Guilty Crown is a pretty interesting anime. The ending is pretty infamous and I can see why. (Although I probably have different reasons for my thoughts on it) You probably wouldn’t be able to guess the plot based on the title, but it’s okay since the title is pretty original. This definitely isn’t one of the best anime out there as it starts out strong and then ends on a weak note, but the concept is good and the show may be worth checking out.
The show starts off with good ole Shu Ouma as he’s just trying to live an ordinary life. The event known as White Christmas happened about a decade ago and Japan was weakened to the point where other countries decided to walk in and pulverize them. Now they are completely dependent on these countries to help them and they don’t have any form of real power anymore. This “White Christmas” infected many people and they quickly died or were left in a coma. They essentially turned into crystals. They aren’t crystals, but that’s how it always looked to me.
A terrorist organization known as Funeral Parlor starts to get more and more publicity. Shu doesn’t have anything to do with them at first, but when a girl by the name of Inori appears; Shu decides that it’s time to get his game on. He is able to draw on the power of the Void, which basically means that he can stab a person and draw out their true soul as a weapon. Inori’s is a sword, which is lucky since that’s basically the best weapon that you can ask for. Shu beats up a lot of robots and joins the group, but he has his doubts. They are terrorists after all, but they do help people and beating up on the corrupted government is always satisfying. Shu must make a decision….
That is essentially Arc 1. Arc 2 is really hard to describe without seeing Arc 1, but I will do my best. Shu is a changed man after the traumatic events that occurred in the first part of the series and now he has become a much crueler person. I identify him as the main villain of the arc, but the corrupted government has added a major player to their side, which helps to even the playing field. The government still wants to murder everyone indiscriminately, but Shu isn’t much better as he allows gangs to start piling up and beat on the weak. There aren’t any characters to root for and the plot gets dicey when we find out some twists about the person who caused White Christmas. Inori is also suffering from what appears to be a split personality and there is now another character that can use the void. It looks like it’s time for America to step in…
Shu Ouma is the main character of Guilty Crown and he gets a bunch of character development! Unfortunately, he actually gets too much development and ends up becoming a very unlikable character. At first, Shu is a nice guy who just lacks confidence. He doesn’t try to save Inori when some guys show up to take her away and it haunts him for a while. He’s not very confident in using the voids and the terrorists tend to push him around and Gai also beats him up once. Despite all of this, I didn’t mind Shu all that much. He didn’t go and betray the heroes after all. He really just wanted to help out Inori and that meant helping out Gai’s group as well.
Things took a turn for the worst in Arc 2. After the traumatic moment causes Shu to rethink his actions, he becomes a dictator. Now he just wants to stay as their King and he’ll make sure that everyone obeys him by force. He pushes them all to the breaking point and quite a few students are injured and some are destroyed thanks to his plans. Shu wants to win at all costs so he ends up losing his morals. He basically became the main villain for a while and I could definitely not root for him. Shu died out and he couldn’t make it back up to the top. It’s one of the many reasons why Arc 2 managed to bring the show down.
Inori is the main heroine and she’s a tricky character. She’ll be decent in one episode and then she’ll lack the willpower to stop herself from attacking people. There is a twist about her dark side, which definitely helps to explain some of her shady actions. She is one of the big members of the group, but she rarely gets to see any action. We know that she’s handy with a gun and good at hand to hand combat, but these moments are few and far between. Mostly she only appears for a developing romance with Shu so I would have liked some fight scenes for her. It would give her a bigger role and more to do in the show. She does get a role in Arc 2, but due to certain circumstances, this barely counts. She’s definitely not the worst heroine out there, but she could have been a lot better.
Gai is one of the key players and he went from being my favorite (or close to) character in the show to sinking down quickly once Arc 2 began. Gai is the tough leader who makes all of the tough calls and willingly descends into the darkness so that others can experience the light. He’s a decent enough guy, although Shu does manage to rattle him after a mere episode or two. Gai knows some basic hand to hand skills and he’s also a skilled tactician. Gai is one of the main reasons as to why the terrorist group is still alive, but his methods can be underhanded and he’s definitely not someone that you can trust. Amidst all of that; Gai was great at what he did and while I may not have appreciated him as a hero; he made for a good villain/anti hero.
