Well…I guess when I had picked eight titles to continue with from the October 2011 anime season, it was inevitable that something would not stay the distance with me. And I’ve found one – Guilty Crown.
I honestly did try to like this one. But Episode 2 offered me a good number of moments that offended me and some glaring flaws have already appeared that I don’t have faith in being rectified anytime soon. The basic premise of the episode is that Shu and Inori escape the battle scene and return to Gai and the ‘Undertaker’. A very brief introduction of Ayase, a pilot/fighter in the group, is made. It’s clear Gai wanted to be able to control the power Shu now has and is very angry with Inori for letting things happen as the did – but he finds a way around it. A counterattack measure is made to liberate hostages in the area. It works. Shu declines an offer to join the Undertaker group, thinking he’s returned to normal life. No surprise the episode ends with Inori transferring into his class.
So – what in Episode 2 convinced me to drop this show? Well, several things: (and no, similarities to Code Geass were not any of the reasons. I longer find this show similar to Code Geass.)
1. There is no standout character that is screaming out to me to like them. Shu is a fairly weak protagonist. Gai seems quite untrsutworthy overall. His subordinates seem rather tokenish/generic. Inori seems more like a sex object/tool than a character. This is not a cast that is appealing to me at all. Ayase, voiced by Kana Hanawawa, was rather submissive and Hanazawa’s normally superior voice was rather lacking in giving Ayase anything substantial or definitive. Granted, Hanazawa usually voices very shy characters, but Ayase just didn’t have an edge or an obvious appeal. It was one very weak character introduction indeed. Tsugumi, voiced by Ayane Taketatsu (Azusa in K-ON!, Kirino in Ore no Imouto), is one incredibly annoying character. The voice and character are either intentionally irritiating or a very poor match. The catgirl behaviour just doesn’t seem to fit either. Gai – he’s a prick. And probably bound to turn evil. What else is there to say about him? Inori’s behaviour just creeps me out. Candidly placing Shu’s hand on her chest while she says she exists for Shu to use her – this doesn’t make for a likeable heroine. I’m not keen on her singing either. Plus that scene where Shu and Inori are crawling through ventilation shafts and there’s a very crude behind shot of Inori wearing thigh-highs and skipmy underwear – it just didn’t match the mood of the (people were being murdered!) at all and was completely unnecessary. And Shu – freaking Shu. I don’t find one thing to like about him and he’s…emo. There, I said it. Someone in the top 2-3 characters needs to be charismatic or have genuine appeal to carry a show like this. Instead, the cast comes off like a generic shounen cast, seasoned with sleaze and a dash of Black Parade to boot. And seriously, who came up with calling the group ‘ Undertaker’?! That is not a name that works. The person who performs under this name would probably find this use of the name rather pathetic and make this show ‘rest in peace.’
2. The music is very hit and miss. The ED was okay but the OP was very cheap. Inori’s in-episode singing isn’t doing it for me either. The visuals in Episode 2 were a far cry from Episode 1. It seems a case of ‘here’s a beautiful looking episode -now here’s an episode more representative of how things will be!’ I.e. Someone probably spent too much of the budget in the first episode and things are already being reined in. Not that the visuals are now bad – they’re not. But they’re markedly down this episode. And this show was clearly relying on its visuals, so this is not a good sign.
3. The world setting/plot barely moved an inch this episode. A lot of the good shows this season had very powerful second episodes that really got the plot and world setting to the point you had a fair idea of what is now going on. Guilty Crown wasted any potential character development – side characters got minimal offerings with nothing to be impressed by. The leads are still fairly weak. And nothing of significance happened this episode. I know this is a two-season show, but come on…you can do better than this!
What I will say in favour of Guilty Crown is similarities to Code Geass can be left at the door to Episode 2. It’s got its own identity. However, what lays inside may not be what you are looking for. It certainly isn’t for me. And when I’ve got seven other titles I’m continuing with still, spending more time on another one I don’t find much to like about doesn’t seem worth it. What seemed potentially epic now feels like medium-grade shounen, which I’m not in the mood for. To those continuing – good luck and I hope it’s worth the watch for you. For me, it won’t be and I say goodbye to Guilty Crown.