Japan, 2039. Ten years after the outbreak of the "Apocalypse Virus," an event solemnly regarded as "Lost Christmas," the once proud nation has fallen under the rule of the GHQ, an independent military force dedicated to restoring order. Funeral Parlor, a guerilla group led by the infamous Gai Tsutsugami, act as freedom fighters, offering the only resistance to GHQ's cruel despotism.
Inori Yuzuriha, a key member of Funeral Parlor, runs into the weak and unsociable Shuu Ouma during a crucial operation, which results in him obtaining the "Power of Kings"—an ability which allows the wielder to draw out the manifestations of an individual's personality, or "voids." Now an unwilling participant in the struggle against GHQ, Shuu must learn to control his newfound power if he is to help take back Japan once and for all.
Guilty Crown follows the action-packed story of a young high school student who is dragged into a war, possessing an ability that will help him uncover the secrets of the GHQ, Funeral Parlor, and Lost Christmas. However, he will soon learn that the truth comes at a far greater price than he could have ever imagined.
The first two episodes of Guilty Crown were screened at the New York Anime Festival on October 15, 2011. The screening of the second episode was a world premiere as the episode did not air in Japan until October 20, 2011.
#1: "Euterpe" by EGOIST; produced by supercell; performed by Chelly (ep 1) #2: "My Dearest" by supercell; performed by Koeda (eps 2-12) #3: "The Everlasting Guilty Crown" by EGOIST; produced by supercell; performed by Chelly (eps 13-22)
#1: "Departures ~Anata ni Okuru Ai no Uta~ (Departures ~あなたにおくるアイの歌~)" by EGOIST; produced by supercell; performed by Chelly (eps 1-12, 22) #2: "Kokuhaku (告白)" by supercell; performed by Koeda (eps 13-21)
Many people are aware of the financial problems faced by the anime industry, and one of the methods that studios have adopted over recent years to try to shore up their crumbling foundations is to adapt popular manga, games, and more recently, Western comics. This approach has become a tried and tested moneymaking endeavour for the majority of studios, but in many cases this is simply due the fact that the source material caters to the lowest common denominator - which usually means fanservice. Unfortunately, the relative success of these shows have allowed them to become the norm rather than the exception, and with that comes a number of problems.
The sad fact is that while it's okay to find inspiration from other sources, the industry has become so used to the adaptation that studios and writers find it difficult to produce work that could be considered "original". Instead, what passes for a unique story tends to be nothing more than a collection of concepts and ideas from other tales that are thrown together in the vain hope that people will rush to buy the end product because ... well, because someone tells them to.
But rather than dwelling on such things, let's take a look at Guilty Crown.
Set in Tokyo in the year 2039, a decade has passed since a mysterious outbreak known as the "Apocalypse Virus" killed thousands of people and brought Japan to its knees - a disaster that would later be called "Lost Christmas". Since that time Japan has lost its independence, and has become a martial state governed by an international organisation known as GHQ. The story opens with a pink-haired girl and a small robot escaping from a futuristic-looking facility, but security forces injure and corner her until she falls off a bridge. The next morning is just like any other day for highschool student Ouma Shu, an awkward young man who is a fan of the pop-group Egoist, whose lead singer just happens to be a waif-like girl with pink hair.
And then everything gets ... weird.
Guilty Crown is a bit of an odd duck as it attempts to blend several disparate themes, but doesn't quite manage to finish the job. The plot has clearly been influenced by several popular franchises - which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the execution is where the writers have let themselves down. The narrative is often disjointed, and many events in the storyline appear to have no logic behind them other than to put Shu through an emotional wringer. In addition to this, the writers appear to have taken a rather nonchalant approach to reasoning and rationale, one example of which is how GHQ's repeated massacres are never covered by any sort of media outlet. This seemingly lackadaisical attitude is apparent in several areas of the plot - which is littered with "coincidences" - and these cause the narrative to have a mechanical feeling. In many ways it's almost as if the story was nothing more than a collection of bits that would apparently appeal to the largest number of people.
