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Dec 082011

Episode 09 -

Well, uhh, I guess this episode at least tried to create a relatively good conflict. But it sure was confusing; the situation with Yahiro and his younger brother’s Apocalypse infection started simple enough, but devolved into some strange overdramatic situation where Yahiro’s younger brother was asking Shu to kill him. I do see how this episode was trying to draw sympathy for Yahiro and his younger brother, but they just haven’t had enough character development in order for me to really care for the two brothers. If anything, the overdramatic music and the confusing climax to the conflict killed my impressions of this episode.

However, this episode did bring up a few points of interest, mainly about the nature of the “voids”, as well as a few hints at what Gai and Inori are up to. The most interesting point to note here is how the voids that Shu extracts out of people, and the infection that Yahiro’s brother had, both emitted a very similar signature. In other words, the nature of these seemingly different substances are actually the same, which makes me wonder if the infection is actually an improper manifestation of the voids that Shu pulls out. This could mean that this infection was man-made, where the release of the prototype to the void genome that Shu used is what caused all of this ruckus. Then again, this is just my speculation, and I have no idea how correct it is.

What I do have confidence in saying, though, is about another aspect to the infection. Yahiro’s brother stated that the infection “let him see the voids of people”. And of course, the only other person we know who can see these voids is Gai. In other words, perhaps Gai is a survivor of the infection, or maybe something even more mysterious. His curious connection with Inori does make his existence even more puzzling. And what’s up with Inori’s comments about a song? Do songs have some strange ability in this show (makes me think of Macross all over again).

But yea, aside from some interesting little hints to the nature of the void genome, Guilty Crown continues to perform poorly in creating a compelling plot. The story continues to feel like filler, and we are still getting virtually no character development for the main cast. I really hope the series starts to pull itself together, or else I’ll just drop this show. On the plus side, it seems that Shu did gain some confidence somehow, but after this week’s death, Shu will probably revert back to his wimpy self. Sigh, just when it seems like he might’ve finally gotten his act together, he blows it.

Overall Enjoyment: 3.0/5

Screenshots are later in the post.

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Dec 012011

Episode 08 -

Well, at this point I’ve almost lost any faith I had left in this show. It’s astounding how we’re 8 episodes into the series, and there is almost no indicators of the overall direction the plot/story will go. All we have are random side missions, and while these side missions might lead up to something in the future, the creators certainly aren’t trying very hard to connect them all. There is practically no sense of buildup, and the characters continue to stay as stagnant as ever. There is sparse amounts of character development, and not to mention, the only redeeming aspect to this show (the action) was pretty much missing for the entire episode. Guilty Crown is trying really hard to not maintain interest.

Yea, we get to see Shu get along with one of his more disliked friends, and that’s good news for the friend. But I feel that the focus on the friend is pretty much pointless. I mean, the friend will probably not play another role in this series for at least a couple of episodes, so his involvement feels a bit unnecessary. I say this because other side characters who got their own episodes of development have remained side characters. As much as I like Ayase, that Student Council girl, and Shu’s mom, they haven’t really become crucial characters. Shu, Inori, and Gai remain the central trio to the plot.

That brings me to my main point of contention. What’s really lacking here is development for Shu, Gai, and Inori. They’ve practically remained the same in terms of personality since episode one, and this episode’s focus on a completely unimportant side character did not help. Gai, after briefly seeing him in a moment of weakness a few episodes ago, is now back on his feet and acting as usual too. In other words, our main characters are completely stagnant, where their relationship isn’t growing any more interesting. The characters are somehow tied together by their pasts, that much is obvious, but Guilty Crown really dislikes trying to use that connection to get some character growth here.

I’ve been complaining about the characters, but the story is also flawed. Just what in the world is the plot trying to accomplish? What’s the point to all these little “side missions”? Why did you randomly throw in a brunette girl who’s head over heels for the main character when he is obviously going to end up with Inori? What’s the purpose of the Student Council president from last week, the newly introduced guy from this week, and the random birthday party for Daryl? I’m really hoping all of these seemingly random tidbits of info tie back together for now because, quite frankly, everything feels like filler. And I don’t even know what these episodes are filler for; after all, there’s no real direction to the story that indicates that these are “filler” episodes. If Guilty Crown can prove me wrong by making these seemingly random facts somehow important in future conflicts, I’m pretty sure I’d be very surprised.

