After last week’s mediocre affair, this was one of the strongest episodes to date, mainly because it focused on what this show is pretty good at – the dark side of the political struggle that’s occurring and man’s inhumanity to man. It also had the benefit of Shu giving perhaps his most balanced performance, not too mopey yet not unrealistically and annoyingly GAR, either, and of keeping the slice of life and humor (which the show just isn’t very good at) to a minimum. While there were still a few groaners – did we really need yet another Deux ex Void moment when Tsugumi turns out to have exactly the perfect void at exactly the perfect time? – on balance it was dark, moody and very efficient.
I mentioned how strange it was that no one at the school thought it odd that so many new students had mysteriously showed up, and I’ll give full credit to Guilty Crown for bringing that plot into focus this week. With a rebellion brewing and President Kuhoiun Arisa unable to stem it, suspicion finally turned to the newbies as the bullies from last week proved they weren’t one-hit wonders. It didn’t hurt that Segai was expertly fomenting dissent in the ranks of the quarantine zone by allowing them intranet communication, which started a spate of rumors – among which that by turning over Undertakers, someone could buy their way out of the quarantine zone.
The way the Antibodies massacred that group of prisoners was pretty intense, so much so that even Daryl “Viral” Yan looked askance at it. Naturally the rumors of that massacre made their way into the high school quickly enough, where chaos was quickly taking over and Arisa was completely losing control. We saw some real ugliness here – attempts to strip girls so they could check for Undertaker tattoos, guns being pointed at people, not to mention what Inori apparently did to the toughs who tried to check her for tats. Did she kill them, or just beat them into unconsciousness? Impossible to say, but she certainly didn’t want Shu seeing the bodies. It isn’t a complete surprise that Inori was capable of such brutality, but this is the first time we’ve seen her “otherness” portrayed in such a stark fashion.
We learned a lot about the core characters this week, in part due to the genetic resonance meter that Tsugumi produces for Shu, a kind of tire gauge for void strength. Shu himself shows up as a blank, while Inori is so powerful she puts the machine on tilt. We also learned that the other Undertakers (I was wondering when we’d get to that) have taken refuge with Arisa’s Grandfather, who’s planning a sort of resistance movement against Keido’s rule. It starts with rescuing the folks inside the quarantine zone, which is growing ever smaller as Segai contracts it and kills everyone in the way. I doubt Kuhoin-san would be too happy to know that Shu has supplanted his granddaughter as Student Council President, Yahiro having engineered a coup that screams of ulterior motives.
With the reluctant Shu taking the reigns of power at the school, a number of plotlines are opening up that look as if they could be among the most interesting we’ve seen so far. I’m especially interested in seeing what happens with Yahiro’s notion of ranking every student according to their void power, with Shu “reigning over them”. Yahiiro might be working for Segai for all I know, but he’s clearly been mulling this power grab with Shu as the figurehead for a while. The very dubious moral and ethical nature of Shu’s power to use voids has probably been the singe most intriguing element in the show so far – mostly ignored, sadly – but now at last it looks as if it might be taking center stage. With it, the potential is there for Guilty Crown to climb to another level as a series. But given the inconsistencies we’ve seen in the writing so far, I’m definitely calling that a hope rather than an expectation.