Guilty Crown OVA: Lost Christmas

Bundled with the PC game “Guilty Crown Lost Christmas” comes an animated short, an OVA to the original series following new protagonists Scrooge and Carol, a few years prior to Shu’s crowning with the Void Genome. In their timeline, Scrooge is on the run as the GHQ, along with our 2nd favorite mad scientist, Segai, rush to contain and preserve the secret of the Apocalypse Virus from the general public. First things first…oh how I’ve missed Bios in the background, good bit of nostalgia when those tones hit my ears. But also, as far as characters go, I think more than a few people will say Scrooge seems like a much better protagonist as he seems to understand how to fight and look awesome doing so.

To Shu’s credit, in his time as king, the GHQ had fully developed Endleaves, though Scrooge more than handily defeated a pre-fab model that Segai so elegantly dropped on someone’s house…now and then, the GHQ are the epitome of style and grace on the battlefield…Speaking of Segai, ever wonder what happened to his eye? Well, I won’t spoil, because I can’t, though I imagine the game will explain these virus crystal monster-things. One of which dropped down on Scrooge thanks to (who I’m guessing is) a Daath agent.

Scrooge, as well as being a certified badass, is accompanied by the cute tag-along Carol. Much like how Inori was Shu’s sword (literal sword, thanks to her void), Carol gives Scrooge a super-charged chainsaw/long sword, perfect for cutting down endleaves. Unfortunately, the virus monster seemed to be able to disengage Carol’s void. Shu would’ve most likely been screwed, as it seems he never discovered pulling voids from animals, like Scrooge was able to do. But the dog had some genome experimentation, which might’ve allowed it to carry a void…if only until drawn, and then it kinda crystalized with the Apocalypse Virus and died…

Overall, an interesting 15 minute special that I’d wish there was more of. I mean, Scrooge seems like a really good protagonist, and I know a lot of people want a Guilty Crown with a better main character (hence names like “Shoe”). This OVA makes me kinda want the game, which I’d probably get if I were more into PC games. At the very least it’s a nice, short piece for people who actually enjoyed Guilty Crown and can appreciate a little expansion.

Guilty Crown OVA Lost Christmas – BeldenOtaku’s Photobucket

Guilty Crown: Final Review

Back with the first final review of the Winter 2012 season, Guilty Crown. What started back in Fall 2011 was a series that turned out to have more melodrama from the fans than the show itself. Many people dropped Guilty Crown before even hitting the double digits, some who continued watching did so only to continue making jokes or quip about its unoriginality/slow (or stupid) plot/horrible cliche twists/something else that I don’t care about.

Guilty Crown follows the story of a high schooler, Shu, as he gets pulled into an epic adventure 10 years after “Lost Christmas”, a tragic event that caused a mass outbreak of the Apocalypse Virus and prompted the national takeover by the GHQ of Japan. He reluctantly joins a counter-government organization to use his “King’s Power” (the ability to a pull a “void”, an object or tool that takes shape and power from its owners heart and personality, from anyone after making eye-contact) to fight the oppressive GHQ and their Anti-bodies military force. Shu slowly grows stronger in his power but is plagued by his own personal shortcomings through most of the first 15 episodes. Despite making good strides in personal strength, he still finds himself breaking down in moments of crisis. While also shining brighter when he’s able to collect himself and save the ones he cares most for.

He ultimately has to face off with a GHQ that’s gone rouge under the control of Shu’s adopted mother’s brother, Keido, as it declares war on the world by using it’s satellite weapon, Leukocyte, to hold Japan hostage as once friend, Gai, and Shu’s on-and-off dead sister/stalker, Mana, try to recreate the world using the Apocalypse Virus. With the help of friends and a final leap in courage and personal strength, Shu is able to save humanity from the devious desires of his insane sister and the king of butthurt, Keido. (Gai was secretly on Shu’s side all along but knew that stopping Mana wasn’t as simple as keeping her from activating the Apocalypse Virus on the world scale).

