Guilty Crown is the staple whirlwind of anime that knocks every single imagination and genre possible. Witness what it is like to fight to the extreme and realize a reality never seen before.
Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers from the anime!
About Guilty Crown:
Guilty Crown is an original anime adaptation created by the efforts of those at Production I.G. Guilty Crown's OST (original soundtrack) is composed by Hiroyuki Sawano, who is also well-known for is work in Blue Exorcist and the Attack on Titan series.
Guilty Crown is a story of a fighting spirit with the destiny of despair. The main character, Ouma Shu, has quite the interesting environment as we learn more about his fate. Just as the title is, Shu is going to be caught into a whirlwind of a mess in which he is dubbed as "The Guilty King" (not really). It is because of the newfound power that he has earned that title since he can extract people's void's (a manifestation/weapon based on the human's heart/soul), which he feels guilty of because of his selfishness to protect the ones he loves. The story has three opposing sides; GHQ, which is a quasi-governmental force created by the United Nations as a joint effort to save Japan from the event called the Lost Christmas, and Funeral Parlor (or Undertakers), who are kind of like the resistance fighters: the third would be the entity known as Da'ath, who are an unknown organization that is all about the Tree of Life lore.
Here, the grand adventure of stopping the reincarnation of man-kind begins, with an older sister finding a crystal that changes her to seek love from her younger brother to be the next Adam and Eve installment in the bible, to ultimately leading to the younger brother ending up lonely...
The opening song and soundtrack are to live by!
The beginning was a short and sweet meet and greet in an unknown situation between a guy who loves the singer from Egoist, and the same girl that is wrapped up with a devastating destiny about to be brought into the light. Inori Yuzuriha finds herself in an abandoned school building where our main boy happens to spend his free time at. Later, our boy, Shu Ouma, finds out that she is trying to escape GHQ. GHQ is an organization as mentioned previously above, trying to capture Inori...
The beauty of this is the introduction of a damsel in distress and a lonely boy, who is indecisive, timid, thick-headed, and a coward at stepping up for himself. You can tell right away, what kind of character development he will go through... The classic Hero's journey.
In the first episode, when the two finally meet, Inori makes a bridge or so with the rubber-band, which is Jacob's Ladder (will refer to as bridge as it could tie to the nursery ryhme) and asks Shu to take it, but he is hesitant. The bridge resembles Shu's self in a certain way. London Bridge is Falling Down is about the structural integrity of itself in sustaining and helping those people cross. Later we will tie the knot with that symbolism and purpose of the anime...
Now, the first few episodes are intriguing already, but you actually still have no idea what Shu and the others are actually fighting for and how they ended up in the situation they are in. You are immediately thrown into chaos from the very start, which is a perfect set-up for a story of despair such as Guilty Crown.
One key symbolism to the chaos, in the beginning, is directly related to life. A moral of where sometimes you are living in chaos and it's difficult to choose the best choice, get through the day, and find yourself at ease with happiness. Shu wanted to continue living the same life because he was content with it, but we he seems to be wanting a change in his life after pretending to fit in for so long.
Behold My Power:
Once Shu has the power of the King's he kind of is reluctant to believe himself an important person, and is still a coward.
He literally doesn't realize that he can overtake anyone if he already destroyed that mecha robot called an endlave. Sooner after that, he decides to meet with Funeral Parlor (or we will call them the Undertakers), with their leader Tsutsugami Gai, who you probably saw in the quick flash-back in the above scene. That flashback alone is basically a huge hint to what you can be expecting from the story...
Shu's mysterious power can materialize and draw-forth a weapon/item from the chosen host and use it in battle. We do not get to understand his power this early yet, as we will later see how everyone connects to this dreading story.
Choosing The Side:
In life, you have to choose which side you are on. During this episode (episode 4) of Shu's capture by GHQ, Major Segai gave him a pen, and we predicted that he would come very close to activating it, but soon we learn about what Gai and the Undertakers are trying to do.
When Shu went through the training to become an Undertaker member, we thought he grew stronger as a person or somewhat... It also seemed like he knew what he was getting into, but as he learned about each member, especially Inori and Gai, he felt compassion and had empathy for them. Shu just wanted to protect and save other people he loved. It so happened to be that Inori was his crush interest, and of course, if he were to follow Inori, he was destined to go through a tornado and see who is still alive after that.
So a few more episode later (episode 7), we finally get to see more different void weapons and learn a bit more about the power of the Kings. I thought this part of a key moment because although there is chaos outside, inside the ship people were happy and dancing and Shu was trying his best to protect that moment (or the lives of the people). Can you imagine protecting an unknown building, not because you grew up in it, but because of the memories of those you have shared with before? Although Shu's mom is indeed in the ship, we do not even revisit her existence as it was not important at all. That's why the reason and symbolism for this episode were key for us to see: that although Inori is an empty vessel, inside she has emotions, just like the song that was being played in the scene.
