「顕出 void-sampling」 (Kenshutsu)
It’s somewhat regrettable that I may have inadvertently hyped Guilty Crown too much — at least for our regular readers — because rather than impressing audiences with everything that the series does well, it’s now struggling to live up to everyone’s high expectations. I get the feeling that viewer reception would be a lot better if it had just slipped under the radar and got a chance to surprise everyone. There are people out there who like to intentionally bring down anything that’s popular, so it wouldn’t be too presumptuous to say they have Guilty Crown labeled now. I don’t intend to counter those “opinions” by showering this show with praise, especially when the previous episode already had me mulling over a couple of plot points, but I do intend to give the series the benefit of the doubt while weighing the good with the bad. Take this week for example. The switchover to the high school setting furthered the story in a meaningful way; however, there were some things that I found detracted from the endeavor.
For one, the artwork just didn’t look as consistent in a handful of scenes, particularly in the character proportions (i.e. big heads). While the quality was still very good overall, there was a bit of a drop-off compared to the first two episodes. The other thing was the progression, which I didn’t mind in terms of predictability — seeing as they wanted viewers to suspect Yahiro — but did bother me with the setup itself. Rather than hinting at how Gai was able to confidently plan around Daryl’s Kaleidoscope last time, the writers decided to simply spell it all out for us by having Shuu suspect that Gai can see the Void within people. Whether or not this was to address concerns of a potential plot hole I don’t know, but it did feel like this episode was devoted to making a point of that revelation by sending Shuu on a school-wide hunt for a Void Weapon. I question if that was really necessary, as it was pretty clear to me that Gai, having referred to Daryl as “Kaleidoscope”, knew about the weapon within him. What I found odd was how he rested the entire success of the operation on Shuu, whom I don’t see as someone he could have banked on.
If that was intended to show that Gai’s calculating enough to anticipate how people will react in a situation, fair enough. I can’t say that it came off that way though. And now, instead of addressing that, the writers are dispelling any “potential” concerns by just getting all the exposition out of the way in a school setting — with accidental breast-groping and all only a week after I said I like how Guilty Crown handles fan-service. (*facepalm*) The explanations extended to the requirements to use the Void Genome too, which they were quick to point out only works on those seventeen and younger for unknown reasons. There’s no need to question why, because they clearly covered their tails by saying it’s for unknown reasons. That’s ultimately my qualm with this episode — it came off as a lot of excessive hand-holding out of fear that viewers would be too dumb to pick up on subtle developments on their own. It might be justified in some cases considering the comments last time, but it still felt like it dumbed down the series a fair bit.
On the plus side, the subplot with Yahiro turned out much better than I expected after he betrayed Shuu by handing him over to the psychotic-looking Major Segai Waltz Makoto (Kanna Nobutoshi). I was glad that suspicions of Yahiro being the Norma Gene drug addict “Sugar” didn’t carry to the next episode since they made it so obvious, and just when it looked like things wrapped up on a good note, we were thrown this wrench to cause Shuu to start doubting everyone around him (as indicated in the preview). It may not seem like much at the moment, but I can see this experience changing Shuu’s apathetic attitude toward the state of Japan. I didn’t anticipate the Sephirah Genomics senior researcher alongside Shuuichirou to be his mother Haruka (Fujimura Chika), though I do like the prospect of that because it shows that Shuu isn’t completely detached from everything that’s going on. The more intertwined he is, the more meaningful his inclusion will become. As for Inori, she was mostly eye candy this episode, but I’m looking forward to seeing her emotionless exterior start to crumble as she spends more time with Shuu.
ED: 「Departures 〜あなたにおくるアイの歌〜」 (Departures ~Anata ni Okuru Ai no Uta~) by EGOIST
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