Guilty Crown drew me in with the animation of the first episode. The little touches in the way the characters moved screamed Production I.G.. Unfortunately, the quality of the animation throughout the series wasn’t on par with other works by the anime studio. In any case, Guilty Crown has some interesting things going for it.
Japan of the future is in a state of chaos (when isn’t it?) because of an epidemic known as the Apocalypse Virus. After the mysterious virus, which crystallizes its victims, turned pandemic in an event called the Lost Christmas, the UN set up an organization called GHQ to contain the outbreak and stabilize Japan. Ten years after the event, a resistance group called Funeral Parlor seeks to free Japan from GHQ.
Enter Shu Ouma, the typical high school hero who finds a girl who changes the course of his life. Wounded and hounded by GHQ, Inori Yuzuriha is immediately recognized by Shu from her internet music videos. Reluctantly, Shu is pulled into the conflict between GHQ and Funeral Parlor. He comes into contact with one of the ultimate weapons: the Void Genome, a biological weapon derived from the Apocalypse virus. Shu is infected accidentally and gains the ability to extract Voids, people’s psyche given a physical weaponized form.
Inori is the atypical mysterious girl: with a past and a secret that marks her as different. As usual for this type of story, Shu and Inori fall in love despite the impossibility of their situation.
Guilty Crown is pretty typical all around: a mentor (and rival) the protagonist looks up to, an impossible love that blossoms, a fairly nonsensical world threat, and organizations trying to see the threat through. Gai Tsutsugami, the leader of Funeral Parlor and a mentor/rival for Shu, isn’t what he seems. Guilty Crown does deviate in major ways from the normal template. There are twists and bold moves that kept my attention. They nicely play up expectations and surprise the viewer at the last moment. The anime is hurt by its focus on high school. Much of what goes on would work better with adults rather than teens.
Guilty Crown is an exciting story. I liked many of the characters; I particularly liked the wheel-chair bound Ayase Shinomiya. Actually, I wished the story dealt more with Shu and Ayase than Shu and Inori. About halfway through the series there is a shift in tone and the story feels rushed. Critical events happen over the course of a single episode and felt too abrupt.
Production I.G., as I mention in the beginning, isn’t up to their usual standards for this anime. Some of the battle scenes are nothing more than stills that are panned and have a handful of effects added. The mecha are bland and lack the detail I have come to expect from the studio. It is unfortunate the anime quality is inconsistent. The opening episodes and the ending episodes are close to what I expect from Production I.G..
Despite the problems, I found Guilty Crown and enjoyable and bold anime. Bold with the way it handles the twists on conventions. The series has a particularly strong ending that may anger or upset some viewers.