Aside from the inclusion of numerous well-known aspects that have clearly been transplanted from other popular stories and the "plot-by-numbers" approach, Guilty Crown also suffers from the rather obvious idea that most adults are evil and only kids are able to save the world. That said, the series does have some good points, in particular the way it attempts to recreate a situation similar to that found in "Lord of the Flies" by putting all of the students in one place and imposing self-rule. There are other, similarly dark influences that add a veneer of maturity to proceedings, but sadly these aren't enough to support the inherent weaknesses in the narrative - the main one being the decision to make yet another school-based anime.
In terms of production quality, Guilty Crown is arguably up there with some of the better shows of recent years, but the sometimes stunning visuals and effects are tempered by a few issues that may initially appear to minor, but in actuality are representative of the mentality of the show's creators. It's obvious that a great deal of thought has gone into the background artwork and set designs, but the same isn't true of the characters. For the most part they look good, but the decision to feature highschool students places an immediate limitation that becomes obvious when one considers the variety of features and body shapes found amongst the adults.
The problem lies in the fact that the design of the younger roles includes an element of stereotype in order to impart a degree of familiarity - thereby making the show more accessible to people. It's an old marketing trick that has become a staple of the anime industry over the years, and while Guilty Crown has tried to be a little bit more subtle than most in its usage, one does have to question the logic behind Tsugumi. A cat-eared tsundere loli wearing what is effectively a plug suit (and a maid costume later on), only serves to highlight the thought processes of the show's creators.
Thankfully Production I.G. maintain their standards when it comes to the animation, and the series is littered with flowing, well choreographed action scenes. The characters are well-balanced in their movements, and a degree of care has been taken with those that are injured, disabled, or suffer from an affliction.
Like many anime that run for over twenty episodes, Guilty Crown features two opening and ending sequences - each with an original track written by Supercell. The first OP is a rather dizzying blend of effects, character montages and action scenes while the song "My Dearest" - a suitably fast paced and dramatic pop song performed by Koeda - sets the tone for the series. "The Everlasting Guilty Crown" performed by the fictional band Egoist is the track of choice for the second opening sequence, but while the artwork and design ethic have clearly shifted to promote a bittersweet atmosphere, the actual content is much the same as that of the first OP. Egoist also perform the melancholy ballad "Departures ~Anata ni Okuru Ai no Uta~" for the first ending sequence, which features Ouma Shu and Yuzuriha Inori walking away from each other against a backdrop of character art and effects. The second ED contains a mixture of video footage of landscape speeding by, scenes from the series and a few still images of the school environs that are "projected" onto a screen behind Inori and Shu as they decide to run - all while Koeda performs the rather upbeat rock song "Kokuhaku"
Which brings up one small issue.
Although it's true that some thought has gone into the composition of the opening sequences and that they are very well choreographed, both also feature overt plot spoilers. Now this does happen in other anime, but in general there are efforts to avoid such things occurring - which doesn't appear to be the case with Guilty Crown.
Aside from that minor niggle, the high production standards are also reflected in the quality of the music and audio effects. Sawano Hiroyuki has taken care to ensure that the background pieces are varied and suitably dramatic where necessary. The wide range of sounds and noises are clear and distinct, and the audio/visual choreography shows just how much effort has been made to produce a show that looks and sounds great.
Unfortunately the same can't be said of the actual dialogue.
Now while it's true that Guilty Crown features a range of characters and personality types, for some reason the decision was made to revert to old anime stereotypes and then write justifications into the storyline. The script is littered with monologues, diatribes, conversations and arguments that would grace any show where the "hero" has to lead his people to salvation whilst fighting against the enemy and his inner demons, forming a pseudo-harem along the way, and showing the world just how much of a tragic-yet-heroic figure he is. Thankfully the actors are more than capable, but no matter how good their skills are, prosaic and formulaic dialogue will always be just that.