From a plot perspective, Guilty Crown is impossibly complex. By “impossibly”, I mean that I can’t really delve into and explain all the details. Mostly because I’m sure there are more than a few subtleties that I’ve missed, and also because it’d ultimately give away the ending for those who haven’t watched yet. Although it had a few slower episodes, I can’t really say Guilty Crown had any fillers, which is a plus for me. Every episode either expanded the plot or gave character development. As far as premise, Shu’s “King Power” and the setting, albeit separately aren’t too unique, were very well placed and both had it’s own characteristic impacts on the story.

The cast was rather well-rounded, from the despondent, shy (in the beginning) Shu, overzealous, energetic Souta, the always cool, brilliant Gai, and cute, smart Tsugumi to the bats*** crazy Kenji, obsessed, mysophobic Daryl, and the real man Dan, Dan the Man. Cast members bounced and played off of each other every step of the way. Hare, the calm voice of support for the group later in the series, was probably the character I most hated to see die, but her character left a present mark on the remainder of the series. Even the quieter or less seen characters had their own impact, as Rowan gave Daryl his last, parting words to be nicer to people.

Now to the part I’m most happy about, the audio. If for nothing else, Guilty Crown should be picked up just for the epicness that is the background music. All of it, βίoς, Euterpe, Hill of Sorrow, it’s all so well played into the series that every scene just seemed to double in pants-p***ing awesomeness whenever the music rolled. (I want that robot in the picture from “Hill of Sorrow” by the way) Best example is the last episode, where it seemed to have dropping every last song from the soundtrack (which made me very happy because it was well done). Supercell and Hiroyuki Sawano did a great job with the audio, as expected.

The animation and visuals were of high quality throughout most of the series, thought  the animation seemed to slip a bit leading up to the last episode, but this probably more a result of cost-limits than anything else. The final episode was fully and brilliantly animated, despite the previous few dropping off somewhat. The visuals were what originally drew me to Guilty Crown, and the visuals sold me on the ending. That and the audio are the two irrevocable tenants of Guilty Crown in my opinion.

Now, time for the rating. Reminder: I grade on a scale similar to an academic grade. If it doesn’t “fail”, it gets 6.0 or higher. Any higher shows much I liked it or how well it was, and any lower shows how much I disliked it or how poor I think it was.

Guilty Crown: better than average plot with sometimes lackluster points, a truly developmental character set, good visuals, great music…. 8.2.
As mentioned, the animation slipped a bit, but the biggest problem (for me, mind you) was that Shu’s personal growths didn’t make as big of strides as I would’ve liked (for more on developmental characters, I recommend Yumeka’s post “Why Guilty Crown Isn’t That Bad“, and Yumeka, that scene in episode 21 made me cry, so, at the very least, you’re not alone.)

Rewatch value…maybe not immediate, but probably higher than most of the series I’ve watched, because once the story has started, I’ll want to finish it. (Notice how I never brought up Inori? It’s because I neither love nor hate her, she’s a bit manipulative, but has her moments. I guess I’m indifferent towards her.)

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Guilty Crown: The Savior Rose Above Evolution, and the Devil was an Angel in Disguise

Back with the much awaited and anticipated (for me, at least) 22nd and final episode of the Fall 2011 and Winter 2012 series, Guilty Crown. If you don’t want spoilers…why are reading? Spoiling is the like the only way to get across the sheer mind-blowing emotions and opinions I have right now. So I guess I’ll just apologize in advance. To make up for it, I’ll promise no spoiling in the final review coming soon. But if you haven’t watched yet, please don’t read this. Take 30 minutes to watch, take another 30 minutes to pick up your jaw off the floor, come back and read :3

This is the final chapter of the story, the world stands at a crux, Gai’s Fourth Apocalypse will either ravage the Earth and select out a new human race with the Apocalypse Virus, or Shu can become the king and savior, draw his friends’ voids, and stop the annihilation of the world as we know it. With Mana in full control of Inori’s body, she’s begun to spread the virus acros the globe, creating a genomic resonance not seen since the Lost Christmas incident. This time, the disturbance is great enough to interfere with the Endleave RC signal, causing units to drop left and right, including Ayase’s, which now leaves the Funeral Parlor crew sitting ducks at the mercy of Daryl and his massive Gespenst unit.

