From personal observation coupled with comments from readers, it would seem that there has been quite a lot of hype over this ‘jewel of the fall’ unfortunately not following through with enough pizzaz to keep anticipating readers satisfied. It appears that the primary issue is one that any acclaimed series has to overcome, namely raising the bar with visuals, character development, audio, the list goes on. Of course, there will always be those who spend their time hunting down series like these simply to slap a big fat “overrated” label on it’s facade for all to see. Not that my goal is to issue a counter-strike on the spammers of the world, however I’d wish to advise our readers to take my advice in giving the series (or really any mixed-reviewed series for that matter) the benefit of the doubt. And then if the series takes a notable nosedive, soiling the production company’s name and causing a series of micro-civil wars to break out across the globe, feel free to distance yourself from your computer and consider running away to live undercover with your mom’s uncle in Trinidad.
As you may have noticed, we’ve decided to address the issue mentioned above by spacing out Guilty Crown reviews to hopefully give you, readers, time to digest the promise of more ‘void-ripping’, breast-groping action. Also, the format of these reviews will be tweaked a little, shifting from an all-summary block of text to something resembling a “summary/impressions/commentary” smoothie—no matter how you try and divide the blocks with images, they still remain blocks of text :’(
If we’re going to start talking about redeeming features of the series, then the obvious first detail of mention has to be Inori’s fortunate and warmly-welcomed cover as a transfer student to Shu’s class. Already a real-world fan favorite ( *October heroines post* ), Inori has no problem attracting attention as the famous Egoist singer from the internet. If you’re already thinking, “damn that Shu and his uncanny luck with the ladies” then allow me to deliver the final blow by saying that now Inori is living at his house. Unfortunately, she’s not there to party, but to aid Shu in exposing a stray GHQ observer who may carry classified information gathered from their latest schism in Roppongi. Even though the culprit ends up being Shu’s classmate and club buddy, Yahiro, we are treated to a hilarious not-so-undercover-mission sequence starring Shu as he rips the voids from fellow classmate’s bodies in search for a matching object, beginning with a faulty boob-grab disaster involving the class president.
The problem for me came in the final moments of the episode with Yahiro as he betrays Shu even after his life being threatened and supposedly turning over a new leaf—obviously it can’t be as simple as a change of heart, especially considering Yahiro was being held at gunpoint. I will give some credit to the unexpected betrayal, though. In reality it performed just as it was designed: Make it appear that Shu has just pulled off an amazing feat by not only discovering the culprit, but subsequently leading him from the clutches of the Dark Side, only to have Yahiro shove him off the train into the waiting arms of GHQ Major Segai Makoto. And with this turn of events, Shu is in the perfect position to begin questioning where his allegiance lies.
Fortunately for the future of the series in recovering its reputation, Guilty Crown makes a notable turn for the best, greatly tying up loose ends in terms of story development and impressively showcasing each character in a way that accentuates their unique characteristics. Continuing from the previous episode, a perceptible overtone of the unknown is cast over the story as Shu is transported off to the nearby GHQ facility by the mysterious Major Segai. Despite his initial impression, coming off as another sadistic, lunatic antagonist, Segai proves to be a much more complex and cunning character and definitely not a force to be reckoned with.
Shifting focus for a moment back to Yahiro, I can’t help but be curious as to his future role in the series, whether he plays a significant role in Funeral Parlor’s (Undertaker) demise, has a shining blindside spelling disaster for the unsuspecting GHQ organization or even if he falls off of the face of the Earth never to be heard of again. In any case, his presence in the isolation ward attending to his brother Jun, afflicted with the Apocalypse Virus, gives possible insight into Yahiro’s intentions for aligning himself with GHQ.
Let us also not forget the understated criminal, Kenji Kido, whom we catch glimpses of every so often as his presence at the facility alone requires all personnel to be on high alert. From what we can tell, he may not even have any association with the prior Funeral Parlor at all, but instead might simply be a strategic “partner” in eventually bringing about the demise of GHQ. Even with these prominent supporting characters in mind, our main trio—Shu, Inori, and Gai—obviously take the shotgun position in terms of bringing the most to the table during the episode. With Shu battling conflicting thoughts of mistrust with Funeral Parlor, another ‘twist’ is thrown into the stories development which begs the question of whether or not his hunches may be correct. However, his demeanor when dealing with Segai became a bit irksome to watch as it seemed where he placed his trust (at least initially) could be easily manipulated by the individual promising the greatest solitude.
On the contrary, Gai continues to impress with his cunning and reckless determination, never shying away from a challenge or an opportunity to gain an advantage. Showing up as Shu’s lawyer and, with the help of Tsumugi’s technical know-how, infiltrating the GHQ’s headquarters even after an announced assault, the 17-year-old leader never ceases to pull off a flawless result. And who can forget Inori’s fearless frontal dash to save Shu prompting another stunning delivery as Shu employs mysterious criminal, Kenji Kido’s, anti-gravity void gun to single-handedly disarm the formidable force of Enlaves, concluding as he then wield Inori’s void sword to destroy the entire facility. The third episode came as somewhat of a messy transition into the bold, yet notably more enticing plot displayed in the latter, but with the fourth finally rounding out the rough edges, we are hopefully in store for the series to pick up momentum, beginning with the promise of some formal training for Shu.