Guilty Crown – 08 Review

While Souta simply goes with ‘I have trouble talking to you because you’re so distant’, Shuu (of course) has prepared a whole list of things to complain about (because he’s a jerk after all). But reading his nitpicky complains I have to ask: Does a sociopath like Shuu actually know what social cues are?

Guilty Crown 08: Friendship Starts With Calling Someone A Jerk

The seventh episode actually did a pretty good job of being the kind of idiotic fun Guilty Crown should be (since it isn’t a series aiming for quality storywise). This episode didn’t continue the stupid vibe of the previous episode but it wasn’t as awful as some of the earlier episodes. It was pretty much a “Meh”-like episode that was overall solid enough (if you don’t have any kind of expectations for this show) but if you look closely it’s still full of the typical mistakes created by following characters whose characterizations are simply crappy. Shuu is still a jerk and Inori still dazzles with the charisma of non-existence. And that won’t change very soon because this series not only sucks at characterization but also at character-development.

Synopsis:
Like usual Shuu’s life proceeds as if written by an anime-fand with zero imagination: His club is making a trip to the beach. Other things also work like a clock since Gai has a plan (again). It involves the Void of Souta, one of Shuu’s friends who are his friends for the simply reason of him being an anime-main-character. He spends some time having fun with his friends who are also members of some club whose actual activities play no role whatsoever in this episode.
After having some fun Gai informs Shuu of the plan and tells him that he needs to distract Souta. Gai proposes to use Inori since Souta is a fan of Egoist and therefore likes Inori automatically. Shuu sets up a meeting between Souta and Inori and follows them secretly so that he can extract the Void. But as Souta’s one-sided conversation starts he rapidly goes on to confess his love to her. Shuu getting cold feet hearing this and fearing that he’ll lose Inori to Satou interferes and stops Satou from confessing. The rest of Funeral Parlor reveals itself making fun of Shuu since he does have a habit of acting like an imbecile sometimes. Entering the hidden GHQ-facility using Satou’s Void Gai & Co are outwitted with the Old Dude arriving earlier and taking the rock which brought the Apocalypse Virus to Japan. Grudgingly accepting their failure they leave again.
As Satou wakes up again he’s greeted by Shuu who admits not liking him and says that he won’t support him anymore in getting Inori’s attention. Satou surprises him as he also admits to have a bit of a problem talking with Shuu. As they admit this to each other Satou adds that he’s glad that they’re finally so honest to each other. Hinting at Satou’s Void Satou himself remarks that in the end Shuu has opened up a bit due to his behaviour.

Remember that blonde kid who’s totally nuts? Well, this episode shows us that his dad is a jerk and his mother is dead which is, I think, the excuse for him being totally nuts. I guess we should prepare ourselves for the moment when we’re supposed to pity that crazy kid and blame his father for everything (because being a jerk as teenager is forgiveable but when you’re an adult it’s not).

