Schools are one of the predominating settings across anime regardless of genre or audience. With most shows involving a cast of teenagers or families, it’s only logical to see schools be an appropriate setting since virtually every child, teenager, or young adult are in some sort of education setting full time. And it’s something that everyone can relate to, so it’s easy to understand what’s going on or why the characters are there. It’s such a simple and common setting, you’d wonder why I have such a massive issue with it but Guilty Crown offers me a few examples on why I find it to be a negative.
First, one of the subjects I specified out in the previous paragraph is one of the biggest problems I have with school settings. That is, schools are excessively overused in anime. Every school, institution, or academy is always the same with students sitting in classes doing whatever. It’s tedious and tiring to see those exact same activities in every single show, even if they are appropriate or logical. Why not have it broken up showing kids in various homes, shops, restaurants, parks, subways, etc with more diverse populations? Obvious kids need to go to school but it’s always the same thing every single time. Schools in anime fail to differentiate themselves from each other even when they have wacky teachers, magical classes, or whatnot since there are so many. It always boils down to a bunch of kids sitting in chairs pointed in one direction doing something boring. And Guilty Crown does nothing different from the norm. The school had some nifty sci-fi screens but that’s all that’s different from any other anime.
What’s worse is that the scenes at school hardly ever advance the plot or the characters and if they do, they’re always clichés. This isn’t true for all shows, especially ones that take place entirely within a school, but for shows like Guilty Crown where it’s just a part of the show, these scenes do nothing. In this episode, we saw the short break where Inori, the mysterious and beautiful transfer student (like it’s a law you need to be mysterious and beautiful to transfer between schools in Japan) was swarmed by the students and later being idolized during PE. These scenes never really added anything to her character that we didn’t already know and were tired clichés repeated from about 50% of anime. For Shu, they failed to provide any new information or developments, too. There were some scenes later in the episodes that offered some plot advancement and character development but those scenes could’ve been done outside the school.
School settings, especially in shows that aren’t entirely set within a school, often have no sense of time. For starters, there are always students wandering around the school, like they’re on infinite break and only need to show up to their classroom when they want to. Otherwise, how was Shu and Inori able to run around and check the voids of so many students? It just doesn’t make sense to see so many students wandering the halls and campus during normal school hours. You’d figure that in a building so massive and grand that all the students would be incredibly wealthy and natural scholars, being in their classes at all times. It’s a weak argument but it’s something that bothers me whenever I see it.
Was it required that this anime take a turn and end up in a school? Before, we had a setting of a militaristically oppressed Japan trying to be liberated by a rebellion group in the years following a deadly pandemic virus and massive war. Now, we’re in a stunning and majestic school trying to find out who saw the terrorist incident from earlier in the week. Honestly, which sounds more interesting? You already know what I think. Couldn’t this episode have taken outside of the school? It would’ve been more interesting, trying to track down an individual within a bustling metropolis, searching the streets for clues and information all while being weary of the constant surveillance of the military? Imagine all the different locations, backdrops, and people there’d be in that richer and more diverse setting. I’d love to see more of this world rather than be imprisoned in that classroom again. At least with the ending to this episode, I might get my wish, although it might be an imprisonment somewhere else…
This anime needs more Gai Tsutsugami. Seeing him in that exceptional tuxedo really won him over for me. Sure, him standing out in the middle of the city with armed guards around giving out a random briefing to someone who’s not even connected to his rebellion organization is incredibly stupid but he doesn’t give a damn. He just does what he wants. And his personality matches the profile, being a true leader, authoritative, confident, intelligent, and properly managing his forces and their tactics. He’s easily the best character in this anime. Can’t wait to see and learn more about him and his comrades in the next few episodes.