Why can’t more episodes of Guilty Crown be like this one? No, I’m not talking about how this episode steadily improved from start to finish nor that it had introductions to new characters, some respectable action sequences, and a decent amount of information on the setting making it a detailed episode. Those were all great but that’s not what I want to bring up today. No, what made this episode one of the best was that it didn’t take itself as seriously as any of the previous ones, and that’s a major plus for Guilty Crown.
What’s hindered Guilty Crown in the past, for me and for others, has been that the anime has taken itself way too seriously. While that’s not bad in and of itself, with poor character logic and actions and generally mediocre execution, it comes across as not having the bite to back up its bark. It felt off trying to have high tensions scenes against the GHQ when their officers were acting like comically cartoony villains and Gai was performing like a charismatic, Hollywood soldier. The two ends couldn’t decide what they wanted to be and some scenes suffered as a result. But this one bucked that trend and the two sides came together for a laidback, more enjoyable episode.
Now why did I come to that conclusion? Probably because most of the characters in this episode didn’t really care on what was going on. And those that did didn’t try to make things overly dramatic or try to play them out as bigger than they really were (except I can understand Tsugumi freaking out as a SAM was flying at the ship they were on, so that’s fine). It started when Shu began panicking that his mom, Haurka, came home and Inori was folding her underwear on the couch. But what seemed like another terrible anime cliché, complete with the inappropriate and misunderstood pose when Haruka showed up but it never progressed like that. Sure, it could’ve gone the two predictable ways with Haruka furious at the ecchi mess Shu was in or completely accepting and interested in Inori (which Future Diary somehow pulled off last week) but rather Haruka didn’t give a shit. She already stripped out of her work clothes, had a beer in one hand, and wanted a pizza in her other. So what if her socially awkward son had a cute girl over, she wasn’t going to wear clothes for that! How awesome is that? And from that point forward, what looked to be another tedious school/harem episode turned out to be something fun and entertaining.
Had it stopped with Haruka, then the rest of the episode may have been merely decent but the GHQ scenes continued with that relaxed atmosphere and made for some pretty enjoyable scenes. It started when Dan, the stereotypical American Anglo-Saxon of anime, was introducing himself to the GHQ officers and they just stood there bored as all hell. Segai was busy on his cell phone, Daryl felt completely disrespected and displeased, and Rowan tried to be serious but failed miserably. And when they showed the battalion of missiles on the harbor all for one cruise liner, you knew there wasn’t an ounce of seriousness with the villains in this episode. It was great because the anime finally chose an attitude for the military in this episode that matched the profile of this episode. They’ve already drilled into our head multiple times that they’re oppressive and evil and all that jazz but they realized anymore would be overkill and saved that job for the unnecessary amount of missiles they had at their disposal. They finally decided to have some fun this episode and managed to accomplish that task. What cemented it was when Dan said that he learned about the ship from some random citizen and decided to bomb the hell out of it without any further intelligence or advice. And all with a teeth sparkle, too. Golden.
Gai played an important role in the fun, too, but not in the same way as Haruka or the GHQ did. Gai’s role in the episode was more to prevent the episode from becoming too serious or dramatic than what it wanted to be. Shu began his normal reaction of being overly anxious and troubled when he saw his mother aboard the ship and again when he bumped into Arisa. The mood of the episode began to shift with Shu worrying about the safety of his mom and his school friend but thankfully Gai, looking absolutely boss in that tux, came in to save the day. His suave sexual harassment and his collected and calm demeanor when the ship was actively being bombed ran counter to what Shu and Tsugumi were expressing. You don’t really feel tension and drama when a badass is calling a young maiden an armadillo or seducing her on the stern of a ship. It just doesn’t allow the tension to manifest itself into anything important. Sure, Gai was indeed serious in this episode, securing stable routes of funds for his organization and protecting the cruise liner from unfathomable annihilation but he never allowed the episode to try to become more than it should’ve been and end up ruining itself.
Oh, and those missiles choreographed to the Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers and exploding into fireworks thanks to Arisa’s Void was just so over-the-top that it completed the episode. What more could it do? And with Gai holding Arisa in his arms looking skyward as the glittering lights. How perfect of an ending was that?
No, I’m not going to complain about an episode like that in Guilty Crown. Sure, I want the anime to be serious, to deliberate complex themes, construct rich and stimulating characters, have sensational fight sequences, and make us think week after week but I also want the series to have some fun sometime. The series hasn’t exactly been the former which has been a disappointment. But this is the first time it has tried the latter and it came out somewhere between wonderful and fantastic. And it introduced Arisa and Haruka plus detailed some new info on Funeral Parlor, too, so it wasn’t completely meaningless either. Now I don’t hope every episode is like this in Guilty Crown; I hope next week the anime returns to a serious storyline and builds upon the Funeral Parlor and its war against the GHQ. But an episode like this, to break up the monotony of unyielding seriousness from the first six episodes, is welcome every once in a while. Hopefully the anime can take a hint from this episode and decide on a focus for each episode when the serious episodes return because this is the first one that felt appropriate and consistent throughout.
One of my fears for this anime is that it would eventually turn into a harem of sorts. You have Inori already following Shu around and Hare is the typical childhood friend who’s doomed for failure right from the start. Then you introduce Arisa in this episode who defends Shu for no apparent reason and Haruka who frequently walks around home in her panties and enjoys snuggling Shu and you’re beginning to leave ‘love triangle’ and head for ‘harem’ territory. Oh, and when you add in the girl he groped in the third episode and Ayase and Tsugumi, and yeah, you have the potential for a healthy-sized harem. And while I would hate it if a harem did develop, it doesn’t appear that it will.
So far no one has fallen for Shu for no logical reason beside Hare and maybe Inori, so that’s a positive sign. Another is that Gai seems to be getting all the chicks without Shu knowing. Actually, if a harem develops around Gai, I’d probably like that, especially if Shu is all resentful and depressed about it. Yeah, Gai looking after Arisa at the end like that was a nice scene and I wouldn’t be surprise if she falls for him like Inori or Ayase have, even after being sexually harassed the entire episode by him. But knowing Gai, he’s probably just doing all that for his own selfish purposes. He’ll probably end up using her influence to extract money later in the series or something like that and end up breaking her heart in the process. So even if a harem developed around Gai, it wouldn’t be a cliché anime one where it’s one guy running from all the girls in an endless cycle of comedy and ecchi. Nah, it would end up being Gai using all the girls for his own benefit and then discarding them once they prove useless for his goals. Yeah, that’d actually be pretty interesting to watch.