Guilty Crown – 04 Review

Hopefully her ‘dramatic’ reaction doesn’t indicate that she’s the kind of characters who has a ‘secret’ crush on the main-character. Besides, why the hell should she get such an important role in the first place…? Come on, soapy school-life-drama is something this show absolutely does not need.

Guilty Crown 04: Betrayal Is Appropriate Now

After being betrayed by his drug-addict/drug-dealer/lying bastard/family-caring friend/(whatever he’s supposed to be in the next episode) Shuu struggles to live a peaceful life in prison. Because the guy who has caught him is evil which means that it’s (again) a crazy person he has to deal with. Meanwhile Inori struggles with the concept of love and how her new theme-song should be ‘Only Fools Rush In’ from Elvis Presley. And this series has another big revelation to show us which is that one of the most dangerous terrorists of Japan is – a teenager. Well, I guess, now it becomes clear why it’s called a shounen-series: because anyone older than 17 is simply unimportant – or frigging nuts.

Synopsis:
Revenge is a dish best served cold but it seems betrayal is served still warm because it takes only one night for Yahiro to betray Shuu to the GHQ. Confronted with a weird wacko Shuu reverts to his wimpy self being the boring guy who’s pushed around by everyone. Shuu’s class is shocked that he’s a criminal and Inori looks on this with regret going to Shuu’s hideout where she uses his computer to play his artistic masterpiece again and again sulking together with her robot-friend.
Sitting in jail Shuu seems to be doomed to rot for eternity but the evil wacko has a brilliant idea of manipulating Shuu by showing him that Yahiro, the bloody prick, isn’t as evil and bastardy as Shuu liked to believe at this point. He needed money (not for himself but for his little cute sick brother) and his drug-dealing doesn’t seem to pay well enough. Also, the evil wacko shows Shuu that Gai didn’t tell him why the hell he puts up with all the terrorist-stuff he’s doing these days. Shuu doesn’t like to be out of the loop so he becomes a sort-of mole for the evil wacko.
Soon after that Gai arrives and executes another one of his brilliant plans (that make angels weep out of joy) and rescues Shuu and a weird kid who happens to be a really dangerous terrorist (well, there you see what happens to kids without jobs…). Inori also appears doing some really stupid shit which kind of disturbs Gai’s perfect plan but everything turns out just fine because as soon as Inori appeared Shuu manned up for his hero-mode kicking some ass and escaping with Inori. Back at Gai’s ship he takes his offer this time but takes the transmitter with him (not as an insurance but because he’s stupid to trust anyone at all except Inori… he can trust her since she’s just as stupid as him).

He’s just the first in a long line of people who screw up Shuu’s life… I mean, I can understand them, Shuu is just an easy target for this kind of harassment.

