Friday, November 11, 2011

Guilty Crown - 05

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If it keeps its head up and really works at it, I’m confident that Guilty Crown will be able to check off every cliché in the book before it’s done.  And despite my reservations, I’ll be watching every one.

It can sometimes be hard to think of new things to say about this series, because my general impressions of it tend to be a bit of a broken record.  It looked fantastic, it re-used a bunch of hackneyed plot devices, and it generally did a good job of entertaining me.  I still haven’t quite figured out what GC is doing on NoitaminA, and – while it took a little longer than I expected to prove itself – I think my prediction that UN-GO would end up being the better show in the block has turned out to be true.  But for all that, this is certainly a show that delivers in terms of pure “feast for the senses” entertainment and there’s nothing wrong with that.

As regards the fifth episode, I was pretty worried there for a while but thankfully the second half was much better than the first.  There were more than the unusual share of groan-worthy retreads, starting with Shu waking up naked, having his blanket fall of and getting slapped by Ayase.  The entire training sequence was pretty lame and tired, too, and the humor just felt out of place in this context.  Part of the problem is that humor itself just isn’t among the things that Guilty Crown does well, and that’s an understatement.  Earnest seriousness is the best face the show has, but it needs to leave the hijinks to Ika Musume. 

Things picked up when it came time for Gai to go off on his big mission, and for Shu to take his mock battle test.  Fortunately when Shu knocked Ayase out of wheelchair it seemed to magically transform her from a total psycho into a caring mentor, so that wasn’t as bad as it might’ve been for him.  And borrowing the void from Arugo (Katsu Anri) was a clever touch, too.  So Shu wins the battle and wins his pen back, though now that he’s “one of us” it seems unlikely that he’ll use it, even if his heart was broken by the news that Inori only told him she’d be his forever because Gai put her up to it, and that the two of them “sleep together two or three times a month”.  There’s something odd about both those pieces of information – Inori’s behavior so far doesn’t match up with that, and there’s clearly something else going on in Gai’s bedroom that we don’t know about yet.

There’s also the little matter of that mission, something along the lines of stealing the “Leukocyte”.  A leukocyte is a type of white blood cell so it seems obvious that the GHQ boys see it as a way to wipe out what they see as a disease.  As Gai is doing a little reconnaissance with genki girl Kyou - apparently a Star Trek fan - (Fujito Chika) in preparation for the big mission, GHQ uses the Leukocyte – which turns the area where Gai was located into a smoking hole in the ground.  Gai, dead?  Don’t count on it – the cliché thing is that he’s just pretend dead, and this series generally takes the path of least originality.  Besides, Gai being dead would deprive us of more of Shu’s endless whining about how everyone likes Gai better than him.

Ah, Shu…  That whining about Gai seemed kind of disproportionate to what we might have expected based on his character development so far, but it doesn’t do anything to endear him to me.  I’m just not feeling Shu – the jealousy, the condescension towards Ayase, the general mooniness – Shu, I know Shinki Ikari, and you’re no Shinji Ikari.  It doesn’t help that Kaji Yuki is recycling the same voice for about the 20th performance in a row, and it’s not an especially winning persona to begin with.  Since no one else is really getting a ton of development this is a real problem.  Things would perk up quite a bit if Gai were actually dead, of course, as that would really shake things up around Undertaker HQ and force Shu into a totally new dynamic.  And maybe there’s hope in the newly awakened Kido Kenji (Okamoto Nobuhiko), who seems like a lively and snarky sort.  The fact that he has a big name (and very good) seiyuu is hopefully a sign that Kenji is going to play a major role going forward, because Guilty Crown could really use a charisma injection in the character department.

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9 comments:

  1. What I want from this show: No talking and action all the time. I can bet right now that whenever there's an character-driven episode more or less like this one, it'a gonna be disappointing.

    Great review.

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  2. Remember, no matter what the situation, when presented with two courses of action, Guilty Crown will always, always choose the most predictable, bland and uninteresting one.

    What really galls me is that the show isn't bad in an absolute sense. Its a perfectly competently executed "generic anime"...but stuff like that shouldn't look this good, and shouldn't be on noitaminA.

    We've all watched this show before, multiple times. So why was it made again, and given a clearly ludicrous budget?