Review:
Guilty Crown has only two modes: One is being predictably generic and the other is being unforeseeably stupid. This week it was more of the former (luckily) and while last week’s episode actually seemed quite okay it was still in the range of being overall generic. What the eighth episode did wasn’t anything wrong from a conceptual point-of-view as Blood-C was wrong with its time-wasting building-up. This episode tried to concentrate on character- and plot-development. And the story went along just fine making things slightly more interesting but character-development was a failure due to its poor execution. Ultimately while the seventh episode actually got my hopes up again that Guilty Crown can be slightly entertaining this episode crushed it again with a kind of blandness that only a series like Guilty Crown can have.
‘This is Guilty Crown’ is what this episode is reminding us and I think at this point one has to say that this show as at its best generic and stereotypical but most of the times even worse than that. The main-reason for that isn’t the story, though, because I’ve seen enough generic shounen-mecha-series to know what I should expect to see when watching a series like this. But what ruins the experience of this series for me are the characters. They are either uninteresting or simply plain stupid. And then there’s Shuu who shouldn’t be a main-character as far as sane characterizations go at least. Characters in this series are portrayed so badly that I don’t care what happens to any of them.
And one reason for that as well is the fact that I don’t know why I should care. This series is so vague in saying anything beyond dumb plot-related foreshadowing and throwing obvious message at you (like “He’s bad”, “He’s in danger” or “Feel sorry for him”) that I have no idea what this series ultimately wants to tell me. If I would drop the series at this point I would have no idea what this series is about. And we’re talking about three hours worth of material here and all it has done was creating this… mess. It’s generic and perhaps if you feel merciful you could grant it the typical messages hidden in the generic parts of the series but I don’t think that a series should be generic when it’s conveying its message to me. ‘Generic’ means that I’ve seen it before and I assume it’s just there to make it more approachable for the mainstream-audience but if even the series’ most basic reason for existence has to rely on this kind of cheap sugar then I don’t know why anyone bothered making the series in the first place.
The first thing that has to change are the characters since the series has a questionable way of handling its characterizations. Strangely Shuu is the most consistent character at this point and the only individual attribute he possesses is his exaggerated whininess. Every episode has a facepalm-worthy moment of me wondering how low a naïve-whiny character like Shuu can sink in being a complete jerk because of some trifling matter. All the time he’s bitching about this and that but the episode always has him turning away from going through with where his jerkiness would actually lead him. It’s always the same game but Shuu doesn’t seem to learn and each episode prepares a new chance for him to embarrass himself by being a whiny jerk. But then someone else does some explaining for him and tells him plainly how wrong he is. Shuu accepts this piece of wisdom and apologizes and eventually does what is expected of him. He’s a pitiful whiny low-life-scum, therefore you would expect his character would be about changing himself and becoming someone else. But the series never lets him face the consequences of his own personality so that he can have a reason to change. Shuu simply backs down at the end of the day and follows orders being convinced it’s the right thing because someone told him that’s how it is. The characterization here favours plot-development over character-development and in that manner all is fine with his characterization as long as it progresses the story. It doesn’t matter whether he keeps being pathetic, his catharsis is simply working for the good guys. Inori meanwhile at this point is a confusing character. On one hand the series tried to show us that Inori wasn’t exactly lovey- dovey regarding Shuu but this episode again seemed to imply more strongly that she actually does support Shuu. Don’t ask me what she’s thinking. Most of the time she doesn’t seem to think at all and her emotionless attitude combined with the contrasting behavior makes it difficult to grant her any kind of personality. She’s human… kind of, anyway, and she does things – that’s all. Talking about the generic parts of the show it does seem likely, though, that she ends up with Shuu after all but I really don’t see it portrayed in her character. Eight episodes in and she’s still a blank slate as far as characterizations go. In the end it’s hard to care about a series whose two main-characters who get most of the airtime are that unlikeable.

It was really weird how nonchalantly Shuu’s reaction was as he learned about how important his dead dad’s job was. And his excuse was simply that he and his mother don’t talk about it at home. It’s not like his mother hid it from him, they didn’t talk about it and Shu doesn’t care about it apparently for whatever strange reason. Normally you would expect a teenager to show interest as to why one of his parents died but Shuu has no interest in that sort of thing.