Overall Enjoyment: 2.9/5

P.S. I’ll admit that I laughed at Daryl’s birthday party, lol. It’s quite sad for him, but considering his nasty attitude though, it’s not a surprise.

Screenshots are later in the post.

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Nov 242011

Episode 07 -

Well this was a somewhat strange episode. While it was obviously meant to introduce new characters, at the same time it’s unclear as to what role these new characters will play in the future. As a result of this ambiguity, this week’s episode of Guilty Crown almost felt like a filler episode. The only thing really worth noting here is how Gai became acquainted with the student council president of Shu’s school. Oh, and there’s a confirmation that Shu is indeed related to the Inori lookalike from his childhood, but it’s not like that’s real news here; it was pretty obvious since an episode or two ago.

Honestly speaking, I’m kind of confused as to what direction the creators of this series are trying to take the story. Is the story going to be one that focuses on rebelling against the oppressive antibodies and free Japan? Is it about developing all these little romantic relationships that keep popping up between the main cast? Is the story trying to develop the secret past that Shu, Inori, and Gai seem to share? How are the two newly introduced characters going to play a role in all of this? It is extremely unclear as to exactly what the storywriters are trying to accomplish, but as a result of this lack of direction, the story feels like it’s not progressing anywhere. Or at least, it’s certainly not going anywhere fast.

The lack of buildup is really killing this show, where the story is becoming more and more bland. We are admittingly seeing the fruition of Shu’s character development, where he’s starting to show a bit more self confidence and initiative, but that means squat when the story isn’t doing much of anything. Not to mention, Inori is back to her usual stoic blandness, where all signs of character development for her from last week sort of disappeared. There is also some huge inconsistencies here, where after Inori admitted to following Shu on Gai’s orders back in episode 5, Shu and Inori are back to acting as usual. Considering how devastating Inori’s revelation of “betrayal” was to Shu, it’s weird how they’re back to the usual. And once again, Gai proves to be the most interesting character out of the cast, where it’s obvious that he’s plotting something (especially with his smooth-talking of the council president).

Seriously, just what is this show trying to accomplish? I certainly can’t tell based on what we’ve seen so far, and we’re already near the 1/3 point of the series.

Overall Enjoyment: 2.9/5

Screenshots are later in the post.

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Nov 172011

Episode 06 -

Hrm, well Guilty Crown went in a direction I wasn’t quite expecting. While the series so far hasn’t really been a home-run in terms of success, at the same time the show is continuously improving. Admittingly, there’s still a ton of room for improvement, but at least Guilty Crown isn’t slacking off. As expected, Gai miraculously survived with rather minor injuries. Now I don’t know how in hell you’d survive a huge blast like that relatively unscathed, but I guess it’s to be expected; after all, Gai is a pretty important character. However, contrary to my expectations where Guilty Crown would continuously build upon the tensions between Shu and Gai, this episode actually brings a lot of closure to the tense relationship between them. Or at least, Shu gains a much more solid understanding of Gai’s character. Considering how Gai has pretty much been a jerk up until now, finally seeing some proper development for him is a welcomed change up.

The one thing that’s been really bugging me about this series up until now, though, is how it’s been playing it’s cards very safe. All the conflicts have played things safely, where none of the characters have really felt like they were in danger. The conflicts have been very one-sided, with Funeral Parlor always ending up winning. While it’s quite obvious that Funeral Parlor can’t current fight face-to-face with the enemy, they certainly haven’t been hit with terrible losses. The conflict this week with the Leukocyte weapons didn’t feel any different, where almost everything went smoothly.

