Anyone notice a persistent haze of negativity surrounding Guilty Crown? By now, one would’ve guessed that the series has done enough to dispel most of this jinx, but it hasn’t, at least for many. Guilty Crown is suffering from a few different ailments which, combined together, might explain why the series just can’t shake this lingering pessimism.
When Guilty Crown began a few weeks ago, it started out with raving reviews on its animation and action, two aspects that have yet to disappoint. But along with those positive reviews were some questions about the characters and the story, citing tired clichés and formulaic writing as two weaknesses in the show. Since then there has been a spotlight on these latter two aspects to see how they’re changing as the series is progressing. Personally, I thought both elements have greatly improved since the first few episodes. Shu’s character has been explored to the point where we can understand the rationale behind his indecision and why he constantly questions Gai on his missions. Gai has also matured, showing how the burden he carries from his organization affects him as well as some insight into a strange and debilitating illness that denotes some development regarding his past and his current motives for whenever the time comes. And the story has improved, too, but only marginally since these past few episodes have focused on developing the characters rather than building on the foundation that has recently been completed. But for others, they don’t see things that way. Or if they do, they only see it in a negative light. What’s up with that?
Perhaps the most difficult aspect to overcome this negativity is how the series has failed to live up to the high expectations it was assigned before the season began. With images and promotional videos showing dazzling artwork and inspiring action, people figured it would turn out to be the best anime of the season. Well, it looks like the best anime of the season but the characters and story haven’t exactly turned out as expected. And for some of those who felt the same way I did before the season began, it has yet to match the level we thought it should be at. Even if the anime is doing fine, some people will see it as underperforming and continue to feel cynical about it. It doesn’t matter what improvements have been made over the course of the past few weeks, some people will still feel pessimistic toward Guilty Crown for failing to reach the expectations set for this anime.
When Guilty Crown first aired, it came with high praise but also drew some criticism by being similar to pretty much every other anime out there. And most probably feel the same, including yourself. Take a second and complete this sentence: “Guilty Crown is a lot like (name of anime) _____________.” I’ll let you think it over for a sec. Okay, did you come up with an anime? Okay, now, compare the two. Which one do you think is better? More likely than not, the anime you selected to complete that sentence is one that you loved in the past and find more favorable than Guilty Crown. When comparing Guilty Crown to former favorable anime in the past, Guilty Crown will always come out on the bottom. It’s hard to beat out an anime we loved so dearly in the past, especially when Guilty Crown has faults x, y, and z. You may not feel the need to compare the two now but after the first episode, everyone was comparing Guilty Crown to a favorite anime from the past. And some people are still using this as a way to gauge Guilty Crown, by comparing it to old favorites. Continuing to compare this anime against high ranking anime will lead to negativity toward the series. It’s likely this phenoemna is not unique to just Guilty Crown but it is a reason of negativity I’ve seen toward the anime.
Another reason why Guilty Crown is continuing to receive disapproving opinions is because people are steadfast in their prior opinions. It’s difficult for people to change their thoughts dramatically, especially when going from bad to good. People who initially thought Guilty Crown was underperforming may have a tough time flipping their opinion so quickly, especially with only subtle and gradual improvement. And I’m not going to be a hypocrite here, I suffer from the same problem myself. Usually when I have a negative impression of an anime, it takes almost the entire season for me to reverse my opinions and even then, I’m still not likely to give it a deserving score. And I was pessimistic about Guilty Crown up until recently (besides the first episode), so I am guilty of this myself. But the series has been improving, especially in the areas where people find the anime most critical and continue to disregard the stunning artwork and electrifying animation. If that’s the case, then the negativity around Guilty Crown from these fans will continue until they see substantial improvement. And it’s not like I really blame them.