One of the reasons why this episode failed to meet its unoriginal ambitions was the way the first half ended up being fanservice-only basically. Shuu and his friends (yeah, he has friends now all of a sudden) end up going to the beach but in reality this is just a cover-up for Shuu using Souta’s Void on another mission planned by Gai. But the first half completely ignores that part and just goes along with its boring non-sense slice-of-life. The first half is wasted time.
In the second half the episode remembers (finally) that it actually wants to tell a story that’s supposed to matter and starts introducing two conflicts. The first one is obviously story-related with Gai doing some new shit because he has a plan. The second one is character-related trying to tell something about Souta and Shuu. Let’s first talk about the second one because that was one of the biggest flaws of this episode since it doesn’t really work.
It’s getting obvious that in terms of characters Guilty Crown favours soapy drama of people having a problem with not being a jerk all the time. Wherever you look there’s someone abused by another person’s jerkiness. If you’re not a psychopathic nutcase trying to hurt someone emotionally directly or indirectly – then you’re not a sane person in the world of Guilty Crown. But since everyone’s a jerk it’s clear that it’s nothing personal when anyone is a jerk because it’s the world’s fault. That’s why the good guys have to change everything. It’s not like the people in Guilty Crown can think for themselves what’s right or wrong. For these guys this is actually a challenge to determine what they think is right and what is wrong. So what problems exist between Souta and Shuu? Basically there are two: First there’s the point of them not liking each other secretly. Both of them realize that they have a hard time talking with each other. My answer: “Well, then don’t.” Nobody forces them to talk with each other. But since they are friends (for whatever reason) things can’t be solved that way so they have to talk with each other. And after complaining about each other they can now hold hands or something, whatever, I have no idea how it solves anything just acknowledging the problem openly. The second problem concerns Inori because Souta is a fan of Egoist which means that he loves Inori and her voice – but never bothered to think about the meaning of her songs and therefore never realized the pro-Funeral-Parlor-Subtext of them. That’s what teenage fans are basically: brainless, idealistic and naïve. And like that Satou already believes to have found the love of his life by knowing Inori now personally (as far as that’s possible anyway). And despite Inori having the charisma of a toothbrush Shuu also loves her – but doesn’t admit it. So the conflict is that Shuu supports Souta to get together with Inori since it’s part of the plan. But he gets cold feet and interrupts Souta confessing.
The problem here is that to start with both problems are far too Shuu-centric meaning that Souta’s character is just a stepping-stone for Shuu and actually has only a supporting role without having any characterization. But why would you bother than making a conflict out of it when it’s all just about developing Shuu anyway? Souta’s characters is a boring one-note affair. There’s no subtlety to it and it’s even worse in terms of characterization. In the end it’s again the same old pattern with Shuu being a jerk someone telling him he shouldn’t be such a jerk and then he simply tells everyone that yes, he was a jerk – and everything’s fine. It doesn’t lead anywhere. When Shuu tells Souta that he’s kind of a sociopath and adds indirectly that he likes Inori there’s no real development. It’s probably the dullest way of addressing character-development to let a character develop by simply learning to know what the script says regarding his characterization. The other problem with this whole character-development is Inori. I know from looking at a brick that some things have a hard time selling their personality but she should at least play a role, right? Two guys are in love with the same girl and this dramatic conflict is resolved with Inori playing no substantial role. You’d think she as object of admiration has something to say on the matter of Satou nearly confessing and Shuu interrupting with his own half-assed attempt but no. She doesn’t say anything. She truly show no character or personality whatsoever in this episode. Arnorld Schwarzenegger in Conan: The Barbarian had more personality and he had to face the challenge of speaking English worse than a Gorilla. Inori delivers non-substantial lines of dialogue without any emotion – in which crazy world would this be considered a character? Her characterization (or lack of one) destroys any sort of scene this series wants to create with her having a role in it because she can’t play a role! If you think back what Inori has contributed to this series you think of certain moments and realize that in the end she was just there and because of that other characters did this and that. But she never contributed anything herself. She isn’t even passive, she simply plays no role – or at least you could say she plays as much a role in this series as the existence of breathable air and gravity.
The story-related stuff was slightly interesting if only that Gai actually was outwitted by someone. Well, perhaps the other guy simply had better timing but what matters that the plot of this episode was surprisingly solid. Of course it is still a beach-episode because Guilty Crown apparently treats ‘being generic’ as a kind of religion. Therefore if you distract the amount of time needed for fanservice and awkward soap-oper Shuu-style then there’s not much time left for the serious stuff and that might be the reason why it was so solid. They actually had to concentrate on progressing things seriously without making any attempt of ridiculously screwing things up. Although there was a scene that seemed to be out-of-place and that was as Shuu, Gai and Inori entered the security facility using Souta’s Void and this soldier appears out of nowhere trying to shoot Shuu and Inori goes berserk (well, compared to her usual non-existing personality anyway) kind-of killing that dude (or not, she shot his helmet which did apparently no damage if one can believe the sound of the bullet’s impact). There are so many ways of having Inori showing more interest in Shuu but this weird scene came out-of-nowhere, ended as fast as it began and left me simply confused what it actually meant to say. First, I’ve thought it wanted to introduce the fact that the soldiers have discovered them but the whole thing with soldiers appearing ended there. But then I thought of what it might mean that Inori tries to save Shuu but well, it’s not very convincing. I mean, of course, when a soldier appears seeing three guys who he wants to shoot and Inori thinks about protecting Shuu first then you know what her priorities are. In the end it’s simply not very well done. And that applies to the whole episode even though it’s one of the most solid of this series until now.

