Guilty Crown – 12 Review
We learn two important things about the Lost-Christmas-Catastrophe in this episode: 1. Everything is (of course) Shuu’s fault. 2. Incest would’ve saved the world. Go figure what this tells us, the audience, about the show’s message.
Guilty Crown 12 – The Things She Did For Love
Now wasn’t that a totally crazy rollercoaster-ride? Shuu as a little kid was surprisingly – also a jerk challenging other innocent kids to risk their lives. And his sister had a very jerky way when it came to love so I guess being a jerk is a family-trademark or something. Anyway, don’t expect me to touch upon all the little fluff-implications of this semi-finale. The last few episodes not only had enough story to let everything before that look like a filler, the revealed story also made it clear that the first half actually was kinda like a filler. So with the timetable of a busy beehive this series decides to rush past you with this episode’s big revelations. And yes, they obviously didn’t have the time to make it watertight storytelling. But well, at least they remember how crappy Guilty Crown’s beginnings were.
As Daath tries to kill Shuu while holding Inori Gai appears out of nowhere taking the blow like a man. Gai collapses and Shuu slowly starts to remember his past because that’s the kind of thing which is supposed to happen now (semi-finale and all that non-sense, you have to understand). Daath “Grave Keeper” (he plants nice flowers on graves in his freetime) as Gai calls him tries to disappear through his portal and Shuu (of course) doesn’t know what to do. But Gai (also, of course) already knows their plan: They plan to sacrifice Inori to awaken Mana. That convinces Shuu to leave the dying Gai heroically behind and follow Daath. In some strange twilight-realm Daath helps Shuu remembering his messed up childhood.
As a child he lived together with his sister Mana in a house somewhere idyllic and one day Gai takes the stage as they found him unconscious on the beach. Apparently he’s supposed to be as old as Shuu (well, not that you can trust chara-designs anymore anyway to tell you a character’s real age) and he falls in love with Shuu’s older sister Mana. But Mana is the first to be infected with the Apocalypse-virus and apparently this drives her insane which leads to her falling in love with Shuu. Meanwhile Shuu befriends Gai and gives a shit about Mana having feelings for him. All that culminates on a Christmas-day when Gai tries to reveal to Shuu how batshit his sister is but she appears before him and gives Gai a present. It’s a gun with which he’s supposed to shoot something but as he does that it misfires and injures him instead. That’s when Shuu appears and is totally confused what has happened. Mana then asks him to have sex with her but Shuu calls her a monster which causes her to release the Apocalypse-virus in a giant blast (which doesn’t hurt Shuu and Gai for some reason). After the blast Gai stands up, says “I need to get stronger. Goodbye.” and strolls off to whatever funny thing he wanted to do next. Shuu is just traumatized and does nothing. Now that’s a scene full of friendship and optimism for the future, right?
Back in the present Shuu’s trapped in the Ruppungi-fort (or something…) created by Mana. He has to helplessly watch as some weird wedding-ceremony is starting when the professor-dude prepares Inori to be sacrificed for Mana. She was also Mana’s vessel in some way since her creation and that’s why she likes Shuu (yeah, needed to mention that because I wait for Inori to call Shuu a jerk in the next episode without Mana’s influence). So after every confusing little detail of the plot was explained Gai arrives (he still isn’t dead) – with help! Now a battle starts between Mana’s creepy eye-crytal-thingy-stuff… whatever and Gai together with the Mecha. Surprisingly the Mecha goes out at first but that’s quickly explained by the fact that even more stuff needs to be explained! So Gai and Shuu continue where they left off last time in their flashbacks. Thankfully I covered that all above and don’t treat a flashback in this summary like it’s a frigging doko-soap-recap. So they end up talking a lot and after Shuu has finally remembered everything Gai has another one of his great plans. This time the plan is so goddamn frigging amazing that it throws previously established setting-rules out of the window in favour of Gai using his own Void and Shuu taking Inori’s Void to defend her. Shuu protects Inori successfully and the professor-dude gets killed by Daath who got bored by the soapy action. Gai also runs towards Mana like he’s a stupid boar and immediately he’s pierced by a dozen crystal-spikes. In a very emotional moment he tells Shuu how he should use this great distraction to kill Mana which only works because it’s Gai’s plan and his plans always work. So Shuu pierces Gai with his sword and kills his batshit crazy sister. Now Gai dies for real and Shuu flees with Inori. Outside they have a crying-session to convince even the last one of the audience that this was supposed to be sad or something.
Yeah, right, let’s just blame Shuu’s stupidity for all this retarded storytelling. That’s why he became the main-character in the first place anyway, I guess…
I think the way the last few episodes got into the epic-stuff-mood made me realize that the biggest mistake Guilty Crown has done until now is just one word: Shuu. Ignoring the revelations of this episode I can see no reason why I would’ve chosen him as the focus of the story. Shuu is just a weak character, not only in the way that he’s bland and dull but also because he has simply no charisma. It always bothers me when people say that Last Exile: Fam’s main-character Fam is bad because she isn’t a very interesting character. But while she isn’t interesting I think she’s the only one on the good side who can drive the plot forward without getting lost in the character’s flaws. Of course it’s still important how interesting or deep a character is but when it comes to main-characters they have to be more than just interesting persons, they have to be a plot-device. Sherlock Holmes may have the most interesting insights into the meaning of little details but this would be of no importance if he wouldn’t be also solving mysteries. And that’s how main-characters have to be. And now coming back to Guilty Crown Shuu obviously did neither of those things, he was a not very interesting character and he was a poorly-made plot-device. So I’m really worried whether he can be the kind of character he has to be from now on and I think this show will delve now into fillers and take its time before letting him face a real challenge.