Once Arc 2 began….it was basically Game Over for his character arc. He decided to embark on an incredibly risky plan that really had a 100% chance of major casualties and a very small chance for success. It was definitely not one of his better ideas and it was hard for his character to be redeemed even if the plan could have been successful. He just crossed the line along with Shu and many of the other supporting characters. At least Gai was still able to talk a good game and he even talked back to the government!
Ayase is one of the main supporting characters and she is unable to walk so she has to rely on a wheelchair. Luckily, she also gets to pilot one of the mecha robots, which basically gives her the feeling of walking since she can run while in the mecha. Since it’s all virtual…she’s basically able to walk, but only when mentally inside the robot. Ayase is definitely not one of my favorite characters. She’s nice enough at times, but she doesn’t contribute much to the story. It’s also not fun to see her on screen because you know that she’ll probably get bullied by some of the mean students. Since she can’t move and she has a tendency to hit the ground; things don’t go very well for her. Luckily she has a lot of friends on campus, but it can still get dicey. She also has a tendency to overreact when inside of the robot.
Tsugami is Ayase’s partner and she always coordinates the plans for the heroes. She’s likable enough and Tsugami is easily the most cheerful member of the group. She treats the whole thing like a game on the outside, but she still takes it seriously. Tsugami also knows some mild hand to hand, but it would appear that it’s not as impressive as she would have you believe. Tsugami’s hacking skills are only rivaled by Kenji’s and she’s definitely one of the main reasons that the terrorist group has gone so far.
Segai is the main villain of the anime. It’s a little bold to say that, but he fits the bill more than any of the other antagonists. He’s always around and he loves to mess with their minds. Segai tries to turn Shu to the dark side; which is a lot easier than one may think. Segai is pretty cunning and since he is pretty high on the political totem pole; it’s a simple matter to blackmail most of the heroes. Luckily, blackmail doesn’t work on terrorists right? Unfortunately, I never got around to liking Segai. Sure, he has a gun and he’s pretty good at being a villain, but I just don’t like his personality. He’s the type of guy that spends too much time masquerading as a hero in public. There’s just nothing “cool” or “epic” about him and that means that I will never become a fan.
Shuuichirou Keidou appears out of nowhere to become the final big villain of Arc 2. He’s not likable in the slightest and one may wonder as to the point of his whole operation. What’s really in it for him aside from random destruction? It’s a little impressive that he made it so far considering that he’s only human, but I just didn’t find him very interesting. He’s merely another villain that will need to be dealt with by the heroes. His design was pretty good for his role so I give him props for that.
Haruka Ouma is Shu’s mom and she doesn’t get a huge role, but she becomes a little more important in Arc 2. The fact that she suspected how corrupt her employer was and didn’t do anything about it is a little dicey. Her whole plan was very dangerous since the chance for success was slim. Haruka generically likes to mess with Shu, but that’s something that the parent always does to the protagonist in anime. It’s unfortunate, but just how it goes. Overall, she was all right at best. Haruka definitely could have been a lot better, but at least she is good with a gun.
Daryl Yan is one of the bigger villains of the show. He starts off as a terrible person and then we’re supposed to start feeling sympathetic for him. Daryl finds out about a pretty big twist that shakes him to the core. What’s even worse is that he begins to get acquainted with one of the heroes and he’s going to have to make the tough call. I can’t say that he was likable and the second half can be seen as cheesy. His character arc is also all over the place as he gives in to his craving for destruction towards the end and he takes some characters down. Daryl is not a character that you will likely be able to root for and he’ll just be forgotten with some time.
Dan Eagleman is easily the best villain of the show. You seriously cannot compare him to the other fighters. He’s enthusiastic about his job and he always attacks his duties with gusto and finesse. That’s what I expect to see from someone with the legendary name of Dan! His ending is rather abrupt and a little disappointing, but his few scenes are very impressive. There won’t be another epic villain like Dan in this show.