As it seems the entire world’s armies press assaults into Tokyo, Gai’s forces hold strong, including Kuhouin who uses her shield void to keep back intruding ground forces. The Apocalypse Virus is steadily covering the planet, virtually leaving no one left in its wake. Soldiers continue to fight, half devoured by the virus, as Shu and Gai lock horns in a battle of kings. Gai cuts down all of Shu’s attacks, rendering each of his friend’s voids useless. After a slash to arm, Gai stands over Shu to deliver the final blow, and as Shu lies numb on the floor, he hears Inori call out to him…here’s one of my few complaints about this final episode: Gai and Shu’s battlefield scenery seems to shift constantly. All of a sudden, a crystal flower (that I guess contained Inori’s essence or soul or void) appears, and Shu draws that classic sword-void. [Return to original hexagon staged field] Shu, with Inori in tow, takes his heavy strike at Gai, as Inori’s song begins to resonate, overshadowing Mana’s accursed virus.

As Inori’s song fills the air, Ayase direct connects back into her Endleave as Tsugumi retakes control of the bases computers (away from the double-crossing, two-timing mass murderer, Kenji).  Daryl’s Gespenst is impressive, but ultimately no match for a two-front attack from Ayase and Tsugumi. All of the GHQ defensives begin to crumble, and even Keido sees the truth of their defeat, as he injects himself with the virus. As Gai begins to fade away, he and Shu are taken to the utopia Da’at envision, a world where the human consciousness became immortalized in the crystal structures of the virus. Gai admits his true intentions from start, how he was truly afraid of going unselected, which is why he so desired to become Mana’s “Adam” into the new world. He knew the only way to truly stop Mana was to make her desire come true, and unleash the apocalypse, so Gai helped her achieve this, hoping Shu would be there to stop it, the true King becoming a Savior to the world.

In one of the most visually stunning scenes I’ve ever laid eyes on, Shu and Inori (taken back control from Mana), take on the void resonance and apocalypse virus, freeing the world from the ravages and double-edged swords of these heart manifestations. People everywhere, crippled from the virus, are restored to their former health, and voids Shu and Gai had released were returned back to their owners. It becomes a mad scramble to escape the crumbling GHQ base, Ayase and Tsugumi escape because of Argo’s sacrifice, and Daryl escapes with a final wish from Rowan, to be kinder towards others.

In a surprising twist, it seems Shu survived the apocalypse with only his eyesight and already-missing left arm taken in the fray.  The world has returned to the everyday norm we all know and love, as the group of heros celebrate the birthday of their tragically fallen friend, Hare. Though Inori didn’t survive the event, Shu still reminisces and carries her memory with him always. I feel like there are too many unfinished character stories, but maybe I’m just being greedy. (What of Daryl and Kuhouin? We’re all certain Daryl at least tried to get close to Tsugumi, and what will Kuhouin do now that Gai is gone?)

In the final review I’ll cover aspects from the spectrum ranging from plot to sound (best part of Guilty Crown) to animation and visuals. But as for this final episode, though the action and dynamic animation seemed to drag a bit in the previous episodes, this seemed to keep par and even set the bar for the series in terms of quality. My appreciation goes out for not slacking off at the end. If you want a sampling of the sound for Guilty Crown in general, they pretty much included the whole soundtrack in this one episode (not really, but you get my point). And I was afraid they plot would be wrapped up too quickly, but it was somehow pulled off if a very well-done framework of scene sequencing, everything (while technically happening simultaneously) flowed together very well to weave a good picture of the events unfolding around the Fourth Apocalypse.  A very fitting and well played ending to what has been, at times, a rocky and tumultuous series.

As stated, I’ll go more in depth on the series in a final review to come in the next week or so.
Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Guilty Crown: Evolution and Natural Selection, Shu Will Defeat Them

Back (after a short break to recover from surgery) with the 2nd to last episode of the Fall 2011/Winter 2012 series, Guilty Crown.  It’s been a bumpy ride and I’m sad to see that a lot of the viewers have dropped Guilty Crown over the course of the series, and few have remained loyal to the king. I really hope the ending can win back some support for what was, unfortunately, labeled as a “new Code Geass”. Though, at the same time, I’m already promised to not spoil the ending…quite the conundrum.

