On December 25th, 2029, the Apocalypse Virus was unleashed on Japan, killing many of its citizens on a day known as “The Lost Christmas.” It was stopped by the organization GHQ at the cost of Japan’s independence. Ten years later, Shu Ouma bumps into the internet singing sensation, Inori Yuzuriha, on the way home from school. He discovers that she is part of Funeral Parlor, the terrorist organization that is trying to liberate Japan. Inori asks Shu to safeguard a vial she’s stolen from GHQ. Of course, it shatters, infecting him with the Void Genome, a genetic weapon that allows him to use “Voids,” weapons made from a person’s psyche. Shu is forced to join Funeral Parlor, and from that point on, things grow steadily worse—both on a personal level for the series’ characters and from an international standpoint in a world that is worried about another outbreak of disease and terrorism. Though I have barely scratched the surface of the series’ plot, it is so complex and tangled that I would have no room for the rest of the review if I were to discuss it in its entirety.
This anime is unarguably gorgeous and its art is seriously stunning. The Voids and the Apocalypse Virus look otherworldly, but not jarringly so. The locations and backgrounds are lovingly detailed and look almost like real places, while major characters are given several fashionable outfits. Guilty Crown is a visual smorgasbord, and the music in the anime is also first rate. It’s clear, crisp, and sets the scene well. It helps that the writer and the character designer are both members of the band Supercell, whose music is featured in the anime. The dubbing is well done, though nothing particularly special.
Guilty Crown is rated TV-14, which is about right, if a bit on the low side. It features some uncomfortable subjects, such as terrorism, genocide, and an extremely harsh and unfair class system. There’s violence, but most of it isn’t terribly graphic. The most likely reason for the show’s TV-14 rating is the fact that minors are shown having sex—even trading sex for favors—in a non-explicit fashion, and an incestuous relationship is a major plot point of the series. For these reasons, this anime should be kept away from young children.
I really did not like this anime. It’s not just that it’s trying to rip off Code Geass and Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s not just that it has a large number of gigantic plot holes; the characters are generally unlikely, either bland and whiny, or over-the-top evil, and a lot of the side characters and subplots ultimately become loose ends. It’s because Guilty Crown is a convoluted mess that doesn’t have the faintest idea what it wants to be.
The plot summary I provided does not begin to cover the twists and turns that unfold throughout the series, which runs on Wham Episodes. If you’re not familiar with the term, it refers to an episode that comes out of nowhere and completely changes the course of the series, usually used at the middle or end of a season (e.g., the Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones). To compare: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a show that ran for seven seasons, has roughly nine Wham Episodes. Guilty Crown, a 22-episode anime, has 13—thirteen crazy, shocking swerves that totally change the direction of the series. More than half the episodes nullify all those that came before them, making it impossible to connect to anything that’s going on or feel any sense of suspense.
A series doesn’t work when you know that nothing you’re watching matters because it’s all going to change again in an episode or two. For this reason, as well as the many other faults I listed above, I give Guilty Crown two thumbs down. However, this is a very divisive anime and there are people who love it as much as I loathe it—so if you want to give it a try, go ahead. If nothing else, at least it’s pretty.
Guilty Crown: Complete Series
directed by Tetsuro Araki
250 minutes, Number of Discs: 8, DVD/Blu-Ray Combo Set
Company Age Rating: TV-14