Guilty Crown sure loves being generic but I guess it’s a pretty okay beach-episode since it doesn’t go too far with its silliness and it’s nicely integrated into the story. The story is also quite solid in this episode but the seventh episode showed that it’s best when it’s just stupid fun. Being serious and gloomy worked in this episode because Shuu being a jerk (again) and fanservice took up most of the time. But I fear that if the series begins to ponder about its story the awful script-writing will manage to drag down the series again to its abysmal levels it has shown in some of the previous episodes.

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 December 2, 2011, in Anime, Guilty Crown, Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Could he have just Googled his dad or something? It would’ve taken all of three seconds.

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    • At this point I can actually accept that before the start of this series Shuu was kinda mute-deaf whenever someone tried talking to him. That’s simply how he rolled in the days before the anime started. And his enviroment’s reaction to it didn’t bother him because he also was already a jerk at that point.
      No, what really bothers me is how he reacted learning of his dead father’s occupation. It was a reaction comparable to learning that it will rain tomorrow. Perhaps he’s trying to imitate Inori but I honestly didn’t expect him to sink that low in terms of personality (or the lack of one)…

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  2. Aaw I agree, Shu’s reaction to learning a bit more about his father was just so incredibly non existent I just didn’t understand.
    I mean, we’re supposed to feel sorry for him right? I mean, his father died and all, that’s sad, we’re supposed to sympathize, a bit at least, but he has no reaction. At all.
    And so the viewer has no reaction either, if anything it just made me dislike Shu more.

    Actually, this episode reminded me of Sacred Seven, but at least Guilty Crown is somehow funny.

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  3. what im curious about is what shu sees in inori? so far, shes given him no cause for him to feel that way, if anything, the opposite.

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    • I can already picture myself sitting in front of my PC watching the last episode and with a sigh I say disappointed: “Well, at least it’s pretty…”
      Inori is one of the worst characters, I know. I mean, sure there are probably characters out there who get on your nerves with a grating personality or some other iffy way of ruining your mood but at least they have a character. Inori is just a blank slate. You can’t even describe her because of how insignificant her personality is.

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    • I think the reason why Shuu likes her is because one: she’s pretty, two: she has a beautiful voice, and three: she came after him to save him from GHQ when she was ordered to stay behind. She went after him to save him, even when she was ordered to stand by, and that earned her Shuu’s trust and “love”.

      What confuses me is that even after she told him that she was using his feelings to get him to join Funeral Parlor, he’s still head-over-heels for her… Inori coming to save him may earn some sort of camaraderie (since she did it against orders for his well-being) but after confessing her real intentions, I’m seriously questioning Shuu’s mentality. Maybe he’s in too much denial to really come to terms that Inori has no special feelings for him yet. She seems interested in him… sort of… and will help him when she sees fit, but nothing more than that.

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      • I think the reason why Shuu likes her is because one: she’s pretty, two: she has a beautiful voice, and three: she came after him to save him from GHQ when she was ordered to stay behind. She went after him to save him, even when she was ordered to stand by, and that earned her Shuu’s trust and “love”.

        Hmm, also considering how Souta acted in this episode it always seemed to me that Shuu loved her from the point he saw her being a real person in episode 01 because he already kinda loved her just watching her sing on Youtube. And it’s always amazing how everyone forgets that she sings rebellious anti-GHQ-songs. For her fans she’s just a beautiful pop-star… Anyway I don’t think she earned Shuu’s love it was more a kind of acknowledging his feelings. At least that’s how I interpreted it.

        What confuses me is that even after she told him that she was using his feelings to get him to join Funeral Parlor, he’s still head-over-heels for her…

        She gave him the cold shoulder one time (well, colder than usual anyway considering her catatonic passion) and the rest of the time she kinda supported Shuu. So I actually ignore that one moment of Inori ‘betraying’ him. And you have to remember: As far as Shuu is concerned Inori still spent a night with Gai for unknown reasons but he never bothered to question that again after that one episode. Therefore I simply ignore it, just like the series, it seems. That’s the kind of compromises one has to make apparently when watching Guilty Crown 😀 .

