Back in 2014, I was a dumb sophomore who had started watching a lot more anime than before. I’m talking Fate/Zero, Future Diary, Attack On Titan, and the works. My tastes were starting to refine, and I was getting a feel of what kind of anime I gravitated towards. I liked dystopia, I liked futuristic settings, and visual novel adaptations like Steins;Gate had me hooked as well. So, on paper, Guilty Crown should’ve been something I ate up immediately, right?
This is not a good anime. It is one of those things that I am surprised doesn’t get brought up more, because it was such an honest-to-God dumpster fire. The worst thing you can do is create a visually striking show with absolutely zero substance to back it up. Do you think I was harsh on Sword Art Online? That was a cinematic experience when compared.
As I said, it had all the workings for a perfectly serviceable dystopian anime, and yet it dropped the ball on the very first episode. With Production I.G. taking care of the animation, it should’ve at least not been predictable and boring. I don’t care if the plot makes sense or not, I will watch terrible shows for fun. The fact that it can’t even do that much, says exactly all it needs to.
I wish it has some saving grace because then I wouldn’t feel so heated in my bias against it. But I went back to watch that first episode for the review, and the moment I heard Inori Yuzuriha ask the protagonist to ‘Use her~’ in the most depraved voice possible when he is surrounded by people targeting him. I had flashbacks of cringing at the very same scene, a decade ago. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, this is not. But if you’re still curious about it, keep on reading!
Guilty Crown Premise: Bioweapons And Babes?
The year is 2029, and it’s Christmas Eve. The Apocalypse Virus is let loose on the unsuspecting country of Japan, leading to one of the most horrifying incidents of biohazardous disaster the world has ever seen. This will later go down in history as the ‘Lost Christmas’.
To counteract this devastation, the United Nations create the GHQ to contain the outbreak, but also secretly remove all political autonomy of the once proud country. And a decade later, a GHQ-ruled Japan is where we meet Shuu Ouma, an awkward high school kid. And he’s a huge fan of Inori – a singer online who happens to be secretly part of a resistance group, the Funeral Parlor. And in her possession lies the ‘Void Genome’, something the GHQ-led Anti Bodies faction is hunting down egregiously.
It is in the crosshairs of a concert and a task force chase where are two unlikely allies collide, when the Void Genome vial shatters in Shou’s palm and grants him the ‘Power Of The Kings’. Aided by the miraculous ability, Shuu is swept into a plot filled with dubious politics, domestic terrorism, and a revolution at stake.
Guilty Crown Breakdown: Could’ve Had It All, Got A Whiny Protagonist Instead
See, the problem with Guilty Crown is how promising it was. The plot sounded intriguing, albeit a little predictable. But, hey, I enjoyed Code Geass, and I adored Psycho-Pass. In hindsight, this show should’ve delivered at least a fraction of what those shows did.
Except, it didn’t. I could go on and on about the terrible writing and shoddy job at an edgy ending. But my main problem is with how grating the characters become. Inori is supposed to be this literal freedom fighter, hiding in plain sight by using her beauty and talents to liberate an entire country. There are a 100 different ways her character arc could’ve gone, instead, we get her blank-faced like she’s just as tired of being here as we are. Or worse, she’s off making questionable sounds while asking to be ‘used’ by this complete newcomer who has no idea of what he’s wrapped himself into.
And don’t even get me started on Shuu himself, who adds absolutely nothing to the plot, despite being the most prominent character. It’s like a cycle with him, where he feels bad about faltering, then ends up saving everyone anyways. And yet, he still learns nothing of value. And then midway through all that struggle, he becomes a bada*s overnight and it’s the worst salvaging job I’ve ever seen. And they expect you to start idolizing him?
None of it feels authentic, none of that growth feels earned. At that point, the only reason you’d watch the show is for the gorgeous visuals. But like, at what cost, you know?
The Verdict: Watch Anything Else
I can’t even try to sugarcoat this. Guilty Crown didn’t stick the landing a decade ago, and it isn’t worth the hate-watch now. I expected things to change, that maybe I’ll find something to salvage here. But nope.
Honestly, skip this and just watch Code Geass for the nth time, I promise it’ll be more worth it.