Seeing as Guilty Crown will reach its grand finale in the next episode, this is about the last time I can bring up a subject that has been present throughout Guilty Crown and irritated me throughout, too. The constant biological theme in Guilty Crown, from naming conventions to story points, has been employed to link the magic of voids to real world concepts. The problem here is that they’re using biological terms and ideas to explain plot holes and do so in an elegant way or use nomenclature in a nonsensical way. Though I can understand how someone may be fine with such usage, especially in a story such as this, it feels like its bastardizing a science that is significant to me.
Throughout the series since the introduction of special forces named “Antibodies”, to military satellites with ultra-powerful lasers named “Leukocytes”, to the Apocalypse Virus and Void Genome, biological terms and usage has been a dominant theme in Guilty Crown. All the major plot points surrounding the mechanics of voids and the broken superpowers within Guilty Crown can pretty much be all traced back to biology or some biology related idea. It’s hard to ignore the amount of effort the creators put into making this theme as visible and ubiquitous as possible seeing as it is mentioned in virtually every episode. While I’d normally applaud a series for supporting a theme as dear to me as biology as much as Guilty Crown has, I often feel as though it is being misused or corrupted in a way that bothers me.
The previous episode with the flashbacks happened to be the one that provided me enough material to create a lengthy enough post on the subject and allow me to use enough evidence to make an argument I hope you can agree to. The flashback essentially showed all the powers that are in play, and essentially everything about Guilty Crown, coming from a meteorite from space. This meteorite, however, was special in that it carried a special virus which would later become known as the Apocalypse Virus. That’s all fine and dandy but my first problem began when it began infecting people. Why is that a problem you might ask? Well, for one, viruses that infect humans evolved with us symbiotically throughout time and have adapted to enter our cells through sophisticated mechanisms which often include highly specific structures on our human cells and the virus envelopes (outer membrane) or capsids (protective shells around genome). This virus, fresh from an unknown voyage across space and one that has probably never seen a human before, readily infected the first human it encounters. How and why? Besides the fact stated before that it shouldn’t be able to infect humans, why couldn’t the virus of the meteorite been a phage that infected bacteria or a virus that attacks the plant kingdom or hell, even another animal species that has simpler cells and a less intelligent immune system? Additionally, the virus propagates by inserting itself into our genome and replicates that way. Again, this only happens in very specific viruses that have evolved with mankind throughout history. Unless this virus was developed by aliens and sent to Earth carried on a meteorite (not the best delivery method but whatever works for these guys), I have no problem laughing off this virus as a horrible explanation of science fiction that bastardizes the science of virology. But no, the Apocalypse Virus doesn’t end here.
Another problem with the Apocalypse Virus is that somehow the Void Genome was derived from it as a possible cure for the deadly disease. For something as novel as the Apoc Virus, it makes sense that studying its genome would yield clues to its treatment and a possible vaccine. However, this genome is what created all the magic within Guilty Crown that allowed Shu and Gai and Yu the ability to materialize voids and generally break all the laws of physics in general. Seriously, now you’re bastardizing physics, too? And to make matters worse, Ouma Kurosu tossed out the ‘hot-topic’ of evolution when he was studying the Void Genome. Ugh, so our eventual evolution is something that happens immediately and allows us to travel through inter-dimensional portals and materialize our ‘hearts’ (but only if you’re under 17! Thanks asinine Guilty Crown rules on voids!) into bandages that heal broken bridges or injured people or a kaleidoscope gun or a common refrigerator? Just everything about that is painful and nauseating. If I had the authority I would’ve restructured the entire Apoc Virus/Void Genome system but a way to get around this wrongful explanation without drastically altering the series is just saying they don’t know. It’s alright to say you don’t know how something works or why it does this in science. That’s what science is for, trying to answer these questions. Rather than try to create answers that are completely false, why not do what science does in this instance and shrug its shoulders. It’d be a perfectly acceptable alternative for people who spend their life in science, like me, and for people who never want to enter a biology classroom ever again.
There is actually quite a bit more on the subject material from earlier episodes (specifically the use of ‘cancer’ for the crystals and the time it grew on the Endlave in episode 9) but episode 20 provided enough strong substance to get the idea across and provide my alternative suggestion. The only remaining area of the topic is to examine the nomenclature that was used throughout and see if we can make any sense of why it was used. The term “Antibodies” was used by the GHQ Special Forces that would eliminate any wrongdoers in their occupied Japan. Sure, that’s fine on its own but it becomes confusing when the “Leukocytes”, military satellites appeared. Leukocytes (specifically B cells) create and secrete antibodies, so that quickly becomes a confusing image. And the fact that antibodies are used against viruses, like the Apoc Virus for example, it makes it even more confusing that they were going after anyone Japanese whether they had the virus or not. It’s not anything that would damn an anime but it did create some confusion when another more appropriate naming system could’ve been used. Also, the whole Void Genome system is a bit confusing, too. If the Void Genome was a real genome as its name would indicate, wouldn’t the sequence be known and therefore be able to be replicated as many times as needed? If they were able to derive the vaccine from this sequence and essentially vaccinate most of Japan, why not? And simply injecting a genome like that into ones skin shouldn’t work since the body’s immune system would readily attack it because it’s a foreign genomic sequence. But other terms, such as the ‘cancer’ for the crystals that the Apoc Virus creates are fine, especially if they’re used as slang or common language. It’d be even more appropriate if the Apoc Virus were similar or within the Papillomaviridae family (Human Papillomavirus or HPV) since those viruses can cause cancer in humans. Really, the use of some biological terms were appropriate and helpful but the overall impression from the use of biological nomenclature was something just never felt quite right.
At the end of each of these points and at the end of almost every episode, I do come up with a question that is more often than not the same every time: “why the constant use of biology as a theme in Guilty Crown?” I don’t have the answer to this question since it hasn’t become apparent in any way and I have no idea what the creators were trying to accomplish but I have a couple of ideas which may be close to the truth. The first is that the creators wanted something scientific in the anime to make it feel more compelling, exciting, interesting, and engaging. If that was their goal, well, I certainly feel into the engaging category since I was able to write this post entirely on the theme. But for people who aren’t me and don’t live and breathe science, I can imagine that this never would’ve been a problem and may have actually been helpful. I always appreciate a strong and constant theme in anime and would’ve congratulated Guilty Crown doing so but just had too many issues with its usage that I simply cannot. But others, who enjoy powerful themes and don’t understand or know as much may find it enjoyable and perfectly acceptable. If so, then great. My other theory is that this biology theme is a part of a central message or larger meaning. Perhaps this theme of biology is being used to explain a moral or communicate an important message or idea to us and is using biology as a tool or mechanism to explain it. If that is the case, however, I have no idea what’s going on with it and I couldn’t even begin to guess what they could be using it for.
With that, all that remains is the final episode. Unlike this one, I don’t have a post planned in advance and I will be happily enjoying my vacation. When I return, I’ll update this post with pictures (yes, I haven’t seen this episode yet) and write up a post on the finale and provide some impressions on the series there and in my Winter 2012 Season Review. Until then, enjoy the rest of my planned posts while I’m on vacation.