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

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6 thoughts on “Guilty Crown: Final Review

  1. Guilty Crown is not that bad. The only reason why people say it’s bad is because they constantly compare it to the legendary Code Geass. I, for one, believe that each anime is unique it its own sense. I faithfully watched GC since the beginning and stayed till the end, though it broke my heart to see Inori fade away. It’s a good anime and people are not giving it the respect it should.

  2. It’s great to see someone else who could watch GC and not go into some sort of Otaku flame-fest about the story or the characters or having never read a book without pictures.

    Was it the greatest anime ever? No, but I thoroughly enjoyed every episode. Was the story original? No, not really, but all art is derivative, and GC took some established tropes and twisted a new take on them. Forced evolution of the human race? Right on. Was Inori an emotionless stone? Sometimes, but the reveal of who she is late on the series makes sense out of that. Did Shu change personalities constantly? No, he had internal conflict that wasn’t one dimensional, but made his character growth two steps forward and one step back.

    So, yeah, I liked it. I stayed interested, and the ending was satisfying, if a little tragic, and left me wanting more of all the characters.

    On a side note, the one character I wished there was more of was Ayase.

    Anyway, sorry for the long winded comment. I brought dishonor to the comments section. I’ll fall on my sword now…

    • Absolutely not! You’ve very much honored me with your thoughtful, well written response. And I’m flattered to have it accompany my post.

      Guilty Crown certainly was one of those polarizing series that left most viewers very angry and upset (mostly because it was being labeled the “new Code Geass”). Like you (and a few others) said, it’s not the best out there, but Guilty Crown does make a fair attempt and should be respected for it. The plot was at least interesting and was able to keep my attention. It also created a week-by-week suspense that made me look forward to the next episode. The characters weren’t the best, but they weren’t the worst.

      All-in-all, Guilty Crown is a series that’s good for any anime fan looking to fill free time…as long as you’re not going to waste time bitching about imperfect characters in a story that’s not meant to break any new ground, but take tried and true methods and put them together in a new twist on “end world” series.

  3. Ahem* I personally do believe the ending to GC was questionable in nature. Personally the whole series is questionably “good”. I felt it had a greater potential than was omitted in the episodes. Which is why i do believe it was a(n) okay/bad show. (i too saw a comparison to code geass but thats not important): The idea of voids brilliant, the idea of the virus being connected to the voids also brilliant, but the execution of relating the two was nothing short of lacking. Shu, the main character, literally whined the whole series.(even after Hare died and Shu became a jerk he still bitched to inori.) The thing that should have been revised was Shu’s attitude. But despite this i did watch the show and was distraught when the ending came.

    • I think that was the biggest nail in GC’s coffin, the ending. It was Shu’s last chance to redeem some of his lesser qualities, but without adequate execution, all the premise goes to waste on a “whiny” protagonist.
      As you said, if I were to correct one thing in the story, it would be Shu’s overall personality and attitude.

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