Like I said previously, the improvement in Guilty Crown has been subtle and gradual but there are still many faults with this series that may be another reason behind the negative reception the anime continues to receive. People still have problems with many of the characters, most noticeably with the main female, Inori. For the style of the anime that Guilty Crown is, having stereotypical characters like her, Shu, Gai, and others does affect how some perceive the anime and how it affects their opinions. Elsewhere, there are problems with the villains and how illogical they act sometimes. Throughout the short run of this anime, there are instances where actions by the villainous military have left me baffled. They are irrational in some of their actions which then lead to the heroes overcoming their obstacles in ways that come across as lazy writing, awful storytelling, or poor directing. These inconsistencies can go a long way in causing negativity around the series. Another reason might also be the sheer amount of clichés in the series so far. The series hasn’t exactly been original and has taken steps in the right direction but there are many elements in the story that are just derivative and unimaginative. Most of the story has been uninspiring while having amazing action and decent fanservice which is often an area where fans like to nitpick a series, especially when it tries to have a serious tone. This is always a problem with some fans, even those who love the series, since they are tired of seeing the same tropes in every anime they watch. Count me in that group, too. And of course, someone may find general negativity from many of the problems listed above rather than having one singular reason for their pessimism. Regardless of the reasons listed above, there continues to be some negativity associated with Guilty Crown. So what can the series do to solve this issue when there are so many different causes for so many different fans?
One, and probably the most effective solution for this problem, would be to improve the story. Making the story of Guilty Crown more original would be a start as it seems to be one of the biggest weaknesses of the series. Relying on clichés has been repeatedly cited as one of the biggest problems with the series I’ve seen, so moving away from those elements would certainly help. Additionally, add more substance to the story or more clarity on what’s going on would help, too. Right now, there really is no clear direction this anime is taking besides Funeral Parlor liberating Japan from the GHQ and Shu having his void power but none of those aspects have really been explained. Instead, we got an episode about a satellite that was just revealed and now destroyed without any real relation to the two other plot points. It would’ve made a good sidestory but it was completely irrelevant to the central story, at least to what we know right now. And another way the series could help alleviate some negativity is by addressing the inconsistencies in this anime. By having more rational enemies, the series would improve its mood by being more serious and realistic (as much as an anime can get) all the time rather than most of the time. Reducing the fanservice from the three girls would also help, too. And if the anime ever goes back to the school, which it will because they spent an episode developing those characters, then at least have it be serious the entire time rather than being used for comic relief (save that for Tsugumi only, please). That’s not all but those are some starting points the series can use to help improve its image. The anime has recovered and progressed in recent weeks but there are still many out there who see this anime as a problem still. If the anime continues on its path which seems to be a proper one, you wonder if it will be enough to save this anime among the majority of negative fans or if it will continue to have a split fanbase among those who enjoy it for what it is now and for those who still see this anime as a disappointment.
So how exactly did Gai and Kyo survive that laser blast from space? Well, Kyo didn’t survive the event but was alive after the initial blast in the flames and wreckage but how did Gai remain unscathed through the entire process? Perhaps it has something to do with his mysterious illness that only Inori knows about but still, even if it is something like he encases his body with the crystals from the Apocalypse Virus or whatever, it doesn’t explain why he was able to do that and if that’s even enough to withstand an enormous assault like that. And we’ve seen the manifestation of the disease on his body, leaving him weak and dependent upon blood transfusions and frequent breaks. But then he goes back to being superhuman with his martial arts (against Shu) or when fighting giant mecha (against Daryl) so I have no clue with what’s going on with Gai’s character. And it turns out he may be related to that schoolgirl from the first episode montage scene, too. That montage seems to hint at that schoolgirl becoming a victim of the Apocalypse Virus and a young boy that looks like Gai dying but there’s nothing definite about such a scene and even if it will explain Gai’s disease (the kid looks dead in one of those shots). I’m not really sure what’s going on there with those two and their relationship but I do want an explanation on how Gai survived that laser blast from space and is doing just fine with no side effects. And I want one for Kyo, too, even though she’ll probably be forgotten before too long. Hopefully sometime soon we’ll learn more about Gai and his disease and his mysterious powers but knowing this anime, we’ll be back at school next episode for a break in the action and the story. Sigh…