Director: Tetsuro Araki
Writer (of original novel): Hiroyuki Yoshino & Ichiro Okouchi
Animation Studios: Production I.G
Version Watched: Subbed
One of the themes I’ve started seeing around the internet lately is that stories aren’t good if they’re not deep and meaningful. I think the entire anime medium would be a very sad one if that were the case because the number of shows that manage to accomplish that while still being entertaining are few and far between. In any case, Guilty Crown represents one of those shows that tries to engage its audience with a bunch of different thought-provoking ideas and is worse off for it. The overall concept is great and the action can be very entertaining…but the whole package leaves much to be desired.
Lost Christmas. Those words define the current state of the Japanese nation. Ten years ago a mysterious virus devastated the country, forcing it to rely on outside help that now holds power over its people. Ouma Shu is unlucky enough to stumble in on an operation being carried out by the Undertakers, a terrorist group fighting for Japan’s freedom, and is sucked into their struggle when he is given the power of the genetic weapon they had been seeking. Now with the ability to draw out the potential hidden within the hearts of others, their Voids, Shu needs to make a decision: stay the hell away from the people he has already unwittingly become involved with, or join the fight for Japan’s liberation. He may not know it yet, but there is far more to that decision than there may appear to be.
Wow, having just read that back to myself I can’t help but feel that it sounds a bit generic. To tell the truth, I’m not really sure what to say about Guilty Crown. The first nine or so episodes deliver an exciting rush of ideas and events that more or less follow the summary I’ve given above…but then things get weird. The show transitions from a predominantly plausible set of ideas to something that’s mostly science fiction in a way that’s really quite jarring, and there are at least two other massive changes over the 22 episodes that prevent the show from maintaining a consistent overall feeling. There are so many ideas floating around that none of them are ever adequately explored. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy Guilty Crown, just that the mood of the series changes frequently in a way that’s detrimental to the experience as a whole.
I don’t think I’ve expressed this opinion very often but a story should work around the established personalities of its characters and not the other way around. If this opinion were a law, Guilty Crown would have broken it multiple times over. Guilty Crown uses its characters to further the story it wants to tell without regard for how they’ve acted in the past. Admittedly, the fact that both the male and female leads are as insipid as possible mitigates this a little, though that’s not exactly a point in the series’ favor. Many of the side characters fail to be relevant to the viewer as they seemingly only exist to fulfill one particular role in the story, and while you could argue that that’s why side characters are used in the first place, it’s a little more obvious in Guilty Crown than I would like. I should also probably mention that one character in particular appears out of nowhere at the end of the first season and is never properly explained.
I normally love insert songs and Guilty Crown has a ton of them. Unfortunately, while some of them are used well, others simply don’t mesh with the scene they’re used in and often overshadow dialogue or sound effects. The same goes for the BGM. To end on a high note, I do have to say that the series looks nice. From the very first episode you can see that the production value is excellent and that carries on through till the very last one. Character designs are interesting and action is fluid, which is exactly what I look for in anime.
Summary – Guilty Crown fits the score I’m going to give it perfectly; it’s enjoyable. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean it’s well written or actually any good overall. Inconsistent tone, improper use of characters and poor cohesion of ideas all get in the way of me recommending the series to anyone. Having said that, I don’t regret watching it, especially the first half, and there are a lot of other series out there that are worse than this one. If you’re looking for some entertainment without wanting to get too attached, then Guilty Crown may be right for you.
Score: 7/10 – Enjoyable