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  4. that wheelchair oneesan is way better than inori, shu should choose her instead.
    or prolly he can have a very good incestuous reltionship with haruka.
    i say this because haruka been suggesting it to him, and he keep blushing.
    on other note, this show is boring, this is prolly because they have planned a
    second season, this is the reason, i dont see anything special from this series.
    there are other anime that is better than this.

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  5. Again, this episode, we are presented with mr. knows all : GAI. They said it themselves, void weapons are determined by the owners’ hearts. Why is he so sure that Souta’s void can be used to open any kind of door?

    Didn’t you make quizzes on each of your post in this blog?
    Q : “Please menton one thing that Gai doesn’t know about?”
    A : “None. Gai sees all and knows all. Not only he knows about Shuu’s classmates and parents. He also know you and me. And this blog. LOL.”

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    • At this point things like Gai knowing pretty much everything aren’t anything worthy to complain about anymore. This series is bad and episode seven was my favourite because it made Guilty Crown silly fun. That’s what it is: Silly Fun. Gai as the ‘brain’ of the series knowing everything seems actually appropriate in terms of what this series wants to do. I mean, this series had an American named Dan Eagleman saying that Japan doesn’t know shit about controlling its own country and that they should be grateful that the GHQ is doing all the heavy lifting politically for them. Sometimes Guilty Crown is really xenophobic with the way they treat GHQ. But (at least I hope so) this can’t be the message of the series, can it? It’s supposed to be about Shuu feeling guilty about using his friend’s Voids. There was a sort of epigram on one of the singles for the anime’s soundtrack:
      The right to use
      my friend
      as a weapon.
      That is the sinful crown
      I shall adorn.

      Well, it’s not like the series is doing a good job of conveying that message so far. Shuu is still a jerk after all. And Inori’s reaction to Shuu using her is like to a all things: nothing.

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  6. i want to see Inori nude

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  7. @bastardo: you are one creepy dude…

    Overall, your review is pretty spot on. Nice Job! The only thing I would say I had a disagreement on was that Inori didn’t go a killing spree. Inori shot the guy’s gun out of his hand and kneed him in the face, thus knocking him out (at least, that’s what I thought I saw…). I think I remember her saying that she didn’t like to kill so she only does it when there’s no other options available for her. Right now, I’m not entirely sure she’s human (maybe she is?) but something definitely happened to make her so… abnormal.

    I’m surprised by all the hatred toward Inori too. I’m not exactly her fan (I actually like that dark-hard techy girl more – she’s my fave even though she doesn’t show up often… lol) but I don’t exactly hate her either for her “blank slate” personality. Nothing in the anime so far has really pushed her to change or to become more “human” so to speak so I can’t really blame her for being boring. And Shuu is definitely not the type of character to actually push her to be more “human”. He’s way too much of a wuss and whiner to do that. Someone with a bright and confident countenance would work better with her. I think the only reason Inori is even interested in Shuu in the first place is because she may have some history with him that they both may not even remember. That’s my thought but I may be way off.

    Anyway, thanks for the synopsis and review. I loved reading through it all. You offer a lot of good comments so kudos to you.

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    • @bastardo: you are one creepy dude…

      Come on, he just wants to see her nude… Some animes think Blu-Rays exist just to give you the opportunity to do exactly that 😉 .

      The only thing I would say I had a disagreement on was that Inori didn’t go a killing spree. Inori shot the guy’s gun out of his hand and kneed him in the face, thus knocking him out (at least, that’s what I thought I saw…). I think I remember her saying that she didn’t like to kill so she only does it when there’s no other options available for her.

