Episode 14 of Guilty Crown is in a word…flawed. The storytelling is fine, and whilst the story itself remains as silly as last week, it is at least consistent and well directed. That alone would be enough to make this one of the best episodes yet. Unfortunately the show is once again let down by ignoring its own continuity, using plot devices of convenience and generally not making much sense.
In this episode we’re in the same position as last week, only the situation is even worse. Whereas before, the students had simply assumed they were probably going to die, now they know they are. This results in a lot of scared and panicking students looking to the only authority (that’s not actively trying to kill them) for a solution.
Unfortunately whilst Kuhouin might be a great peace time President, she quickly proves herself inept at handling the panic stricken students. Her pleas of patience fall on deaf ears and she sounds like she’s trying to convince herself more than anyone else.
The students need a promise of action and a nameless smirking student, who for the sake of this review we’ll call ‘Glasses’ because they didn’t even bother to give him a name. Would it have really been that hard to name the bad guys? Anyway he seizes upon the opportunity presented. He puts forward a motion of no confidence and a new election is to be held. Glasses and his manipulable red haired crony whom for the sake of the review we’ll call ‘Red’ begin to plot Kuhouin’s downfall.
As they all wait for the election Tsugumi shows everyone the ‘Genomic Resonance Gauge’ which assigns a power level to a person’s void.
Meanwhile Segai, apparently not having had enough fun with his little stunt in the previous episode, unblocks the schools extranet. Then he places some rumours that whoever hands over Funeral Parlour members gets safe passage out of the rapidly shrinking city.
Glasses and Red quickly capture Ayase and Tsugumi and in the midst of trying to strip them on stage, Shu jumps in to provide a much better idea.
Shu tells everyone he’s with Funeral Parlour and gives himself up. Red takes them to the gate to negotiate a trade, but alas they are all cut down by merciless gunfire. But it’s all a trick! Using Tsugumi’s Void they actually sent holograms in a remote controlled car and they’re actually all back at the school.
Glasses doesn’t take the shocking truth that the government lies to people particularly well and tries to kill Shu, who promptly disarms him. Realising the man with the gun wasn’t the best candidate for President, Shu is quickly elected into power, a position he reluctantly accepts.
Following the election, Yahiro privately shares his future plans for the school with him. With Shu ‘reigning over’ the students, Yahiro wants to rank every student by their Void value. That the power value of their Void will represent the value of that person.
Shu is speechless, looking at Yahiro with shock. We can only hope Shu is in shock because he is appalled by the sheer stupidity of Yahiro’s plan and that he’ll do everything in his power to stop it.
There is a lot wrong with this episode and it’s largely just the same basic mistakes that have plagued the first half of the season. I had hoped that the writing, like Shu himself had matured and would no longer be so blatantly lazy. Alas this episode proved me wrong as we return to the roots of why the show on the most basic levels is simply bad.
Every show, movie etc has its own internal logic; it can play by the rules of the real world but will usually have a few of its own. Problems occur however, when a show sets up these rules and then ignores them later down the line. In episode 3 Shu learns how to pull out Voids, he practically spends the entire episode learning how and the rules he’s taught are pretty clear. Firstly, you never know what you’re going to get. Secondly, the person needs to think you’re making eye contact. Yet in this episode, Shu, without even turning is able to reach back and pull out the Void of Red. Not only this, but it happens to be a Void that fits the situation at hand perfectly. It would certainly have been awkward if Shu had thrown anything other than the boomerang Void at the gun toting bad guy. The scene itself is certainly cool on the face of it, but it makes no sense. It’s disappointing that the show has to break its own internal logic just to make Shu look cool for one scene.
This episode is actually the most sexual by far and it’s actually quite creepy. All the male students in the episode (excluding the main characters) are completely predatory; three of them corner Inori, itching to rip off her clothes before she mercilessly kills them. There’s even a scene where Tsugumi’s Void virginity is forcibly taken by Shu. I understand that Shu needs to know what assets he has at his disposal but surely you would ask for the consent of your friend before plunging your hand into her chest? Apparently not.
Later we find out that Tsugumi’s Void is a wand which creates holographic figures that can be controlled remotely. Ignoring how exactly she can control 4 figures in real time, it’s yet another void of pure convenience that doesn’t make any sense. Tsugumi is the hacker archetype and so her Void happens to be advanced technology. Now considering Voids are supposed to be the reflection of people’s hearts/souls, this really doesn’t make any sense.
We saw the lonely side of Tsugumi in this episode and I thought this was essentially going to lead up to her Void in the same way that Ayase’s emotional issues in the previous episode led to hers. I.e. that Tsugumi is a lonely person and so her void reflects this. Instead once again a deus ex machina is thrown in so it can perfectly solve the problem the characters are having this episode.
Speaking of convenience; according to Tsugumi, the Genomic Resonance Gauge is ‘a gadget for measuring void strength.’ That; ‘the bigger the total number, the more butt the Void kicks.’
Now I can understand this gadget being useful for research purposes, but in the hands of Shu, Funeral Parlour and the Student Council in general, I honestly can’t see any practical application for it whatsoever.
The device shows peoples power levels, basically the strength of their void in numerical form. Firstly what denotes power? Voids are specialised, they are defensive, offensive or random enough that they can only be useful in a mere handful of situations. So how exactly does ranking people by Void power change anything? How is it even useful?
As we saw Hare’s medical void is 1832, Ayase’s hover skates are 1752 and Tsugumi’s holograph wand is 1487. How will knowing the rank of these things ever be useful? If you need a weapon then both the hover skates and the holograph wand are more useful than the medical void, yet they are both ranked lower.
Thus I can’t really follow why Shu and his group would want to know Void values let alone rank them. Further compounding this is the simple fact that beyond his friends, he has no idea what anyone else’s Void is, so knowing their power level means absolutely nothing. I wouldn’t make such a big deal if they hadn’t introduced as something so important to the plot, yet has no actual use beyond Yahiro’s idiotic plan, which will only work so far as creating a brand new form of social injustice through pointless discrimination.
The episode also raised a few other questions. Firstly why did it take an entire episode for the students to remember Shu killed an endlave and for them not to also remember Ayase was flying? It’s also never explained how long Voids can be kept out for, we’ve yet to see a reason why Shu can’t now keep voids out indefinitely. Before, the person became unconscious so it was simply civil to return their Voids after use. Now since he can give them away to their owners, the question remains as to why can’t Ayase keep her hover skates on? It’s not like she has a secret identity to protect anymore, though one could beg to differ from the seemingly goldfish sized memory spans of the students.
It wasn’t all bad though, we got to enjoy some back story for Tsugumi (all 5 seconds of it) and then we got to see Inori’s dark side which was a nice twist and the high point of the episode. Considering how one dimensional she’s been so far, it’s certainly nice to see her being fleshed out. Hopefully something substantial will come of this, I look forward to seeing Inori’s (hopefully) yandere side revealed in the coming episodes if nothing else!
I dish out a lot of criticism for Guilty Crown, but I can’t say any of it isn’t justified. Yes the show is very pretty, the soundtrack gorgeous, the direction praiseworthy and Shu finally a character you don’t vehemently hate. Now if they could do something about the clichés, plot holes, deus ex machinas, incompetence of the bad guys and good guys among other things. Then we might just have a story and characters worth caring about.