I recently wrote about Guilty Crown in a post about the value of enjoyment in watching Anime, so I’ll post it here in response to this hate train. In short, for someone who felt done with anime, Guilty Crown was a revitalization much in the way Haruhi and TTGL were.
I know, I know. Guilty Crown, the show people love to hate. Back in 2011, Guilty Crown was incredibly hyped up due to the staff involved, and when it released, anime fans were disappointed. Funnily enough Guilty Crown became popular, but not with the established audience. It was a prediction of shows such as Sword Art Online and Shingeki no Kyoujin.
But back then, when 2011 came around, I was done with anime. I’d been watching for years, and it seemed like the seasons were getting worse and worse. I had no hype for anything, and I had no idea what Guilty Crown would be. At the end of 2011, with Christmas on everyone’s minds, the anime world gave me a gift in Guilty Crown… And it drives me crazy to see people not understand why the show is enjoyable. People compare it to Code Geass or Evangelion a lot, but I think it’s best compared to TTGL, because Guilty Crown is unabashedly a love letter to everything anime. Everything good and everything bad. And boy does Guilty Crown do this well.
Shu, the protagonist, is a funny guy. He is almost entirely lacking in character, his only trait being his incredibly emotional outbursts. He is every Mecha protagonist ever. Through the power of magic, Shu gains the ability to pull weapons out of the hearts of people. These weapons symbolize the personality of the person they came from. This is the show’s first cop out, they don’t have to explore a character’s personality because you can just show it to the audience. It is so dumb. This also fits conveniently with Shu’s lacking personality… The guy can just take other people and use them to make himself look cool.
Shu is backed up by his weapon-in-arms Inori, an emotionless idol badass. She is every Mecha heroine ever. Inori’s personality trait is that, because she lacks emotions, she finds the emotive interesting. Shu, being the most willing to give up and cry character of the decade, is an Inori magnet. The two incredibly empty characters sponge off each other. Shu gets his flashyness from Inori, and Inori gets her motives from Shu.
To many people this is a bad thing, but I disagree. This is incredibly clever, because Guilty Crown isn’t about Shu or Inori or any of the characters. Guilty Crown is a show about looking cool and sounding cool. This is a hype-piece passion project of top-tier staff members, made entirely for the staff to enjoy themselves with. The quicker you can establish a character and get into the cool stuff, the better. Guilty Crown is one big lesson in shortcutting. Quickly skim through the anime tropes and then kill some stuff.
The show is constantly filled with jokes and references, though they are treated as serious parts of the show. Something to know about Guilty Crown is that it is serious about never being serious. Characters will speak wholeheartedly. Cataclysmic events will occur and people will react in full fledged terror… But the show isn’t serious. It’s having fun, and that’s the entire point! To be fun! Someone will say a one liner, not because it sounds cool, but because it’s a hilarious addition. Something will happen out of the left field because why not? It’s a hype thing to do. The creators basically got a list of anime and picked the parts they enjoyed from them. Evangelion, put that in. Macross? Sure. Cardcaptor Sakura? Why the hell wouldn’t we? We like post-apocalyptic settings, we like hot girls, we like edgy guys, we like comical depictions of power, we like Hiroyuki Sawano’s soundtracks, we like dumb anime science (speaking of which the logo even has that dumb English text that makes Chaos;Head and Steins;Gate so comical.)
If they want to suddenly insert a mysterious past, they’ll do it. They make a character who physically can’t walk without depending on the protagonist! SPOILER, the protagonist becomes Hitler! It’s AMAZING! If that isn’t enough to make someone realize a show isn’t serious, I don’t know what is… Whatever they liked, they found an excuse to include it.
And this is where the Code Geass comparisons make sense, because to some degree that show aimed to do the exact same thing. It had a higher focus on plot-coherence (though that isn’t saying much) but it ultimately existed to do the cool things that anime do.
The only mistake Guilty Crown made throughout its 22 episodes was the lack of a disclaimer at the start saying “nothing makes sense, everything looks cool, have fun.” Part of me thinks however that Guilty Crown’s point was to make an audience take it seriously. They take these tropes seriously in any other show, so to take it seriously in a show that effectively mocks those tropes is like falling for the bait. Maybe that was the intention…
So yeah, Guilty Crown is a bad show, and in most contexts I’ll rarely recommend it, let alone praise it… But that’s the point. It’s bad, it’s enjoyable, and it reminded me why I was an anime fan for so many years. Because sometimes you just want to have fun.
Everything that Guilty Crown represents, all of the good and all of the bad, all exist today in anime. They are still good, they are still bad, and they are still fun.
Also in response to
From what I remember, the answer is that there’s little you’ll understand as an anime-only viewer, because the anime didn’t really end the plot in any way other than getting Shu and gang out of the conflict. The main villain and the conflicts going on are still likely going on, and from what the main villain says it’s implied that they’re all doomed regardless.
While root A was a trash tier show, I actually thought the ending was better than most parts of the original Tokyo Ghoul. It was a really good bookend on Kaneki’s character and I couldn’t really see any other conclusion working in that scenario. It was also incredibly simple, so I don’t know what there is to not understand… If it was done without 10 episodes of rubbish before it, it’d have been good.