What’s more interesting to note is how this series is starting to explore it’s characters in more depth. Shu is still a wimp, but he’s a wimp that is rather reasonable when it comes to battles and fights in general. His approach to Funeral Parlor’s new plans makes a lot of sense, especially coupled with Shu’s distrust of him. He also holds some distrust for Inori after last episode, so seeing how he interacts with Inori and other members of the cast adds a new dimension to his personality. But really, the biggest change up here is a more thorough introduction of Gai’s character. For one, even though he’s the leader figure, he’s quite the insecure guy. Or at least, he feels he isn’t qualified to do what he is currently doing, and feels guilt over the people he’s sacrificed to get to where he’s at. It’s the classic “costs of war” dilemma, where one questions whether the sacrifices made in battle are truly worth it.

And finally, it looks like we’ve finally got some sort of confirmation that Inori isn’t quite what she appears to be. Inori has been a very bland heroine up until this point, so seeing the inclusion of a potential alternate personality(?) changes up her role quite a bit. We’ve already noted back in the first episode that Shu seems to have some sort of relationship with Inori in the past, though it’s still unclear exactly what her presence signifies.

As of now, Guilty Crown is going through a ton of build-up and setup, where we’re slowly seeing more and more of the mystery behind Gai and Inori unfold. Amidst the slow revelations, we’re seeing a ton of action and conflicts between the members of Funeral Parlor, and the intruders in Japan. I do wish the series would take it’s conflicts more seriously, because as of now they’re rather boring and predictable. However, I suspect that won’t happen for a long time. Nevertheless, Guilty Crown is improving little by little, and I’m hoping it keeps improving.

Overall Enjoyment: 3.4/5

Screenshots are later in the post.

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Nov 102011

Episode 05 -

Woah, well I have to say this episode had a rather unexpected plot twist. I just need to pray now that it isn’t a troll, because if it isn’t, Guilty Crown just got a ton more interesting. The most shocking part of the episode was at the very end, but even the beginning half of the episode held a few surprises.

A vast majority of the episode was actually quite simple; it was about Shu getting completely and utterly frustrated at how so many people have faith in Gai, how unskilled he himself is, and how Inori ends up betraying his feelings. While the first two issues didn’t come as much of a surprise, the part where Inori “betrays” him was quite the unexpected turn of events.

I mean, Inori has been saying stuff that makes it seem like she loves him (or at least, has a crush on him). And yet, when confronted by Shu, Inori finally tells him the truth; that Gai ordered her to act all lovey-dovey with him. The shocked look on Shu’s face makes a lot of sense, that’s for sure.

However, this does create a little plot hole here. If Inori was simply following orders to act all lovey-dovey with Shu, why did she go out of her way to defy Gai’s orders and go meet up with Shu in the prison last week? This isn’t really a huge issue, but I’d like to hope that the storywriters could explain this issue in the future.

But anyways, the big plot twist was towards the very end. I mean, they spend practically half the episode constantly reminding us on how everybody in the resistance holds absolute faith in Gai. And then they show that Gai might have actually died, where the area he was operating in was blown to smithereens? If Gai is actually dead, I’ll admit right now that Guilty Crown could turn out much better than I’d anticipated. Not that I hate Gai or anything, but the implications of his death would be huge.

After all, Gai is the figurehead of the entire organization. Since everybody trusts Gai, they participate and follow orders in the resistance movement. In other words, Gai is pretty much the “glue” that holds the entire Funeral Parlor organization together. If he dies from this blast, Funeral Parlor will almost definitely fall apart (or at least, fall into utter chaos). An organization without it’s leader will usually break apart unless someone else can fill in the leader’s shoes, and based on just how much trust Gai holds, I doubt there will be many that can replace him. To put things simply, the situation can get very ugly and messy.

Of course, this is all under the assumption that Gai is actually dead, and unfortunately, anime tend to have this terrible cliche where if you don’t see the character die on screen, then they probably didn’t actually die. There is no confirmation of his death as of now, so I’m highly doubtful that he’s actually dead. If he is dead though, I can say that the main cast is in for one very messy, bumpy ride. Otherwise, we’ll probably just be seeing a ton more Gai vs Shu conflicts for the next few weeks.