So I’ll stick to the generals that I can safely talk about without spoiling too much. Gai has the world at the end of his sword, even though only one Leukocyte satellite is actually functioning, the power of the Void Genome still provides for a defense (and subsequently offense) that the U.N. can’t match. So it’s up to Shu’s fragmented Funeral Parlor to save the world and the future of humanity. With the ability to hold other’s voids within him and call them out as needed, Shu’s power of kings is the last hope to stop Gai and Mana from recreating the human race.

The action is unstoppable as Funeral Parlor makes its way through the Tokyo base. Shu’s persona as a savior is complete as he even stops to take in the cancer of wounded soldiers, which will plug into his final battle with Gai, and even stays epically obvious as he fights through the plot’s (what I call) boss battles before reaching Inori. The metaphors are fairly obvious, as Yuu sacrifices the lives of the people he uses for voids while Shu fights carefully to protect his friends’ lives. Their powers have become greatly developed, providing for intense fight scenes. Which brings me to animation; while the quality has slipped a bit, I’m not as critical as I would be if it weren’t for the level of difficulty in maintaining the quality given the varying shots, angles, and the maintained level of detail. At least they’re not pulling the same crap with the fight in the sealed off Tokyo where it wasn’t so much “animation” as it was just panned still shots of students appearing to fight a battle.

As Shu brings the fight to Gai, the finale is set for a timeless showdown between the two kings. Will Gai take Mana’s hand and recreate humanity? Or will Shu prevail and prevent the Apocalypse Virus from ravaging the face of the Earth as we know it? Both kings possess enormous strength from the Void Genome, but I’m suspicious Mana has few tricks of her own, although I don’t count Inori out yet. And Funeral Parlor still needs to reconcile the long-standing fight with the ever-persistant Daryl Yan and his new Endleave model.  It’s not too late to side with the one true king and take this next week to pick up where you left off in Guilty Crown, just in time for the final episode. Guilty Crown’s biggest issue has been it’s lackluster plot movement around the midway of the series, and the over stimulation after being labeled the “new Code Geass”. Guilty Crown needs to be measured on its own standards, and though it won’t appeal to everyone, it shouldn’t be counted out without a fair, objective review.

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku, loyal follower of the One True King
(and yes, I’m doing this whole “One True King” thing partly because it bugs some people, but don’t take it personally, it’s the just the sort of thing I do for fun, and, again, I hope I don’t spoil too much)

Guilty Crown: With Mana’s Love, the World Shall Change

Back with the 20th episode of the Fall 2011/Winter 2012 series, Guilty Crown. The king has returned! Now that Shu has regained the Void Genome, it’s up to the fragmented Funeral Parlor and friends to lead a last front on Gai and the GHQ. After defying Gai’s commands, he airs his message to the U.N., that on December 25th, their fates “will be decided by the world”.

Shibungi reveals the extent of Gai’s plan. This episode is mostly dedicated to the background of Shu’s father and Keido, as well as the beginning of the Apocalypse Virus and Lost Christmas.  As students in grad school, Kurosu Ouma befriends Keido after a paper gets published and the two begin work on genetic and evolution research. Kurosu later meets up with Saeko, the mother of Mana and Shu. A few years after Mana’s birth, a mysterious meteorite falls to earth, Mana is the first to make contact with it and becomes the “Eve” in what Yuu says is D’aat’s understanding of the situation. The Apocalypse Virus, according to D’aat, is the hand of God, acting on the Earth. Mana has been chosen as Eve, destined to reshape humanity, and she has chosen the, as of yet, unborn child of Saeko as her Adam, the soon-to-be Shu Ouma. Kurosu doesn’t accept this, while Keido works with Yuu and D’aat to remove Kurosu’s exclusive bloodline from the map of the new humanity.

Keido goes to work rearing new male mates for Mana, which also produces Gai, a drifter child recovered from smugglers. After escaping one fate, Gai found himself in the arms of another when he washed up on the shore and was discovered by Mana and Shu. Meanwhile, Kurosu fervently works to understand this virus, as his wife dies giving birth to Shu, whom Mana has chosen as her “Adam”. Kurosu unlocks the secret of the virus, and it’s connection between the vague idea of our hearts and our physical genetic material, even isolating a genetic sequence that can interrupt this process, the Void Genome.

