Anime Monday - Guilty Crown

Guilty Crown -- this is a "fitting" one for Christmas. This is a series that came out when I was pretty much completely ignoring anime. At that point I figured I had had enough, and I really didn't care to go back to see what I was missing. I had better things to watch (and play), and I was getting sick of seeing the same thing over and over again. Then a few years later I came across a few shows that actually looked good to me, and long story short I eventually came back to anime as a whole. That's how I eventually came across Guilty Crown.

The main reason I even checked out the series was actually because of a fighting game titled "Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel." I never did play the game, but seeing it had characters like the Fate/Zero version of Artoria (now translated as "Altria"), Ein from Phantom of Inferno, and even Akane from Psycho Pass. Looking at the other series included in the game is how I came across Guilty Crown's visual novel prequel, which is how I discovered the original anime as well. It seemed interesting enough, but I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into. "Anime high school kid with a sword? Eh, okay, why not." That was my mindset going in, and really... It wasn't what I expected. Or maybe it WAS what I expected. Confused? Well welcome to the club.

This series is a very different one. First of all it basically contains every generic anime trope you can think of. Robots? Check. High School kid meeting a strange girl? Check. Girl falling for him? Yep, you got it. Normal kid surviving something horrible in his past but forgetting it? Yeah, of course he forgot it. What about super powers? Does he get those too? Better question is, why wouldn't he? Pretty much everything in this series will make you compare it to something else you've seen, and because of that you'll be able to predict the future. At least that's what it wants you to think.

Despite containing so many themes and ideas that have been overdone to death (the reason I stopped watching anime to begin with mind you), Guilty Crown puts a twist on all of it. One minute the main character will be offered the chance to do something great (thus getting the story started), and rather than accepting that offer he'll shoot it down and go back to living his normal everyday life. Or you'll see someone who is obviously going to be saved in the nick of time, but then you'll see them get their head blown off instead. This makes the series unpredictable, despite being more of the same. But what is it exactly? What's the story, and is it worth watching? Well the only reason I sat through it the first time was because I was sick in bed and needed something to do. So for the sake of this article, I went back to rewatch the series to see how my opinion of it changed. And well, it sorta did. But anyway, that's enough beating around the bush. This is what Guilty Crown is really about.

The Story of Kings:

The series begins with a young woman running for her life as robots try to chase her down. She's carrying something that is apparently important, and she must escape with it at all costs. Meanwhile elsewhere in the city a young man is standing on the roof of a building, and listening to his favorite singer -- who just happens to be the very same girl who's under attack. Her name is Inori, and she's the lead singer of a group called Egoist. In reality she's actually a member of a group called Funeral Parlor, which is a terrorist organization that's fighting against the current leaders of the government. While the details are kept hazy at first, roughly 10 years ago a virus infected the city on Christmas, and many MANY people were killed as a result. This virus seemingly crystallized those who came in contact with it, and it's origins were unknown. Thanks to the quick work of specific United Nations organization called the GHQ they were able to come up with an anti virus and put a stop to the virus, but even then it didn't exactly work on everyone. Jumping back to present time the Japan of today has not yet fully recovered from this incident, and it relies even more on aid from overseas, than being as self sustainable as they once were. The GHQ has a hold on the country as a whole, and there's not much the government can do about it. And because of this the GHQ is free to do as they wish.

After Inori manages to escape from the GHQ robots, she has a run with the young man who was seen standing on the roof. His name is Shu Ouma, and he has serious issues. He has no self confidence, he can't look people in the eye, he lies to make friends, and he's scared to do anything himself. Even when he meets Inori rather than saving her like you'd expect out of a show like this, he lets the GHQ drag her off into the unknown. He does have a change of heart though when he finds the object she was trying to deliver, but even though he takes it to her "friends," it doesn't make up for not doing something to help Inori herself. But then the GHQ attacks Shu and Inori's friends (Funeral Parlor), and in the process the object Shu was carrying breaks and grants him the power of the Guilty Crown. This power allows him to reach inside of people and pull out the physical manifestation of people's souls, and to use them as a weapon. So Shu reaches through Inori's chest, pulls out a massive sword, and single handedly destroys the mechs that were attacking them. Of course this doesn't sit well with the GHQ, so they order the mass extermination of all innocent civilians living in the area. (Code Geass much?) Agreeing to help just for the time being, Shu helps semi put a stop to this as well, but as I mentioned before, not everyone is saved. This is when Shu is offered a job by Gui, but he instead turns it down. Opting to go back to his normal boring school life, and to put all of this craziness behind him forever. Yeah, that doesn't happen.

The next day Inori transfers into his home room class (obviously), and then when he gets home to his apartment he finds that she has moved in with him as well (bet you didn't see that one coming...) She says this is for his protection, but it just ultimately leads to him joining the group. So from that point on Shu works along side Gui and the other members of Funeral Parlor to put a stop to the GHQ, and free Japan from their madness. And then things change...

To avoid spoilers all I can say is this is not what Guilty Crown is. In fact this part of the series is nothing more than a setup. The first roughly 11 episodes of the series might as well be a series of it's own, because once episode 12 rolls around nothing will ever be the same again. Which is sadly where one of the show's problem's lies...

