Guilty Crown – 22 (END)
「祈り convergence」 (Inori)
Sorry for the wait, everybody! Divine is not coming back for the finale, so I guess you get my coverage again!
Well, after 22 weeks, Guilty Crown finally ends. And in true GC fashion, the finale mixes stunning visuals and a great OST with some questionable plot.
Nothing much happens plot-wise in this episode – it’s just wrapping up loose ends and bringing about events that were predicted several episodes back. Shuu and Gai have their battle; and it is every bit the visual treat I thought it’d be. As it was confirmed last episode though, Gai was never a true antagonist – he wanted to save Mana, who would never be ‘free’ from Da’ath’s goals unless she fulfills her role as ‘Eve’ and brings about the Apocalypse. He was also counting on Shuu coming to stop them, and it’s touching he would go so far for her; not to mention his utter trust in Shuu was surprisingly bromantic. It seems Mana realized his efforts in the end, too, so for Gai it’s not a loss at all.
Shuu and Inori however, are a different story.
I thought Inori would be resurrected somehow, and she was… for about five minutes before the producers killed her off again, presumably saving Shuu. It’s somewhat of a confusing moment, and I wasn’t even sure it was Inori that stumbled out of the dark after the scene with Gai, Shuu and Mana. It seemed to be, although how she became blind is a mystery. It doesn’t detract from the moment though, as Shuu was fully prepared to die with her, having made the resolve to become the new ‘Savior’. It was probably one of the best moments in the episode, bolstered by the music in the background. The following scene with Shuu and Inori – where she hands him the cat’s cradle as goodbye – is also another touching moment.
The epilogue, while nice, doesn’t really reveal much. The important characters all get their necessary screen time, and I enjoyed how they were all meeting to celebrate Hare’s birthday. It might seem random, but I certainly appreciated the characters gathering in her memory. The scene certainly closes the chapter on these characters’ lives on a happier note and it’s probably my favorite moment of the episode.
However, like I said, the finale really brought forth GC‘s strengths and weaknesses: head-scratching developments, unanswered plot points, questionable scenes, what have you. Some of the ‘highlights’ of the episode would have to be Mana’s impromptu dance sequence as she brings hell upon the world. Lovely animation and great music. But… it was just so odd. Unless that was the joke? I suppose if the producers’ goal was to illustrate Mana as a sadistic psychopath – prancing around as everybody dies – then I suppose the scene was warranted. It’s just… you can never be too sure what the Guilty Crown producers were thinking; it’s just better to take these scenes as they come, wonder about it for a moment, and promptly move onto the next head-scratching development.
In this case, that development would be Keido.
He kills himself whilst declaring neither he nor Kurosu was the ‘victor’. Just like that, all the tension between a brother/sister conflict evaporated. It really makes one question his role in the show: what was it exactly? He was an ‘antagonist’, but was he really? Keido was certainly built up to be one in the first half of the show, and even a bit of the second half when he became ‘President of Japan’. During the second half of Guilty Crown though, the importance of his character just diminished; as Da’ath’s puppet, Keido is just around to be a convenient source of military forces for Gai and Yuu. And with such an anti-climactic death, what was the point? But again. I assume this was GC‘s way of tying up loose ends, and for the sake of clean endings, I’ll take what I can get.
Now, the last (but certainly not the least) baffling thing I want to address: why was Shuu blind? For that matter, why was Inori? I could get behind everything the show was doing until that point. The music, the visuals, the action, etc, etc. I loved it. I enjoyed it. To be honest, Inori’s blindness, as sudden and unexplained as it was, didn’t bother me as much as Shuu’s did in the epilogue. Not only did the producers fail to explain how he was alive, they gave him mysterious handicaps for no apparent reason. The missing arm makes sense because without his Void, Shuu wouldn’t have a right arm. But his sight? Why would he lose that?
Ultimately, I suppose Guilty Crown‘s finale achieved what it set out to do: tie up loose ends. People that needed to die, died; the necessary characters all appeared in the epilogue (although what happened to the rest of the cast is up for debate), and the show ended with the two people that began it all: Shuu and Inori. The road it took to get there was certainly rocky, but Guilty Crown did get there. It even had some nice moments, so all in all, I can’t complain too much.