In the end of the episode, we see many pretty fireworks and a spectacle of beauty. This foreshadows the forthcoming of how the anime could end. As you can realize, Shu is by himself deflecting the rockets, and he gets knocked down a lot, but still gets up. That directly is another life morale of to not give up. An overused morale indeed, but important to have for the Hero's Journey.
A few episodes later and the anime starts to repeat the same concept of protecting someone, but with different characters. Shu should have gained experience, but sometimes it feels as if Shu, is just that thick-headed of a character.
The End of A New Beginning:
Shu finally realizing his importance just a bit, tries to save a few people, but in this disturbing scene of events with Yahiro, who is accused of being Sugar (some drug-dealer), who he trying to make money to save his younger brother from the spreading of the crystal virus he has. Anyways, Yahiro's little brother wanted Shu to end his life because he is suffering greatly, but after that, Shu just can't explain to Yahiro what he has done. It didn't make much sense to why Shu would be so attached to Yahiro in the first place, since he betrayed Shu anyways... That was kind of awkward to see, and the feelings were mismatched. Also, why doesn't Shu feel bad for killing the other people and the people in the endlaves too (rhetorical question)? They have families and feelings to you know...
Anyways, we learn about Yahiro's past a bit and his younger brother. He had experienced Lost Christmas which was the biggest event that made Japan fall, and how GHQ emerged to stabilize Japan. I believe the only purpose for Yahiro's younger brother was for us to learn more about Lost Christmas honestly. Also take note that at this point of the anime we learn that it's possible for Shu to talk to the souls inside the human bodies (or vessels of some sort) and their life is represented by a red string around them, which is seen time after time. They didn't have to drive emotions and the fear of killing into Shu, but the studio probably did that so that they could use it as a fighting struggle, and show us the hero side of Shu after he overcomes that terribly small hurdle. I mean it's alright...
Now up to this episode, Guilty Crown as an anime was great! We get a nice ending scene of Gai and Mana getting destroyed by Shu's void weapon, but the remains were the crystal... And this is where the anime just goes downhill at full speed! Which in fact directly relates to London Bridge is Falling Down, which will be revealed at the end.
In this moment, episode 11 or 12, we get to see Gai and Mana reuniting, and we finally understand the backstory to the story of the anime. It's basically a crazy older sister that wants her younger brother for an Adam and Eve story.
Now, we are then left with Tokyo (not sure what city is pictured) that is in ruins with crystallized buildings and such, and GHQ is slowly exterminating and cleansing the area.
My thoughts here were that Shu could have easily, slowly but surely, fought off GHQ... Or at least helped the others escaped in the early stages instead of wasting time on learning about other characters that were meaningless...
So now things start getting weird here... We get to learn more about the school and the students... Trying to build a quick relationship with some characters and most importantly Hare, just to see her red or death flags all over the place.
The Guilty Crowned Prince, Singing Once More:
That's where we get Hare's death, which is just random honestly... I mean it was understandable? But how is there a damn car, that looks busted and broken (doesn't look like the battery works or has fuel and the windows are legit broken), explode? The car should have just burned at most really or get penetrated by the bullet... Also, the unnecessary sacrifice Hare made didn't have to happen, since she could have tried healing herself first (if possible)... Besides that, the scene had its symbolism that was spelled out in the open, when Hare was talking about the tale of the Kind King that wanted to protect everyone and give them what they want. Right after that, Shu enforced a totalitarian dictatorship on the school and he was the King (because he could theoretically or literally kill everyone).
After episode 15, just like Darling in The Franxx (which is another anime that suffers from post-episode 15 withdrawals) started to slowly go downhill. It's not because of the death of a side character, but because how they knowingly used a side character to force character development to the main character, and then the main character just all of a sudden reverts back to his shitty self without even taking any experience with him. It's like his mental aptitude went from 100 to zero really quick... I mean sure if you take a soldier's gun, they are powerless, but they at least have the wisdom, knowledge, and aptitude to withstand more than just the loss of a gun.
Soon we witness Shu going through the most irritating character development ever. It's almost if he has a bipolar disorder... At least we kind of get to see the breakdown of Inori as well, which is needed because it is hinted that Mana is still alive (since she transformed one time, and became evil and hurt the blonde girl).
The symbolism at this scene is Shu's use of everyone's power whilst not knowing that his people could die if their void weapon was destroyed. Which is such a dumb rebellion because even if you were to fight and your void weapon with or without was out, you would still die... If you die your gun, you are still dead. If you in a situation that obviously leads to death with your void weapon, you are still dead... The real issue is that the students were lied to and taken advantage of, which is a respectable reason, but under their current situation, they would have all died regardless. Shu just wanted to help them, he could of escaped alone (or with just his friends and Inori).
At least the one thing Shu learned, and that is a life moral: is that even if you are kind to people, you will be taken advantage of and never get what you want. You have to fight for it, even if it means deceiving people. That life lesson is a double-edged sword and I don't suggest you do it if you know what you are getting yourself into.
Disgrace In Yourself To Save The World:
At this point of the anime, we are done messing around and the end is near.