Review:
What everybody should ask at this point is: Why the hell should I as viewer care? Guilty Crown doesn’t really make clear who’s good and who’s bad. We assume who’s good and who’s bad based on our experience with the genre but the series itself…? It tries to be very ambiguous on the subject of morality but that doesn’t make the whole thing a goddamn grey twilight-zone. If one group of people doesn’t seem to be walking on sunshine and the other doesn’t either – then who am I supposed to cheer for? One side tells the other side is bad and the other way around. That isn’t ambiguity, that’s bloody confusing! I know that having Shuu’s point-of-view means that I don’t know everything but at least make it clear for what subjective reasons one would support one side or the other.
I think Guilty Crown has an identity crisis with not making it clear what it wants to stand for. Shuu is still a ball juggled by other forces beyond his control. In a good series this might be already a good story but Guilty Crown isn’t that well-told. It has the fast pacing of an action-series that wants to blow up stuff and see evil punished. But it still tries to throw Shuu into this world of uncertainty. So what happens instead of complexity is simply a really whiny atmosphere due to Shuu’s uncertainty. The ambiguous conflict Shuu is part of is reduced to whiny monologues by the bad characterization of Shuu.
And it’s the characterizations that are still the biggest flaw of this series. It isn’t so much a matter of consistency as rather a matter of context. You have the characters on one side and then you have the story on the other and in the process of bringing them together something just isn’t right. There are always these weird moments of what should be characterization-moments but simply seem like something happening out-of-the-blue. Last episode it was the revelation that Gai can see the Voids of the kiddos running around in town, this episode it was the part where Yahiro became this pressured bro-con needing money. I mean, come on: First he’s a friend, then he’s revealed to be a liar, after that he betrays Shuu despite their promise and now I’m supposed to feel sympathy for him like he wasn’t a goddamn asshole for betraying Shuu. Last episode characterized him as a person with two faces, one the nice surface, the other the desperate drug-addict. And now he’s again the shiny boy and not a drug-addict – but a drug-dealer. Jesus, every time I think I figured out how a character ticks in this show the story comes with another groundbreaking revelation telling me that everything I knew is pretty much shit for all it’s worth. The story in this show treats characterization as a tool of convenience and those few that are consistent are pretty dull.
Like Shuu – that whiny bastard. Really, every time someone says something ‘mean’ to him he starts this atrocious monologue of lamenting why he isn’t surrounded by teddy-bears and fairies. And the most stupid thing is that as soon as Inori is on the stage he’s becoming this ruthless hero risking life and limb to do something really awesome. There’s again this lack of consistency where the convenience of the story is more important than his characterization. But Shuu’s whimpy side is simply overdone at this point. It’s used at every opportunity where he doesn’t have to be a hero and it’s done in a very one-sided manner. The worst thing about his whimpishness is how passive he becomes when he starts to whine and sulk like a pretentious brat. He simply is boring to watch in these scenes when characters talk to him and he retreats into himself starting these ridiculous monologues full of self-pity. Even if he’s supposed to be wimpy he doesn’t have to be a borderline-case of autism. Another character who seriously is just badly written is Inori. This stupid development of her mind becoming funny and stuff because she’s like “OMG, normal boring everyday life is AWESOME! I want more of it!” just doesn’t work. Because there’s nothing to work on here, there is no development here when she practically had no character before this episode. And I know that in cases like this later episodes will feature a heartbreaking flashback-episode of telling us how hard her life was before she met Shuu but she gotta have to have at least some character. Playing the enigmatic cyborg- beauty is fine but they should at least allude to a personality under all this surface-crap her character has going on. She’s an empty character and development isn’t a way to fill that emptiness. It just changes the surface. Another character I didn’t quite like was Gai who’s far too shady for my taste. At least try to convince Shuu of your ideals! It’s always just this stupid crap of “You either stay a wimp or move on to become a man. What will it be, Shuu?” but there’s nothing substantial coming from him concerning the reasons why GHQ is THAT evil. Again I think the story wants to spill the beans at a later point of time but doing that really makes it hard to believe these characters and understand what they’re about.

Yeah, of course, it’s always somebody else’s fault, right? But technically he’s still an asshole despite the fact that this may not be the kind of world where Santa Claus is real.

This episode was definitely better than last week’s episode with its fast-paced approach of action and story-progress. Stuff happened in this episode and in a way that foreshadows future developments as well. What I fear at this point is that the series is a bit too fast-paced in its episode-structure. Right now every episode gave us basically a significant development which gave more a sense of jumping around in terms of storytelling than having a good ‘flow’ within the story. But the action are definitely the better moments of this show and it does have this exaggerated atmosphere you’ve already seen in episode 2 (or in Code Geass) where on a large scale things happen ‘as planned’. It’s not bad as long as the series knows that it shouldn’t take itself too serious with this approach.

The fourth episode proved to be a good fast-paced development into action-rich territory and one can hope it stays there for a while. Although some quiet moments wouldn’t be so bad either because the show has an immense problem with having convincing characterizations. The show still lacks the necessary depth at this point to actually make use of what the story alludes to.

Episode-Rating: 6,5/10

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About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on November 4, 2011, in Anime, Guilty Crown, Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I actually liked this episode. While the plot flow could use some flow, I think it managed to hook me. I thought it was a bit predictable how Yahiro did what he did just for his little brother, which sort of reminds me of Yoh from Deadland Wonderland.

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    • Yeah, I think it’s the best episode so far but it still needs a lot of polishing to be considered a good series. The good thing about this episode was that now many of its elements were decent enough on its own at least but the dynamics of using it all together wasn’t still that great. And I think the main-reason for that are the characters whose characterization appears to be more concerned with the story than the characters themselves.

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  2. I am overjoyed someone agrees this show mostly lacks proper characterization. I mean, there’s bad characterization that can still be somehow understandable but we’re at a whole new level with Guilty Crown. There’s no consistency. In the same episode we see people transforming so much it’s just not believable.
    I can’t even like these characters, I don’t hate them but I can’t like them either since I can’t see them as such.