Overall Enjoyment: 3.3/5

P.S. Ayase was a pretty nice person throughout the episode. While I can’t say I’m a fan of all the fanservice of her that we saw, she certainly seems to be a rather honest human being, which reflects well upon Gai. Actually, I’d say that most of the cast seem rather friendly, which says a lot about the type of people that Gai surrounded himself with.

Screenshots are later in the post.

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Nov 032011

Episode 04 -

Now THIS is more like it. While there are still a few plot holes poking around, this week’s episode of Guilty Crown was a significant improvement. The most notable part was, obviously, the stellar production values and the great action scenes. But aside from that, there was actually a surprisingly good bit of character development and plot progression here. This episode does a fairly good job at introduction some tensions amidst the characters, particularly between Gai and Shu. As of now this issue is laying a bit low, but it’s quite easy to tell that it’s a time bomb just ticking away. Whenever that time bomb explodes, there’ll be something huge between Shu and Gai.

The main issue this episode brings up is just how trustworthy Gai as a character can be. And from Shu’s perspective, it is indeed a very important question to ask. We automatically associate Gai with being the good guy because he’s leading the Funeral Parlor group against the guys who are slaughtering civilians. And yet, we know absolutely none of Gai’s motives for even doing so, and not to mention, his refusal to really talk about it is proving to make him even more suspicious. Gai is obviously a very smart guy, but he isn’t very good at gaining people’s trust, especially with his no nonsense, demand obedience attitude of his. While I don’t trust the guy who plants the doubts about Gai in Shu, at the same time the episode does prompt some very important questions about Gai as a character. Why is Gai doing what he’s doing, and why is he so adamant about keeping Shu in the dark when it comes to his own motives? I like how this episode points towards a more complex view towards conflicts in this series, as opposed to the typical black-vs-white conflict you might see in other anime.

As for Shu and Inori, I’m starting to warm up to their relationship a bit. Their relationship still needs a crap ton of development for me to take it seriously, but it’s somehow touching in a weird way. I can’t quite put my finger on why I don’t mind their relationship. Aside from that, Inori needs a ton more development; she’s starting to gain more of a personality, but still feels bland as ever.

Anyways, aside from the interesting points about the characters that this episode notes, the action this episode was superb. Or to be more specific, the action in combination with the animation was superb. Seriously, the animation is pretty much movie-quality, and the action scenes are fairly well choreographed too. Sure, they’re bending the laws of physics here and there, but it’s mighty pretty eye-candy. The episode also setup a basic but solid foundation for future tensions, mainly due to the rather uncertain level of trust Shu and Gai have in each other. While Guilty Crown did start off rather weak, it looks like Production IG has every intention of trying to improve upon the series as much as it can. And while it is a bit early to say for sure, it looks like it may work out.

Overall Enjoyment: 3.9/5

Screenshots are later in the post.

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Oct 272011

Episode 03 -

Well, this episode cleared up some (not all) of the plot holes from last week. That being said, the story took a rather interesting turn towards the end; I knew that Shu would be dragged back into the conflicts somehow, but I didn’t quite expect him to be betrayed by one of his friends. Nonetheless, the plot twist does make things a bit more interesting, especially because Shu got separated from Inori. However, while the direction the overall episode took the plot was interesting, the story for the episode itself was a bit too silly and nonsensical for my tastes. Character development and such is even more lacking, with Inori and Shu remaining as bland as ever.

The main thing that really irked me is how Shu was going around in broad daylight using his ability to extract items out of people. If he is really concerned with not being caught by the authorities, using his abilities in broad daylight is a bit too flashy.While the whole ordeal was fun to watch, at the same time it just was outright nonsensical, and wasn’t very fitting to the situation. At least the episode went into more detail explaining the abilities of both Gai and the actual void extractions, and cleared up some of the contradictions so far. But still, if Gai detected that Shu could be targeted, he could’ve thought of a better plan to fight back than the one he told Shu, right?