Keido kills Kurosu in anger at seeing all the process he’s made, on the same day Mana is rejected by Shu, “Lost Christmas”. Now, many years later, Gai is planning to recreate the events of “Lost Christmas” on a global scale. After collecting all the genomic power Shu gathered in Tokyo inside the walls, and transferring Mana’s consciousness into Inori’s body, she’s nearly returned to her full power. At that time, the Apocalypse Virus will be unleashed upon the world, heralding a new humanity in her image.

Shu gets a final sendoff after an examination reveals the extend of his void. Shu’s void can hold the voids of others, and can even take in the cancerous Apocalypse Virus. After offering to return his friends voids so if he dies, they can live on, he’s sent on a final mission: take out Gai and Manna, and save the world. It’s the calm before the storm…VOID FIGHT! VOID FIGHT!!

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Guilty Crown: All Hail, The King’s Power Has Returned!

Back with the 19th episode of the Fall 2011/Winter 2012 series, Guilty Crown. As if last the last few weeks’ episodes hadn’t left me anxious enough, I now live in fear of Guilty Crown ending (I love being right in the middle of a climax to a good series). Because of the sheer (for lack of more accurate term) awesomeness of this episode, I really don’t want to go over it and spoil it…but there are a few things I want to run down.

Shu finally takes the final step in manning up, and reveals the true power of his void as well. I never would’ve guessed the OP was so spoiler-ridden until now (if you’ve seen the 19th episode, rewatch the OP, pay close attention to the quick-flashing still shots toward the end). It’s also revealed (or at least begun to reveal) all the interweaving connections between Shu, his father, Haruka, and Keido. All the character points are starting to wind down and fall into place, as expected around the climax of the series, as well as loose ends beginning to tie up.

All that’s left is for the newly re-crowned king to take the fight to Gai, and stop the plans of the mysterious Daat. Although the GHQ has two Void Genomes on their side, along with whatever power Inori gives them, Shu now has a close-knit group of friends ready to back him up every step of the way (bonus! They don’t pass out when he draws their void, and he can draw at a distance apparently).

 

 

I hope I haven’t spoiled too much, and I urge anyone who dropped to please pick Guilty Crown back up! I’ll admit, the middle 10 or so are slow and full of facepalming, but the ending is shaping up to be totally worth it. In the words of Rei from wanabrar.com, “What the hell. Guilty Crown is awesome again…” Yesh…yesh it is.

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

Guilty Crown: Sir Gai

Back with episode 18 of the continually increasingly epic Fall 2011/Winter 2012 series, Guilty Crown. After Gai returns to take what was originally to be his, the students, expecting him to be their new savior, are quickly dealt with, as Gai uses three voids combined into a single void-missile to stop a UN bomber from annihilating them. And that was before the opening.

The episode shows the procession of GHQ forces across Tokyo and their dominance over the world as they unveil their array of over 200 Leukocyte satellites, used to destroy a marine flotilla en route to Japan. Sir Gai now has virtual control over the entire planet, and all he asks is for no one to interfere in Tokyo. Now Endleaves and Insects scour the ruins of the city, searching for Inori. As Inori tries to comfort Shu, his mother, in league with Keido, is remorse for what she let happen to him, but believes it was for his best interests that he no longer hold the king’s power. Meanwhile, Inori comes face-to-face with the monster within, the remnants of Mana that causes her to go killer on threats to her or Shu.

Accepting who she is, Inori heads out to face the GHQ Endleaves and Gai himself. Unleashing her inner-monster, she slices through enemy machines, but taken out by Gai armed with an archer-void. Now Gai has what he wants, but what does this mean for Shu? And what of the remnants of Funeral Parlor? I don’t imagine Ayase and Tsugumi are sitting idly by while Gai assumes military dictatorship of the world. Plus there’s the secret organization “Da’at” that Kuhouin’s grandfather spoke of, y’know, before she killed him. What’s Keido and GHQ’s connection to this?

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku