Guilty Crown – 15 Review
Oh, thank god, that isn’t awkward at all with Souta being right in front of him who would be part of the so-called ‘trash’… Shuu really knows how to be a jerk.
Guilty Crown 15 – Shuu Finds Out That Being Kind Is Pointless
So, ever heard of the cautionary tale called “The Kind King”? Well, it’s about this king who didn’t understand the most fundamental lessons about economy and therefore ended up destroying his own country by trying to improve it. He wanted to make his people richer and their lives more comfortable – but instead managed to make the situation even more miserable than it already was (since he helped them because they were whiny). So the ‘Kind King’ isn’t a king anymore because his kingdom disappeared by giving everything away that made it his kingdom and nobody calls him ‘kind’ anymore either because life is more terrible than ever. But somehow Hare starts fantasizing and insists on her belief that this ‘Kind King’ is actually a great guy. Well, he isn’t – because he sucks at his job. Problem is, though: We’re talking about Guilty Crown. And I have this uncomfortable feeling sometime in the future Shuu will change his opinion again about what being a king means and being kind is considered a good move again.
As Shuu hears about the Void-ranking-system he immediately realizes that he has to make a decision but can’t do that… because he’s Shuu. So he agrees with Yahiro when he’s with him and agrees with Souta when he’s with him and ends up deciding nothing. But Souta fears what the ranking-system will do to his life since he’s Rank F (which means “trash” to quote Shuu) so he gathers the rest of the Rank-F-candidates and they talk Shuu into releasing their Voids and Souta & Co leave the school-grounds to show the world how useful they can be. Shuu meanwhile retreats to his hideout which is still untouched despite all the shit that has happened in Tokyo the last few weeks. Hare after talking to Tsugumi and Ayase in a blatant fanservice-scene decides to find him and of course knows exactly that Shuu would be in his hideout. There she tells him of her favourite fairy-tale “The Kind King” (which has a kind of a bad ending but well…) and admits that she loves him. They are interrupted by a call telling them that Souta and the other “trash” have left the school-grounds. Funny thing is, though, that the Anti-Bodies choose this time to start another half-assed attack and when Shuu finds Souta & Co together with Hare they are attacked. They blunder around and most of the “trash” dies and Shuu protects Hare from a rocket but leaves him badly injured. Hare uses her last reserves of power to heal Shuu and ends up turning into a crystal. As Shuu wakes up he finds her dead and goes nuts. He repels the attack using Inori (who was, as always, just there during the episode leaving no impression at all on me…). After the battle he beats up Souta and blames him for what has happened and he decides it’s time to be badass.
The distinction between trash and better people, that is… It’s really strange how the series doesn’t insist on making it look evil. It’s interesting to see the series consider the “necessities of evil” but I would’ve liked to see a little bit more resistance to the plan than “Let Shuu decide it.” from the people who don’t end up Rank F.
Guilty Crown is already heading for the finale obviously with starting the depression-phase. Seven episodes are left but somehow I can’t shake off the feeling that the finale of this show will be just as convoluted as the semi-final was. One thing Guilty Crown never has is this feeling that it has a story to tell. In this series stuff happens in a very whimsical way that never gets any build-up or anything I would seriously call foreshadowing. Guilty Crown somehow manages always to want to do so many things at the same time that it just can’t decide what it wants to do when it has to decide. Not only that it creates a kind of chaotic spontaneity (like Code Geass but without any funny exaggeration) but it crushes any hope of using the full potential of some episodes which are actually good.
And this one is actually surprisingly solid but like with the good semi-final Guilty Crown crushed any hopes long ago of doing anything right no matter how good some episodes are on its own. This episode’s plot-structure is solid, though, by using the usual pattern. First you have the wimpy main-character who has to make a decision, then you have the group of people depending on the decision and another group who want him to decide for the other option. The main-character feels tortured and doesn’t know what to do and that’s when one of these “understanding female characters” turns up and the usual “Be yourself”-routine. But because the wimpy main-chara waited too long one group of people does something stupid and the main-chara tries to take care of the stupid stuff they’ve done. And while doing that shit hits the fan which leads to a dramatic event which traumatizes the main-chara and he starts now the “Uuuh, the world is SOOOO bad.”-routine becoming a badass. On the paper the episode actually is okay and it’s a good way to explain the change of the main-character into Mr. Badass for the sake of depression in the pre-final-phase.
You have to admit, fantasizing that the anti-social wimp in your class is supposed to be some sort of “great king” is kinda delusional, right? A flashback might’ve been nice to show why Hare showed so much interest in Shuu in the first place. Her self-proclaimed understanding of Shuu’s “good points” is quite miraculous considering she avoided him at school and Shuu… was pretty much a jerk the whole time.