As for the characters themselves, Ouma Shu is the kind of leading man who can be found in a number of other titles - quiet, reserved, doesn't have many friends, and a bit of a loser - and therein lies the problem. The writers have taken great pains to try to show him as a "human" more than anything else, but in their efforts to promote Shu as the tragic hero, they've ignored one of the most basic rules of characterisation.
In other words, Shu has no personality whatsoever - even at the end of the series when all his "suffering" is over.
It's this apparent inability to develop the characters in any meaningful way that makes them appear as nothing more than inane, and the lack of any real growth means that everyone pretty much ends the series having learned very little (aside from maybe Daryl). In addition to this there's an element of ridiculousness to the choice of characters, the prime example being Yuzuriha Inori (although Tsugumi does come a close second). One has to wonder what chemically induced delusion could have persuaded the show's creators that having the lead singer of a hugely popular band stealing from the enemy in the opening scenes while wearing her stage outfit was a good idea.
Apparently students can recognise her even though she's wearing a school uniform, but soldiers and officers of the military forces controlling Japan have no idea who she is since pink-haired girls wearing fluttery costumes are a dime a dozen in Japan.
Guilty Crown is one of those anime that can only truly be enjoyed if you have never watched any of the titles that it takes its inspirations from - and that becomes a problem if one has watched, and enjoyed, most of them. The main issue is that there are several character types and plot elements that are better used in their original anime, so their inclusion here makes them stand out in less than flattering ways.
The real problem with Guilty Crown though, is the element of arrogance that is prevalent throughout the series, and this comes solely from the show's creators. The basic premise of Guilty Crown is perfectly fine, but everyone from the director and series composers to the producers have assumed that the "anime-by-numbers" approach that they have so clearly used here is enough to make a hit franchise. There appears to have been a major assumption that the audience will swallow the whole thing without automatically referencing other shows that they may have watched, and that's where everything begins to fall apart.
Storytelling is, after all, an art form, and a good writer can captivate their audience without overtly referencing where there inspiration came from. Unfortunately the folks behind Guilty Crown appear to have forgotten this simple fact, and it leaves one with the sad realisation that this anime had the potential to be so much more than it is.read more
With the large amount of Guilty Crown reviews going around lately, It wouldn't be too hard to find a 'decent' review, right? well that's not the case at all, It seems that most of the reviews are either written by blind fan-boys/fan-girls or haters, 10's,9's,4's and 3's seem to be the popular choice of overall rating, though looking at Guilty Crown in a balance way, this anime definitely deserves a 7 and I'll explain why in the next couple of paragraphs which will you most likely will flick through.
= Story (3) =
If you have been watching Guilty Crown or have seen some of the rantings on the forums, you would know that the story is filled with cliché's and awful execution (for the most part anyway), So I won't go that in-depth to the story, basically just think of it as a mecha-action-supernatural-apocalyptic-drama-comedy-Sci Fi-romance-school-fan service super show.
In other words, Shu (Shuu), your average 16-year-old guy living in a future version of Tokyo get's himself wrapped up in the activities of terrorist group defying the government called Funeral Parlour, he meets the leader Gai, find's out his favourite singer is a member of the group and that the government is corrupt blah blah blah
= Art (10) =
If there's one thing that no one can complain about, I'd say it's the art. Every episode looks of cinematic quality and the character designs are well down as you'd expect from Production I.G and Redjuice (supercell). If there is one thing to fault about the art, I believe it's the design of the apocalypse virus, It just doesn't look like some deadly disease that someone would be afraid of, though that doesn't really matter.
= Sound (9) =
Sound is also a great part of Guilty Crown, the insert music and the OST is brilliant, the first OP 'Euterpe' was only used in the first episode which was disappointing since the second OP which lasted for 11 episodes wasn't hardly as good. The best OP in my opinion and one of my favourite anime openings is the third and last one 'The Everlasting Guilty Crown', It seriously made the other two seem like crap in comparison.
= Character (7.5) =
7.5? That's not even an score according to MAL is what you might say though that's really the only score I can give it, The characters and their developments weren't very good though they weren't just good either, sort of in-between.