Mana is another character who appears out of left field and we mostly get to see her through flashbacks. She is definitely not one of the more likable characters and she doesn’t respect family boundaries. Not to mention that she uses people to get her way all the time while trying to act innocent. Her goals are pretty chaotic and she didn’t really add anything to the show. Her appearance did help to wrap up one of the subplots, but it was not enough to redeem her character.
Yuu is a mysterious figure that appears during the second half of the show. As with Shu, he possesses the power of the void within him. He has a lot more experience than Shu and it makes you wonder why it took so long for him to appear. They don’t really explain why he’s here as they only make brief statements about him. The character stays shrouded in secrecy from beginning to end. He is pretty tough so that part is cool, but he doesn’t have much personality. He’s a decently good villain and he puts most of the others to same.
Kenji Kido is the definition of a filler character. He gets a ton of hype and contributes nothing to the actual story. I’m still unsure as to why he was added to the series and I can’t say that he’s likable either. He’s a mass murderer and the heroes want him to help! Sorry, but the situation wasn’t so dire that they needed to bring such a villain on board. Kenji has one scene that’s supposed to be impressive where he proves that he can hack a computer with the best of them. That’s cool and all…but it’s not the “impressive” scene that I was looking for. Shu basically crushes him when they first meet and that’s when I realized that Kenji was all hype and no action.
Yahiro (Sugar) is a character that I disliked almost immediately. Let’s just say that his “Sugar” nickname wasn’t given for the greatest of reasons and it meant that there was no way that I would like him. He’s really not someone that you can trust and I don’t see why Shu stayed as his friend. One would think that he would get better in Arc 2 after he’s learned about friendship and all, but…this Is Arc 2! Yahiro quickly makes all of the wrong moves. Going behind Shu’s back about the power level listings was pretty low and then he was quick to turn on Inori. (Albeit…he had some decent reasoning behind it, but the punishment was too drastic…although Shu created the law….so we’ll keep going around in circles) Either way, Yahiro just wasn’t likable and he’s partially responsible for how twisted Shu became. Not to mention that he helped Shu achieve these corrupt actions so he’s not exempt from the blame.
Souta is another one of Shu’s friends. He’s pretty direct, but he can also be very unreasonable. He doesn’t make it easy for Shu to fit in at school and he also happens to like Inori, which ups the drama. He doesn’t really do anything in Arc 1, but he was all right for the most part. Souta’s definitely not my kind of character, but he wasn’t terribly unlikable…until Arc 2 came along! In Arc 2, Souta is very insecure and he’s worried about the power level rosters that are being handed out. To prove just how epic and powerful he can become; Souta heads into enemy territory. Can he take down the large and powerful mechs on his own? No worries…Souta brought his friends! Let’s just say that this wasn’t a good move and it put a lot of good people at risk. It’s not as if he was going to be blown up for his weakness back at base. If he had stayed, Shu may not have been as much of a dictator and Arc 2 could have been saved.
Hare is technically a supporting character for most of the series, but it’s easy to forget that she is around. Hare is one of Shu’s classmates and as such, she doesn’t get involved in any of the missions. She is a pretty nice person and Hare is a lot more likable than Shu. Unfortunately, she doesn’t really have any abilities to fight with so she really doesn’t stand a chance. Still, she’s a solid supporting character and she doesn’t start to spiral down during Arc 2 like the next character.
Arisa is another character that isn’t very important to the story, but she does get a larger role in Arc 2. After Shu has basically become a corrupted person; Arisa decides that she will have to use her charms to plant an informant among his ranks. After degrading herself to get the necessary data; Arisa decides to go along with the plans to show how awful they are. It may be at the expense of hundreds of fighters, but that isn’t a problem for her. It’s just what Arisa needs to do right? I definitely wouldn’t say that I’m a fan of her, but there are so few characters to like once Arc 2 begins.