Now I said it’s okay on the paper because it’s still Guilty Crown and one thing this series always sucks at is – build-up. Since the Void-number-thingy came out of nowhere in the last episode I’m still not quite sure what the point is of all this. Weren’t Void supposed to be the expression of a person’s heart? So why the hell can you rate that kind of thing now? Well, not like it’s totally untypical for a shounen-series to do that but usually it’s done with generic vague jargon like chakra, reiatsu, whatever… In this series, though, apples were turned into oranges simply because it was convenient for the story. And the way the F-ranked-people feel the need to be useful is also something that practically comes out of nowhere because this Void-ranking-system was mentioned last episode and it’s rather vague and not really clear what exactly it means. So the F-Ranks-people’s motivation ends up being a generic “We don’t want to be last…!”-statement which sounds more like whining than rebellion against discrimination. I mean this school totally depends on Voids now apparently, they even need Voids now to open cans which is really stupid. And just like that the meaning of Voids totally changes because in the beginning it sounded more like Voids are people’s hearts but without any build-up things changed into this. That way the pacing of the episode seems rather rushed since things don’t happen because it makes sense in this setting but because it’s convenient for the plot to let this happen now.
Aside from the bad world-building there’s also a problem with the way the characters behaved in this episode, I think. Aside from Shuu who was just wimpy and couldn’t make the decision everyone was either stupid or far too passive. There was a real problem with character-interaction in this episode because there wasn’t really any. This episode was dictated by things happening and characters commenting on it. One could blame the lack of consistent world-building or the fact that there was no dramatic build-up to this turn of events but the characters basically just ‘followed the script’. There was no natural dynamic in this episode which made the characters come alive. Shuu’s struggle was between doing the necessary evil thing and… doing nothing. Souta wanted to do something against that by taking a group of F-people to go to a random hospital in a warzone in the unlikely case of finding vaccine there. Yahiro just keeps nagging Shuu and repeats himself by saying how necessary and important the ranking-system is. And the rest waits for Shuu to decide and actually treats him like a ‘king’ although I don’t feel he already has earned the right for that treatment – although he’s ‘special’ with his Void-number. But these characters were stuck in these roles and just did what was necessary for the story. There was no real characterization for the sake of characterization, you know, stuff that simply reminds you what makes Shuu Shuu, Souta Souta and so on.
Speaking of roles there’s of course Hare with her tragic death and the introduction of the king-trope. Before that the only hint that this series has anything to do with a king was the fact that it’s called Guilty Crown and that Shuu has the King’s Power (way back in the beginning it was called that) but there was never any kind of metaphor, analogy or symbolism going on in relation to Shuu. This changed now with the ‘Kind King’-story from Hare who nicely makes it very obvious what it’s supposed to mean. I have to admit though that if you want to make a story about a king who cares about his people and is full of mercy and stuff there is quite a few better stories to do that than the one Hare chose to tell – because seriously her story was about a king who sucks at his job. He ends up being hated and he destroys his own kingdom. If you ask me that sounds more like a story about why being kind is pointless instead of why it’s good to be kind. And Hare kinda made it sound like it was about that. Her fluffy interpretation sounded more like being kind is the right thing to do no matter what the repercussions are. I’ll refrain at this point explaining how this story could also be interpreted as foreshadowing for the final because I want to mock it when they actually use this foreshadowing. It’s not likely, I think, since this series never understood the purpose of build-up.
In the end this is actually one of the better episodes of Guilty Crown, though. The groundwork for this episode is solid and things make sense in a very open-minded way. You actually have plot-development and the characters develop as well in a way that makes sense in the context of the episode. But like usual the biggest problem is the greater picture of being consistent in terms of world-building and characters. Like that this episode actually does go into the right direction plot-wise but ends up just blundering through this episode’s plot. Guilty Crown never much cared about the long-term stuff or character-development that isn’t introduced as sudden as plottwists.
A solid episode but the lack of build-up makes it hard to not frown at the sudden developments. The characters are reduced to being stiff actors in a rather obvious play trying to be very dramatic which makes it hard to sympathize with them. This episode just rushed through the motions of preparing the stage for the final which is sad because this episode was one of the better ones compared to many other Guilty Crown episodes.
On another note I have to say one good thing about Guilty Crown: Its soundtrack is actually really frigging good.
Composed by Hiroyuki Sawano the soundtrack (the translated liner-notes can be found here at the anime instrumentality blog) also features a surprising number of vocal tracks with various artists. I have to admit that watching the series I didn’t notice the soundtrack at all which perhaps shows how bad the storytelling in that series is when it can’t even make use of this good soundtrack. I listen to many soundtracks but I don’t know that much about music so I will refrain from rating the soundtrack (just consider it a cautious recommendation). But to offer a list of favourite tracks with which you may want to start to find out whether you like the soundtrack or not: Omega, Basileus, Krone, Release My Soul (feat. Aimee Blackschelger).