「贖罪 rebirth」 (Shokuzai)
In many ways, this latest episode of Guilty Crown was a step in the right direction. However, there were still moments that I found rather irksome, which prevented it from being a complete step in the right direction. First off, let’s start with the good points. I like how Segai continued to show that he has his own twisted agenda by showing that he was “unsatisfied” with Gai’s no-nonsense use of a Void Genome and was willing to stake his life to see more of Shuu’s “light”. I also like how Haruka finally stood up against Shuuichirou, since it was more consistent with how she tried to run away from him in episode eleven, and her surprise revelation that Shuu is adopted since it explained why he never called her “mother” until this episode. Then there was Oogumo, who died valiantly and brought a tear to even Argo’s eyes. Last but not least was Shuu’s newfound resolve after Inori disappeared, which led to him using the third and final Void Genome.
In the first three cases, we got a lot better characterization of the support cast on both sides, while in the last one we got to see exactly what the writers had foreshadowed in the second opening sequence with his new Void arm. In a series that’s severely lacking in the foreshadowing department — in regards to even hinting at where things might be headed — the sight of Shuu obtaining a new arm and going back to his apologetic yet determined ways was a very welcomed development. It brought him closer to a protagonist whom I can feel somewhat sympathetic towards and get behind what he’s trying to accomplish now. The word “respectable” comes to mind, which I honestly couldn’t use to describe Shuu’s character in recent episodes.
Now as for what I didn’t like, the writers continue to leave a lot up to interpretation to explain how various subdevelopments got to this point. It’s almost like we’re expected to fill in the gaps that they’ve carelessly left behind in order to “construct” a consistent storyline. The first instance of this is the sudden revelation that Shuuichirou is Haruka’s older brother. With the way that revelation was just thrown out at the beginning of this episode and not brought up again, it felt like the series’ way of telling us to not think about all the implications of their sibling relationship in the eighteen episodes prior and wait for it rewrite our understanding of the entire story with the flashback next time. I can’t say I like the way that comes off, because even if this is the intended way of showing how Shuuichirou, Kurosu, and Haruka’s genome research went wrong and led to everything that’s happened up until this point, it comes off as a blatant attempt to correct all the problems with a poorly told story. I’ll reserve judgement until I see if the flashback fills in all the loose ends, but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s “clean up” for all the inconsistencies we’ve seen thus far.
I also have some gripes with how Kurachi was only recently introduced by “conveniently” a longtime friend of Haruka’s, how Oogumo stupidly opened the door to some stragglers just to prove that they have no vaccines (which took away from his death to a certain degree), how Yahiro flipped back to his considerate side by showing concern for Souta (be good or bad, pick one!), and how Segai’s ulterior motive ended up being nothing more than sheer bliss from Shuu sticking another guy’s “soul” into him. (Yes, I intentionally made it sound as bad as it was.) Most of all, my biggest gripe is how Shibungi’s importance to the story just skyrocketed out of nowhere, given that he has an ulterior motive bigger than Segai. There was absolutely no precedence for him wanting to make Gai a king with Funeral Parlor, but we’re expected to accept that this was the case all along and how Shibungi now feels the need to kill Gai. At some point, it wouldn’t hurt to explain how Gai was even resurrected, before the writers once again warp my understanding of everything that’s happened.
Actually, now that I think about it, my biggest disappointment is the fact that Ayase didn’t get to use the third and final Void Genome instead of Shuu. She would’ve made a great heroine to salvage this series in the final three episodes. I’m joking of course — at least partially anyway. That end card does make me wonder though…
* If there’s one area that Guilty Crown doesn’t ever seem to disappoint, it would be its soundtrack.
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