Bashing Guilty Crown is like kicking an abandoned puppy; I’d feel bad doing it, so I’ll try not to. I’m not gonna lie – this is not a good show, to put it mildly. At the same time though, I have to admit that some of the disappointment I felt stems from the expectations I had of it even before it started airing. So the poor puppy probably never had a chance to start with.
Guilty Crown premiered to high expectations, and why not? With the staff of Death Note and Code Geass at work, along with character designs by redjuice and theme song performances by supercell, this show had the best of the best in terms of its pedigree; the Ferrari of the Fall 2011 season, if you’d like. Not only did the show dig its grave by setting the bar too high even before it started, I wonder if it didn’t shoot itself in the foot by bringing on such well-known figures from two very different (but nevertheless successful) shows onboard. Death Note had a tight, serious plot that relied on wits and twists. Code Geass was stylish, dramatic and well, fabulous. And watching the show, you can definitely see influences from both shows. Unfortunately, this is where most of the tonal chaos comes from. You can’t take the fast-paced life-or-death battle of wits from Death Note and try to mix it with the outrageous teenage fare that is Code Geass. It’s why those school-themed episodes seemed so out of place, why some of the scenes induced so much hair loss and why Guilty Crown just never seemed to find its groove. Separately, I’m sure the staff of Death Note and Code Geass are all very capable people that can produce hits. I’m just not sure they work together.
Character design is also something I wondered about. They’re pretty. But if you’ve ever looked at redjuice’s illustrations and compared to the official art of the anime, you’ll notice the discrepancy very quickly. It’s kind of like CLAMP, or even the shoujo manga artist Tanemura Arina: the art looks stunning… when it’s not animated. That’s probably a very poor way to phrase it, actually. It’s not that the animation art looks bad, per se, but just too different from the original designs. The three artists I mentioned have a very distinct style that’s pretty hard to carry over onto a fully animated project. Anyone who’s seen CLAMP’s art knows how annoyingly detailed it is – all that jewelry and flowing strands of hair. Redjuice, while not as complicated as CLAMP, still has a fairly detailed and the way they color their works just contrasts too much with the style Production I.G. had going for the animation. Even though for the most part, the animation was fluid, I’ve never been able to shake off the feeling Production I.G. was digging their grave even further by having redjuice as the character designer.
And let’s not forget the biggest wasted potential: supercell. I mentioned this before, and I will again, because that’s how much it bothers me. I’m well aware Guilty Crown is not Macross. But when you hire a famous band, and you market the main female character as a songstress, I expect you to do more than recycle two songs over and over again. Euterpe and Departures aren’t bad songs, but am I supposed to believe EGOIST only has two songs? How are they even famous? Are they one-hit wonders? Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by Macross, but what I got just wasn’t what I wanted. Chelly is an admirable vocalist, so I’ve no idea why the producers didn’t make more use of her; I can only assume the budget got allocated to other endeavors, whatever they might have been.
Eh, all in all though, Guilty Crown did entertain. Unintentionally and certainly not in the way the producers meant to probably, but I have to say that every episode provided some form of entertainment. While I certainly wasn’t happy with its run, I just can’t bring myself to completely hate on Guilty Crown. If I had started watching without any prior expectations, my opinion of the show might even have been different; I try not to raise expectations before a show starts, but with such pretty character designs and the promise of supercell, it was too tempting. So uh, sorry Guilty Crown, for crippling you even before the race started.
In conclusion: would I recommend Guilty Crown? It’s a difficult question. Unless someone had copious amounts of patience and just wanted to look at something pretty for ~20 minutes (oh hey, that’s me!), probably not. But really, Guilty Crown did have its moments, and from a show that probably dug its own grave, that’s much more than I could ever ask for.
And with that… BakaMochi, out!
Special thanks to Divine for letting me finish the coverage, to verdant for helping with this episode’s screencaps and to Moomba for the End Card. Thank you all! :D