The problem with the characters is that they introduced too many too fast, there wasn't really any-time to grow attached to them or even remember some of them at all. You didn't know which ones were supposed to be Minor or Main characters or just background ones in most of the first half.
Another problem was the likeability of the main characters in most of the FIRST HALF, Shu just sit's around most of the time, being a indecisive, annoying loser. Gai was just emotionless (for the most part) and all Inori could do was use the power of singing(?), provide fan-service and dodge (she might of shot a gun once) but that's it.
Though, (without spoiling anything) In the second half, the main characters had great development.
= Enjoyment (7) =
Enjoyment levels really depend on how serious you take Guilty Crown, don't go into the series expecting a masterpiece because you will most definitely be disappointed and hating on it. Though if you are a simple person (no offence) and just like your anime with ton's of great looking action scenes and a little bit of everything rolled in one (even if the result is total mess) then you will obviously enjoy the series a lot more.
= Overall (7) =
Overall, Guilty Crown is definitely not a masterpiece, though it does NOT deserve the crap reputation it gets, sure the story becomes screwed up beyond repair with the can of cliché's they sprung at you each episode and the character development doesn't really start until halfway through the series, what really matters at the end of the day is how much the viewer enjoys the anime, people will hate, like or love GC and that's their opinion just as this review gives my opinion, I don't really care about the 'helpful' or 'not helpful' clicks, as long as my review isn't buried so deep that it can't be of at least some help to the many users who are looking for a new anime to enjoy, and that's the whole point of reviews, to help people decide whether a anime would be to their liking or not.read more
Quite possibly the most soulless show to hit the anime industry in a long, long time, Guilty Crown is a true example of "don't judge a book by its cover." Yes, this show by studio Production I.G. may in fact have some of the most impressive TV anime visuals ever, while also having a modestly good OST (Save that god awful OP by Supercell), but once one peels away these more superficial aspects and dives into the core of this production, there is nothing but a hollow shell.
Guilty Crown is supposed to be about Japan in a semi-futuristic setting after some sort of viral pandemic that is currently being occupied by foreign powers and how some terrorist organization called the Undertakers is trying to stand up for all the injustices taking place in the country behind the eyes of its citizens. Our main character Shu is some random high school boy who is obsessed with some singer from a band named Inori, who just so happens to be a member of this terrorist organization, and after a chance meeting with her among other things, he obtains something called the King's Power and becomes involved in some chaotic conflict with these terrorists.
It is quite easy coming into this show to be misled into thinking that there is some sort of plot that one would find thrilling, interesting, and emotionally involving. The longer one watches this show though, it becomes quite apparent that it is none of these things. The plot while seemingly complex on the outside, is actually extremely simple minded. The conflicts of the show range from the absurd to the more absurd. Worst of all, the characters of this show are either extremely boring or extremely annoying.
There are a myriad of issues that have gave rise to these failures during the course of this show, and they're easy to name, but most of all I would have to say that they mostly stem from the terrible cast.
The main character Shu is especially annoying in this cast. His motivations in the story are ill-explained, his internal conflicts are not given nearly enough exposition for the audience to understand him, and several times throughout the story he treads the line of coming off as little better than an ass hole. At times he is angsting to the audience about not going rambo on some military police, and at other times he is complaining when he discovers that the female gender actually does possess the concept of individualism. I'm not a person who hates angst, or characters that are flawed, or what have you, but this show has done everything possible to make sure that the main character is not only incomprehensible, but also someone extremely revolting. I'm not sure if it was intentional by the writers though, because I can't see a reason to portray one's own main protagonist in such a negative way, especially when at times he comes off incredibly chauvinistic.
Still, Shu is not the only offender here. The female lead Inori comes from a long list of poorly conceived dandere archetype characters in anime (Silent girls who emote very little basically). There is no established reason for the audience to care about her, especially considering that there is no reason to believe she even has a pulse. In a way she is just a doll, a mere object that is supposed to stand there and look pretty. It is hard to believe she is even a main character considering that one has to concentrate really hard to even realize she's there.
