Guilty Crown

12
Oct
2014

Guilty Crown

There is so much anime that comes out these days that sometimes I miss stuff that I would have watched when it came out if only I wasn't distracted by the multitudes of other anime's that are out there. Guilty Crown is one of those anime's. Aired during the Winter 2011/Spring 2012 Anime season's Guilty Crown is the story of Shu Oma and Inori Yuzuriha and their fight for survival in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo following an event called the "Lost Christmas".

What follows is a story that twists and turns over the course of the season in a way that I haven't seen in quite some time. Too often anime's often try to constrain certain characters within specific archetypes. While character stories often get fleshed out and expanded on it's rare to see characters change as dramatically as they do in Guilty Crown.

In the end it is a story about Redemption and second chances. And it is one heck of a ride.

 

*Warning possible spoilers ahead, you have been warned*

Plot

On December 24th, 2029 a virus called the Apocalypse Virus breaks out in Japan in an incident that would be forever called, the "Lost Christmas". Seeking help to contain the outbreak the Japanese government turns to the UN who sends an organization called GHQ to contain the threat. Following the successful containment of the virus GHQ takes over the Japanese government in an effort to keep the virus from spreading again. Ten years after the Lost Christmas a resistance organization called Funeral Parlor wages a campaign to liberate Japan from the clutches of GHQ. 

Sho Ouma is your average everyday high school student. He goes to school, has his friends, and overall has a pretty good life. He is a fan of the internet music group Egoist, especially their lead vocalist Inori Yuzuhira. One day while at his film club's workshop, a building just off the school grounds he finds Inori herself hiding inside. Shortly after he watches as GHQ Anti Bodies (aka Security Forces) storm the building and arrest Inori for being involved with Funeral Parlor. 


The only thing left behind after she is taken away is a broken robot. The only clue to Inori's whereabouts are some coordinates that the robot displays. Shu follows the coordinates and encounters Gai Tsutsugami, the leader of Funeral Parlor. Gai hands Shu a vial for safekeeping while he goes off to save Inori. Soon after GHQ attacks the Ruppongai area with ground forces and Endlave mechs. Shu gets mixed in the crossfire and finds Inori. As he tries to save her the vial shatters and it releases a powerful Void Genome virus that imprints onto Shu. The virus, a genetic weapon derived from the Apocalypse Virus, grants Shu the "Power of the Kings". He is able to draw out with his right hand Voids, weapons of people's psyche (soul?) given physical form. With this power he draws out Inori's Void and destroys the Endlaves.

Thus begin's Shu's fight against GHQ.

TLDR;

Boy meets girl

Boy likes girl.

Girl gets kidnapped.

Boy tries to save girl.

Boy gains superpowers and fights against the evil oppressive government regime.  

 

Now I now what you are thinking, "That is such a cliche plot!". You are right of course, it is cliche, but that doesn't mean it's a bad thing. Furthermore the story veers off mid way through in such a off tangent that it makes that cliche plot seem refreshing at the end of it all. 

Guilty Crown also does something that you rarely see in short 13-26 episode series these days. It turns the Hero into the Villain and back again. 

Something you rarely see

Shu for about half of the series is your typical wimpy hero archetype character. He's a Shinji (Eva) only not as big of a crybaby. The thing is that half way through the series an incident happens that changes him. Somebody he cares about dies in front of him, and he looses a bit of his humanity in the process. He becomes cold, heartless, and ruthless. He uses people and their voids as tools and weapons. His friends, turn their backs on him, and he looses everything, including his powers. 

What we see following Shu's turn to "evil guy we all want to punch in the face" is followed by the slow and painful path to redemption. He has to earn back the trust of his friends, fight against his mentor, and sacrifice everything to save the woman that he fell in love with. 

Watching the main protagonist become the antagonist right before your eyes is something that you normally don't see in an anime unless it's one of those 50+ episode series. To watch it unfold in a 22 episode series is something that I thoroughly enjoyed watching. I wish more series took this approach. 

In in end though, Guilty Crown is, as I stated previously, a story about redemption. It's about Shu falling from grace due to a personal tragedy, turning on his friends, and then trying to find his way back. It's about Gai trying to redeem himself for his part in the Lost Christmas incident. It is about how Inori herself, just by existing, being the manifestation of personal redemption to keep her hidden self at bay. Even secondary characters such as Ayase, Daryl, and Tsugumi all have stories of redemption. The theme is peppered all throughout the series, it really is the prevailing theme. 

 

Music and Visuals

If Guilty Crown looks and sounds familiar there is a good reason for it. The series was produced by Production I.G., the same company that made Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, and Attack on Titan. The animation style is simply beautiful. It was directed by Tetsurō Araki  who is best known for his work on Death Note and Attack on Titan. Keep in mind that Guilty Crown was before Attack on Titan so you can see he similarities in style and animation between the two series. 

The music in the series was composed by Hiroyuki Sawano. His works include Ao No Exorcist, Attack on Titan, and the recent Aldnoah.Zero which released this past summer season. Heavy use of orchestra style sweeping music for the battle scenes combined with a opening and closing theme composed by the Japanese J-pop group Supercell gives Guilty Crown a musical score that is at the top of the Anime tier. 

Guilty Crown - 【Official OP】 - Extreme HD

Guilty Crown Op 2

It isn't groundbreaking, but it's still fun

Sometimes it's just better to just watch a good solid anime and enjoy the ride than it is to nitpick on things and have it ruin your experience. I know there are a lot of people out there who don't like Guilty Crown because of it's cliche characters (at the start), erratic pacing at times, and somewhat predictable plot-lines.

But you know what?

I don't care. I enjoyed Guilty Crown for what it is. I enjoyed it for the animation, I enjoyed it for the music, I enjoyed it how it was your standard flair cliche anime for the first half, turns dark and flips the characters around in the second half, and rushes to have them turn back and redeem themselves in the last 2-3 episodes. I liked the pace change because it added a level of on edge suspense at the end. To me an anime that tried to keep everything consistent throughout the entire series is boring. Erratic changes, plot twists, and yes even cliche characters all shine through better when they are put into contrast with each other throughout the course of a 22 anime series. In Guilty Crown this shows in dramatic fashion. 

And while the ending of the series may leave some people with a bad taste in their mouths I personally found it quite satisfying. The ending fit the series and the viewer felt in a way the same things that Shu felt, a longing for more while knowing it is not to be. The only thing we are left with in the end are the things we leave behind with those who we care about. 

Guilty Crown - "Departures ~Anata ni Okuru Ai no Uta~ " by Egoist (1st Ending)

Guilty Crown is just awesome.