Ayase has always been underdeveloped as a character despite playing substantial roles in the main story, the various skirmishes we’ve seen, and interacting with the trio of main characters regularly. Ayase has shared significant duties throughout, including playing essential roles during missions and training Shu first joined Funeral Parlor, so the lack of character development for someone this important is somewhat unexpected. Accordingly, with Gai now gone and Ayase rattled and depressed, it’s time we finally examine one of the best characters in Guilty Crown.
Before this episode, Ayase was known for only a handful of things. Despite being handicap and requiring a wheelchair for mobility, she’s capable of doing virtually anything thanks to her strength, determination, and independent personality. She’s the only member of Funeral Parlor who pilots their mecha and is accomplished in that department. And we know she found inspiration through Gai (not to mention a bit of a crush) which is why she joined Funeral Parlor and displays this active personality. But really, that’s it. Oh, we know she usually wears her hair in a ponytail and is good friends with Tsugumi but that’s it. We never really saw much into her personality and ambition beyond always being fond of Gai and critical of Shu. But with Gai gone and Shu remaining, it was only a matter of time before we witnessed her change and understood her character more.
Well, as expected with Gai’s death, the first change in Ayase was going from her typically spirited and positive personality to a reclusive one full of pessimism and hopelessness. As Tsugumi would later comment, Gai’s death hit her the hardest and it was plainly obvious from her behavior alone but it also differentiated Ayase from the rest of the cast who behaved normally. She was the only one this episode who was still distort over Gai’s death. Likewise, she was the only one who’d see any extensive character development in this episode, too. While in this withdrawn state, friendly characters like Shu and Hare tried to reach out but with minimal success, either ending in Ayase biting Shu’s head off or listening to Hare but showing no change. She shelled herself off from the world under her tough girl exterior. Not only did these scenes reinforce her independent personality but we can see how much of an impact Gai had on her. Earlier it was all talk, even when Tsugumi said what she said earlier in the episode, and, at times, her affection toward Gai could be confused with a simple crush. But no, here we finally see how much of an influence Gai had on Ayase and how much of an impact his death had on her.
Pretty much Ayase would remain this way for most of the episode. It wasn’t until a minor fight with her best friend Tsugumi that she hit rock bottom, feeling completely empty and worthless. It wasn’t until Shu forced Ayase to escape from the sudden battle that she began to reveal her true feelings, the ones that remained dormant under her tough girl exterior. What she was feeling this whole time was not simply lost or regret over Gai’s death but desiring a new purpose, one that would allow her to stand on her legs and move forward. She saw Gai as her ‘legs’ rather than herself, so naturally, when Gai was gone she felt like she had lost her purpose or her meaning. It wasn’t until she accepted her true feelings, that she wanted to have a new purpose, that she was able to cast off her gloomy shell and unlock her Void which just so happened to be ‘legs’ that would allow her to sprint quickly and leap to towering heights. Yeah, it was a bit cheesy how everything happened like that at the end, turning the focus away from developing her character in a genuine way toward concluding the plot of the episode with some heart-warming inspiration and generic action complete with insert song (which I actually liked, nice touch Guilty Crown). But ignoring the battle would be a mistake since Ayase was looking for a purpose to her existence and, by not exiting the battle early this time, Ayase was able to save the life of her friend (assuming Hare is a friend now since that scene where they talked) with her new ability and new inspiration.
Since then, and this is only a minute at most, we can see Ayase’s reborn character. She’s still independent but she’s more sociable and open to others, although we only see her chit-chatting with and later thanking Shu (which, by itself, is an enormous change). She does admit she’s not completely over Gai’s death (although I’m going to assume this is the last time we hear about or hear about it being a problem for her) but she’s able to move forward in a positive way now. Plus that subtle blush at the end hints that she’s developing feelings toward Shu which is something our old Ayase would never consider, even when she was in a positive mood. Seeing her shred that shell that encased her in doom and gloom was the whole turning point for her new character. Now, we can expect her to be more friendly with others and even play a more significant role with her Void in future battles (probably as soon as the next episode).
This new Ayase isn’t terribly different than the old one but we’ve come to understand her more, what she wants and what she’s doing. That and we also began to see a bit of her true personality or the one that remains hidden beneath that tough girl complex that she so brilliantly displays. Really, seeing her open up and become more receptive and approachable to other characters will greatly help with the chemistry for future episodes (especially Shu) and allow for missions and battles to flow in a superior fashion without much friction or resistance from both characters. It only took a few tweaks of her character but with some proper development, Ayase has significantly improved as a character and will help improve the second half of Guilty Crown.
One last bit before wrapping this up: they finally did character development the right way in Guilty Crown. Throughout this whole episode, they developed Ayase’s character appropriately. Sure, the use of the Void was a bit cliché and a plot hole but the development came from within the character and not from a messy story. Ayase was the one who caused her own sorrow and depression and confessed her true feelings later in the episode, both of which were significant areas of development before the Void even appeared. Additionally, the characters in the episode, specifically Shu, Hare, and Tsugumi helped flesh out Ayase’s conflict and help her get to the point where she accepted her inner feelings. The way the character development was done in this episode was proper, logical, and will be meaningful for future episodes. Ayase will now play a slightly different, slightly larger role with other characters and in upcoming stories thanks to what happened in this episode. If only the anime had been doing this from the start, then perhaps some of the characters would not have been so confusing, clichéd, or carelessly complex.
One other major development in this episode is Shu’s new power. Well, it’s not really all that new but it allows for him to access people’s Voids without knocking them out. This is what allowed Ayase to use her Void to show her rebirth and allow someone else besides Shu to partake in the action in Guilty Crown. Could you imagine if this episode happened before the change in power? It would’ve been Shu pulling the legs out of Ayase and then him using it for himself while Ayase remained knocked out. She would’ve never been able to use the legs she desired. That would’ve been awful. But now other people can use their own Voids which will spread the burden around beyond Shu and allow other characters to become more involved in the missions and the story. This is a great move by the series because it will offer variety and involve the cast most. I don’t even care that this development was random or unexplained; no reasoning or explanation would be logical or necessary for the story. All that matters now is that Shu can give people their Voids for them to use and they can do more now in Guilty Crown. Wasn’t it something else to see Ayase save the day rather than Shu? Yeah, it was something better. Guilty Crown had a pretty damn good episode and hopefully this is a sign its taking steps in the right direction. Let’s see if this trend continues.