「捕食 prey」 (Hoshoku)
At times, it feels like Guilty Crown is on the verge of shaking off the jitters from a rocky start, but every time the series is about to, it has a knack for injecting a sudden development with no precedence or build-up and expecting viewers to get emotionally invested in the subsequent scenes. It’s a shame to say the least, because I feel Guilty Crown can take a drastic turn for the better with a single episode that touches upon everything that’s been established thus far and takes it in a new direction. Shuuichirou’s past with Shuu’s father felt like the beginnings of that and received further foreshadowing amidst a high school romance here, but for whatever reason, was allowed to fall wayside once Yahiro and his younger brother Jun (Tsuda Minami, Phryne in FRACTALE) came back into the picture. It’s almost as if the writers don’t want to get a good consistent flow going with the way the put off a recent development and opted to follow-up on a subplot from way back in episode three instead.
Not only does all the jumping around each episode makes it hard for the story to be engaging, it has the adverse effect of making some of the subsequent developments come off somewhat forced too, much like they did here with Shuu’s desire to protect Jun. I can totally understand that the writers want to shed some more light on the Lost Christmas incident through Jun, but the part where he asked Shuu to kill him before he comes to hate his brother was so abrupt that I don’t see how anyone could have felt sympathetic toward his situation. My thought process as I watched that was something along the lines of, “Wait what? Um, okay…” — a head-scratching type of response that wasn’t going to shed any tears. With a better lead-up toward Jun’s death request, that scene could have easily drawn the intended viewer response though, especially with the background music and the traumatized look on Shuu’s face afterward.
That being said, I hope there’s an implicit understanding after nine episodes that I’m not purposely trying to find faults in Guilty Crown — seeing as I want to like this show — but that there are simply questionable developments that are hard to ignore even when I give the series the benefit of the doubt. I’m actually still optimistic about Production I.G’s original noitaminA series, in hopes that it’ll pull itself together and improve people’s opinion of it, but until I get a strong impression of that, I can’t help but hum and haw over some things. Going back to the above, my biggest concern is how unnatural some of the progression comes off in light of everything that’s happened so far, which suggests to me that the writers need to do a better job of depicting how some characters get from point A to point B development-wise. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, because as soon as there’s a breakdown in viewer understanding on why a character is handling a situation the way they are, it’s hard to take anything at face value. Even then, I was willing to overlook some other things this episode, such as how Segai ordered his snipers to fire at Shuu and Yahiro with no intention of hitting them. (i.e. What was the point?) Leading up to that, I really thought this episode was going to hit the story in good stride, with the high school romance aspect care of Hare and even Shuu’s decision to harbor Yahiro and Jun despite how he was betrayed, so it’s regretful that I couldn’t just say beaming things about Guilty Crown this week.
Naturally, overshadowed by my negative impressions are the things that this episode did do well from both a series and story standpoint. For instance, I quite enjoyed the high school side of the things coming off of the beach episode last time, plus it was nice to see more of Shuu’s new-found resolve even though he’s still unknowingly Gai’s lapdog.
There were numerous other positives to take away too, such as:
As far as plot goes, it’s fairly clear to me that the writers have a story they wish to tell, so hopefully the production staff will do a better job of actually conveying it to us on screen. I still believe that Guilty Crown has a lot of untapped potential — it just needs to start living up to the sum of its parts.
ED Sequence & End Card
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