So do we just forget about the whole plot in the first half of Guilty Crown now since we’ve got a new story now? Well, after this episode, I think I’ll do just that but not before I take a step back and recount what the first half of Guilty Crown was able to accomplish.
The tenth episode of Guilty Crown is really the first episode with the main plot for the anime or at least the first episode that connects every story element we’ve seen thus far under one idea. We’ve got the whole Apocalypse Virus, GHQ, Antibodies, mysterious rock, Inori/inner Inori, and Lost Christmas themes all tethered by some coherent logic and a central villain now. And to no surprise, every character in the anime was represented in one way or another in this episode. This episode certainly felt like the finale to the first half of the anime with everything that took place. It looks like we’ve finally established some sort of story for Guilty Crown to build off of now and had some decent execution to make it somewhat stimulating. But then what do we make of the first half this anime?
If this episode is really the start of the main storyline in Guilty Crown, then wasn’t the entire first half the anime simply a waste? Perhaps. It wouldn’t surprise me to see people think that way, especially with the amount of time allotted to it. Others might not differentiate the new plot from the old and consider this continuous with the previous events, especially with Keido stealing the stone, so there’s another extreme to this argument, too. For me, I’ll split the difference and consider the first half of Guilty Crown a setup for the second half, the one with the actual story. And since it looks like there were some irreversible developments in this episode toward the plot that will prevent it from ever going back to the themes from the first half, I figure I should take a moment and recount what the first half of Guilty Crown did right and what it did wrong.
For one, the first half of Guilty Crown did a fine job of developing Shu’s character, especially in a way that makes him out to be someone we don’t all agree with or consider a hero. Rather than taking the easy path and making Shu a role model and a leader that everyone admires, Shu shows a lack of self-confidence, social aptitude, and determination. We see him struggle frequently when he’s tested by friends, comrades, and enemies and see the conflict turning inside him. He wants to be like Gai, the opposite of all his current attributes, but he can’t figure out what he needs to do to become him. Instead, he wants the same treatment as Gai (or maybe even better since Shu thinks Gai lacks morals and justice) without realizing the stark contrast between the two. I enjoy how Shu is flawed and struggles with issues unlike in other anime where he’d have the charisma and leadership to successfully rescue Japan from a tyrannical military. Still, it didn’t need to take nine episodes to do that but it’s what we got and it’s something I liked during the first half of Guilty Crown.
Another positive from the first half of Guilty Crown is that it established relationships between characters. What’s good about that is now we don’t have to build up relationships between characters in the second half of the anime which would otherwise reduce screentime for plot, action, or unnecessary fanservice. We know the relationship between Gai and Ayase now, between what’s normal and what’s unexpected. We know what to expect from Shu and Hare. We know the general relationships between the named members of the Antibodies, too. If we see Gai and Arisa on screen together, we know Arisa has a crush on Gai and Gai will use her for whatever his needs are. And we know how embarrassed Shu is around his mother, Haruka, and how comfortable she is around him. We don’t need to spend anytime developing character relationships in the second half of Guilty Crown now except when the story requires it. We know what to expect from combinations of characters and can anticipate what will happen next. We’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on, too, because of the first half of Guilty Crown. Still, you have to wonder how important all of these relationships are, especially when you think about characters like Kanon, Souta, Arugo, and Yahiro. Maybe it will become more relevant later but at this point, they seem like superfluous characters.
And while the first half of Guilty Crown did plenty of things correctly, including many little things, it still did plenty of things wrong, too. For one, if this whole first half was a set up for the second half of the anime, then why didn’t it have a logical storyline? Episodes in the first half of Guilty Crown almost felt random with Funeral Parlor taking up missions that had no connection between each other and served no clear purpose. How exactly were these missions related to liberating Japan, or in Gai’s case, rescuing the girl of his dreams? It felt like the anime wanted to have episodes with a certain degree of action and fanservice and then used it as an outline to write the stories of each episode. And the frequent time spent at school doesn’t seem necessary to the new storyline now with Keido and his Antibodies wanting to recreate the Lost Christmas. Had the first half of Guilty Crown consisted of rational episodes strung together with some connectivity, then the storyline would have been understandable and the anime would not have suffered the backlash it has endured. But if the entire first half had done enough storywise to build a foundation for the second half and support it, then this criticism should end up being needless nitpicking. But until we see coherent plot developments and proper execution, this will still be a problem with the first half of Guilty Crown.
The first half of Guilty Crown also had a focus problem, never really being clear on what it wanted to tell us or what it wanted to show. At times, episodes felt like they were only being made to provide us with dazzling action and gratuitous fanservice but it kept getting interrupted by the story or character development. The anime could have told its story better by reducing these elements and spending more time on the explaining the reasons behind what’s going on. Or had the series wanted an episode to be pure action and fanservice, then ignore trying to insert a serious storyline and have a fun and entertaining episode. The anime had a problem with taking itself too seriously in some episodes and not serious enough in others. What Guilty Crown needed to do was set an atmosphere for each episode and keep it constant, either being serious and working on the story and characters or being not serious and having boobs and explosions the whole time. The focus did improve as the anime continued but it still never become consistent like I had hoped. This episode, however, did provide the best example of staying on focus the entire time and hopefully that is a sign of what’s to come in the second half of Guilty Crown.
Again, there are other details I’m omitting from this post because it’s already gone on long enough but you get the general idea. The first half of Guilty Crown did plenty right and plenty wrong in setting up for the second half of the anime. With the extraordinary plot developments in this episode, we can expect a shift in Guilty Crown, one that should hopefully rejuvenate the series and provide a clear message, moral, or themes for the anime to expand on. I actually enjoyed what occurred this episode and am looking forward to seeing what happens to all the characters and the resistance in general. Going back and including all the various plot elements from the first half, like the Apocalypse Virus, Lost Christmas, and Inori/inner Inori will keep me interested in what’s about to happen next. I can imagine there will be some reorganization going on in Funeral Parlor and Shu will again rejoin the ranks but it is undetermined what his role will be with Inori and Gai suffering debilitating conditions from what we just witnessed. Will Shu become the new leader of Funeral Parlor and redirect the resistance toward something more? Well, he’ll have to overcome himself before he can ever hope to overcome the GHQ and that is something I’d love to see.