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  3. ''I still haven’t quite figured out what GC is doing on NoitaminA''

    We had a discussion about this a few months ago, didn't we? About how noitaminA was facing financial problems despite the good ratings, so they decided to switch from their established viewer base to more traditional anime ones, and how they decided to make the block more otaku friendly and what not ... So you know, this show is here for $$$ because nothing says cash like T&A

    I had some time to catch up to some shows after a grueling month of study, and I have to say ... I like it. Yeah, it's stupid, it's vapid, and certainly derivative as hell. But the Micheal Bay quality to it all makes me attracted to it and wanting to follow through to the end (which might have been difficult for a person who was in pain over the fact that a time slot that once brought quality entrainment such as Honey and Clover could degrade to this, but I had beaten those feelings into a pulp over the course of the past 7 months before the shows airing so ...)

    If anything, even if the plot and the directing is the farthest things from subtle (I'm starting to get deja vu from the previews now, and the ''IN-YOUR-FACE'' style of the director is hurting my eyes now, and the fact that we get shots of Cats in cat like positions and her directing the battle with her jiggling butt while Hotwheels gets orgasms from piloting and her cloth end up falling off of her still hurts me because I haven't killed my old!noitaminA loving side completely) and the music, while wonderful at times, falls into being board line obnoxious for me now, I can still say that this show is at least on the visual side, nicely constructed. In the same way The visuals on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen were the best I had seen in a long time.


    If Eden of the East was the harbinger, this show is clearly the final nail in the coffin. I know I should be more upset about it, but since the producer's had the decency (HA!) to announce that the director of High School of the Dead and the writer of Qwaser was working on this show, I can't say that this was an unexpected result.

    But hey, at least it's a fun (if very stupid) show. THat has to count for something right?

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  4. Hey, Qwaser was a much better show than Guilty Crown.

    It knew what it was and embraced the concept wholeheartedly.

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  5. @Arabesque

    But you know, the biggest financial winner for NoitaminA in the last couple of years has been AnoHana. And despite what some may argue, I think AnoHana is a NoitaminA show. It's character-driven and smartly written, and not beholden to genre. Why didn't they take that as a sign and do more series of that type?

    I agree that GC is fine for what it is, and there's a place for summer blockbuster-type visual feasts in the anime world. But it sure feels to me as if Chihayafuru should be on NoitaminA, and not GC.

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  6. @Fencedude

    I think that GC knows what it is and isn't afraid to hide it (like I said, there is barely any subtlety in this show or the way the staff had spoken about it) but the thing that keeps dragging it down is that it tries to appear profound as well, when there is very little in it that can described as such.

    @Enzo

    The thing about AnoHana is that it was something of an anomaly (a series that has had extensive executive middling on it to make sure it was up to par with the slots quality (how many of those do you hear about? :P)) that came at a very good time that resulted in the smashing success that it was. Regardless of that (and my own criticism of certain aspects of it), I do agree that more shows should follow on with it's example, since it had shown that hybrid shows (otaku friendly hooks with the principle behind the older shows) can be financially successful and at the same time remain sincere.

    As to why don't they follow with it? Well, for starters look at Fractale and C. They too tried to bring the best of both worlds in them and managed to fail miserably. But even if we get past the difficulty of making a show that pleases otaku and makes them buy it and at the same time doesn't turn away older fans, from what the producers had said about the need to shift into more merchandise and BD/DVD sales in order to generate more profits, it's clear that the agenda that the slot is working on is no longer about pleasing the older fans, but about making money by producing higher (visually) quality shows. It's sad ... no, it's honestly disheartening for me personally to see it turn out like this, even if I do like Guilty Crown and Black Rock Shooter. Even if I do think that the direction they are going in with trying to push for better CG with that show and trying to explore and expand different types of shows and what not is a really great idea, even if I think that this is one of the most beautifully animated shows of the year, I can't help it. We lost something really good here.

    (about Chihayafuru (which I'll try to catch up to sometime soon) since a lot of the staff working on this show are ex-Madhouse employees, I figured that this was one of their shelfed projects that got accidentally carried over to Production IG HQ, and when someone noticed that a script was missing they just took one from IG and put it back at Madhouse, which turned out to be Chihayafuru. Would make a lot of sense lol)

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  7. @Enzo: Seems more like ET than star track. ET Call home

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  8. @deafvader

    Nope, that's Spock - "Live long and prosper".

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  9. ET call home? lol
    Everything happens too conveniently for this show. We have Shu who settled into Funeral Parlor a bit too quickly and the key members who took him in too easily as well. The terrorist organization is bound to fail ;P

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