction of staggering character depth, said story ends with boy B luring boy A along after boy A tries to get him to change his ways, then setting a whole windmill on fire, because idiotic child pranks weren't enough anymore, I guess. And the kicker? The whole goddamned town immediately thought boy A was in on the whole thing, and that his entire life before that doing nothing but good deeds had to be just an act in anticipation of this moment. Except nobody with even half a brain would come to that conclusion. In fact, the most logical conclusion would be that boy B tricked boy A along for this, and it hurts that the show would make anyone think otherwise just for a dramatic backstory.
Of course, Blaze's insistance that he's the greatest villain ever despite continuing to play the hero becomes one of the show's running jokes, as he's quick to join the party after his... uh, villainous introduction. Then again, the guy is a collossal moron, so it's not exactly the biggest stretch the show wants you to go along with. Other comedy gems consists of Chronos Ruler's organisation having a pervert for a... science head, I guess... and one that really gets off on trying to make Mina wear a schoolgirl uniform and using a smartphone scanner of sorts with an icon shaped like a girl's panties.
This... this is not a funny show.
It's like a collection of many of my pet peeves in anime, lumped together into a story that makes little sense overall. I mentioned that the opening episode could charitably be called decent, and there are shades of potential dropping by every now and then as the story farts along to its insipid conclusion, but by and large, Chronos Ruler joins Fox Spirit Matchmakers in having its own characters torpedo the living crap out of anything it might have had to say.
But more than anything; for a show that is centered around beings who steal people's time, Chronos Ruler is a bit too eager at wasting it. The difference is that I'm not getting any younger while I watch this, which is almost literally another nail in my coffin. Once the opening episode is done, the show has two story arcs for you. One centers around early arrival Mina and her dragging our twoesome idiots into the grasp of the Chronos Ruler organisation, but are they really the Chronos Rulers? Well, actually, yes they are, but that doesn't mean that we can't waste some time on two fights that will take up a whole lot of episodes between two and six. And for what? Infodumping, of course; Chronos Ruler's main currency of choice.
But that doesn't even begin to describe the utter lunacy of the last story arc, where Victor Putin ends up in a replica of his home town, alongside a replica of his parents and his... childhood self. And while this technically isn't time travel, you're still going to be left with more questions than answers when it's all done, and that's a damnedest thing to say when Chronos Ruler also leaves you with no desire to have those questions answered, because it means having to watch more of this. In short, said replica of Victor's old home town is basically an experiment, run by a very special Horologue -- we're told that if a Horologue is allowed to eat enough time, it'll obtain a certain level of sentience -- who proclaims fealty to an unnamed King, and said experiment is run because he wants to understand human emotions beyond just fear. Of course, the show makes it blatant enough that the whole thing is just a means for Victor to leave his past behind him and move forward, and in fairness, Chronos Ruler isn't the only anime in the world to be horribly unsubtle about it, to the point of the ending animation featuring clockwork gear by the truckload.
Chronos Ruler doesn't have Fox Spirit Matchmaker's insufferable charicatures for leading characters, nor does it have Bloodivores's annoying habit of playing everything up all secretively; in fact, once Chronos Ruler gets started, good luck getting it to shut up! Sure, it's terrible at providing actual answers without going off on a different tangent, or whipping out a twist that either makes no sense or makes the earlier actions of said characters make no sense. Trying to find out what this show wants is a headache all on its own.
And of course, I had to find out -- after I had completed the show and was doing some research to its origins -- that this is once again a show based on a Chinese comic. I can only hope that the original Chronos Ruler comic, much like with Bloodivores -- or Time Prisoners as the original was called -- is more coherent than its anime versions turned out. Because honestly -- and not to put a political spin on this review -- I have no wish whatsoever to put down Chinese art. Chronos Ruler, however, does not count as art. It doesn't even measure up as entertainment.
This show nearly broke my synchro partner and former organ harvester Melkorka, to the point where she refused to pick the next show we'd do. It's simply that terrible. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: As much as I strongly disliked this show, I don't have much to complain about when it comes to violence or sexual stuff. Victor is a bit of a womanizer, at least on the surface, but the show isn't piled down with fanservice. The violence during fights is about as typical bloodless shounen fight stuff as you could expect. Probably safe for teens in that regard.
Version(s) Viewed: crunchyroll.com stream, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Chronos Ruler © 2017 Friendly Land / YOUKU · FANFAN / "Chronos Ruler" Production Committee
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