    It’s quite sad because this episode could have been really great. Except that characterization was crap and it brings the show down.
    Oh well, at least this week had nice explosions?

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    • Well, some characterizations like Inori’s are simply plain stupid while others like Gai’s are just not well-done. This episode had character-development and I guess it’s better than having none at all even though it wasn’t well-done.
      When Inori started her suicidal sprint for Shuu there was this scene where someone accused Shuu saying something like “What have you done to her, Shuu? She never would’ve disobeyed Gai’s orders before!”. I like this moment because it makes fun of Inori’s character by assuming that her change had nothing to do with her but that it was all Shuu’s doing. Normally someone would ask Inori “Why do you do this?” but no, they go to Shuu asking him what he has done to her. Again Inori is treated like a lifeless doll without any free will. She not only lacks a proper characterization, the story doesn’t seem to expect of her to have any actually!

      And what I really didn’t like story-wise about the episode now that I think about it was that one of the greatest revelations was actually what happens to Apocalypse Virus Victims. Naturally the characters all consider that to be commonly known but I as a viewer didn’t know what the Apocalypse Virus did. And the fact that these symptoms are that similar in appearance to these Voids Shuu draws out of people shows that there’s obviously a connection to be found here. But the story seemingly doesn’t care at all about the details of the mysteries in the setting. Because that’s something we’re only allowed to know when the story thinks it’s the right time… Damn Shuu and his passive wimpy attitude…

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      • Oh god, Gai’s characterization is probably the most horrible of the whole show.
        I’d even go as far as saying Inori as no characterization and exactly as you said, the show doesn’t expect her to have any, she wouldn’t exist the result would be the same, her suicidal rush was the first expression of a personnality and it wasn’t very bright. I don’t even understand why they’d do that, she’s supposed to be a lead singer and the main character of the show.
        Something just doesn’t feel right.

        Thing is, I read the summary, thought that virus story was already old and it added to my extremely low expectations of the show. Then I watch the first episode and surprise, it’s like said virus never existed. Now they finally introduce it properly and it’s such an information dump I’m not even too sure I remember everything correctly.
        It’s like this show doesn’t care much about the viewer. At least they don’t take us for complete idiots but I’d like them to remember we exist and that we’re not familiar at all with the universe.

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  3. That transmitter device is probably an explosive device too.

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    • Well, what I hope is that it’s working even if Shuu doesn’t press any of the buttons on it. Because if it really depends on Shuu pressing any buttons on it then that evil wacko who gave him this transmitter is not only crazy but really stupid.

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  4. About Shu being a borderline case of autism, I have to completely agree with you on this. His habit of avoiding eye contact, low self-esteem and somewhat inability to express his desires effectively all lead to him having perhaps mild autism. However, I do think that the show’s writers intended it to be so… Well, here’s to hoping later episodes are FAR better…

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  5. @Rak~:
    I assume the story will deliver a flashback-episode for Shuu as well telling us of his heartbreaking past which made him the wimp he’s now. But the forced unreasonable way it’s done right now gives this impression of him just being nuts. Even vague non-conclusive hints at the reasons for his behaviour would be better than this dull characterization.

    @Kuuki:

    Oh god, Gai’s characterization is probably the most horrible of the whole show.

    Because he’s a douchy terrorist hating the establishment for God knows what reasons? Or are you referring to his talent for making flawless plans that actually also work flawlessly? Or that nobody catches him despite the fact that everybody knows his identity and how he looks like?

    Now they finally introduce it properly and it’s such an information dump I’m not even too sure I remember everything correctly.

    Well, it wasn’t an infodump, I would say. I mean, it’s: virus -> pandemic -> people going nuts -> vaccine -> totalitarian regime. And if you only concentrate on what’s important for the present: stuff happened -> bad soldiers everywhere. When I saw that part I just shrugged and moved on because well, it doesn’t really matter, does it? Of course, the show doesn’t do a good job of world-building that way, though.

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  6. So the thing they’re trying to say is: the one with the most interesting voids and abilities – are ALL terrorists and anti-state! Seriously… someone normal gets gardening shears for a Void and this Kido guy gets an Anti-Gravity, Wide-Spread blaster? The series is basically trying to be Code-Geass without Lelouch’s incredible character. But the music is cool, that whole scene of Inori jumping down and Shuu catching and pulling out blade, the BG is great…

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  7. I was wondering about that girl too. She looks like she really likes Shu, and she may or may not have a bigger role to play in the later episodes, just saying.

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