The Characters:

The characters in Guilty Crown are both interesting, and also characters you've seen done possibly dozens of times. Shu himself is your standard anti social high school main character, who just happens to have a tragic past he can't remember (outside of flash back images you see throughout the series), and who also somehow manages to get special powers and meet the girl of his dreams all in one day. He's a pretty cliche character, but he's still likable. The way his character develops throughout the series isn't exactly what you would expect, and even before then he doesn't act as most other characters of this type would. All in all he's a pretty good main character, but some of the supporting cast does stand out more. One of which being Inori herself. She's a famous high school singer, but she's also a fighter who goes up against a government power that should be able to crush her easily. She too changes a lot throughout the series, but it's her partnership with Shu that helps both characters develop. She's the sword of Shu's power, and the main reason he's even able to fight himself. A completely different story from Gai.

Gai is your standard "cool" mysterious character. He wears dark clothing, has long blond hair, and is crazy skilled at fighting. He'll rush in and beat the heck out of multiple armed enemies with just his fists, all while rap music plays in the background. He's also a character everyone looks up to, and someone who people like Shu become jealous of. While being on the same side as Shu, he's really more of the typical "rival" character most will expect to see, but in this case it isn't that simple. He might seem like he has it together, and has all the answers in the world as he leads Funeral Parlor, but in reality he's just as human as anyone else. He has worries, and doubts, and having to send his friends to their deaths constantly weighs on him. He isn't who Shu thinks he is, and as the series goes on more about his character comes to light.

As for the rest of the supporting cast, shockingly there's quite the verity. Shu's friends at school tend to fall into different archetypes with you getting an idea of who they are just by looking at them, but that's actually okay. Not everyone is as they appear to be at first glance, but even those who are still help keep the characters varied. Then you have Funeral Parlor members like Ayase who pilots a mech in battle, but in reality she's unable to use her legs. Despite this she doesn't want anyone feeling sorry for her, and beats the crap out of Shu the moment he shows her any sympathy. She's a strong character who also continues to develop as the show goes on. Of course there's also Tsugumi who's basically still a child, but even so she's also an ace hacker who is able to support the entire team in battle. Despite this type of character being common in other series, she's still interesting enough on her own to stand out. This only covers a handful of the characters seen in the series, but again I'm going to be avoiding major spoilers here.


If anything, Egoist is the best thing about the series. Guilty Crown has a huge focus on music thanks to Inori being a star, but it's also a lot more than that. There are some really nice songs, and everything plays at just the right time. There are scenes that will really stand out to you because of the song that is playing, and even the opening and ending themes are hard to skip. Everything fits perfectly, and it makes watching the show more enjoyable. But that's not why Egoist is so great. What if I said Egoist moved on from Guilty Crown and became a real band?

Yep, after Guilty Crown ended the group continued to make music, and have since been used in multiple anime series. One of my personal favorites is "Monster Without a Name" which was the ending theme for Psycho Pass season 1. Since then they've continued to release singles, and many of which have been used for other anime series as well. Their style is unique compared to a lot of other Japanese groups out there, and it's just really nice to see them continue past their origins.

Should You Watch It:

Really, REALLY, tough question to answer here. Guilty Crown isn't a bad show, but it's also not for everyone. If you can't get past all of the tropes, then you'll struggle with it. The music is nice, the animation is great, and there are some really cool set pieces -- but sometimes it also feels like they're trying a bit too hard. Some of the violence is thrown in just to catch the audience off guard, and sometimes there is random fan service that has no real reason for being there. That's sorta to be expected considering the type of show it is, but it doesn't stop it from being pointless. On one hand it's nice that they're willing to do things other shows would stray away from, but on the other it's kinda allover the place. It's actually a bit hard to describe the show because of that. You wouldn't expect them to go as far as they do at times, but you also kinda do. That's where things can get a little messy and inconsistent, but it's not it's main problem.

As I mentioned above, the first 11 episodes are just the start, and what follows is pretty much a different show entirely. It's where the main plot of the series comes in, and to put it bluntly, it's insanity. You'll never see it coming, and you'll be confused through most of it. There are a lot of info dump sections past this point, and a lot of information is simply too much to be crammed into what remains of the season. Sure there is that visual novel that came out years later, but considering it was never translated us in the west continue to be left in the dark. If anything the second half of the series should've been a season of it's own, while the original 11-12 episode cour should've been season 1. There's so much going on in the last half, that what we have simply doesn't cut it. It doesn't stop it from being any less interesting though -- but that is something many fans will debate. Bottom line is, what the series becomes will either be something you love or hate, and not everyone will agree on which part is better. It's that big of a change, and because of that it's easy to see people dropping the series after this point -- or even before they reach it.

So yeah, should you watch it? That's not an easy question to answer at all... I'll leave that up to you. Just keep in mind the show you start will not be the same show you finish. Personally I ended up liking it. At first glance I thought that it was "trying too hard" to be edgy, but by the time I got to the second part I was hooked. Now here we are roughly four years later, and I'm finding myself liking it even more. It's flaws are still clear, but for me it was a fun watch. Not everyone will agree with that though.

Where to Watch:

Guilty Crown can currently be watched over at Hulu.

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