Guilty Crown doesn’t have an overabundance of fanservice, but it is definitely around. Inori’s costumes usually aren’t the best and we can’t forget about Arisa’s tricks. The robots also give the pilots a lot of feedback when they are damaged and the animators use it as a chance to give the female pilot unnecessary movements. Even the hacker gets some for no reason as it should have been a cheerful scene. So, there isn’t quite as much fanservice as in other shows, which is definitely good. That being said; there is still much more than I would like and it’s too bad that more shows cannot be basically perfect like Yugioh GX. That show managed to be epic without relying on such cheap tactics.
The first arc was pretty good because it was an interesting concept. Using people’s hearts to fight the villains is a risky gamble, but the powers are immense. Then, having the “heroes” actually be terrorists is unique, but I can see a lot of people not getting on board with that idea. There was some sci-fi and the night elements made the show have some thriller aspects as well. Arc 2 seemed to have forgotten that.
In Arc 2, the focus is really centered on the school and the stakes get a lot lower. Things get a little more supernatural as we have ghosts and spirits and other beings with mysterious powers. Unfortunately, nothing else was that good about it since this arc wrecked most of the cast. A lot of the plot twists were unnecessary and the ending was downright terrible. It would have been hard to crash and burn as much as Arc 2. Turning the main character into one of the big villains is really hard to pull off correctly and Guilty Crown definitely didn’t succeed.
The show also portrays the students in a really terrible light. They seem to only care about losing their morals and hurting others. When the students see a defenseless person on the ground; they immediately try to gang up on her and show just how awful they are. Luckily, the heroes are usually around, but what about when they aren’t? At one point, two of the heroines get tied up and the students decide to publicly search them in case they have the terrorist logo. Luckily, the heroes are there to stop things before they go too far, but they aren’t as hardcore as other protagonists so they wait a while before stopping the proceedings. Sure, some students may be like that, but it’s sad to see everyone looking so evil. The scenes are also just in bad taste because we really don’t need to be seeing that. We get that bullying takes place and students can get attacked by gangs of other students, but it’s unnecessarily gritty. Likewise, in one of the first episodes as someone is beaten to the ground and then shot. One thing that I’ve never liked is seeing a defenseless person get beaten up in an extended scene. There’s just no reason to see it and I prefer to have close fights.
On the bright side; the Government actually gets involved. At one point, they consider launching the nukes and America looks very impressive. Unfortunately, the terrorists are too powerful at that point and all of the various governments around the world are helpless to stop them. It’s a little scary how quickly one man can surpass the government in power, but it happens very quickly in Guilty Crown thanks to the ultimate weapon. America may have technically looked weak in that scene, but I like how tough they looked and how quickly the government went to the nuclear option.
The animation for the show looks very good and I was especially impressed with the first episode. Daytime scenes tend to look great with many companies and the night scenes are where you can tell if the animation is great or only decent. Guilty Crown has a lot of night scenes and they look great, which shows that they did a good job. The fight scenes (Which are rare in the show) are very flashy and everything about it really seems modern. The character designs all stand out (For the main characters) and I really have no complaints with any part of the animation. Everything was done very well.
The soundtrack is a little forgettable. The fight theme from the first episode was pretty good because it felt nice and theatrical. I would definitely say that it is a good soundtrack overall, but you likely won’t remember the main pieces all that much. The opening songs for the show are another matter as you will remember them. They may not be as catchy as the openings to Railgun or Soul Eater, but they’re good enough.
Overall, Guilty Crown is a show that had a lot of promise and manages to squander most of it. Between unnecessary student bullying, innocents being assaulted, and fanservice; the show barely manages to hang in there. The cast isn’t that great, but at least we have some solid animation and music to help out. I wouldn’t recommend this to fans who want more of a light tones anime to watch and have fun with. For that, go check out Railgun. It was tough on deciding whether to give this one a 5 or a 6, but I believe that the first half is slightly good enough to float the series to the next level. (I don’t do 5 and a half. Only whole numbers!) So, I halfheartedly recommend that you may like this series if you don’t mind the grim tone and you like to see robots and school scenes in one anime. Otherwise, you may want to wait until the new Yugioh Series comes out!