Episode 15 of Guilty Crown is without a doubt the strongest episode to date. To be honest it feels like I’ve been saying that a lot recently, but I suppose it’s unsurprising that it keeps improving since there’s so much it has to improve upon. Overall despite the usual, though mostly minor oddities and idiocies this is a solid episode where for once the good outweighs the bad, packing characterisation, action and drama into a well crafted and satisfying narrative.
The episode continues from where we left off only Shu is now President and the school is a lot calmer for it. Construction work is going on, though what exactly they’re working on isn’t particularly clear, Shu hopes to construct a barricade due to the ever encroaching wall of death. Yet everyone seems happily oblivious to the fact that the wall of death is knocking down multi storey buildings with ease, so what they think they can achieve I’d love to know.
It also turns out Shu rejected Yahiro’s plan, not because it’s stupid but because he doesn’t want anyone to hate him. Ayase and Tsugumi agree with Yahiro for no real reason and Inori with one of her two lines of dialogue for episode tells Shu to make up his own mind. Shu wanders off to think about it and runs into Souta who is adamantly against the idea. Shu agrees with him and decides against implementing it. Then they bond by shouting random things off the rooftop.
However with supplies of the vaccine running low, the council must selectively ration out the remainder, this effectively forces Shu’s hand and the ranking system is brought into effect. Souta and some other nameless students find out they are the lowest rank and trick Shu into giving them their Voids under the pretence that they wish to train with them. This in itself raises a few questions that are never touched on again, as it’s casually revealed that the people can only use their Voids to the bare minimum of their potential. In actual fact Souta’s group set off to secure the much needed medical supplies in an effort to show they aren’t the useless and worthless human beings the Void Ranking System makes them out to be.
Meanwhile Hare effectively confesses to Shu in a touching little scene between the two of them, however before anything can happen Shu is informed of Souta’s plan and rushes to stop them with Hare tagging along. They catch up but then Segai springs his trap as endlaves and gunships attack.
Segai, knowing they would need supplies has set up a simple ambush to kill anyone trying to get them. Segai watches the fun as he plays chess with the captured Shibungi, Gai’s second in command. Shibungi hopes to see ‘him’ if he wins the game.
Shu saves Hare from a particularly severe case of exploding car and they are both mortally wounded. Hare selflessly uses the last of her strength to save Shu before dying. Reinforcements arrive in the form of Inori, Tsugumi, Ayase and Yahiro with a whole three weapons between them. Shu, whose grief quickly becomes rage, lays waste to the endlaves.
Shu blames Souta for Hare’s death and because Souta is F-rank, Shu takes to heart the Void Ranking System, declaring the lower ranked Voids as ‘trash’ thus ushering in the reign of Führer Shu.
This is an episode which succeeds in developing its characters and showing their rawest of emotions and there are several highlights of the episode both big and small. The episode also brings up a whole variety of new questions whilst doing its best not to answer any of them.
Whilst this was really a Shu-centric episode, Hare easily steals the show by providing two of the most powerful scenes of the anime to date. Tsugumi convinces Hare to confess to Shu, so follows a scene with just the two of them as Hare struggles to convey her feelings. When Hare confesses her love to Shu it’s in a very honest, awkward way as she lists what aren’t so much uniquely good qualities about Shu as they are the typical traits of someone who is simply antisocial. Whilst Hare isn’t very good at expressing her true feelings vocally, they are conveyed perfectly without words nonetheless.
The scene is tragic and heartbreaking in the fact we always knew Hare had absolutely no chance with Shu, despite the fact Hare is such a genuinely nice and caring, not to mention stronger character. The scene is cut short as Shu rushes to intercept Souta and his gang and we’ll never know what would have happened if the scene had only gone on for a few more minutes. It’s a memorable scene which probably would’ve only been improved by simply having less dialogue, as those moments between them where neither speak are the strongest of all. (At least this is how I interpreted the scene, if Hare actually thinks those are some of his best qualities…well we’ll never find out now).
However the most powerful scene of the episode and arguably the anime as a whole is Hare’s death. Throughout the show Hare has always been the character who helps people selflessly; this is reflected in her final act of ultimate self sacrifice as she uses her very last reserves of strength to ensure Shu will live.
Her Void is destroyed by gunfire (which raises a few questions by itself) but she dies smiling because she has managed to save Shu and feels she has done the right thing. She is the only character who truly believed in Shu, the scene is heartbreaking as we see her final act of good be twisted into something horrible as the grief stricken Shu, rather than becoming the good King she believed he would be, becomes the epitome of evil as rage overcomes him. The power of the scene is only exemplified by the beautiful piano composition that underscores it.
Continuing with last week’s theme of insinuated rape, the revenge driven Shu forcibly takes Inori’s Void amidst her screams of ‘No!’ The scene is as confusing as it uncomfortable as you’re only left to wonder why of all times Inori is protesting. The only conclusion one can come to is that you shouldn’t use Voids in anger so maybe next week we’ll see if there are any repercussions.
With Sword in hand Shu wreaks vengeance upon the endlaves. Whilst I could talk about the flaws of the scene, the raw emotion conveyed makes the scene strong enough that I can mostly overlook it’s minor immersion breaking annoyances. (Charging the guy with the giant magic sword, really?).
Shu’s characterisation in this episode was certainly fun to watch as he struggled to make a hard decision, made the decision, changed his mind, took pity on himself and then realised he should stop relying on other people to the degree that he fully embraced the values of the Void Ranking System. That some people are more valuable than others and that the Void Ranking System will help to separate the ‘good from the trash.’ And Shu will reign over them all as the not so benevolent King.
The Void Ranking system isn’t really made any clearer in this episode either, however we do see they are using the Genomic Resonance Gauge to rank people’s Voids and so we can at least infer that rank is based on power level. Otherwise if rank was based on the usefulness of the Void then there would be no need for the Genomic Resonance Gauge to be used at all, as Voids would be ranked according to how useful Shu and the council deems them to be. I’ve already discussed the fundamental problems of what was wrong with this system in the previous review, though if you’d like a more detailed run down just ask in the comments. (As I couldn’t fit it in the review)
Daryl is also undergoing some characterisation it seems, as weird as it may be. You remember Daryl, the fairly deranged fellow who murdered a few people and beat up a woman for touching him. Well now it seems he has a soft spot for Tsugumi because she forced him to do manual labour and then gave him a candy apple in episode 13. Even if he’s becoming one of the good guys now, you can’t really get behind the guy who’s still a homicidal maniac at heart. I was also a little confused by the fact he was surprised to see Shu alive, considering there would have been no bodies to recover.
Then there is the question of who ‘him’ could be. The most liberal guess narrows it down to three people: Gai, meaning he isn’t actually dead, Kenji Kido, the mass murderer who still requires a hell of a lot of explaining, or President Shuichiro for whatever reason.
It’s easy to just talk about the flaws of Guilty Crown (because there are so, so many), but the episode was so surprisingly good, showcasing some of the best moments yet that I decided to focus on the good. Simply because for the first time ever I could, without feeling like an apologist for the show. Moments that were supposed to feel emotional for once actually carried the weight they tried to convey, whilst Gai’s death was adequate at best, Hare’s actually felt real and significant, doing more to change Shu than anything in the story so far.
It’s taken us far too long to get here but this episode was good, by no means perfect, but good and I only hope the final few episodes are just as solid if not more so, rather than this episode simply being the peak from which it falls.