Guilty Crown: Initial Thoughts

I had high hopes of Guilty Crown at first, I mean the trailers looked pretty good, and the animation looked beautiful. And while this show looks brilliant it seems to lacking in a few key areas, namely plot, and characters that make any real sense, and has so far been quite disappointing.

Guilty Crown takes place in 2039, 10 years after the ‘Apocalypse Virus’ has spread across Japan, plunging the country into what we assume is an anarchistic state of emergency known as the ‘Lost Christmas’. We are told that an international organization known as the GHQ (often called antibodies in the anime) has come in and saved Japan, however in the process they imposed martial law and are effectively governing Japan as a totalitarian dictatorship. Ten years later in 2039, Shu Ouma, a 17-year-old high school student who keeps to himself in school, meets Inori Yuzuriha, the lead singer for Egoist (I have to assume that this is a pop group), while visiting one of his favourite places on his way home from school.

Let us start with the plot. I couldn’t help but be reminded about Code Geass while watching this show. Both shows have are political thrillers with a resistance fighting against the ‘oppressive regime’. And in both cases Japan is being ruled by a totalitarian dictatorship that has divided up Japan into numbered zones. And of course both have the main male character meeting a girl who may, or may not be human (I am uncertain about Inori, there are various indications within the first two episodes that suggest she snt entirely human), and both gain a special power. In Code Geass it’s ‘The Power of Kings’ and in Guilty Crown it’s ‘The Kings Power’, a little too convenient I think. All of these comparisons are hardly surprising of course since both shows have exactly the same writer.

I really enjoyed watching this scene, it looks spectacular.

We are introduced to a boy ‘shu’ who honestly can’t be bothered with much of anything, and then we have a girl ‘Inori’ running away from some random ‘bad guys’. How do we know that they are bad guys? Well they are wearing white, called antibodies and are shooting at her, and oh yes they all have evil grins while doing so, pretty much a dead giveaway that they are bad guys. One issue I have with Shu is that he is entirely indecisive and comes across as quite a pathetic and useless individual in several of the scenes. Whereas in Code Geass, Lelouche, while being morally ambiguous, and actually a pretty nasty person in many ways, does at least have a reason for fighting and the ability to make judgements based on his, and others circumstances. Shu lacks the charisma, presence and willpower of Lelouche, however we soon find out that he isn’t necessarily as innocent of what’s happening in Japan as we first thought. In episode three (minor spoilers) we are introduced to his mother who appears to not only be the assistant of what I am currently assuming is the commander of GHQ (antibodies), but also heavily involved in the research of the void genome. We have also been shown a little flashback (episode one here), or more accurately some of shu’s memories that suggest he has also been heavily involved in this research, and that either a friend or even a sister is in some way connected to this mysterious Kings Power.

Must be a metaphor for something.

Considering the way he is normally Shu does look pretty badass in this scene I have to admit.

While this is very interesting and successfully adds another dimension to Shu’s involvement with the resistance group ‘Funeral Parlour’, this show so far has had almost no real plot or character development. The second episode, for example, had one of the most contrived plot pieces that I have seen in a while. Essentially the rebel leader Gai was able to not only accurately predict where the psychotic robot pilot was, but also determine that the weapon or ‘void’ that Shu could pull out of said pilot would be the precise one needed to deflect hundreds of lasers and thus destroy all the antibodies forces in one go. We also had a chase sequence where all the robots had left their foot soldiers to chase a single humvee, and yet didn’t fire a single shot. All in all this was clunky, extremely clunky.

Gai is a pretty nasty character actually. Very manipulative and will do anything to get what he wants. I quite like him in an odd 'anti-hero' way.

Now some of these plot points were cleared up in episode three, where we find out that Gai can see what sort of weapon The Kings Power will pull out of individual people, so some of it made sense, but overall I have found the plot to be pretty clunky at the best of times. In fact episode three was the most enjoyable so far, with the ‘mysterious transfer student’ and the settings being Shu’s High school, and a more ‘normal’ setting, which was a nice break after the first two episodes. And while I did enjoy this episode, there was still an awful lot of clunkiness about the show; it was almost possible to see different elements being knocked into their rightful place. And quite honestly the ‘sudden plot twist’ at the end of episode three was so obvious that I found myself rolling my eyes when it happened.

This is not to say that I haven’t enjoyed this show however. I mean it looks absolutely gorgeous; the production value is amazing, even during the school scenes. The backgrounds are wonderfully detailed and well done, and the actions sequences so far have been breath taking. The end of episode one and the fight sequences in episode two were so good in fact that I was completely drawn in, even though I knew in the back of my mind that half of it didn’t make any sense whatsoever.

My problem with this is that so far there has been minimal story or character progression, a continuous barrage of generally evil people on the antibodies or GHQ side and not much else. Don’t get me wrong, it looks amazing, and I have been drawn in while watching this show, but I think it takes itself far too seriously, to the point where even the wonderful fanservice of bums, jiggling breasts and the clothes than Inori wears just seem a bit out of place. I’m not complaining about the fanservice, but I think that it would work better if the show allowed itself to be a bit tongue in cheek occasionally. That and perhaps recognise and even admit that it has taken large elements of various other anime, such as the general plot synopsis from Code Geass, the plug suits from Evangelion 2.0, it is just no fun.

Some plugsuit fanservice.

I shall continue to watch this series though, it looks beautiful, and the little changes in episodes three have given me hope that this show may pick up in some way. There are some entertaining metaphors in this show about over-coming ones weakness and becoming stronger, along with the idea of seeing into peoples hearts that I feel could work, if only it would stop taking itself so seriously. This show is so utterly serious about itself, and so full of the conviction that it really is that good, that it is infectious to the point that the viewer gets drawn into the grandiose settings and sheer, unbridled joy of the animation. Yet, that may in fact be its fatal flaw, so far it has been window dressing and not much else, it is eye candy with a ‘bettering oneself plot, which includes mecha and political overtones. Guilty Crown as so far been an immense disappointment for me, there was a lot of potential there, and while this isn’t a bad anime, it just hasn’t yet delivered on its promises.

Iori in idol mode.

About illogicalzen
An Illogical anime fan in a very Zen-like way.

2 Responses to Guilty Crown: Initial Thoughts

  1. And there are even more references to shows. I was watching episode 3 simultaneously with @kurosaki_girl15 and at some point she was screaming “tachikomas!”. The little robots, possible reference to Ghost in the Shell. Also, the weapon pulled out from the girl’s chest is a clear reference to “Utena”, and who knows what else I may have missed or what else we’ll see yet.

    Overall, it’s exactly as you describe it, lot’s of eyecandy, high quality animation, but serious lack of plot and characters. I’ll continue this, although I suspect I’ll regret it.

    • illogicalzen says:

      That is exactly my problem, it is one giant reference book, there seems little, if no originality in the plot and the anime as a whole. i enjoy many parts of the episode simple because of the eyecandy, it looks spectacular, but I would almost say it has less substance than Mahsiro-Iro Symphony.

      Also, having mentioned Utena and the Tachikomas, I now recognize them as well.
      I shall continue watching this, partly so I can review it at the end, but I suspect that I will be enjoying the harem shows this season far more than this.

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