Guilty Crown wears its crown of thorns with pride and dignity in the face of sin and shame. Even though the series has much to be shamed of especially when it comes to character cliches and awful, if not unbearable plot maneuvers – surprisingly; there is an okay series underneath it all. Sort of…
Series Name: Guilty Crown
Studio: Production I.G
Genre: Action, Sci-fi, Romance, Drama
For late 2011 to early 2012, Guilty Crown was one of the anime series that gained an hefty amount of notoriety among viewers and some critics. Most of the chatter was about how it was an alienating and botched production, while others praised it purely on its own merits. To this day, it still gets a reaction as either one of those things; but as for my own opinion on the matter, Guilty Crown is just average. Neither good or bad – just plain average. That may really shock a few that think I have decisive (or divisive) view on literally everything, but the simple fact of the matter is that Guilty Crown is just another case of good ideas that are poorly implemented or at the very least, good ideas that go bad and implemented to make no sense whatsoever. I think that is what most people would deem “cliche”.
There are a lot of tropes and elements that make Guilty Crown cliche right off the bat, anyway. The wimpy, whinny protagonist that somehow obtains a mysterious power, his charismatic foil, and the stoic girl that supports the protagonist emotionally and so happens the protagonist can pull a giant sword from her chest a moments notice. There is also the colorful support characters, the evil antagonistic force with skewed ideas, and a dozen or so other things I care not to mention. However, admittedly, these tropes – common cliches are what make Guilty Crown so enjoyable to an extent and actually, kept me going through some of the most undesirable parts of the story that were cringe worthy at best. The reason for them being so cringe worthy is because they are cliche and predictable: predictable deaths, revivals, betrayal – there is just no sense of excitement and only gets compounded by bunch of annoyances later on in the story. Thankfully, as the story progresses, Guilty Crown does have somewhat of better second half that kicks in around the 17th episode as some saving grace, but not much of consolation since it gets muddle by the same weak writing and execution that burdened the earlier half.
Sadly, while Guilty Crown contains all the classic and inventive trimmings of the sci-fi genre; actually downright rich in its detail and history; the way it chooses to tell the story it wants is not exactly the best. Locked in between Shu’s character growth as protagonist for the majority of the series and some ridiculously clandestine mechanics for the later half – Gulity Crown’s writing is only compounded by the fact that the execution and exact direction is in question itself. There actually so much wealth in the world-building aspects that it absolutely drags down how the story play outs and makes nothing short of confusing. Most of the time, I found myself utterly lost with some of the stories finer details like the Void Genome that is extracted from Apocalypse Virus and how it became nothing short of a convenient plot device. All the details are mixed together, but done so complexly that it is actually hard to pay attention to as the series pours all the information at the viewer during the final stretch as if it was too bothered to explain like it had been incrementally at the start. This in itself – predominantly, the method of storytelling and the pace at which it pulls through it all – that is what hurts Guilty Crown the most and makes all the engrossing world-building crumble apart.
With the series being set in a futuristic world, Production I.G certainly makes that venue apparent with its animation prowess. Everything from mecha to the classroom settings are given a slick and futuristic chrome-plated aesthetic that is only compliment with darker, warmer colors. It couldn’t make the atmosphere for the series any better if it tried, but very exceptional just for the work put into the small details and a great boon for the world-building. The character designs by Redjuice are also nice, with characters like Tsugumi and Hare Menjou being my favorites. As series that uses music as slight aesthetic as well, the soundtrack for Guilty Crown is not shabby either. Hiroyuki Sawano and Supercell actually make a great team when it comes to composing some of the tracks. Continuing the futuristic theme, most of the instrumental pieces are full of synthesized and programmed sounding elements with little real instrumental tracks, expect for a few. Tracks like θεοι are actually great when the action and tension begin to set in and contain an excellent chorus section. The various insert themes, openings, and endings are just as powerful and moving by the vocals of Supercell. Funimation’s dub was also a nice addition to the series, but not necessarily the best. Compared against the subs, some the lines were sort of awkward to fit the sync, but nothing too noticeable or out of place. A personal favorite voice had to be that of Alexis Tipton that voices Inori and captures her unnerved certainty quite well.
Whether you loved it or hated it, Guilty Crown is far from being in the trash heap of anime refuse, but is an example of various that don’t come together well as they could. It sticks to its strong suites very well and tries to make it vulnerabilities appear just as good, but ultimately fail as far as storytelling and setting said story into perspective for its audience. If had to give it an overall grade, “D+” would be appropriate enough and otherwise, something I would suggest renting before you buy. Other than that, if you traveled to the bottom of your rounded sci-fi/action list with some theatrical touches, Guilty Crown is a fair shake and wears its ceremonial crown of thorns for the occasion.——————————————————————————————————————
Pros: Concepts, world-building, musical and artistic elements, and overall excellent in appearance.
Cons: Falls short in character development, story progression, and execution too uneven. Too many details thrown into the narrative haphazardly .