Posts Tagged ‘Guilty Crown’

h1

Sparkle Crystal Tower!

January 25, 2014

“They have the right to know before they die… and the obligation, too.”

Tsutsugami Gai, Guilty Crown

Guilty Crown - Those Peaceful Days Gone Past

Guilty Crown is one of those shows I decided to watch on a whim. I mean, “Guilty Crown”, sounds cool, right?

In the world of Guilty Crown, an incident known as “Lost Christmas” that happened on December 24, 2029, throws the nation of Japan into a frenzy; during the incident, a biological hazard known as the Apocalypse Virus plunges Japan into a state of chaos, with people crystallizing left and right and being blown into sparkly dust. With the outbreak overwhelming Japan, the nation seeks help from the United Nations, and an organization called GHQ is sent in to restore order; they take control of Japan, virtually becoming the new government in order to enact their quarantined zones and vaccine programs, not to mention on-the-spot execution of people who refuse their programs, on grounds of keeping the infection from spreading. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with dissatisfied or sidelined members of the populace, and a group known as Funeral Parlor frequently opposes them, as are the various armed groups in the quarantine zones.

Ouma Shu, a normal, everyday person, is caught up in the chaos of the Apocalypse Virus when he comes across a girl called Inori Yuzuriha. To him and the world, Inori is a singer of the internet pop group EGOIST; to GHQ, however, she’s actually one of Funeral Parlor’s top members. Thrown head-first into the chaos of the conflict between the authoritarian GHQ and the separatist Funeral Parlor, led by the enigmatic and charismatic Tsutsugami Gai, Shu has to come to terms with his own human weaknesses and his ignorance of how the world works, as a coincidence gifts him with a power dearly sought by both sides; the Void Genome, the “Power of the King”, which allows him to draw out mysterious objects known as “Voids” from within people. Properly used, such Voids can range from being physics-bending utility tools, to miracle-makers, and dangerous weapons.

On the surface, Guilty Crown starts out slow and somewhat concentrated on Shu; there’s a great deal of talking for the first five or six episodes, ending in action scenes that bring the status quo of the show back in line with that of Episode 1. The show has a dark undertone to it; people who don’t comply with the GHQ are less than the lowest citizen, and have virtually no rights; GHQ-sanctioned killings are carried out in the name of suppressing violent elements who threaten to spread the infection of the Apocalypse Virus.

It sounds like a right dark plotline there, but things tend to go along at a nice, cozy pace until about halfway through, where the show abruptly sets fire to everything and shit starts going down. Mood shifts are a key part of Guilty Crown; the quarantine zones are separated from the city areas by barricades, not physical distances, and because of the Lost Christmas outbreak, almost everyone has a sad story hidden under their histories. Of course, as the plot comes to a head, the fires just get bigger.

The characters are not anything groundbreaking, nor are they mindlessly cliché; Shu behaves exactly like you would expect from a spineless protagonist who has yet to grow his hero-issued balls of steel, and Inori, being mostly silent; well, not much seems to get out from her mind, and on occasion, that’s a bit of a minus. Most of the character interaction you see will come from Gai and gang; their initial characterizations are also based off storytelling clichés, however, so it might be grating at the start until Shu gets past the introductions. The enemies remain mostly recurring villains, and what characterization they get is more individual-focused than with any of the other cast members, with a few exceptions. Other introduced characters also tend to suffer from a lack of characterization, but thankfully, their present personalities are their selling points, so it manages to even out.

While Shu’s schoolmates and companions might be sidelined, they come into focus in the second part of the story. For the most part, most of them behave realistically enough given their situations; they’re not bending over too much to Shu, and neither do they fall into the trap of being super-faggots for no reason other than that the main character has yet to fulfill the ANGST quota, and they genuinely care for him, and berate him when he goes overboard (you’ll know it when you get to it). The show gives plenty of opportunities to test their friendships, and manages to deal with the fallout in a fair manner; well, for the most part. Neither does the story magically gift a happy ending to the hard workers; my only complaint is that they seemed to have run out of time to set up any semblance of endings for the other side characters, instead giving them hasty ending scenes that only give a guess as to their ultimate fates. It can be both a good thing and a bad thing, and I think it depends on how you see their importance to the story.

There are a few occasions you wonder if they’d dropped the plot ball off a cliff, but in retrospect, I think the only reason Episode 7 got me so hard was because the enemy’s ineptitude was so forced. They got me good again in Episode 16/17, but that was for an entirely different reason, and one that I admit was a pretty damned good scene, cliché or no, thanks to the aforementioned realistic behavior in keeping the main character in line. Most characters’ motivations aren’t as lofty as endgame Shu’s; they’re sometimes selfish, but that’s what makes their roles.

I’ve got no complaints with the animation and effects, since the whole thing looks like it would easily give Sword Art Online a run for its money. The CG mecha, which is why I’m even typing out this keyboard-smasher, are also featured consistently in the background; Endlaves, variable-form robots about 10 meters tall or less, make up the bulk of the GHQ’s heavy firepower, while smaller machines known as Insects accompany footsoldiers into battle. What makes them special is their remote-manned aspect; the Insects are barely taller than two meters, and are (presumably) remote-controlled, and the Endlaves are the same, except that that they’re shown with live controllers, complete with neural feedback when the Endlaves are destroyed; it’s implied that the pilots do take damage if they’re not disconnected in time, although there hasn’t been a specific example, mook or named character. There are also small helper/utility robots, but the one that’s always present seems to have its own characterization.

The Endlave designs weren’t too flashy, outside of Funeral Parlor’s own custom model ace-in-the-hole, but it’s not really until the end where they seem to have taken one drink too many, and ended up with something completely out of place that looks like it belonged more in Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspectors, and the focus of the plot on the usage of Voids and the Void Genome has most of the mecha taking a backseat, for better or worse. The rest of the technology is your typical “5 days into the future” thing; modern hardware with a few lines or a few angles less/more, and touch-controlled holographic screens that can be physically pushed back by the person working them, the works. Of course, one might question the presence of a death satellite, but if they already have robots, then they have my blessings to go ahead with throwing a death satellite into the plot as well.

The award-winning design, though? The cellphones. Seriously fuk yo iPhones and S4s and Blackberries, I want a wafer 4 cm wide, 15 cm long, and less than 1 cm thin, that has a holographic screen when swung out, and can play music, make calls, and do everything that an App-ple can, and more. Seriously, it’s cool shit.

All in all, Guilty Crown is a pretty good story. It’s standard with its “hero fights wars and finds love”, but the show isn’t ashamed of the death count to make a point, nor does it off characters because the end of the show is coming soon. It also has its own OVA and visual novel dealing with the events of Lost Christmas, so if you want, you can out the VN to try to get any lingering questions answered (the OVA’s just an appetizer). The focus on Japan and the Japanese people in general might make you roll your eyes at “lol nationalism”, but if you don’t mind the Japanese viewpoint of things, why not give Guilty Crown a try?