Looking at the present for now there’s of course this conclusion to the semi-finale from the episodes before Christmas and I was baffled by this episode and how much it felt like a typical generic-shounen-series-finale. If somebody would’ve told me that this is the last episode of Guilty Crown I would’ve complained a lot about its mistakes as finale but I wouldn’t have laughed at that guy and said “Impossible!”. It’s actually not really a matter of how this series continues but more that this finale was really important stuff. The Apocalypse-thingy (which is inappropriately called a virus, I think) got a bit of an explanation and Shuu, Gai and Mana were shown in a different light with the flashbacks but this all happened also with the speed of light obviously. And most important of all: There’s a sort of happy end.
This one episode had a surprisingly solid pacing I think of mixing the flashbacks with the conclusion to the action. Obviously the way some stuff got thrown into the episode seemed to be a bit abrupt and out-of-place because of how marginally important it was. But overall this was a solid episode. Where this semi-finale failed to have an impact on me wasn’t so much in what it did in this episode than what came before. Like I said before, the first half concentrating on Shuu is a total waste of time. Not only because the character doesn’t quite work as main-beef but because there was no sufficient build-up to this event. There were little things that obviously didn’t tell the audience anything conclusive but more than anything else I think this series forgot to make it all seem natural. This semi-finale appeared practically out-of-nowhere because the story concerned itself with stuff that in the end wasn’t important at all. GHQ? Virus-plague? Terrorism? Shuu manning up? A lot of the issues in the first half are simply not important. I think I’ll call this series “Guilty Crown: What it’s really about” for its second half because of how abruptly it just declared important setting-parts to be irrelevant. In the end I don’t really care about Mana because I don’t really have an insight into her dual nature and how she grew more insane with each day (well, obviously one just has to be nuts loving Shuu). And it’s strange because everyone (I’m also guilty as charged) complained about the generic dullness of this show but surprisingly neither the script-writers nor the director realized that this show concerned itself far too much with stuff that isn’t important. And this was done only to then let the whole truth crash on you at once and suddenly there’s no time to tell the truth properly.
“… As well as by becoming retarded and wimpy.” One hell of a self-protection he has there, I have to admit.
Another aspect that really galled me about the revelations of this episode was the strange feeling that Shuu wasn’t even the main-character of the first half to begin with. That was Gai actually. And now knowing what his storyline was I have to say that his sounds far more interesting than Shuu’s. It’s also very ironic because Shuu was presented as this wimp who wants to become a hero and save the day (of course he is too much of a jerk to have ever done something like that until now). But actually this hero’s journey-trope was basically Gai’s story. Gai was the one falling helplessly for a girl who ended up being a nutcase trying to rape her brother who’s also his best friend. But he keeps loving her and can’t stop shit from hitting the fan when Shuu doesn’t want to have sex with his sister. But then his admiration for Shuu’s courage kicks in and he’s trying to get Mana back, somehow believing he can (yeah, plothole, I know, well, still stupid ol’ Guilty Crown, right?). He also sees how the GHQ hides the truth about Mana and he starts a terrorist-movement, but not to overthrow a government but to get Mana back despite the fact that she hated him and was completely crazy. Okay, perhaps I’m seeing here more than what’s really there but believe me when I say that there was a really interesting story hidden here – and instead we got Shuu.
Memory-loss has to be one of my most-hated plot-devices used in animes because most of the times (like in this case) forgetting is the tragic surprise and remembering the boring certainty. There’s nothing tragic or surprising about remembering at the writer’s convenience. Also, there’s the part of this episode that wants us to believe that before his sister openly asked him to have sex with her he wasn’t a wimp and a jerk like he’s now, he was a hero – and a jerk, of course. Because, yeah, now he can run around screaming and doing heroic shit since clearly that’s the kind of thing he hadn’t done before while being a wimp. I just saw no change in him remembering his childhood, he was still the good ol’ jerky Shuu we all learned to hate during the first half. So even if the episode believes that it has presented us some character-development I don’t really see it. Shuu is still a stupid bland character.
One thing about the story that can also be said is that as soon as it made its appearance it was also already over again. Three episodes of actually concerning itself with the real story of this series and now it’s already over again. The timing for this finale certainly was weird because this kind of episode I would’ve expect to be released before the New-Year-break (or whatever you call it) and then I guess I would’ve understood why this episode rushed to its conclusion with the flashbacks and whatnot. But now that the break is over there’s no reason for rushing this. They could’ve taken its time with the flashback by having at least one episode dedicated to it, I mean, Last Exile: Fam did it, too. This semi-finale was in sore need for build-up to have an impact on the audience – and they rush it. Whatever it is they need their time for in the second half, it better be worth it. My worst fears right now are that this episode’s ending begins a mid-series-slump of having filler-like-episodes about Shuu getting his shit together after his best friend’s death. Tokyo has also become a rather unhealthy place to live with all the crystals and virus in the air… Ah, no, silly me thinking that this Apocalypse-stuff is actually a virus. Mana’s death has eliminated that stuff for sure since that’s how viruses work, right? Okay, joking aside about the story’s shortcomings when it comes to following its own logic but this episode was solid enough as a episode but very flawed as part of a series.
This episode certainly works better alone without thinking about the bigger picture because the build-up of the first half has been just awfully underdeveloped. This semi-finale with its revelations rushed past the audience like a train, or over the audience if you’re trying to figure out what the whole first half was for. With Gai’s death Shuu is now forced to be really a main-character but this episode showed no sign of him actually changing in any meaningful way. He’s still a wimp and a jerk – but supposedly there was a time when he wasn’t a wimp. So let’s hope for some stupid instant-character-change next episode to make this series worthwhile.