Anime Review – Guilty Crown V1 and V2

February 20, 2014

slick_39918Normally when a series hails from the noitaminA block on Fuji TV it inspires hope. Hope that the series, while it may be a little on the obscure side is generally a rather good watch from start to finish. They’ll often have backgrounds or art styles that are very unique compared to the standard fare, character development is often fairly strong and while the stories are generally all over the place in the end they tell their tale and wrap it up well.

Guilty Crown is another series to hail from this block, and while again it’s all over the place it really accomplishes this in different ways.

Produced by Production I.G back in 2011 as an original anime production, this 22 episode series has a high school male protagonist being 17 year old Shu Ouma. Shu is a fairly reserved individual and incredibly anxious until he meets popular idol Inori Yuzuriha. Due to this fateful encounter, Shu acquires the King’s Power allowing him to extract weapons (called Voids) from people. Because of the King’s Power, Shu is thrown into a large struggle between United Nations faction GHQ and terrorist organisation Funeral Parlor, of which Inori is a member.

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Initially this series seems simple enough and Guilty Crown doesn’t really stand out. Boy obtains mystical power after meeting girl and new best friend and tries to save the world even though he’s effectively a recluse. After a few episodes the direction of the story starts twisting in very wild and unexpected directions. Guilty Crown steers from simple terrorist acts and school life to repressed memories, lost friends and family, world ending viruses and ridiculous plot twists, attempting to tie it all together while still keeping a token beach episode. The series has very light justification thrown behind it, but it really feels very thinly veiled and in the end just becomes an outright mess.

Guilty Crown showed so much potential at first but ended out just throwing it out the window in the latter half of the series when Shu goes from such traumatic experiences and being regarded as a saviour to it suddenly being more important that he’s now School Council President. Due to these wild changes in direction for the story while Shu is meant to evolve and break from his shell, it feels more like he’s forcibly grown up and as a result makes Inori an even more empty character. To further add to this, even the minor characters have more emotion and depth than Inori. As a character Shu is incredibly empty throughout the second half of the story, especially given there is a very solid wrap-up point halfway where Guilty Crown could have gracefully bowed out and been a much stronger series for doing so.

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While the story and characters are very obviously the weak point when it comes to animation as expected from Production I.G from start to end everything is very crisp and consistent. CG while somewhat obvious still doesn’t feel horrendously forced and there’s no heavy amounts of off model drawing to be noted. On top of this most of the music in Guilty Crown really fits the themes and while not worth remembering, creates impact when required. Sadly, this is also let down by a relatively mediocre audio track in both languages.

All in all Guilty Crown tries to do so much but as a result of that misses almost every mark it tries to hit. The series, while a tad gimmicky in the first half had a lot of strength but threw all that momentum away and traded it for a shambling mess of bad story development and empty major characters. You can safely watch the first half and enjoy the series, it still in a way concludes rather nicely.

The second half though? Just pretend it doesn’t exist.

Further information on Guilty Crown can be found at the Madman website and the first two episodes can be viewed at the Madman Screening Room.

(c) GUILTY CROWN committee. Licensed by Funimation Productions, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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