      Gee, you’re right… Well, I guess, scratching my head in a state of mild befuddlement while trying to understand where the need for this scene came from led to loss of memory and my imagination running wild. Perhaps I should stop scratching my head from now on during such questionable scenes…
      Hmm, she shot the gun out of his hands. Yeah, that sounds about right, that’s more like Guilty Crown. But it still seems rather random to me and now that you mention it: I hate people talking about their killing-habits when they’re not about to kill someone. It’s like a guy eating a soup with a spoon saying that he only uses a knife when necessary. Well, of course he does! So like that Inori’s line is the kind of “What if something like this in the future happens”-kinda talk that’s either boring foreshadowing or just yawn-worthy characterization because it is obvious and doesn’t say anything about her.

      Right now, I’m not entirely sure she’s human (maybe she is?) but something definitely happened to make her so… abnormal.

      Well, I wanted to talk in this week’s episode-review about it so there I will expand on that but what I think is that Inori isn’t abnormal. She’s simply badly characterized by someone who’s too lazy to go the whole way for her to get a full-fledged personality. Abnormality isn’t simply a certain kind of ‘lack’ of what we would consider a character, abnormality is a character-trait like everything else you could use to characterize someone. Making Inori seem passive and emotionless isn’t a characterization, it just makes her a plot-device. The worst thing you can say about Inori is that she doesn’t ‘work’ as a character. You can’t imagine her having a daily life because she has no sufficient characterization to make something like that possible.

      He’s way too much of a wuss and whiner to do that. Someone with a bright and confident countenance would work better with her.

      Shuu is anti-social in a kinda jerky way so he’s probably no good influence for any kind of character-interaction. But you sure have a very hopeful attitude towards Inori to make her a nutshell-character whose personality stays hidden until someone cracks the nut. I think her ‘past self’ is probably completely different from how she’s now and in the end it will be Inori trying to be like her ‘past self’ without ever showing what her new own personality is like.

      I think the only reason Inori is even interested in Shuu in the first place is because she may have some history with him that they both may not even remember. That’s my thought but I may be way off.

      No, no, I think you’re right, the series dropped some rather obvious hints about the whole past-thing. But it’s even worse than blaming the ‘mysterious workings of love’ because it’s so typical. And convenient memory-loss of something important that happened during only to be remembered in a dramatically appropriate moment is cheap plot-convenience. A character forgot something important, fine, but don’t make it seem like remembering that stuff is some kind of event worthy of a dramatic celebration.

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      • O_O …Woah… Nice Response!

        Lol. Talking about your own killing habits is pretty much redundant when you’re up in arms ready to shoot someone down (especially if you do it without much reaction…) isn’t it? Well, I guess she thought that if she forewarned the guards they might retreat? An unlikely outcome, but there may some hope yet… (but we all know that will never happen).

        I probably shouldn’t have used the word abnormal. I couldn’t figure out a better word to fit her at the moment so abnormal was the best thing I could come up with. Since you know, normally people would have some personality to call their own and in her case she’s just a blank slate. There’s nothing there to give rise to what she’s really like on the inside and she never expresses anything (well, not enough anyway) for anyone to get a clear reading of what type of person she’s like (or used to be like). So here, we just have a difference of opinion on how we would define the word “abnormal”. We’re still in general agreement that she’s not much of a character at the moment.

        And yes, I’m hoping Inori would turn out to be something more than she is now. Keyword: hoping. But right now, I’m worried since she’s not developing much whatsoever. This may be attributed to the fact that I’m easier in accepting girls in anime. They appeal to me more for some odd reason… and yes, I’m weird that way but I still take it all in pride. Hopefully, things won’t end badly for her but the longer she stays with the main character (Shuu) the more I feel like she’s gonna fail. Do you think my dislike for Shuu is unreasonable? Because I feel like it’s getting in the way with my trying to accept him (but I seriously can’t like him). The anime tries to make us sympathize with the kid but I just… can’t.

        And yes to the last point. It is a cheap plot devise but is Guilty Crown original in anything at this point in terms of developing the plot? Not really… lol. Let’s just hope that their missing memories don’t involve anything related to romance… (like promising to be together forever…) because that would me puke from all the corniness that oozes off.

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    • Gai –> Mr knows it all
      Shuu –> jerk, jerk, jerk
      Inori –> expressionless alien doll
      Honestly, nobody is going to weep if all of them died. 🙂

      Like

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