Four months after the release of the last volume, Manga Entertainment has finally graced UK viewers with the second part of Guilty Crown. Although I am no marketing expert, I’d have to imagine that making fans wait so long between releases can only be detrimental for a show’s sales figures. By this stage some anime shoppers are likely to have forgotten about the show’s existence, especially when you consider that the first instalment wasn’t particularly memorable. Don’t get me wrong Guilty Crown isn’t a bad show, but its tendency to “borrow” inspiration from other animes means that it doesn’t stick in your mind (especially for people like myself who have goldfish like memories.)
Those who aren’t so lacking in the memorization department will recall that the first part of Guilty Crown ended on a doozy of a cliffhanger. Episode twelve provides the resolution to that suspenseful finale before leading the series into a new story arc. Given the way things pan out I cannot help but wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to conclude part one with episode twelve, before starting things afresh in this second chapter. Splitting the twenty-two episode series evenly in twain disrupts the flow of the narrative, although I suppose leaving viewers wanting to know what happens next is a good way of ensuring that the subsequent DVDs sell (curse ye manipulative anime distributors!)
Anyway, after the events of part one the poop has finally hit the swirly blades of a fan. Shu, his classmates and the remnants of Funeral Parlour find themselves trapped in Tokyo, which is locked down under quarantine. Seeking refuge from desperate looters and hostile troops our heroes set up camp at their old school in order to plan out their next move. During the turmoil Shu is elected the group’s leader, which is rather odd given that he is Mr Indecisive. As it turns out his promotion to head of the resistance ends up being a masterstroke that fixes my chief complaint with the show.
What I disliked about the first part of Guilty Crown was that its protagonist was a bit of a whiny crybaby. Upon being appointed leader Shu is however forced to man up in order to keep his friends alive and ultimately save the world. The tough choices he is forced to make see him gradually grow into a credible hero, even if it strains his relationships with others. After flip-flopping between high school hijinks and touching drama Guilty Crown finally settles down and decides to run with a darker tone for the remainder of its story. Notable characters die, others switch allegiances and the show’s mysteries are unravelled giving us a more engrossing viewing experience.
My rating for Guilty Crown (Part Two) is a four out of five. It’s a show that rewards viewers who did not abandon it prematurely. Anyone who perseveres with it beyond the mediocre first part will be pleased to see that as the story matures it improves substantially around the halfway mark. The only gripe I had with this second collection is that the final episode feels like it is desperately rushing to wrap up all the loose plot threads within its twenty-minute running time. In hindsight the series may have benefitted from being twenty-four episodes long.
Part two is however still guilty of pilfering ideas from other shows. The way in which the meteor virus plot plays out feels a lot like Evangelion mixed with a smidgen of Darker than Black. The whole notion of a kid with powers trying to overthrow Japan’s oppressors also comes across like a poor man’s Code Geass. Thankfully the plagiarism of ideas is easier to overlook in this second instalment as the character relationships are better developed. Disabled mech pilot Ayase continues to be my favourite character so it’s a shame that she didn’t get more to do, aside from wrestling with feelings of uselessness stemming from her handicap.
After seeing the series to its fruition I can say that I recommend Guilty Crown to fans of science fiction animes. Viewers who prefer more lighthearted shows may not approve of the darker direction taken in part two, but I personally enjoyed it. The action sequences throughout the twenty-two episodes are a spectacular sight to behold. The use of still frames does however begin to creep into the later episodes, possibly indicating that the producers were feeling the budgetary pinch of delivering a show with such high production values. Although the talent behind the series didn’t manage to give us a timeless classic, after a slow start Guilty Crown did at least manage to exceed my expectations.