Shu regains his King's Power from another vial that his step-mother had kept. Now, the ending feels rushed... There isn't much symbolism here or purpose at all, other than closing and ending the show one way or another.
The last episodes of Guilty Crown felt powerful if it weren't for the music and amazing soundtrack honestly. Once you take out the emotion, then you are left with a circle jerk story full of generic characters. When you think about it, the characters are pretty much all one-dimensional.
I mean Shu seems to have changed, but I didn't feel or see a difference as the story progress until the last moments... The studio literally saved his character development to just all happen at once in the last two episodes to give the illusion of that grand feeling of an adventure. It's okay I guess.
In the above scene, he was obviously referring to the times when Inori or Mana I guess ask if he would take the rubberband bridge thing. Soon I will explain the London Bridge is Falling Down symbolism.
Shu's Kings Power is able to absorb the crystals, which actually have a symbolism of their own, which is quite simple.
The ending is abrupt, but heart-throbbing. In the end, we are just left with the same Shu, except he is blind now and still single, but not lonely. The ending cinematics were truly eye-appealing, but that's about it, and the music was stellar.
Truth of Despair:
This section will be about the symbolism and the analyzed meaning for Guilty Crown. The three main pieces to this anime are the crystals, London Bridge is Falling Down (or Jacob's Ladder and the red string/rubber band), and Adam and Eve.
This is probably simple, but maybe you will find it useful. The crystals and materialization represent people's memories and emotions. Even in the anime, it seems that the crystals were said to be the memories of the past and be used to create the new improved race of the new world. Memories and past experiences is what makes the world move forward, however, the chosen path of exterminating everyone is not the only answer. The answer in which Shu helped prevent. We can still accomplish the goal in slow progression with all the foolishness of the human mind and emotions. So the crystals did have a meaning, and the void weapons did represent the people's soul and heart. The reason Inori's void weapon was a sword is that she wants to protect the peace of the world from destroying itself because of Adam and Eve and Da'ath (the life society Yu is said he said to be in). But now you wonder, about the ending right? When Mana was reviving, why did a flower appear?
The flower represented the blooming of Inori and her soul. It was also mentioned many times throughout the anime the Inori was just a vessel to bring back Mana, and in the end, Inori mentions that she is not a monster because of Shu's influence and love for her. This directly ties into London Bridge is Falling Down, because in the nursery rhyme it is a myth or theory that it was based from the Child Sacrifice Theory where the bridge or the world cannot remain unless a sacrifice was made, so Inori sacrificed her body to maintain the bridge of life, but her souls and spirit resided inside Shu as you saw in the very end of the last episode.
In addition, I'm leading to the point that the rubber band of Jacob's Ladder was an invitation to the new world where the bridge would crumble presented by Mana in order to have a rebirth of the new world such as Adam and Eve; which was one choice for Shu. The other choice was the rubber band presented by Inori for reconstructing the bridge and maintaining the current world by sacrificing her body or vessel, in which Shu can protect the people he loves. Shu chose the latter choice.
Therefore, the significance of that nursery rhyme was the sole basis for what Shu and the others were fighting for. They fought to maintain peace... And this all happened because of a random crystal or meteorite coming down and infecting Mana in the first place, which is such a weak plot driver in my opinion. That's why the story got a low score.
Using our basic ten-point scale lets look at our breakdown of the allotted scores through each section of the anime in a brief and straight to the point manner.
Animation and Graphics:
The animation is eye-catching with a realistic sense of authentic emotions that make the anime whole.
The score for this section gets 9.
Character development in this anime, for Shu was using the Hero's Journey formula. Although it is a proven story-telling tactic the derivation of the plot was relatively weak. However, the progression of the story was executed well at the start only to tumble to apparent plot holes and a quick and abrupt ending.
The score for this section gets 4.
Music, Sound, and Voice:
The soundtrack was simply amazing and the emotion in each song was powerful enough to force you to shed some tears. The sound effects were on point with the utilization of ambiance, background, and miscellaneous objects. The voice acting was well-done and all the characters felt like they were real when they spoke (referring to the Japanese version, not the English dub).
The score for this section gets 10.
Story and Purpose:
As mentioned already... The story is generic as well as the purpose. It's just about saving the world, which has been overdone a lot. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't work as well.
The score for this section gets 2.
The Overall Appeal:
Every single episode has me at the edge of my seat, but everytime the story tries to progress it was a rollercoaster that was neverending. I really enjoyed the anime, but at times each episode itself was a hit or a miss. The whole family circle of the characters and their connections is what really bothered me, especially the awkward flashbacks of what happened before and how Shu is actually thick-headed as a character.
The score for this section gets 6.
The Final Score:
A decent 6.2 out of 10!
Yet naive, stubborn, indecisive, but willing to save the world: showing the true nature of people and their ambitions that tear each other apart for the greater glory of the world which is peace... Guilty Crown belongs in the Anime Treasury!
Thank you for reading this review about Guilty Crown from SunKoiWish, and thank you to all the people who were involved with creating Guilty Crown!