Guilty Crown (Blu-ray/DVD) Review
Originally aired on the famed Noitamina timeslot, Guilty Crown was easily considered to be one of the most hyped anime series in the Fall 2011 season. An action/adventure series set in a dystopian future, the technology in the world has advanced to a state where there are hand held computers and mechas, but there are still a plethora of issues. Years earlier a strain of virus called the Apocalypse Virus devastated much of the population. The government was able to step in and clean up the situation. All would seem well if it weren’t for the fact that there are obvious cases of military brutality against innocent people. Enter Shu Ouma, our young hero of the story. After meeting Inori and gaining use of the mysterious “King’s Power,” Shu holds the fate of the world in his hands.
The first thing to note is the plot was in my opinion fairly standard in terms of progression at first. It initially starts off with Shu gaining the King’s Power after a chance meeting with Inori and then moves on to introducing the two major factions in this anime: the government unit GHQ / Anitbodies and then the resistance group Funeral Parlor. We learn about their important goals and ideologies. Initial episodes also give decent character introductions and most importantly insight into the true potential of the King’s Power: the usage of Voids.
After the general introductions the plot becomes convoluted. The first half of Guilty Crown was relatively good and in my opinion they should have ended the series there. However the plot twists keep coming at fast intervals and in directions that seem to be pulled out of a hat. As it stand the progression of the series crumbles by the end as the events don’t seem logical. Some examples of this are Shu’s mental breakdown and forcing martial law upon his fellow classmates, in addition to Gai’s resurrection by an unknown group. In the second half of the series, events seem to be less explained and more plot twists are thrown in your face, resulting in severe plot holes. Plot twists are to be used at discretion with good reasoning behind it. The fact that many of these events are unexplained makes the plot lackluster and ridiculous near the end.
The failing plot is not aided at all by the way the characters are portrayed. Shu Ouma is by far one of the worst protagonists I have encountered in any anime series ever. He is too indecisive to the point where others make the decisions for him or he is forced into it by circumstance. His development throughout the series also seems to be very erratic: one moment he is wishy-washy, the next he is determined and self-motivated, but then right after he goes back into a depressive state. Inori’s character, who is Shu’s love interest, lacks emotion and in some respects is a very bland character.
The show however does a decent job of showing backstory and a little character development for most of the characters. In particular I found Gai Tsutsugami and Ayase Shinomiya’s characters to be interesting in this respect as their internal struggles seemed to be genuine.
Visually the show is one of the strongest that I’ve seen. Guilty Crown is without a doubt is a very beautiful show. Production I.G. usually doesn’t skimp out on the art direction and animation of their series. The show goes all out in their actions scenes with nifty special effects, 3D imagery, and smooth animations. The character designs are very eye catching and done by one of my personal favorite artists, redjuice. The backgrounds, characters, and animations are all done superbly with very few hiccups and unexplained quality drops. The music itself, composed by the renowned Hiroyuki Sawano, is perfect for this series filled with action and emotion. Haunting melodies mixed with memorable lyrics and motifs are found aplenty in Guilty Crown’s original soundtrack. With this said, it is a real shame that the story couldn’t live up to the art direction on this series.
FUNimation’s limited edition Blu-ray and DVD release of Guilty Crown includes various bonuses such as the usual trailers found in standard copies of the show and various translated omakes. Commentaries with the English cast are also found on-disc. However, I am most impressed with this limited edition out of the others considering they include something not commonly found in their releases: artbooks. Two artbooks are contained in the limited edition version of Part 1. One artbook is for Production I.G.’s works and the other is entirely composed of redjuice’s various character designs and illustrations for the show.
Overall I feel Guilty Crown could have been an amazing series, one that could have been talked about for years. The show had an amazing premise and art direction behind it, the main fault unfortunately lies with the lackluster and confusing story. Nevertheless, I would still suggest giving Guilty Crown at least a try.
Things I Loved:
- Limited Edition has amazing artbooks! A must have for any collector/art student.
- Art Direction
- Animation / Special Effects
- Character Designs
- The first half of the series was decent.
Things I Hated:
- Faltering and convoluted story develops as the second half of the series goes on.
- Shu and Inori are both really annoying characters.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the distributor.