I keep hoping Guilty Crown is going to do something to make me really like it and to bring some excitement to this NoitaminA block, but every time it seems to get a little momentum going it shoots itself in the foot.
OP2: “The Everlasting Guilty Crown” by EGOIST
To be fair, “shooting itself in the foot” is too harsh a description for what happened this week, as episode 13 really wasn’t bad. It’s more like two steps forward, two steps back, because GC really hasn’t been able to maintain a run of top-notch (by its own standards, anyway) episodes for more than a couple of weeks. I liked episode 12 quite a lot, and this was an important ep in many ways, for while 12 was mathematically the start of the second cour this was the real start from a story standpoint. The stage was set – we had a plot reset, a new OP and ED (both fine, FWIW) and the animation once again looked really good. Guilty Crown seemed like it had a world of possibilities open to it again, but it responded with an episode that felt oddly disjointed from the rest of the series, and a little forced.
This show has much in common with Last Exile: Fam in that both series have a lot going for them, but break down in the execution. Fundamentally both shows suffer from weak writing, though I’d argue the weekly script work is actually worse in “Fam” – worse dialogue, worse development among the main cast – but that show has the more interesting supporting cast and better overall concept. Here, we have a concept that seems pretty derivative and muddled to start with (though there are intriguing elements to it), but at least the writing has occasionally flared up and given us some genuinely interesting episodes. Choose your poison, I guess.
What we have here is Gai seemingly dead for real this time, and the surviving main girls from Undertaker having taken up residence at Shu’s school (where their unexplained presence seems to have been noticed by no one at all). Tokyo is under lockdown after Lost Christmas II, and the school is inside the quarantined “Loop 7” – which means none of the students can go home. Put a bunch of teenagers in quarantine for two weeks and the tempers will flare, and we get some obligatory school drama with a couple of toughs threatening Ayase (who’s probably the most interesting character on the show for me) before Tsugumi comes to her rescue. Souta suggests that they hold a culture festival to let everyone blow off some steam, and while that seems pretty preposterous to me under the circumstances – even with Kuhoin’s grandfather airlifting supplies in – well, I was prepared to see if the writers could muster anything of interest from it.
Instead, we get a fairly rote stream of developments with Souta helping Inami plan an EGOIST concert and an appearance by Daryl – still undergoing the blatantly telegraphed road to eventually switching sides – literally butting heads with Tsugumi while acting as Segai’s undercover spy. We also get a look at what Segai has in mind for the school, as he sets up a local gang of toughs calling themselves “Philanthropists” with some military tech and sends them in to attack the school. Naturally Shu and Ayase come to the rescue, with Aya showing off her rocket-shoes void, and the two of them do some serious posing in a way that suggests the Shu-Inami pairing might not be as inevitable as the OP/ED suggests it is.
At no point during the episode could I suspend my disbelief enough to really immerse myself in the drama, and that’s too often been the case with Guilty Crown. It just doesn’t feel natural very often, and that’s a problem. I’m not disinterested in what’s going to happen from here, with GHQ apparently having been reformed as a puppet organization to support Keido in his role as the new strongman President of Japan. The short-term plan is to wipe out everyone in Loop 7 (which of course includes all our heroes) under the pretense that they’re all infected and beyond help. And Undertaker may indeed no longer exist, as it’s now leaderless and divided by the barricades. I’m modestly curious about all that intellectually, but I’m just not the committed to any of emotionally. And that’s always going to limit just how much Guilty Crown can ever really matter to me.
ED2: “Kokuhaku” (Confession) by supercell