The terrorist leader Gai is supposed to be some sort of badass, but everything he does just makes his character look really stupid. He does not seem to care about the future of his terrorist organization at all considering he enjoys engaging in extremely dangerous stunts over and over again without any concern for his or his organization's safety. Perhaps this type of character would fit better in some sort of shonen action show, but considering how seriously this story takes itself, one can't help but feel that everything he does is way too over the top. This person apparently can take down giant mechas by himself, dodge near nuclear scale explosions standing still, and charm any girl he wants just because he can. It is especially overbearing for the show to really try to make you think he's really cool.
The worst side of the cast is definitely the villains though. Any subtlety in storytelling that one might expect form this sort of show is tossed out the window as this setting is divided into white, black, and more black. Some of the villains are downright insane. The overall seriousness of the show takes a huge hit as a result. It is hard to take a plot seriously when you have bulging eye crazy villains beating up poor women in the slums. To top it all off there is a very prevalent xenophobic attitude in the show, which can be seen in all these villains, but especially the one named Dan who is some big shot evil American dude apparently. This sort of attitude is definitely not helpful for Japan, and is not very flattering to have your show perceived as being a bit racist in portrayal.
More or less the rest of the cast is of the same poorly written shtick. They're extremely cliche and archetypal, which leads most of them to either being boring or annoying because the story does nothing to make the character feel like they have life or feeling. There's nothing relateable about them, nor is there anything about them that the audience can use to see that they are just more than their character archetype. In the end the characters come off as a sign of extremely lazy writing in the show, or a desire of the creators to pander to every audience imaginable in an attempt to grab as much cash possible, or perhaps both. Frankly, it just makes for a very nauseating experience.
More generally, even beyond the characters, the show just doesn't have anything compelling going for it. The plot has this weird dichotomy where it is wanting to be taken as seriously, but at the same time does everything in the most over the top manner that can't help but make one roll their eyes over each scene. A show that uses the rule of cool effectively isn't bad, there's been plenty of examples of anime in the past that have done this, but because of this weird dichotomy, the attempts to employ it here just fall severely flat. Perhaps again it is the fault of this cast, but it is also this incredible misuse of the setting for this story. I think placing this story in a much more fictionalized world would have helped it tremendously for one thing. Still, every episode seeks to top itself, no matter how ridiculous it is getting, and it is hard to believe that this should be a good thing for a show of this kind.
The plot also has very distracting elements at play, in particular, very poorly used and unsubtle fanservice. Several times throughout the show, even in the serious action scenes, the audience has to bear witness to blatant fanservice that comes off enormously tasteless. Things from females butt tapping computer screens in body suits, to boobs swaying in a very sexualized manner after physical violence, are just very distracting to a show's enjoyment when the show does not seem to be about this kind of senseless fanservice. It again just feels like a money garb in this show to pander to a certain kind of audience in this show in a very disgusting manner. The worst and most blatant example of it is Inori's outfit that shows so much skin that it ends up just looking hilariously stupid rather than hot and appealing. Honestly everything portraying the females in this show just seems extremely sexist. The female characters feel little better than sex dolls.
Without making this too long winded, I think I can safely say that Guilty Crown is an amalgamation of all the worst aspects of modern anime industry. This is the type of show that reminds me of why I went away from American TV shows in the first place and it makes me very sad to see the same sort of attitude being placed into anime. For a Production IG show, this is an incredibly disappointing affair.
I began watching Guilty Crown on a whim. It was a pure coincidence. If I had anything else to do that day, I probably would never have started watching. However, it just so happened that I was bored out of my mind and at the bottom of my current "to watch" list. When I saw Guilty Crown peeking out at me from another member's favorite anime list, I couldn't resist the temptation. Reading the synopsis turned me off. It didn't seem very promising. "Boy has power in his right hand that makes him special." Okay... cool?
So I started reading the reviews. They were horrendously mixed, ranging from three to nine with very little middle ground. Well, the positive reviews piqued my curiosity. The negative reviews seemed rather confrontational and angry, as if the show had somehow personally wronged the writers. They railed and ragged on clichés, flat characters, and brought up similarities to other shows.