Anyways, aside from the iffy issues with the conflict this episode, the direction the overall plot took was rather interesting. Shu being reported to the authorities, and being captured at gunpoint was NOT what I was expecting, especially this early into the series. He certainly won’t be living a normal life from now on, especially since his possibilities of escape are low without Inori around. He’ll probably be rescued somehow, but that’ll have to be in the future. Unfortunately, all of this still hasn’t helped Inori break out from her very boring personality, but the point brought up about her sword-shaped void does add some very interesting possibilities to her as a character. I guess she’ll be developing alongside Shu, though it looks like it won’t happen for a while.

In the end, this somewhat silly episode was pretty much meant to be both buildup and explanation; it did a decent job at doing both of those. And yet, the conflict this episode wasn’t very good at all, and unlike previous episodes, there wasn’t much action to compensate. The story, quite frankly, still feels very generic, and the same can pretty much be said for the characters. I’ll admit that there is a lot of room for growth, I’m just praying the creators jump-start the story itself soon. Because, quite frankly, pretty eye-candy won’t be able to do much without the story getting into shape.

Overall Enjoyment: 3.4/5

Screenshots are later in the post.

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Oct 202011

Episode 02 -

It looks like I’ll have to seriously re-adjust my expectations for this series. As of now, the one standout category for Guilty Crown is it’s production quality. The animation quality maintained it’s high standards from last week, and looked absolutely gorgeous. The story, on the other hand, does still feel a bit lackluster. That being said, overall this is a definitely improvement from last week; the story felt more coherent, and the action flowed well for the most part. There are some glaring plot holes though, which don’t quite bode well for the future.

The interesting little twist here is how, if you want to do Code Geass comparisons, Guilty crown also does have it’s charismatic-somewhat-Lelouch-like character. Unlike Code geass though, rather than tell the story from the perspective of such a leader, we are told the story from the perspective of the wimpy guy named Shu. He’s practically an underling, aka a character who almost seems like a side-character (except that he isn’t). This does bring in room for a lot of character growth for Shu, where over the course of this entire conflict we’ll probably see him grow up quite a bit. However, his very apathetic stance is still disappointing to see in a main character. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure he’s going to be dragged into one heck of a mess, and will need to seriously toughen up to get through it all.

And indeed, with Shu holding a ridiculously powerful skill from the Void genome, Gai and the resistance better drag Shu into any messes they get involved in. His ability will definitely be a crucial tool in future endeavors, and we’ve already seen part of just how useful the Void ability actually is. What I found rather notable is how Shu can use his ability on anybody, so he can get weapons from people other than Inori. Shu extracts the crazy reflector weapon out of that crazy blonde-haired pilot, all against the pilot’s will too. The idea of being to extract out a super-weapon from anybody at a moment’s notice is truly a powerful asset; it’s a complete shame that someone as unmotivated as Shu got his hands on it.

The action in this episode, for the most part, was pretty intense, especially the bits with Shu throwing his ability into the mix to create that crazy reflector shield thingy. Another thing that Guilty crown definitely has potential for is some awesome action sequences, especially after the ones from this week. Stunningly good animation and action isn’t exactly a bad combination, after all.

There are, admittingly, a ton of cliches to this series as of now. There is the typical main character Shu, the seemingly personality-less Inori, and the very unimaginative villains. Then there’s some notable plot holes like why Gai didn’t take away the Genome from Shu back in episode one if it was really meant to be his, and how Gai managed to plan out extracting a weapon from the blonde dude and know exactly what the said new weapon would be capable of. And how in the world can Inori transfer into Shu’s school when she’s a wanted fugitive? Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention during the episode or something, because those are some major plot holes. Nonetheless, Guilty Crown promises to be a beautifully animated, action-packed series, all with a solid setting and a cast of characters that have a lot of room for improvement. I can’t say I’m thrilled about this series yet, but it’s not particularly bad either.

Overall Enjoyment: 3.8/5

P.S. I did note how fantastic the visual quality for this series is, but I can’t help but point it out again. The details put into this show are incredible, where everything from Tsugumi’s 3D interface, to the invisibility cloaks, and even simple little details in the background, are all beautifully drawn and animated. The animation during action sequences is buttery smooth as well; you could just see the increase in the frame rate. The story might be generic as of now, but it’s still a wonder to watch each episode unfold.

Screenshots and OP theme are later in the post.

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