Being immensely bored and slightly curious, I couldn't help but make Guilty Crown a guilty pleasure. I'll admit that the story takes a while to warm up. The first episode was incredibly cliché, with the generic "boy meets girl; boy becomes superman; boy is involved with terrorists" story going on up until the end. But it diverged. The character (of his own volition) refused to acknowledge his power and left me wondering what could possibly happen next.
Indeed, what could this story be about if the main character refused to join up with what I had assumed to be the protagonist group? Well, Inori happened. Now, I've seen people complain endless about her. She's essentially Ein with pink hair, a lovely singing voice, and a sword in her chest--right?
Sure, if you watch the first six episodes or so. Once you get past the initial "OMG SHE'S SO ," you'll start seeing how she grows. She's a parasitic character. That is what makes her, well, her. She simply cannot function without a strong character to depend on. I don't see how that makes her unrealistic? There are people like that in this world. The only hiccup is the justification. She's weak because she's a blank slate. Okay, maybe that is a little cliché. Does it make the character terrible? No... if she didn't grow at all, then yeah, it would be cliché. Instead, facets of her personality are revealed throughout the show, including the afore mentioned shaky justification.
I'm surprised people don't talk about Gai. He's a sixteen year old who leads a terrorist group, who is a better killer than trained soldiers, a genius tactician, and has the ability to see Voids (which is all too convenient since the main character has the power to extract these Voids). There isn't anything realistic about him for quite some time. He is my least favorite character of the series. He "grows" the most, if you can call it that, but his character itself is subjugated to Shu's growth.
While I'm addressing things that were detrimental to my enjoyment, I'll mention that there were a few inconsistencies as far as Voids are concerned, and a certain character that is built up as being incredibly important with a pretty serious power who is completely ignored in the second half of the show. Actually, if I recall correctly, he stops making an appearance before the plot changing event even occurs. I'm not particularly put-out with his exclusion, but a little explanation would be nice.
As for other inconsistencies, the Void regulations are pretty flighty. The whole "person must be under seventeen" rule is pretty laudable, and the Voids themselves don't seem to be very relevant to a person's heart except in a select few cases--which, if I might add, is downplayed afterwards. You have a character whose Void seems pretty useful, put to heavy use for support purposes, but then you find out that his power is actually among the weakest of the bunch.
However, I can overlook these inconsistencies. I can overlook some questionable plot devices. I can overlook quite a bit as far as this show is concerned. Why? To put it simply, the show is beautiful. The art is magnificent, and the sound wonderful. Everything is so fluid and Inori is just stunning. Couple that amazing art with a cliché story that becomes progressively darker, and I simply cannot help but enjoy it.
I'm not going to lie; there are plenty of areas that could have been handled better. The second half of the show, while my favorite in terms of mood, felt rushed at times. The first half annoyed me with its developments. The character's choices were predictable at times. But, even though we could predict them, it was because of the way the story was told. (I'll refer to everything revolving around Hare. Did we see that coming? Yes. Does that make it cliché? A little. Does that mean it wasn't realistic or handled well? I'd beg to differ. I felt that the changes in mood that resulted were worth giving in to a few minor clichés to attain.)
This is a show you're either going to love or hate. You will either latch on to the little things, or you'll take the bigger picture into mind and just enjoy it as it comes. I personally enjoyed every second of the show and would re-watch if I had the time. Some people may draw parallels to Code Geass, but I don't see them unless I specifically look for similarities. Even then, the ones I see are just general clichés rather than pieces drawn from the show. Some people may complain about the fanservice. I guess they'd be referring to Inori, or Ayase in her flight suit. To be honest, I didn't see any of that as fanservice. It's debatable, and heavily reliant on taste.
This show is not a master piece. It's good, yes, but isn't particularly insightful or groundbreaking. It's eye candy, and interesting enough to spend a few days over. I'll be sad to see it end, but it lacks that certain force other shows have. read more
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